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Midrange SSD Mayhem: Samsung And Corsair Go At It Once Again (Part 1)

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Several months ago, the supreme high-end SSDs from Corsair and Samsung faced off in the Octagon known as the top of our desk area that holds drives being tested. In that blood-curdling battle (in which neither drive moved nor made a sound), the Samsung 840 Pro was victorious, vanquishing its opponent by a slim margin in a contest where zero trash talk was delivered by either storage device. This month, Round Two commences as the companies’ value-conscious SSDs clash like cars in a demolition derby by sitting quietly on a test bench while we perform benchmarks upon them. Neither of these drives is as fast as their top-tier brethren, but they are priced accordingly, and both are a damned-good value.

Samsung and Corsair

Samsung and Corsair go at it once again

Corsair Neutron Series 240GB

The Corsair Neutron is a slightly detuned version of the company's Kick Ass award-winning Neutron GTX SSD. It shares the GTX's all-new Link A Media Device (LAMD) controller, the same slim 7mm form factor, and the same five-year warranty, which is as good as they get these days. The biggest difference between the two drives is the type of NAND flash they use, with the expensive GTX drive boasting the swanky Toshiba 24nm Toggle NAND, and the less expensive Neutron using 25nm ONFI MLC NAND from Micron, which helps keep the drive's price in check. According to the drive's spec charts, the ONIF NAND is significantly slower than the Toggle NAND from Toshiba for write operations, but the two are evenly matched when it comes to read speeds. The GTX also has a slight edge when it comes to 4K random-write I0PS.

We tested the 240GB version of the drive, which is 223GB after being formatted. The extra 16GB of space you can't see or access is used for over-provisioning. The drive comes with a SATA 6Gb/s connector, it supports the Trim command in Windows 7, and is also available in a 120GB capacity. