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Corsair Force F90 90GB Solid-State Drive Review
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by Robert Tanner on March 2, 2011 in Solid-State Drives

There couldn’t be a better time than the present to purchase an SSD, and on the same token, it’s also a strange time. Performance drives cost the same as budget drives, and a perfect example of this is Corsair’s Force F90. It’s priced-right, offers incredible performance, and makes perfect use of its SandForce SF-1200 controller.

Synthetic: PCMark Vantage

There are few PC enthusiasts who are unfamiliar with the name “Futuremark”, as the Finland-based developer has been producing quality benchmarks to help us gauge our computer’s worth for years. Originally known as Madonion, Futuremark has expanded its focus to go beyond its bread and butter, graphics and gaming, and tackle other areas, such as full system performance. That’s where PCMark comes into play.

The company’s most recent addition to the PCMark family is Vantage. For most users, a full suite would be run, but because we’re focused on storage performance only, we instead run only the storage-specific tests. Fortunately, Futuremark makes this easy for us to do as it has split up the entire suite into seven separate sub-tests, one being the aptly named “HDD Suite”.

PCMark’s HDD Suite may look simple on the surface, but it’s actually quite exhaustive. While the benchmark does deliver a simple “overall” result, it actually tests I/O performance based on a variety of scenarios, from adding music to Windows Media Player, to loading applications in succession, to editing video, to running a malware scanner, and more. It even includes metrics to evaluate a simulated Windows Vista boot time, so Futuremark has done a fine job of combining many useful scenarios into a single button press.

With that over with, onto the results!

The overall PCMark score is fairly spectacular, especially given this is not the first SandForce SF-1200 based drive in our graphs. The only cause for such an improvement would be several iterations of firmware updates, as the other SandForce drives in our graphs had used the initial release firmware. It is nice to see such an appreciable jump in performance as the firmware matures.

Quixotically, once we break down the single total score, the Corsair 90GB Force doesn’t take a similar lead in the HDD Suite score, illustrating one problem with relying on a single overarching number. Instead the Corsair 90GB Force managed its impressive overall score thanks to a huge performance jump in the Communications subtests , along with an additional increase in the Gaming and Productivity subtests (neither are listed above).

All in all, Futuremark’s PCMark Vantage suite provides a good bellwether for system responsiveness, and in traditional SSD fashion the Corsair Force series drives have no trouble delivering on exactly that. If you are new to SSDs in general we recommending paying attention to the lone mechanical hard drive in our tests, as performance jumps like the above are typical when upgrading to a good quality solid-state drive.