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Written by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 10 February 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1
Features and Specifications
Closer Look: Zalman N-Series SSD
SandForce SF-1200 SSD Controller
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD
Zalman N-Series SSD Conclusion

Closer Look: Zalman N-Series SSD

SSDs are catching on quickly because they work equally well in PC, Linux, or Apple Mac computers. For this article Benchmark Reviews is testing the Zalman N-Series SSD, which is expected to reach speeds of 280 MB/s for sequential reads and 270 MB/s sequential writes. The SSD0128N1 model we're testing is built using the SandForce SF-1222 controller with 7% over-provisioning, which means that 60GB of 64GB and 120 of 128GB NAND flash contained in this SSD are allocated for data use. The Zalman N-Series comes in 64/128GB capacities.

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The Zalman N-Series SSD is best suited for performance-orientated notebook computers, and also works extremely well for enthusiast-level desktop computer systems. If required, the Zalman N-Seriesf could also be utilized for mission-critical backups or high-abuse data server systems. SandForce SF-1200 series SSDs have been designed with a focus on high-performance operational and data transfer speeds, and includes encrypted data protection and improved NAND wear-leveling through their proprietary DuraWrite technology. Although Zalman N-Series SSDs do not offer an integrated USB Mini-B port, which appeared on some early-generation SSDs, the retail market offers several 2.5" SATA enclosures that utilize the SuperSpeed USB-3.0 standard for high-performance portable file transfers.

Zalman-N-Series-SSD0128N1-Top.jpg

Knowing that the SSD will be installed and hidden away inside a notebook computer or desktop workstation, Zalman has remained conservative with the looks of their N-Series solid state drive. Both halves of the enclosure are given a black textured finish, which does not show fingerprints or smudges like a gloss surface would.

Zalman-N-Series-SSD0128N1-Angle.jpg

Standard 2.5" drive bay mounting points are pre-drilled and threaded into the Zalman N-Series SSD chassis, which allows for quick upgrade or addition into any existing notebook and other compact computer system. Unfortunately, Zalman does not include a 3.5" to 2.5" tray adapter with this kit, so the N-Series SSD will require an appropriately sized tray to install into desktop computers. The mounting positions matched up to the drive bracket on my notebook computer, and after only a few minutes I was booting from a restored Windows 7 System Image without a hitch.

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Unlike most Hard Disk Drive (HDD) storage products, SSDs are nearly impervious to impact damage and do not require (or benefit from) any kind of special vibration dampening or shock-proof enclosures Zalman utilizes a standard two-piece metal enclosure for their N-Series SSDs, which reveals the internal components after removing four small counter-sunk screws located along the sides of this solid state drive. The seam along the side is covered with a 'Warranty Void' label, which Zalman attaches to across both pieces of the chassis to warn consumers against taking apart their SSDs. By removing the enclosure cover it will also remove your consumer protection with it, but Benchmark Reviews takes the risk for you and reveals the internal components in our next section.

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So that's the Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD. It's not very different in outward appearance to most other solid state drives, which is why functionality and value are so important. Now that you're acquainted with the basic exterior features of this SSD, it's time to peek inside the metal enclosure and inspect the internal components...



 

Comments 

 
# SSD is the way to goCom-Tek Chris 2011-02-10 20:57
Although I do not currently own this drive my current drive has the Sandforce controller and man does it smoke! I have 2x 120gig OCZ's in Raid 0 and the performance is stellar.
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# RE: SSD is the way to goWhyNotV2 2011-02-11 03:42
I agree that SSD is the way to go, but as the reviewer stated, it's the price point that's keeping myself and others away from full adoption. I also don't own the drive reviewed I also don't use one in my desktop as I favor the VelociRaptor 740 (running plenty strong since purchased in 2004) with other WD 7200rpm drives for storage and non-essential programs as a secondary drive(s). I do use a 64GB RunCore SSD in my HP netbook (1030nr) running the full version of Windows 7. I love both products, but while the raptor drives exist and the SSD technology is still young, I can't make the leap. As always, I will keep my eye out for price drops, trim/garbage improvements, etc. (thanks benchmarkreviews!!!) in hopes that in the months/years to come the price, stability, performance and longevity of SSDs nears that of the VelociRaptor drives.
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# RE: Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1Robert17 2011-02-12 03:03
Good review. Anything in the included documentation as to this being 34nm technology? I've included an article link below that I found interesting. Maybe the technology is reaching some limits to nand production/performance. Maybe we're about to see rapid (or more rapid) competition of the SSD controller development/deployment. That seems to be amongst the better design improvements anyway.

##nordichardware.com/news/86-storage/42306-25nm-nand-forces-ssd-makers-to-limit-storage.html

It also makes me think that hybrid drive development may get a push when thinking of nand, controllers, price, and real world applications. Any word on the street of upcoming changes in the industry?
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# RE: RE: Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1Olin Coles 2011-02-12 06:59
Sorry Robert, but the Zalman documentation is VERY scarce on information. I had to write to the manufacturer just to find out what the rated IOPS for this drive was. It is unlikely that this SSD is using 34nm technology, as it's physically the same drive as other SF-1200 SSDs. All that separates most SandForce-driven SSDs is firmware licensing.
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# Crucial?JAMF 2011-02-12 03:31
It would be nice if the Crucial RealSSD drives were tested, to see how they stack up.
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# OopsJAMF 2011-02-12 03:35
Was looking at the Random 4k/QD32 results as I wrote this. I wouldn't have thought it be that far down the list.
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# RE: OopsOlin Coles 2011-02-12 07:00
Glad you found it. While the Crucial RealSSD C300 is very fast, it's not so great at managing the same operational workload as SandForce SSDs.
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# RE: Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1aberkae 2011-02-12 08:17
Anyone know when we will see ssds with sanforce 2500 and 2600 controllers?
The C300 fell in price to $450 for 256 gig, and OCZ vertex 2 is usually on sale for 120 gig for $ 150 after MIR @ newegg. The revo x2 is on sale to as well for $ 564.
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# RE: RE: Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1Olin Coles 2011-02-12 08:26
March or later. Even then, the new SandForce SSDs are targeted towards enterprise storage.
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# HeightEmilio 2011-05-24 14:22
Hi, can someone tell me the height of this remarkable ssd? Thanks in advance!
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# RE: HeightOlin Coles 2011-05-24 15:52
Measured with calipers for you: 2.75" wide, 0.40" tall, and 3.95" long.
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# RE: HeightEmilio 2011-05-24 17:56
Thank you very much for your fast response, but 2.40 inch tall? Is this correct? That is about 60 milimmeters, I was hoping something between 9,5 and 12 milimeters. Perhaps 2.4 is the tall of the box?
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# RE: RE: HeightOlin Coles 2011-05-24 18:03
Oops, that's supposed to be 0.40" tall. I'll fix it.
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# Thanks!Emilio 2011-05-26 11:45
Thank you!!! Im going to buy this SSD for my hp mini 311, wich uses a 0.37" drive. That is less than 1 mm of difference. Dont think it will be a problem. Thanks again.
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# RE: Thanks!Olin Coles 2011-05-26 13:32
What is the make and model of your current hard drive?
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