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Corsair Force GS 240GB SSD Review

  1. Introduction
  2. Packaging and Specification
  3. Closer look
  4. Test Bench and Methodology
  5. AS SSD Benchmark (Pass 3)
  6. ATTO (Pass 3) Benchmark
  7. AIDA 64 Access Test
  8. Boot Load Test
  9. TRIM Test
  10. CrystalDiskMark Benchmark
  11. HD Tune Pro Benchmark
  12. PC Mark Vantage x64 HDD Benchmark
  13. PC Mark 7 HDD Benchmark
  14. Anvil SSD Benchmark
  15. Conclusion
  16. View All

In one corner we have the mechanical storage drive industry becoming smaller- especially now that Seagate has completed acquiring LaCie. But its the opposite that’s going on in the SSD Market. It still does need to catch up on higher storage space with significantly lesser price and at least 5 years warranty period to welcome the change by the mass. Corsair is one of them. In the past 6-8 months, an SSD drive like Force GT/HyperX 120GB that once used to use Rs. 14,000- Rs. 15,000 has significantly dropped down well below Rs. 9,000. But on top of that, Corsair- like other fellow SSD manufacturers have to keep up the pace against Solid State manufacturers from Intel, Samsung, OCZ, SanDisk, Kingston, Crucial …. and the list goes on!

Corsair Force GS has something different inside. Powered by SandForce SF2281VB1 controller and surprise surprise!!!! It uses SanDisk 24nm MLC SDZNPQBHER-016GT Toggle-mode flash NAND. According to Toshiba, Toggle-mode flash allows higher density, lower power consumption and quicker compared to synchronous and asynchronous FLASH NAND.
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Well, to put it in place, Corsair Force GS’s review was kept on hold for so long because of the firmware. During testing and multiple passes of the benchmarks, it was found that the performance was decreasing everytime the benchmarking software created a test file during testing. I ran the PC Mark Vantage runs with clean, 50% fill, 75% fill and then empty drive left to idle for 1 hour- the Vantage scores were pretty much in the middle of what 50% and 75% had. It was a major let down because of HyperX, HyperX 3K, Force 3 GT never had these issues, but those drives came with older than 5.02 firmware and TRIM worked.

Kingston was one of the first to provide a 5.03 firmware and after some days (a day from the time of publishing this review) Corsair followed suit and posted the update in the forums. However, LSI has taken their sweet time to release the newer firmware. I hope that newer drives with SandForce controllers- irrespective of the brand/series- come with 5.03 firmware. If not, flash it. Do follow the instructions, especially the PDF file provided with the firmware.

The packaging is good enough. But I really wish they have mentioned the warranty period on the box itself.

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Like all Corsair standalone kits, you get the bare essentials.

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2 separate set of screws and the SSD with a metal casing- Hot Rod (I think, but it is no different from the colour scheme compared to Force GT)

One thing to emphasize. Corsair has provided a small warranty notification for Australian Consumers only:

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Thumbs up to Australia’s consumer law. Indian consumers don’t really need to worry about it since Corsair’s RMA track record amongst end-users have been excellent overall all thanks to the effort from Corsair India, its respected distributors and Kaizen Infotech, who takes care of the manufacturer’s RMA.

Moving on,

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The drive came with 5.02 firmware that was flashed on the SSD by default, but since the firmware has TRIM issues AND the newer firmware is released, I’ll be testing it with the new 5.03 Firmware.

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Force GS series is available in 180GB, 240GB, 360GB and 480GB. As clearly mentioned in the title, I am evaluating the 240GB version, that gives 223GB of formatted space at your disposal.

Do note that I feel very positive about the sheer performance of this drive:

specs

The casing of this is Metal on both sides- Matte black on the front and brushed aluminium finish at the other side.

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After removing the casing- and unlike in Kingston HyperX 3K and V+ 200, there isn’t any thermal pad on either part of the casing.

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Each side has 8 Flash NAND chip with a Sandforce SF-2281VB1 controller.

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There are 16x SanDisk 24nm MLC SDZNPQBHER-016GT, each with 8GB FLASH NAND.

It gives me great pleasure to say that I get hardware support from the manufacturers to review not only their own products but others on behalf of the readers. Its some companies such as Asus, Gigabyte, Kingston, Western Digital and Coolermaster who give me hardware support by updating my test rig no strings attached and that helps me to help you! Thumbs up to these guys!

