|Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 10 February 2011|
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Zalman N-Series SSD Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
SandForce SSDs have taken the market by storm, which has helped companies like Zalman to expand their reach into the high-performance storage hardware segment. Not only are these SandForce-driven solid state drives extremely fast, but more importantly they're capable of SLC-level operational performance I/O and NAND durability. The Zalman N-Series builds from the powerful SandForce SF-1222 solid state processor, which brings innovation to the SSD industry by prolonging MLC NAND flash module lifetime and delivering RAID-like data redundancy. When one SandForce product is physically identical to another, the overall value depends on price, warranty, and customer support. If you're price shopping, a quick stroll through our other recent SandForce SF-1200 product reviews will reveal other SSD options.
Our performance rating considers how effective the Zalman N-Series solid state drive performs in operations against direct competitor storage solutions. For reference, SandForce specifies the SF-1200 at 260 MB/s read and write, which Zalman increases to 280 MB/s read and 270 write. The faster read/write speeds doesn't seem to push IOPS performance any lower, which is the tradeoff for some other SandForce SF-1200 based drives. In our benchmark tests, the Zalman N-Series performed at or above this speed, and occasionally surpassed other SSDs of the same SandForce SF-1200 processor. For example, the Zalman N-Series SSD delivered 286/276 MBps peak read and writes speeds using ATTO Disk Benchmark SSD speed tests, matching all of the fastest SandForce SSDs. Everest Disk Benchmark produced 271/257 MB/s, making this the fastest SATA-3GBps MLC SSD Benchmark Reviews has tested to date.
The retail SSD0128N1 kit that Zalman sent us for testing uses firmware capable of 50,000 IOPS, and in our own Iometer operational performance tests at a queue depth of 32 outstanding I/O's per target IOPS performance measured 42,314. In this particular test, the formatted Zalman N-Series SSD trails the chart leader by only 500 IOPS, which could easily be captured by testing with clean (unused) NAND. In the 4K 32QD tests with AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark, the Zalman N-Series SSD topped our charts and became the new leader. In addition to matching or surpassing competitor products, Zalman's N-Series dominates SSDs lacking SandForce-driven controller technology while delivering impressive bandwidth speed and IOPS performance. With the results we received in our testing, enthusiasts can expect high operational performance and functionality for demanding applications.
Solid State Drives are low-visibility products: you see them just long enough to install and then they're forgotten. Like their Hard Disk Drive counterparts, Solid State Drives are meant to place function before fashion. Anything above and beyond a simple metal shell is already more than what's expected in terms of the appearance. Zalman has created a back-to-basics look with the black textured finish and white branding on their N-Series SSDs. As solid state storage controllers become faster and more advanced, heat dissipation through the enclosure walls may demand that chassis designs become more beneficial than they previously needed to be. This isn't the case yet, and a metal chassis suits SandForce SSDs nicely.
Benchmark Reviews has tested the Zalman N-Series SSD against many of its closest competitors, and if by surprise, it demonstrated some of the best IOPS performance we've seen while also delivering the fastest bandwidth speeds of any SATA-3GB/s SSD. High-performance computer enthusiasts will enjoy the a noteworthy 0.14 ms response time, which assures a nearly-instant reactions when called upon. Based on the SATA-3.0 SandForce SF-1222TA3-SBH processor, the Zalman N-Series SSDs deliver native TRIM garbage collection (in Windows 7) and SMART support with impressive transfer speeds. More importantly, SandForce DuraClass technology adds their proprietary RAISE and DuraWrite features not available to other SSDs, and the end result is a product that could last up to five times longer with less wear on NAND flash modules due to 7% over-provisioning.
In terms of overall value, Zalman has priced their N-Series SSDs to be comparable to other SandForce-driven products of the same capacity. Mail-in rebates are available on most products, but are usually limited-time offers. As of 10 February 2011, Zalman offers two N-Series SSD capacities with an extremely competitive pricing. Newegg sells the following Zalman N-Series solid state drives:
$129.99 64GB SSD0064N1
$239.99 128GB SSD0128N1
The 128GB Zalman N-Series solid state drive managed to push bandwidth speed performance to the highest levels we've recorded for any SATA-3GB/s drive using Everest, and then went on to surpass our best results with AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark. Zalman has priced their N-Series to give consumers the best possible value, and all drives feature their three-year product warranty. I recommend the Zalman N-Series SSDs for high-performance computer hardware enthusiasts and hardcore power-users, and because the Zalman N-Series offers blazing fast transfer speeds and outstanding operational performance (IOPS) at a fair price it earns our Golden Tachometer Award.
+ Delivers excellent IOMeter IOPS performance
- Not 3rd-Generation SATA-6.0 compliant
Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.
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