SanDisk Extreme 240GB SSD Review
SanDisk may not be a household name within the SSD market but as one of the primary flash memory suppliers, their products have been used in countless storage products throughout the years. While people typically associate the SanDisk name with SD cards or flash drives, their manufacturing lines are now being leveraged to supply advanced 24nm toggle mode NAND for a new lineup of SSDs. Dubbed the Extreme SSD series, these new drives have capacities up to 480GB and are focused upon delivering high performance while maintaining class leading price points. In this review we will be taking a look at the 240GB version.
Ironically, the first time we saw SanDisk's new 24nm ICs being used, they were within a Corsair Force GS 240GB and paired up with an LSI / SandForce SF2281 controller. The result was quite impressive as the GS remained near the top of our charts and offered a surprising amount of value considering its $210 price tag. SanDisk meanwhile has taken very much the same route as Corsair (minus a few small changes of course) by using the 24nm + SF2281 route but where does that leave it from a value standpoint? Well, that Force GS still hovers around $210 before rebates but the Extreme SSD 240GB can be found for about $185. This actually makes for an interesting situation since SanDisk is able to outprice one of their own customers by virtue of cutting out the middle man and selling directly to retailers.
SanDisk obviously manufactures the NAND housed inside their Extreme series, so this should provide the Extreme 240GB with an advantage over most of the competition who have to rely upon third party manufactures for their NAND supply. Much like every other manufacturer of cutting edge NAND, SanDisk branded devices receive only the best of any batch via increased screening practices. If experience with Intel and Micron/Crucial are any indication this should translate to improved long term durability and a noticeable performance improvement.
This situation provides the perfect opportunity to see exactly how good 24nm SanDisk Toggle Mode NAND can really be. Both the Corsair Force GS 240GB and SanDisk Extreme use the same controller and use the same 24nm Toggle Mode ICs. Both also use standard SF2281 firmware and we have ensured each is using a very similar firmware revision for the subsequent pages' tests. So on the surface of things the screening of the NAND itself should play a pivotal role.
From the outside, the Extreme’s all black aesthetics does not appear to have anything in common with the bold red clad Corsair GS. In fact, the Extreme with its conservative appearance looks much like any typical 2.5” form factor solid state drive.
Opening up the Extreme drive we can see that there appears to be another major difference –besides screening - between the Corsair and SanDisk products: number of NAND ICs used. Unlike the Corsair GS which uses 16 modules, SanDisk has opted for only 8 ICs. This does help explain the lower than usually power rating of the drive (it is rated at just 0.6W) but it may result in slightly lower performance in some scenarios due to interleaving and controller load balancing.
The minor changes that differentiate this drive from the Corsair branded solution do go a long way towards explaining how SanDisk is able to offer the Extreme 240GB model for a mere $175 or 77 cents per GB. With such a low asking price, if the Extreme's performance is even remotely close to that of Corsair's GS 240GB we may be looking at the best bang for your buck SSD on the market today.
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