Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel
Tagged: SSD 730, ssd, Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel launched their first consumer SSD more than five years ago. Their very first SSD, the X25-M, might have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but once the initial bugs were worked out, it proved to be an excellent example of what a 3Gb/sec SATA SSD was capable of. While the competition was using 4 or 8 flash channels, Intel ran circles around them with their 10-channel controller. It was certainly a great concept, and it most definitely had legs. The very same controller, with only minor tweaks, was able to hold its own all the way through into the enterprise sector, doing so even though the competition was moving to controllers capable of twice the throughput (SATA 6Gb/sec).

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The various iterations featuring Intel's 10-channel controller, spanning the 20GB cache SSD (left), original X25M and X25-E (center), and  finally X25-M G2, SSD 320, and SSD 710 (right).

While the older controller was extremely nimble, it was bottlenecked by a slower interface than the competition, who had all moved to the more modern SATA 6Gb/sec link. Intel also moved into this area, but not with their own native controller silicon. The SSD 510 launched in 2011 equipped with a Marvell controller, followed by the SSD 520, launched in 2012 with a SandForce controller. While Intel conjured up their own firmware for these models, their own older and slower controller was still more nimble and reliable than those other solutions, proven by the fact that the SSD 710, an enterprise-spec SSD using the older 10-channel controller, was launched in tandem with the consumer SSD 510.

Fast forward to mid-2013, where Intel finally introduced their own native SATA 6Gb/s solution. This controller dropped the channel count to a more standard figure of 8, and while it did perform well, it was only available in Intel's new enterprise 'Data Center' line of SSDs. The SSD DC S3500 and SSD DC S3700 (reviewed here) were great drives, but they were priced too high for consumers. While preparing that review, I remember saying how that controller would be a great consumer unit if they could just make it cheaper and tune it for standard workloads. It appears that wish has just been granted. behold the Intel SSD 730:

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Continue reading our review of the Intel SSD 730!!

The Bigger They Are: The Titan They Fall? 48GB Install

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 25, 2014 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: titanfall, ssd

UPDATE (Feb 26th): Our readers pointed out in the comments, although I have yet to test it, that you can change Origin's install-to directory before installing a game to have them on a separate hard drive as the rest. Not as easy as Steam's method, but apparently works for games like this that you want somewhere else. I figured it would forget games in the old directory, but apparently not.

Well, okay. Titanfall will require a significant amount of hard drive space when it is released in two weeks. Receiving the game digitally will push 21GB of content through your modem and unpack to 48GB. Apparently, the next generation has arrived.

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Honestly, I am not upset over this. Yes, this basically ignores customers who install their games to their SSDs. Origin, at the moment, forces all games to be installed in a single directory (albeit that can be anywhere) unlike Steam, which allows games to be individually sent to multiple folders. It would be a good idea to keep those customers in mind... but not at the expense of the game itself. Like always, both "high-end" and "unoptimized" titles have high minimum specifications; we decide which one applies by considering how effectively the performance is used.

That is something that we will need to find out when it launches on March 11th.

Source: PC Gamer
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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Alongside our T440s review unit was something slightly smaller and dear to our hearts: the latest entry in the ThinkPad X series of notebooks.  Seeing as this very review is being typed on a Lenovo X220, our interest was piqued by the latest refinements to the formula.  When the X220 was released, the thin-and-light trend was only just beginning to pick up steam leading into what eventually became today’s Ultrabook movement.  Its 2012 successor, the ThinkPad X230, went on to receive our coveted (and rarely bestowed) Editor’s Choice Award, even in spite of a highly controversial keyboard change that sent the fanbase into a panic.

But all of that has since (mostly) blown over, primarily thanks to the fact that—in spite of the minor ergonomic adjustments required to accustom oneself with what was once a jarringly different keyboard design—the basic philosophy remained the same: pack as many powerful parts as possible into a 12.5-inch case while still maintaining good durability and battery life.  These machines were every bit as capable as most other 13- and 14-inch notebooks of their time, and they were considerably smaller, too.  About the only thing they lacked was higher-resolution screens, discrete graphics, and quad-core CPUs.

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But with the X240 (and the T440s), portability has truly taken center stage, suggesting a complete paradigm shift—however subtly—away from “powerful (and light)” and toward “light (and powerful)”.  Coupled with Intel’s Haswell CPUs and Lenovo’s new Power Bridge dual-battery design, this will certainly yield great benefits in the realm of battery life.  But that isn’t all that’s different: we also find a (once again) revamped keyboard, as well as a completely new touchpad design which finally dispenses with the physical buttons entirely.  Like in the X230’s case, these changes have roiled the ThinkPad purists—but is it all just a matter of close-minded traditionalism?  That’s precisely what we’ll discover today.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X240 Ultrabook!!

Corsair Tests Battlefield 4 with Hard Drives and SSDs

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: ssd, hdd, corsair

The Corsair Blog has been publishing several really interesting articles, lately. In January, they wrote an editorial which quantifies the benefits of modestly overclocking CPU, GPU, RAM, and all of the above. Their benchmarks showed which tests favored what type of component.

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This time, they look at the benefits of SSDs. Their Neutron Series GTX 240GB SSD was compared against a 3TB WD Black HDD (which is decent drive). To get into the campaign, they measured an SSD requiring a little over two minutes while the HDD took a little over two-and-a-half minutes. Multiplayer was much more significant: an SSD made it in game in 42 seconds while the hard drive took 69 second. That is a whole 40% faster.

Most importantly, getting into the game a whole 27 seconds earlier gives you first pick at vehicles. The game keeps them briefly locked to allow users to connect but, as is usual for Battlefield games, there is still an advantage for people with fast hard drives. Battlefield 2 was the unspoken benefit of purchasing a Western Digital 10,000 RPM Raptor drive, way back in 2006. You joined in as soon as you loaded which could mean nearly half of a minute to get your vehicle and go.

Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

Source: Corsair

SSD2Go Pro on the go

Subject: Storage | February 6, 2014 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: ssd, angelbird, SSD2Go Pro, usb 3.0

SSDs are perfect for mobility as they can be larger than USB drives and with a good controller they can saturate the USB 3.0 or eSATA bus which is good news for those filming or taking pictures on a trip.  The SSD Review has been using the Angelbird SSD2Go USB 3.0 External SSD for a long time now and it has survived quite a few trips.  The speed is also impressive, ATTO reports 533MB/s on eSATA and over 400MB/s using USB 3.0.  It also comes in snazzy colours.

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"As a bit of a personal example, we reviewed the Angelbird SSD2Go USB 3.0 External SSD last June and that SSD has since been around the world and back, and then some. Wherever my camera equipment goes, it goes."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

A second look at the TOCZshiba Vertex 460

Subject: Storage | January 24, 2014 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: 19nm, Indilinx Barefoot, ocz, sata, ssd, vertex 460

Legit Reviews also had a chance to try out the new OCZ 460 that Al reviewed recently, on a system with a different Z77 motherboard and slightly slower processor.  Not many of the benchmarks overlap so you can gain a bit more insight into the performance of this drive before you purchase it.  In the end their conclusion is similar, this is one of the best SSDs they've encountered and should be available at a very decent price per gigabyte.

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"Legit Reviews is checking out the new OCZ Storage Solutions Vertex 460 SSD today! We received a 240GB version this time around for evaluation which is pretty much the typical size of a review sample anymore. The Vertex 460 carries the same Barefoot 3 M10 controller we saw in the Vertex 450 and is now paired with 19nm Toshiba MLC NAND. The performance specifications are impressive for what is essentially an entry-level ‘performance’ drive with reads hitting 545MB/s max and 525MB/s writes max. Read on to see how it performs!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

As of yesterday, the OCZ we all knew was officially acquired by Toshiba. They are now referred to as OCZ Storage Solutions, acting as a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba Group:

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This deal has been in the works for a while now, and while some suspected OCZ might be going under, they have continued to release new drives. The acquisition is more beneficial to OCZ than you might think, in that they now have much better access to Toshiba flash memory. Further, they can likely purchase it at better costs than available to those outside of the new parent companies' umbrella.

Today is no different, and OCZ is ringing in the pairing with a new product launch:

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Lets jump right into the specs:

Specifications:

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OCZ also provided a comparison against prior models:

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This new model, just like the Vector 150, sports Toshiba 19nm flash. It's a slightly newer version of the Barefoot 3 controller, but with a lower endurance spec and warranty period.

Continue reading our review of the OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD!!

Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Various

The stars are aligned

One of the most frequent questions we get at PC Perspective is some derivative of "is now the time to buy or should I wait?"  If you listen to the PC Perspective Podcast or This Week in Computer Hardware you'll know that I usually err on the side of purchasing now. Why should you hold yourself back on the enjoyment of technology unless something DRAMATIC is just over the horizon.

This week I got another such email that prompted me to do some thinking.  After just returning from CES 2014 in Las Vegas, I think its fair to say that we didn't hear anything concrete about upcoming SSD plans that would really be considered monumental.  Sure, we saw plenty of PCIe SSDs as well as some M.2 options, but little for PC enthusiasts or even users that are looking to replace the hard drives in their PlayStation 4. Our team thinks that now is about as good of a time to buy an SSD as you will get.

And while you are always going to see price drops on commodity goods like flash storage, the prices on some of our favorite SSDs are at a low that we haven't witnessed without the rebates and flash deals of Black Friday / Cyber Monday.  Let's take a look at a few:

Note: It should go without saying that all of these price discussions are as of this writing and could change...

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Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD (Red: Amazon, Yellow: Newegg) - Graph courtesy HoverHound

The flagship SSD from the Samsung 840 EVO series SSDs, also the personal favorite of Allyn and most of the rest of the PC Perspective team, is near its all-time low in price at just $529 for a 1TB capacity.  That is a cost per GB of just $0.529; no rebates, no gimmicks.  

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Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD (Red: Amazon, Yellow: Newegg) - Graph courtesy HoverHound

Likely the most popularly purchased of the EVO series is the 500GB model that is currently selling on Amazon for $309, or $0.618/GB.  Obviously that is a higher mark than the 1TB hits but as you'll see in our tables below, in general, the higher capacity you purchase at the better value per GB you are going to find.  

There are other capacities of the Samsung 840 EVO starting at 120GB, going to 250GB, and even a 750GB, all are included in the pricing table below.  Depending on your budget and your need for the best perceived value, you can make a decision on your own.

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Let's not forget the other options on the market; Samsung may be the strongest player today but companies like Intel, OCZ and Corsair continue to have a strong presence.  The second best selling series of SSD during the holidays was the Intel 530 series of drives that utilize the LSI SandForce SF2281 controller.  How do they stack up price-wise?

Continue reading our analysis to determine if this is the best time to buy an SSD!!

Heavy peta-ing; fondling SSDs in a bad way

Subject: Storage | January 10, 2014 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: ssd, petabyte, SSD test, endurance

The Tech Report's attempts to test SSDs to destruction have hit the 500TB mark, with three two-bit MLC NAND drives and one three-bit TLC model all trying to survive.  They are using raw SMART data to keep track of sectors reallocated from the spare area to replace flash which has died due to repeated usage.  So far the Samsung 840 with its three bit TLC has suffered the most loss of sectors but like the other drives it has not shown much performance degradation.  There have been a few other bumps in the road during the tests, check out the full story here.

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"Our SSD Endurance Experiment has reached the half-petabyte mark, so it's time for another checkup."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

CES 2014: OCZ shows Barefoot/Toshiba powered Vertex 460 and new Z-Drive 4500

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 01:56 AM |
Tagged: z-drive, toshiba, ssd, ocz, CES 2014, CES, barefoot 3

Earlier today we swing by OCZ for a look at what was new. First up is a fresh launch, the Vertex 460:

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This new SSD will sport a Barefoot 3 M10 controller driving Toshiba 19nm flash. With OCZ's recent acquisition by Toshiba, this makes things handy, as OCZ can now source this flash at a much lower cost. I suspect much of OCZ's lineup will make a similar transition as time goes on.

Also up is a few changes in the enterprise sector:

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The Intrepid (center) sticks around, while the PCIe solutions get a bit of a shuffle. To the left is the Z-Drive 4500, which is a shorter iteration of OCZ's previous enterprise offerings.

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The Z-Drive XL (right) may look a bit familiar from the back. It's actually a slight repackage of the Z-Dive R4. The main tweaks here were cooling optimizations and a heatsink that keeps the same form and function as the smaller 4500.

We will have a review of the Vertex 460 up in a few weeks time, and we are happy to see OCZ won't be going anywhere any time soon.

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PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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