Corsair is one of the innovation leaders in the memory and power supply market. They also provide SSDs which, so far, have been mostly based on the Sandforce flash controllers. Now they are offering an SSD based on Marvell's 88SS9174 controller, which promises best-in-class performance that can compete with what Sandforce offers.
The Corsair Performance Pro SSD is available in capacities of 128 GB and 256 GB, we tested the 256 GB model, which provides a bit more performance than the 128 GB model.
|Specifications: Corsair Performance Pro 256 GB
||Performance Pro 256 GB
||Toshiba MLC, 32 nm
||256 GB (238.50 GB usable)
0 GB overprovisioning
||SATA 6 Gbps
The package design of the Performance Pro is kept simple and clean, with stylish shades of grey. A little window on the back lets you take a look at the drive inside, showing the serial number and warranty sticker.
You will receive:
- The SSD
- Screw Packages
- 2.5" to 3.5" adapter
The drive conforms to the dimensions set forth by the 2.5" form factor. It uses a rugged metal casing that feels extremely solid and high quality.
Like most recent SSDs, Corsair's Performance Pro uses the SATA 6 Gbps interface. It is compatible with any other SATA standard, but will work at reduced performance in such a case.
Corsair is using (only) eight flash chips and two DRAM cache chips for the Marvell controller. On the other side of the PCB we see the lonely Marvell flash controller - the heart of the SSD.
As controller Marvell's 88SS9174 is used.
The eight flash chips are made by Toshiba and have a capacity of 32 GB each, they are produced in a 32 nanometer production process.
||Intel Core i5 2500K @ 3.3 GHz
(Sandy Bridge, 6192 KB Cache)
||ASUS P8H67-M LX
||2x 2048 MB Kingston HyperX PC3-12800U DDR3
@ 1333 MHz 9-9-9-24
||Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1
||SATA: Microsoft AHCI
Display: Intel 15.21.13
- After initial configuration and installation we created a disk image that will be used to test every drive.
- Automated updates were disabled for all programs. This ensures that for every review each drive will get the same starting point without possible pollution from previous testing.
- Our disk image consumes around 25 GB on disk, we resized the partition to fill all available space on the drive.
- Partitions were checked to be aligned.
- In order to minimize random variation, each of the performance tests is run ten times, with reboots in between tests to minimize the impact of disk cache.
- We used the average of the ten runs as final score.
- All application benchmarks run the actual application and do not replay any disk traces.
Windows 7 Startup Time
In this test we measure the time it takes Windows 7 to boot from kernel loaded to Startup programs executed. An internal kernel timer keeps track of this time, so it is more accurate than using a stop watch, for example.
Office 2010 Installation
We installed Microsoft Office 2010 using the standard installation without any customization. The installation source files were located in uncompressed form on the tested drive. (2.4 GB transferred, 72% write).
ISO File Copy
The 3.1 GB ISO image of Windows 7 64-bit (en_windows_7_ultimate_x64_dvd_x15-65922.iso) was copied to a different folder on the same drive. This represents a typical large file usage model. (6.15 GB transferred, 50% write).
This test measures the time it takes WinRAR to uncompress the Linux 2.6.34 Kernel bz2 archive to the tested drive. (865 MB transferred, 86% write).
Avast Antivirus 5 was used to check the C:\Windows\System32 folder of our installation. We enabled full file scans and scan of all files regardless of extension. (2.14 GB transferred, 0.6% write).
Photoshop CS5 Startup
We measured the time it took Photoshop CS5 to start the application, load a 21 MP photo, close the image and exit the application. (73 MB transferred, 1.4% write).
Photoshop CS5 Performance
Heavy Photoshop use can result in a large number of disk accesses when Photoshop is processing its scratch file. In this test we measured the time it takes Photoshop CS5 to open ten 21 Megapixel images at the same time and then process each one by one. The actions applied to each image were crop, move, auto levels, resize to 1024x768 and save for web. (862 MB transferred, 79% write).
Crysis Level Loading
Crysis is well known for its long level loading times. We disabled the rendering path of the engine to take the graphics card out of the equation and measured the time it takes to load the level "island". (188 MB transferred, 0.5% write).
Battlefield 2 Patch
Battlefield 2 uses a typical approach to game patching by integrating the new patch data into the existing game data - as opposed to just dumping a patch file into the game installation directory. This usage model results in a lot of disk activity and generally long patch times. We applied the 500 MB BF2 patch 1.41 to our installation. (18.3 GB transferred, 77% write).
We compiled a large open source C# .NET project and measured the time it took to create the release build.
Windows Experience Index Disk
Windows Vista and Windows 7 have added a Windows Experience Index rating to all systems which gives users a quick idea of the performance to expect and to identify possible weak points. We ran the disk portion of the test, which represents the "Primary Hard Disk" score listed. (2.27 GB transferred, 81% write).
We used the performance data from all our benchmarks to condense the results into a single relative performance score.
Performance per Dollar
In addition to the performance alone, we also present a performance per USD score which will be important if you want to maximize your investment. Please note that this score was normalized to exclude the capacity of the tested drive.
Price per GB
If you are only interested in getting maximum storage capacity for the least amount of money then this price per GB graph should be the one to look at.
Value and Conclusion
- Corsair's 256 GB Performance Pro retails for $400.
- Fastest drive we tested so far, beats Sandforce-driven drives
- Great price/performance
- SATA 6 Gbps support
- Supports TRIM
- 3 year warranty
- Nice looking, rugged metal body
- 3.5" adapter included
- Price (per GB) should be lower
- Needs SATA 6 Gbps controller to perform best
||It looks like Corsair did some magic tweaks to the Marvell controller's firmware, as their Performance Pro 256 GB is the fastest SSD we tested so far. It even beats big-name Sandforce SF-228x drives like the Kingston HyperX 240 GB and OCZ Vertex 3 240 GB. We suspect that Corsair did something unique to their drive, because Crucial's M4, which uses the same controller, and should thus deliver very similar performance, ended up being 10% slower than the Corsair Performance Pro.|
In terms of price/performance the drive easily claims a leading spot, despite its $400 price mark. When it comes to GB per Dollar, things are not looking so great. You can find some high-performance Sandforce SF-2281 240 GB drives at well below $350, so it wouldn't hurt if Corsair adjusted their price to something like $375 or below.