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Corsair X256 CMFSSD-256D1 MLC SSD E-mail
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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 07 September 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Corsair X256 CMFSSD-256D1 MLC SSD
Features and Specifications
First Look: Corsair X256 SSD
Indilinx Internal Components
SSD Testing Methodology
Random Access Time Benchmark
Basic IO Bandwidth
Random Access IOPS Tests
I/O Response Time
Linear Bandwidth Speed
Sequential Performance Tests
Buffered Transaction Speed
Solid State Drive Final Thoughts
Corsair X256 Conclusion

Corsair X256 Conclusion

Benchmark Reviews begins each conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas we rate. The first is product presentation, which takes packaging into consideration only to the extent that it provides adequate packing material and delivers important consumer information for an informed purchase. Since the national economy in the midst of an economic recession, manufacturers are forced to use some creative ideas to help lure consumers to their product. SSD technology already carries a premium price tag over the alternative, which is why product presentation becomes so important. The Corsair X256 SSD we received for testing came in a small plain white box with little more than the part number sticker and bar code on top; not exactly the kind of presentation that coerces you to reach for the wallet. The absense of any product detail is likely due to Kingston's product delivery: online retailers and direct e-commerce only, which enable a web page to deliver the data that their packaging does not.

Solid State Drives are a lot like spark plugs: you see them just long enough to install, and then they're forgotten. Corsair keeps production costs down on the X256 SSD by using a uniform black painted enclosure identical to nearly all other SSD products we've tested, and then attaches an adhesive label to the top of the chassis for each product series. Because Solid State Drives, like their Hard Disk Drive counterparts, are meant to place function before fashion, anything above and beyond a simple metal shell is more than what's expected of the appearance. To this end, I still prefer that manufacturers utilize sealed plastic enclosures (such as the MOBI 3000) to prevent moisture or electrical shock damage; an unlikely trend to come back.

Construction is probably the strongest feature asset credited to any SSD product line, and Corsair products have never been an exception. Solid State Drives are by nature immune to most abuses because of their architecture and technology, but the hard metal shell adds a superfluous level of protection. If a Corsair X-series SSD product does happen to fail during the standard 2-year warranty period, end-users can contact Corsair technical support via the company website or support forums. Fortunately, there's also a toll-free telephone number for support or customer service questions in the US (888-222-4346).

Benchmark performance results place the Corsair X256 ahead of every other MLC SSD we've tested, and directly behind the OCZ Vertex EX and Intel X25-E Extreme server-orientated SLC SSDs. Based on the large collection of tests conducted, the Corsair X256 offers a noteworthy 0.10 ms response time assure a nearly-instant reaction, and the CMFSSD-256D1 model showed absolutely no sign of data read/write stuttering during our tests. ATTO Disk Benchmark tool reported an impressive 260 MBps maximum read bandwidth in our tests and 217 MBps maximum write. EVEREST's linear full-sector bandwidth performance was a steady 244 MBps read-from, and an impressive 238 MBps write-to speed. While all of these benchmarks indicate the general bandwidth 'speed' was the highest among MLC SSDs available, matching the OCZ Vertex Turbo's read and improving on the write speed, the input/output performance results were also very high when compared against ultra-premium SLC SSDs. Iometer indicated a random read and write IOPS around 1769/1773, equal to the OCZ Vertex Turbo, and shared a random response time of 0.50/0.06ms. The 4 KB random IOPS performance in HD Tune measured 7444 for read IO, and an impressive 16244 for write.

As of September 2009, the Corsair X256 and other eXtreme series of Solid State Drives are sold at NewEgg in several capacities. Sharing nearly identical construction, the Corsair X-series competes directly with the OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD series. The Corsair X32 CMFSSD-32D1 sells for $135 after rebate, compared to the more expensive 30GB OCZSSD2-1VTXT30G model selling for $155. Corsair's X64 SSD model CMFSSD-64D1 sells for $179 after rebate, while the 60GB OCZSSD2-1VTXT60G model is listed for $249. The 128GB Corsair X128 SSD model CMFSSD-128D1 lists for $329 after rebate, and the 120GB OCZSSD2-1VTXT120G sells for over $100 more, listing at $439. Finally, the 256GB Corsair CMFSSD-256D1 model SSD that Benchmark Reviews has tested for this article sells for $649 after rebate. The Corsair X256 would normally compete head-to-head with the 250GB OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD, but thus far the OCZSSD2-1VTXT250G model has only been a paper launch and has yet to find its way onto store shelves. Either way, the Corsair X256 and the rest of the X-series SSD's seem to have the upper hand when it comes to sales price.

While only a few consumers might choose to pay $649 for the 256GB version over the more-affordable $329 120GB Corsair X128, our tests have shown that the Cosair X256 is definitely the sweet-spot for MLC SSDs. My support for this statement is simple: the fastest consumer SSD also sells for $2.50 per gigabyte. While that might still be three times the amount for a Western Digital VelociRaptor hard drive, it is also nearly three times as fast. The Indilinx Barefoot controller has proven itself to be a very popular chip for SSD makers, and the Corsair X256 exploits the highest order of MLC performance. It may take some extra effort to maintain pristine-level NAND performance on a full-time basis until native TRIM support in enabled in Windows 7, but the MLC SSD market has never seen a faster portable storage product. The Corsair X256 and eXtreme-series SSDs are premium high-performance storage products recommended to enthusiasts wanting the absolute best performance from their computer system.

EDITOR'S NOTE 29 OCT 2009: The X256 SSD sample provided to Benchmark Reviews by Corsair nearly two months ago has stopped working and is no longer recognized by any system BIOS or O/S. After some research, it appears that a very small number of Corsair X256 SSDs have suffered similar firmware-related issues. This problem has been confirmed with Corsair, and the present solution is to contact Corsair technical support via the company website or support forums. Replacement X256 SSDs are said to have a new firmware version that remedies this issue, although this is unconfirmed. As a precaution, ensure that all important files have been backed-up onto another source.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Impressive 244 MBps read and 238 write bandwidth with EVEREST
+ 64MB Cache buffer overcomes 'stuttering' data problem
+ Extremely low 0.10 ms random access time
+ Lightweight compact storage solution
+ Resistant to extreme shock impact
+ Up to 256 GB of SSD capacity
+ 2-Year Corsair product warranty and free support forum
+ Low power consumption may extend battery life

Cons:

- Metal case is heavier and less durable than plastic
- Lacks integrated USB 2.0 Mini-B data connection
- Expensive enthusiast-level product

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.50
  • Appearance: 8.75
  • Construction: 9.75
  • Functionality: 9.50
  • Value: 8.50

Final Score: 9.2 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

Nomination: 2009 Editor's Choice Award for MLC SSD Products.

Questions? Comments? Benchmark Reviews really wants your feedback. We invite you to leave your remarks in our Discussion Forum.

EDITORS NOTE: After November 2009 Benchmark Reviews will begin testing storage devices using the Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System. Although the Marvell SATA 6Gb/s (SATA-III) controller is available on select motherboards, our testing indicates that SSD devices perform better on the Intel ICH-10 Southbridge.

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