Corsair Performance Pro 128 GB SSD Review
By Henry Butt on April 19, 2012
There are great performance enhancements when a system is upgraded to a solid state drive from a mechanical hard drive. A large number of SSDs are currently on the market, making the choice of which one to buy quite difficult. Today we are going to look at the latest Performance Pro 128 GB SSD from Corsair to see how it fares against the competition.
It is often remarked that 128 GB solid state drives offer the best compromise between price, capacity and performance. For most users, they will provide enough storage space for most applications and games. In a desktop PC, a low capacity SSD can be combined with a mechanical hard drive to store large multimedia files, if required.
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.
Figure 1: The Corsair Performance Pro 128 GB
In the table below, we are comparing the Corsair Performance Pro with the Corsair Force GT, which we are using for comparison purposes. Both units use a SATA-600 interface and occupy the standard 2.5” form factor. Prices were researched 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 what we found.
Marvell 88S-9174 BKK2
Toshiba TH58TE07D2HBA4C (8 x 16 GB)
Micron 29F64G08CBAAB (16 x 8 GB)
Corsair has chosen to use a brushed aluminium enclosure for the Performance Pro, which is sure to give the internals a good level of protection from damage. It also gives the drive an attractive appearance that will fit in aesthetically with most other components. The drive is also much lighter than other metal drives we have tested, making it ideal for use in a notebook.
To access the inside of the drive, we are required to remove two warranty void stickers before removing the screws that lay underneath. On the top of the PCB we find eight 16 GB Toshiba TH58TE07D2HBA4C memory chips and a single 512 MB NANYA NT5CB128M16BP buffer chip.
The underside of the PCB only features the Marvell 88S-9174 BKK2 controller. None of the physical capacity is lost for over-provisioning, giving you slightly more storage space than an equivalent Sandforce SF-2281 drive. The drive has a capacity of 119.24 GB when formatted in Windows. Corsair claims that the drive is capable of achieving sequential read and write speeds of 515 MB/s and 440 MB/s, respectively.
During our testing procedures, we used the configuration listed below. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the solid state drive being tested.
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 you will have gathered from the previous page, we measured the performance of each drive using three different programs: AS SSD, CrystalDiskMark, and HD Tune. 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.
On the sequential read test, the two drives exhibited a similar level of performance. However, on the sequential write test, the Corsair Performance Pro came out on top, outperforming the Force GT by 100 percent.
As you can see, the Corsair Performance Pro was 30% faster than the Force GT on the 4 KB random read test. However, the Corsair Force GT achieved a better score on the 4 KB random write test, outperforming the Performance Pro by a margin of 8 percent.
On the access time test, the Corsair Performance Pro performed 4% better than the Force GT on the read test and 70% better on the write test.
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.
On the sequential read test, the Corsair Performance Pro beat the Force GT by 6 percent. The Performance Pro also exhibited the best level of performance on the sequential write test, beating the Force GT by 90 percent.
The Corsair Force GT outperformed the Performance Pro on the 512 KB Random Read test by a margin of 13 percent. However, the Corsair Performance Pro achieved a better score on the random write test, beating the Force GT by 85 percent.
As you can see, the Corsair Force GT was 10% faster than the Performance Pro on the 4 KB random read test and 13% faster on the random write test.
Now we will look at the results recorded using HD Tune.
On the burst transfer rate test, the two drives exhibited a similar level of performance. However, on the average transfer rate test, the Corsair Force GT performed better than the Performance Pro by a margin of 9 percent.
For the duration of the test, the Corsair Performance Pro showed better consistency in the transfer rates recorded. At the start of the test, the Force GT was only capable of a 118 MB/s transfer rate, whereas the Performance Pro achieved 323.5 MB/s.
The Corsair Performance Pro put up a good fight against the older Force GT in our tests. The differences in performance between the two drives can be attributed to the different controllers that Corsair has used in each. The Corsair Performance Pro is based on the latest Marvell 88S-9174 BKK2 controller, while the Force GT is based on the older Sandforce SF-2281.
We weren’t expecting the Performance Pro to outperform the Force GT, as the claimed sequential read and write speeds of 515 MB/s and 440 MB/s, respectively, are noticeably lower than the Force GT’s 555 MB/s and 515 MB/s.
In our tests, we found that the Performance Pro fared very well in the sequential and 512 KB random write tests, where it achieved much better performance than the Force GT. The Performance Pro exhibited a similar level of sequential read performance to the Force GT in CrystalDiskMark and achieved 6% better performance in AS SSD. This is because these benchmarks use incompressible data, and the Marvell controller in the Performance Pro doesn’t rely on compression to boost data throughput, unlike the Sandforce controller in the Force GT.
At the time of publishing, the Corsair Performance Pro 128 GB will cost USD 200 at Newegg, which is around USD 30 more expensive than the Corsair Force GT 120 GB. As it is a brand new model, we expect the price will come down over the coming months to bring it in line with the Force GT.
Considering the current price, we feel that the Force GT is a better buy, as it offers similar performance for less money. However, if the price reduces by USD 30 in the coming months, we would go for the Performance Pro over the Force GT, as it has a slightly larger usable capacity.