Corsair Force F100 100GB SSD Review
With the SSD market expanding at what seems to be a breakneck speed, companies have been faced with a limited number of options when it comes to choosing controllers for their latest and greatest. Up until recently Intel, Indilinx, JMicron and to a slightly lesser extent Samsung have been the de-facto choices for the vast majority of consumer SSDs but that looks to be changing. Sandforce has now burst onto the scene with their SF-1500 enterprise-class and SF-1200 mass market controllers which are now being used in a number of upcoming SSDs.
Corsair has decided to use the new SF-1200 controller within their new Force series of enthusiast-grade solid state drives and it is the 100GB version we will be looking at in this review. Priced at around $410 USD (Canadian pricing is still very much up in the air), this drive should be able to compete with the best the competition has to offer at this point.
Naturally, choosing to go with a relatively new controller has its risks and there is already some controversy surrounding Sandforce’s products. There have been reports that for all intents and purposes, the SF-1500 and SF-1200 are identical but the SF-1500 comes equipped with enterprise-class features like a higher MTBF rating, the ability to run high performance SLC NAND and higher small file random write speed. However, early versions of Sandforce’s firmware allowed the lower-end controller to nearly equal the small file performance of its bigger brother. Most retail drives sporting the SF-1200 on the other hand (OCZ’s Agility 2 and an upcoming product from G.Skill) will come with a firmware that caps performance so it doesn’t approach that of the SF-1500. This situation has been further confused by the fact that OCZ has an agreement with Sandforce whereby their upcoming Vertex 2 will have access to the higher speeds while using the SF-1200 controller. Confused yet?
Corsair has looked at the controller / firmware situation, deemed it unacceptable and will thus be shipping their Force series drives with the “unlocked” pre-release firmware. Not only could this make the Force series direct competitors with the more expensive Vertex 2 but it will probably make these drives extremely hot commodities. But, how does this new controller really stack up? We intend to find out.
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