I would like to thank

  • Gigabyte India for providing Gigabyte 890GPA UD3H Rev 1.0 motherboard
  • Asus India for providing Asus 990FX Sabertooth motherboard
  • Kingston Taiwan for providing hardware support with memory kits and SSD drive.
  • WD India for providing WD 300GB HLFS Velociraptor Hard Drive.
  • Coolermaster India for providing Coolermaster GX450 RS-450-ACAA-D3 Power Supply

 

Test Setup for: Corsair Force GS 240GB SATA III (F240GBGS-BK PK1SSD Drive)+ Firmware 5.03
Motherboard+ Processor Gigabyte 890GPAUD3H Rev 1.0+ AMD 965BE
Memory Kingston KHX1600C9D3P1K28G HyperX Genesis 8GB 1600MHz DDRIII
Primary OS drive WD 3000HLFS Velociraptor 300GB/WD 320GB BLUE 320AAJS
Power Supply Corsair TX750
Chassis Antec P280

The Benchmarks that I am using are as follows:

AS SSD (Pass 3) Read and Write (Pass 3)

ATTO (Pass 3) Test File Size= 0.5 to 8MB- Read and Write Pass 3

Aida64 Access Test Write and Read Access time File Size 64KB Pass 3

Boot Load Test (Windows 7 clean installation with AMD 12.6 drivers+ AHCI drivers pre-installed with Utorrent, Avira Security Suite, Asus Xonar DX+ 7.12.8.1794 Drivers, Netgear WG111 Wireless Lan USB drive software as start-up items) Pass 1-5 (Pass 1= System start from Power Off)

TRIM Tests: Tested by comparing PCMark Vantage HDD scores with SSDs with Clean, 50% Fill, 75% Fill, idle for 1 hour for TRIM testing.

CrystalDisk Benchmark with Pass 3, each with 5 re-runs 1000MB File Size

HDtune Pro Sequential Write and Read Pass 3

PCMark 7 HDD test

PCMark Vantage HDD Test

Anvil Benchmark: 4/16/32GB File Size in both 0% and 100% Fill test

This synthetic test it gives a good idea about Sequential, 4K Aligned, 4K Aligned with 64Bit thread test and the Access time of the hard drive. It uses Compressed Data (like CrystalDisk Mark).

Corsair Force GS+ Firmware 5.03 AS SSD

ASSSDRead

ASSSDWrite

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For the most part, it seems to be awfully close to the Read and Write speed that is advertised on Corsair Force GS.

ATTOREAD

ATTOWRITE

In both Low level and higher File size in read and write, Force GS is having a strong readout compared to others.

Access Time is one of the strongest in an SSD, but how it does compare to other SSD is what counts here…

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Write Access Speed takes little more time than it should.

AIDAREAD

AIDAWRITE

The read access is brilliant, compared to OCZ Vertex 4- the previous SSD drive I’ve evaluated. Corsair Force GS takes a hit when it comes to Write access time with 64KB Block size.

The boot test gives a good idea of the time it takes the SSD to boot from start to finish in different Pass tests (first past is from Cold Boot to Desktop).

Boot

For some reason, Force GS took 25 seconds to boot during the 3rd pass, but on most count, it stays between 15-20 seconds.

TRIM is an important feature but its also important to check if TRIM works and if/when it does, how much of the performance is recovered. The best way to see this in real time is like how Real World Labs does by comparing the 3DMark HDD’s Vantage x64 scores between preset of Clean, 50% fill, 75% Fill and soft delete of the data from the drive and left idle for 1 hour for TRIM to take effect.

I’ve also included the HDD Scores with 5.02 firmware to give you an idea.

TRIM

OCZ Vertex 4 has a pretty low score as it is by default. But you can see the 5.03 firmware has fixed the issue with TRIM. Now it is working the way it should.

Run3

CDIRead

CDIWrite

0fill

CDMRC

CDMWC

1fill

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Force GS does well with Compressed and Uncompressed data tests in CrystalDisk Benchmark, with the exception of 4K random writes.

READ

Write

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Do note the test that Vantage does keep OS like Windows Vista in mind that doesn’t have 4K alignment. Still, PCMark Vantage x64 Benchmarks gives a good idea of how drives will perform in almost A real-life scenario.
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Force GS does very well even in non 4K runs significantly better. To be honest, comparing a Toggle NAND with a non Toggle NAND is unfair, but this does give a good idea where the drive stands.

