Final Words and Verdict
With the release of the N series SSD, Zalman makes a late but fashionable entrance into the SSD market. Granted, they are doing it right as the most popular controller any SSD can have right now is SandForce based. Being the more popular controller that unfortunately also means a slightly more expensive drive.
Compared to the previously tested 100/120GBs model we can see very little difference in terms of overall performance for the new N series SSD. We spot really top notch performance, and that certainly does not disappoint, we did see slightly below baseline performance compared to other SF1222 based SSDs. We noticed the exact same thing when Corsair launched their first series of Force SSDs, and yes ... that's either NAND Flash type and/or firmware related. But overall the SSD is of course spanking fast.
Now, we do feel that Zalman could have made a more spectacular entry into the SSD market if they'd immediately pursued the newly released SandForce 2200 series products. We deliberately included the OCZ Vertex 3 results into this review as the new SATA 300 / 6G based SSD will cost roughly the same to this SF1200 series due to the new 25nm NAND flash used, and the difference of course is massive. But then again, Zalman takes the safe route here and 98% of the PC user base is still on SATA II controllers anyway. Speaking of NAND FLASH, this SSD still has 32ns NAND.
Anyway, SandForce 1200 controller based SSDs as shown today are extremely good in productivity, they handle small files exceptionally well. Where they really shine though is writing small files (4KB) random, the In/Out performance (IOPS) is exceptionally good as well. That alone though, is not enough to justify a higher price over the Indilinx based product as with desktop usage, again you'd probably won't even notice it -- SSDs with cache memory like Indilinx and the new JMicron with 128MB cache are also real fast.
If you have the money for it, use an SSD like the Zalman N series SSD as boot/root drive for your OS, Games and applications and pop in a nice massive HDD for storage of your documents, music and movies. That very combination is brilliant and though people are still very weary making a move from HDD to SSD, we can only say ... once you turned to SSD, there's no way in hell you'll ever want to go back.
We hope to see some good availability of Zalman's SSD product line as that right now is a bit of an issue. Perhaps in April this SSD will reach volume availability. So if you are in the market for an SSD of this caliber and can find it in retail, then by all means do not hesitate. This is a fully fletched blazing fast SSD. Turn on AHCI in your BIOS, and you'll have Trim, NCQ and hot-swappability available for you as well.
The N series SSD from Zalman is covered with 3-year warranty similar to other vendors. This product comes very much recommended, though we do hope to see some SandForce 2200 series products in Zalman's lineup in the near future as well, as that's where the focus for 2011 seems to be.