Corsair Force 3 vs. Force GT 120 GB Solid State Drive Review
By Henry Butt on August 24, 2011


Introduction

Presently, 120 GB solid state drives offer the best compromise between price, performance and capacity. For most people, they offer enough storage space to be used on their own in a laptop or PC without needing to have a mechanical hard drive as well for storing larger files. Today we are going to look at the two latest 120 GB SSDs from Corsair to see how they compare.

Many users will still choose to combine a 120 GB solid state drive with a mechanical hard drive, though, especially if they need to store large media files. We certainly wouldn’t recommend an SSD smaller than 120 GB for use in a laptop, though, as the capacity will get used up very quickly.

Before proceeding, we highly suggest that you read our Anatomy of SSD Units tutorial which provides all the background information you need to know about SSDs. Both of the SSDs featured in this review use MLC memory chips.


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Figure 1: The two SSDs on test

In the table below, we are comparing both of the units that we’re going to review. Both units use a SATA-300 interface and occupy the standard 2.5” form factor. The two drives include the same bundle, which is comprised of a 3.5” adapter for the drive and the required screws.

Manufacturer Model Model # Capacity Price
Corsair Force 3 CSSD-F120GB3 120 GB USD 195
Corsair Force GT CSSD-F120GBGT 120 GB USD 225

We researched the prices at Newegg.com on the day that we published this review. In the table below, we provide a more in-depth technical comparison between the two drives. Most chip manufacturers don’t detail the specifics of their chips on their websites, so we are only linking to those we found.

Model Controller Buffer Memory
Corsair Force 3 Sandforce SF-2281 NA Micron 29F64G08CBAAA (16 x 8 GB)
Corsair Force GT Sandforce SF-2281 NA Micron 29F64G08CBAAB (16 x 8 GB)

A Closer Look

Both of the drives on test have the same 120 GB capacity and feature the same Sandforce SF-2281 controller. Aside from the aesthetics of the enclosure, the memory used is the only difference in hardware between the drives.

Corsair has chosen to use anodised black aluminium for the enclosure, with a brushed finish. This gives the drive an attractive appearance and should provide the internal components with a good level of protection.


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Figure 2: Corsair Force 3 120 GB

On the top side of the PCB, the Sandforce SF-2281 controller takes center stage alongside eight of the 16 total Micron 29F64G08CBAAA memory chips. The sixteen 8 GB memory chips give the drive an actual capacity of 128 GB, which is reduced to 120 GB through over-provisioning.

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Figure 3: Corsair Force 3 120 GB PCB (top)

The remaining eight memory chips are located on the underside of the PCB. The Force 3 also features full TRIM support (if your OS supports it).


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Figure 4: Corsair Force 3 120 GB PCB (bottom)

Corsair has chosen to give the Force GT a bright red enclosure, presumably to appeal to PC enthusiasts who like to show off their top-of-the-range components. The enclosure should give the internal components a good level of protection, as it is constructed from metal.


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Figure 5: Corsair Force GT 120 GB

Like the Force 3, the Force GT features the Sandforce SF-2281 controller, which is located on the top side of the PCB. There are eight of the 16 total Micron 29F64G08CBAAB memory chips located on the top of the PCB.


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Figure 6: Corsair Force GT 120 GB PCB (top)

The remaining eight chips are located on the underside of the PCB.  Even though the model numbers of the memory chips on the two drives on test are extremely similar, the memory itself is very different. The Force 3 features asynchronous memory, which doesn’t perform as well when dealing with incompressible data. In contrast, the Force GT features synchronous memory, which is more expensive than asynchronous memory but performs much better when dealing with incompressible data.


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Figure 7: Corsair Force GT 120 GB PCB (bottom)

How We Tested

During our testing procedures, we used the configuration listed below. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the SSD being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration Benchmarking Software

Error Margin

We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% can’t be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.

AS SSD

As you will have gathered from the previous page, we measured the performance of each drive using four different programs: AS SSD, CrystalDiskMark, HD Tune, and ATTO Disk Benchmark. We will be looking at the test results from each program in the order they appear in the list above.

It is important to note that we connected the SSDs to a SATA-600 port on our motherboard rather than a SATA-300 port, which could cause performance limitations. We used the default configuration in AS SSD for our tests.

In the read test, the Force GT performed 144% better than the Force 3.  In the write test, the performance difference was less pronounced, but the Force GT still performed 20% better than the Force 3.

The Force GT performed better than the Force 3 in the read test, achieving 11.7% better performance.  In the write test, the drives exhibited a similar level of performance.

In the access time test, both drives exhibited the same level of performance in the read test, but the Force GT performed 21% better in the write test.

CrystalDiskMark

We used CrystalDiskMark’s default configuration for our tests, which benchmarked each SSD using a file size of 1,000 MB with five test runs. Please continue reading to see the results.

Once again, the Force GT outperformed the Force 3 in both the read and write tests by 124% and 18%, respectively.

In this test, the Force GT gained the performance crown again, beating the Force 3 by 112% in the read test and 19% in the write test.

Once again, the Force GT outperformed the Force 3 in both the read and write tests by 124% and 18%, respectively.

In this test, the Force GT gained the performance crown again, beating the Force 3 by 112% in the read test and 19% in the write test.

In the read test, the Force GT outperformed the Force 3 by 17% but, in the write test, the two drives exhibited a similar level of performance.

HD Tune

Now we will look at the results recorded using HD Tune.

In the burst transfer rate test, the Force GT outperformed the Force 3 by a slim margin of 3.3 percent.  The Force GT also performed better in the average transfer rate test, beating the Force 3 by 4.1 percent. The Force GT also came out on top in the minimum transfer rate test, beating the Force 3 by 24 percent.  But, in the maximum transfer rate test, the two drives exhibited a similar level of performance.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

Now we will look at the results recorded using ATTO Disk Benchmark using a 1,024 KB transfer size.

In the read test, the Force GT outperformed the Force 3 by a slim margin of 3.6 percent; however, in the write test, the two drives showed a similar level of performance.

Conclusions

We can see from our tests that the Corsair Force GT offers a much better level of performance than the Force 3 in most cases, so it is the best choice for those who want the fastest possible drive.

Even though both drives feature the same Sandforce SF-2281 controller, the Force GT features synchronous memory rather than asynchronous memory, which performs much better when dealing with incompressible data. It is incompressible data transfer rates that are measured in AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark.

In ATTO disk benchmark, however, the drives exhibited a much more similar level of performance as it tests the drives using compressible data.  Some of you may be asking yourselves why Corsair uses asynchronous memory in the Force 3 rather than synchronous memory.  Well, synchronous memory is more expensive, accounting for the USD 30 price premium that Corsair demands for the Force GT over the Force 3.

Considering the extra performance it offers, we would definitely recommend paying the premium and buying the Force GT over the Force 3 if you want the best possible performance from your SSD.  For those who aren’t as concerned about getting the fastest drive and want to save a few bucks, the Force 3 still remains a good option.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Corsair-Force-3-vs-Force-GT-120-GB-Solid-State-Drive-Review/1367


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