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SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD Review
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Sandisk Ultra Plus SSD
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by Robert Tanner on July 29, 2013 in Solid-State Drives

Enthusiast SSDs may get all of the fame and glory, but it’s the value brands that always sell the most drives. As a relative newcomer that doesn’t rely on SandForce controllers like many other vendors do, can SanDisk’s Marvell-equipped Ultra Plus deliver that “Ultra” good value we’re looking for?

Real-World: Boot Times, Game Level Loading

For the boot test, we perform a cold boot with the stopwatch starting the moment the power button is pressed until the last systray icon has finished loading. A large number of factors can change how fast a computer starts; whether the motherboard uses a BIOS or the newer UEFI; if a RAID controller has to be initialized; to delay timers or other motherboard optimizations. In other words, individual results will vary depending on the system hardware.

Obviously, our P67 motherboard is the bottleneck at this point; it takes more than just fast storage to quick-boot a system! It just goes to show, when considering purchasing an SSD, other factors such as the motherboard age or age of the laptop negate some of the performance advantages of higher-end SSDs. The Ultra’s results look to be in line with our light batch results here.

Game Level Loading

SSDs deliver some of the most benefits to games. Not only can the game load significantly faster so users can hurry up and wait to get through various advertisement screens, but they also boost level or map load times. For games where player immersion into the new world is important, the difference between 15 and 25 seconds can seem huge when waiting for the next part of the level or world to load.

For our new regimen we chose Portal 2 and Civilization V. Portal 2 is already a very well optimized game, but it’s immersive, so we time how long it takes to load the sp_a2.bts6 custscene. With Civilization V‘s recent overhaul to game storage files to help decrease load times, and the new option to disable the intro movie trailer, it becomes possible to time how long it takes to start the game.

Our game results are fairly well mixed at this point. SSD’s have matured to the point where any solid-state drive will deliver a comparable gaming experience to another. The point to be made here is that they all deliver a marketed and very tangible boost to game launch and level load times versus a regular mechanical drive.