by Robert Tanner on July 14, 2010 in Solid-State Drives
Over the past six months, Corsair has been phasing out its older SSD line-up and replacing it with new series’ with catchier names, such as Reactor, Force and Nova. The latter is what we’re taking a look at here. The goal of the Nova series is to offer huge bang for the buck, and as we’ve seen throughout our testing, Corsair has hit its mark.
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.
Before jumping into the results, keep in mind that the SiliconEdge Blue uses the identical JMicron drive controller as the SNV425. The only difference is Western Digital wrote its own custom firmware. To date all other SSD manufacturers that use JMicron’s controllers use the firmware supplied by that company. Therefore while it would be easy to dismiss the controller outright, the SiliconEdge Blue results do show what optimized firmware can do with this controller.
With that over with, onto the results!
The Corsair Nova 128GB drive overall slots in exactly where we would expect to see it, hot on the heels of the Vertex Turbo. The Vertex Turbo features a slightly overclocked but otherwise identical Barefoot controller and the same NAND memory, as such we can expect to see this pattern continue for the most part in the rest of our tests.
Focusing solely on the final HDD Suite sub-score, we can clearly see that the Indilinx Barefoot controller surpasses all the other SSDs we have tested, save for the Sandforce SF-1200 powered Vertex 2 which is in a league of its own. To be fair the Vertex 2 is a whole new generation ahead of the older, venerable Barefoot controller and as such Sandforce drives tend to carry a price premium.