PCMark 7 Benchmark does pretty much like vintage but one of the most important point to consider is that PCMark 7 uses 4K Alignment.

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Keeping aside application load and maybe video Editing and gaming, they pretty much go head to head.

Anvil Utilities helps me to do series of tests with different file size and with a certain percent of data fill in the drive and also is the one which does SSD’s endurance testing to ensure that the SSDs don’t have issues such as degrade in flash NAND.

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0-Fill


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46% Fill


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67% Fill

This is the first time I am seeing Corsair grabbing the SanDisk’s Toggle flash NAND but seeing reviews of other SSDs from few review sources with same flash NAND- and SanDisk Extreme, I think this is going to be a trend from now onwards. In any case, the drive does extremely well with compressed and uncompressed data irrespective of the data fill.

One thing that manufacturers have to look out is the firmware. TRIM effectively works with 5.03 firmware and I hope that Corsair uses this firmware by default with newer makes. But in another corner, if you look at the way Indilinx powered OCZ Vertex 4 performed, there was an SSD lifespan degrade that was clearly seen even with shorter runs, during benchmark let alone stress testing.

To sum it all up, this is what I’ve said in OCZ Vertex 4 128GB’s conclusion:

The main concern is the flash NAND degrade that you get to see. Now, I do a lot of runs on Anvil Endurance test alone and on top of it I do each test 3 times- and with few of them with different data fill on the drive. But, seeing that the drive was used for 17 hours before and “SSD Life Left” did show a decrease in lifespan already with 1.5 firmware, you have to be concerned. HyperX 3K and SSDNow V+ 200, the consumer type SSDs don’t even have that degrade. I mentioning these 2 drives because they come with flash NANDs rated for 3k Program Erase cycle, and since all drives I evaluate go ahead with the same treatment, the “SSD Life Left” count still stays 100.

I would have like to see Force GS to make an appearance when Force GT arrived, but it came much later. Some, who have bought even the 120gig+ versions of Force GT might be bit disappointed to see Force GS coming late. Then again, if you look at now there’s Neutron Series and Neutron Series GTX uses the LAMD controllers with Toggle FLASH NAND. Seeing that 240GB drives cost pretty much what 120gig used to cost 6-8 months ago, the question that everyone will be asking is when the hell should I buy a great SSD with good performance and price?

Who wouldn’t ask? Wouldn’t you ask if newer and better controllers and/or flash NAND come between 2-4 months irrespective of the brand? Now that RAID 0 TRIM issue is solved, one will have to ask which drive is a good SSD drive- and on top of it, the newer firmware has a deep impact in performance and stability in a very long run. Whoop-dee-doo!! *sarcasm*

Which is not the question- what you should be asking is- when?

That’s very difficult to answer. Flash NAND based storage is buzzing with action: Hardware and firmware-wise. But, on a bright side (and expected) there’s a lot of progress and the cost per GB in a flash NAND is decreasing significantly. TRIM support for RAID 0? Nice!

The drive comes with 3 years warranty period. I know and also you know that warranty period doesn’t necessarily spell out the lifespan of the product, but its something that people appreciate. Then again, you jump up the warranty period- price increases. It is more on you rather than manufacturers. But, even OCZ Vertex 4 has 5 years warranty period. Not that I am comparing them overall, but here we are. 5 Years should be a standard.

I cannot say when is the right time to buy, unfortunately- I am not The Soothsayer. But, as far as this drive goes- with the 5.03 firmware from LSI this TOGGLE NAND does exceptionally well in both compressed and uncompressed runs and in a non 4K Aligned drive. It has taken a while for LSI/Corsair to bring up the newer firmware, but hey! It did arrive and it solved the issue. SandForce is maturing into a very good controller/firmware choice. Another question is, now that LAMD controllers based SSD mostly likely may come in hordes like SF-2281 did and since SanDisk toggle NAND made a good Impression it could do the same like how Intel’s asynchronous NAND is doing till now, for how long will we being SF- 2281 drives around- and/or if we’ll see a newer Sandforce controller?

India U.S. U.K.
Rs. 14,381/- $194.99 £160.00

2 comments

  1. do you still recommend this??

  2. Roshan Ashraf Shaikh

    not that I am not, but did you take a look at Samsung 830/840 Pro/Crucial M4???

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