SSD Decoder V4.0

In the process of conducting my SSD research and reviews, I have compiled a bit of a rough spreadsheet to help me sort through the mish mash of various SSD models.  A while ago it occurred to me this would be greatly helpful to our readers, so I polished it up into a more coherent and easily searchable reference.

This is largely a work in progress, and I will be continuously updating this chart as new drives are released and tested.  Feel free to bookmark this page for your future reference.  So without further delay, here is what you've all been looking for!

Note: You can also reach this page by surfing to the direct link: http://www.pcper.com/ssd.

Since posting this table, I have added a page to help guide you in your selection.  See below for the goods.

*** First Release *** (June 2009)

Initial release.

*** Rev 2 *** (Jan 2010)

Added additional form factors (PCI-e).  Many new entries, nearly doubling the entries over the original list.  Added a column detailing the support and/or availability of TRIM enabled firmware.  Split the table into 2 parts as it was not rendering properly in some browsers.

*** Rev 2.3 *** (Feb 2010)

Corrected SSDNow V+ 1st gen (incorrectly listed as Indilinx).
Corrections to some Samsung part numbers.
Added Micron, Sandforce, Toshiba.
Added Kingston SSDNow V and V+ 2nd gen series.

*** Rev 3.0 *** (Jul 2010)

Added many Sandforce units (incl. OCZ RevoDrive)
Added several higher capacities marketed since last update
Added some missing review links
Added Z-Drive R2
Added Mushkin, Western Digital, Patriot
Added Phison controller and drives
Expanded to 3 table pages
Corrected Kingston M Series G2 part numbers
 

*** Rev 4.0 *** (Sep 2011)

Re-created the table with a new workflow that won't fail when trying to insert rows into an already huge HTML table.
Added Intel 310, 311, 320, 510 Series
Added SandForce 228x (6Gb/sec) Series
Added 25nm variants of 3Gb/sec SandForce SSD's
Added Sync/Async/Toggle Mode Flash, as well as 34/25nm labels to flash for newer additions

Added *many* new drives (including the new lines of SandForce and Intel (Micron) SATA 6Gb/sec models). This update doubled the size of the Decoder.
 

Open the Decoder!
Open the Decoder in a Lightbox!

Allyn's Picks

After posting up the Decoder Ring, we have had some recommendation requests by people that just want to cut to the chaff.  Here are a few of my own usage scenarios, the drives I use, and why.

Mid / High-End Laptop

Some newer laptops may be able to saturate SATA-2, most do not.  While faster processors and higher available bandwidth will help laptops take some advantage of the IOPS available from higher end SSD's, you will not see their full potential in a portable machine.  A Corsair S Series drive like the one above will do well, but you will still see a performance gain by going with the newest PB22-J Samsung controlled units.  These can be found most commonly in the Corsair P series units and OCZ's new Summit line.  The PB22-J can hit over 200 MB/sec in reads and writes in sizes of 128 and 256GB.  The slower 120 MB/sec write speed of the 64GB model meshes nicely with the ultimate throughput seen from most laptop power-saving chipsets.

For beefier / newer laptops, my preference is Intel 320 Series for single SSD, SandForce 3Gb/sec for RAID (or for those demanding faster writes than the 320). Finally, for those fortunate enough to have a 6Gb/sec-equipped laptop (and want to actually go that fast), 6Gb/sec SandForce is the way to go.

A 120GB OCZ Summit awaits review in our lab.

High End Desktop

My choice here is similar to that of the hign end laptop. For single drive SATA 3Gb/sec, go Intel 320 Series. For all RAID configurations, go SandForce (they handle long-term fragmentation effects better than Intel when operated in absense of TRIM - which does not yet pass through any RAID implementations).

For SATA 6Gb/sec capable systems, the way to go is with the newest generation SandForce units. If you're really gung-ho, a pair of these in RIAD-0 can hit close to 1GB/sec (yes, GigaByte/sec) on the newest Intel SandyBridge chipsets.

Alternatively, if you're not too hard on your primary storage and would like to avoid the whole matter of juggling data between your SSD and HDD, consider a Z68 motherboard for your next upgrade cycle. Pairing these boards with a 20GB Intel SSD 311 will get you roughly 90% of the performance of a good Intel 3Gb/sec SSD. The 311 uses SLC Flash which is better suited for the demands of caching random sectors from the paired HDD. Z68's can also use 'normal' SSD's for caching duties, but only up to a limit of 60GB - a limit of what the special caching driver can effectively track.

Finally, remember to use AHCI or RAID mode to take advantage of Queue Depth!

The Intel X25-M.  This one is (still) installed in my primary rig.

Lightweight Portable / Netbook

Portable machines using very low power chipsets will see a big boost in random access by moving to almost any SSD.  When choosing, consider that one of the keys to low power chipsets is to run internal busswork at lower clocks and fewer channels.  The end result is your typical netbook will not get very far past SATA-1 speeds even when using a SATA-2 controller and SSD.  Limited processing power will not be able to take advantage of the IOPS provided by the speediest SSD's out there.  This means you can save some coin by going with something like an older generation Samsung controlled device.  Don't be afraid to go for a quicker if you find a good deal. Basically, you want to go for the best cost/GB you can find.

The Corsair 'S' Series used the previous generation Samsung controller and was a good match for low-power use.

Other things to consider:

I realize I've said mostly 'SandForce' and 'Intel' up to this point, but they are the current leaders in the market. With Intel constantly dropping prices, and with carriers of SandForce models constantly fighting for the cheapest to market, little room is left for the competition.

That said, Samsung is closely chasing the competition, and there are other very decent units coming equipped with Toshiba and Phison controllers. If you're not horribly concerned with the bleeding edge, just go for the cheapest you can find in the capacity you desire.

Lastly: JMicron

JMicron 602 controllers are generally shunned here at PCPer.  While they have improved slightly with the newer 602b variant, they suffer from nasty OS stuttering issues due to the controller effectively hanging all other tasks while servicing a write.  Multiple small writes issued will bring a 602-controlled SSD to enough of a halt to cause odd things to happen, like your mouse cursor intermittently hanging while Windows waits on the SSD to service cache reads. Newer 612 models solve this problem somewhat, but are really not worth the few dollars of savings over the next-best models out there.

JMicron's new ARM-based JMF612 controller.