So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Corsair Force Series F120 SSD
Corsair's Force Series F120 SSD uses a SandForce controller to deliver speedy access through clever page-management algorithms.
- Expensive cost per GB
We only tested 120GB Corsair SSD, although we were told that, unlike other SSDs, the company's SandForce controller technology helps the Force Series F120 to perform just as well as 256GB drives that elsewhere have greater scope for parallel write tasks. This is a fast drive, especially when working with non-compressed data or when it can take advantage of NCQ to quickly process queued transfers. Nonetheless, it isn't quite the fastest SSD when judged by many routine tasks. Ultimately it's the price that gives us cause for reservation: over $4.50 per gigabyte.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
Corsair is a well-established designer of performance upgrade components for PCs, making its name with rugged power-supply units, system memory, and more recently, fast SSDs. The Force Series F120 is its latest model.
Corsair's Force series of SSDs sits above the cheaper Nova and Reactor series of drives, and takes a more unusual configuration of SandForce SF-1200 controller, with no added cache. This controller features DuraClass technology, billed as sophisticated processing that enables on-the-fly compression and decompression of data, ensuring that less data is written to the drive.
SandForce is tight-lipped about the inner workings of its proprietary algorithms, but the net effect is said to be speedy access through clever page-management algorithms, with less garbage collection required behind the scenes.
The Corsair Force Series F120 is superbly finished in a black anodised aluminium shell, yet it weighs only 78g. Included in the box is a mounting bracket to easily convert the 2.5in drive into 3.5in drive form, for easier mounting in a desktop PC.
In traditional HDD-based benchmarks such as HD Tach and HD Tune Pro, the Corsair Force Series F120 wasn’t seen to perform so well, giving around 190 megabytes per second reads and 146MBps writes; CrystalDiskMark let it fare better with a 212MBps sequential read speed, while AS SSD pegged it at 207MBps reads. Corsair told us that the built-in compression technology means it doesn’t impress so much in CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD as they use data sets that are already compressed.
So we tried CrystalDiskMark using regular (0x00), rather than random data.
Here the F120 could show of its own built-in file compression/decompression system to give much higher transfer speeds. In sequential reads and writes, the SSD now scored 265MBps and 231MBps. For 512kB data, the drive's speed barely fell, now at 250MBps and 229MBps. With small 4kB files, there was little change from random data sets, at 23MBps and 54MBps reads and writes respectively.
This suggests that for some kinds of data transfers there will be little advantage available to SandForce's algorithms, such as moving already compressed zip files and MPEG video and audio. Other files types may benefit from this reduced-write methodology though.
The multi-threading of data reads and writes is handled particularly well in this SSD. In the AS SSD test of 64 threaded 4k files, the Corsair Force Series F120 could read and write at 120MBps and 110MBps respectively. Similarly, CrystalDiskMark's comparable QD32 test saw the Corsair read at 118MBps and write even faster at 124MBps.
And with non-random data in this 4k QD32 test, the F120 now achieved a high result of 143MBps reads and 167MBps writes.
In the ATTO test the Corsair shone bright too, recording a maximum read speed of 281MBps and write speed of 238MBps.
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