Corsair Performance 3 256GB SSD Review

Author: AkG
Date: August 7, 2011
Product Name: Performance 3 256GB
Part Number: CSSD-P3256GB2-BRKT
Warranty: 3 Years
Purchase at NCIX: | UK
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While SandForce and their second generation controller line is the solid state drive industry’s darling right now, there are several other “fringe” solutions that promise to do an excellent job as well. One of these is the Marvell 88SS9174 which was first introduced to the general consumer market during this year’s CES. Housed within Corsair’s Performance 3 line, it seems to have what it takes to compete with many premier SSD controller lines.

By not opting for one of the eight SandForce controllers available, and instead going with the very potent Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2, Corsair has in effect given consumers another great option to choose from. Naturally, this controller comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses but this makes Marvell’s solution quite different from anything else out there.

Today we are going to look at what the $470 Performance 3 256GB can do and help shed light on whether the Marvell controller can go toe to toe with some of SandForce’s best. This in turn should help you decide if the Performance 3 is a better solution for you than Corsair’s own Force 3 line. After all, $470 is certainly a lot of money to spend and while this is still about $30 less than a Force 3 240GB, we highly doubt price will be the deciding factor for most. This decision will in all likelihood to come down what you plan on using your new drive for and which controller’s strengths best satisfy those needs.

Granted, this drive isn't the latest generation, nor does it use any cutting edge technology but it can be considered a "dark horse" in this industry since most people seem to have forgotten that it actually exists. And yes, the Performance 3 still packs a pretty mean punch.

Opening up the Corsair Performance 3 reveals an almost jarring juxtaposition of old and new architectures all blended together onto a 1.8” form factor PCB. Housed inside are eight dual die NAND chips and a Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2 controller chip along an external ram chip for cache.

The actual cache chip used on this device is a Nanya branded, NT5CB64M16DP-CF IC with a capacity of a 128 Megabytes. More importantly it is a DDR3-1333 SDRAM chip with CAS Latency of 8 which is supposed to take control of all caching operations. Some of you may remember seeing this kind of layout on several older SSDs and we’re sure it will be just as effective on the Performance 3.

Interestingly enough, Corsair didn’t opt for ONFi 25nm NAND. Rather they opted for super high density, 32nm Toshiba TH58TVG8D2FBA89 NAND chips.

As with all high performance Corsair Solid State Drives, the Performance 3 line comes with a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter.

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