Corsair Performance Pro 256GB SSD Review
In a relatively short period of time Corsair has developed quite the demanding presence and sterling reputation in certain SSD circles. With a varied line up and a wide array of NAND and controllers to differentiate their various models from those of the competition, they seem to have what it takes to pull potential consumers in. However, every once in awhile Corsair releases a drive seemingly from nowhere that changes the status quo. One such drive was the Performance 3 256GB drive which showed many enthusiasts that an SSD didn’t need to have “SandForce” in the same sentence as “performance” and that the new Marvell controller was a force to be reckoned with. Today we will be putting the Performance 3’s successor –the Performance PRO- under the microscope to see if it can meet our already high expectations. With an online asking price of about $400 – or $20 more than what a Crucial M4 256GB goes for - this is certainly a tall but certainly not impossible order to fulfill.
On the surface, the new Performance Pro 256GB seems to be nothing more than a firmware revised version of the original Performance 3 model. Both drives have very similar all silver metal chassis, use the same controller and even sport similar labels. It is not until you crack open the case and peak inside that you see what differentiates one from another: the PCB and built in memory.
The original Performance 3 256GB used a 1.8” form factor PCB and only had room for 8 NAND Integrated Circuit slots, the Marvell controller and a single ram chip. The new version uses a more standard 2.5” form factor and while it still only has eight of those very potent Toshiba branded, 32GB Toggle Mode NAND modules to work with, it has not one but two ram chips.
To be specific, instead of a single 128MB cache chip seen in the Performance 3 – or a single 256MB chip seen in the Crucial M4 - the Performance Pro has two Nanya branded DDR3-1333, 256MB chips for a total of 512MB of cache. This is two to four times the amount of room for the controller to work with, which should – in theory and assuming it can take full advantage of it – allow its non-trim performance to be much improved as well as offering less noticeable performance impact from the garbage collection routines. This last bit is very important as the original version had very noticeable and very aggressive idle time garbage collection which took away from overall performance even when in a TRIM environment. Naturally, another advantage of this particular SSD is that it should retain its performance over time even when not used in conjunction with TRIM.
While it is unfortunate that Corsair didn’t also upgrade the number of 34nm Toggle Mode NAND chips – and populate both sides of this larger PCB – these improvements are very reassuring to see. Hopefully they can translate into a noticeable difference when going from one generation to another.
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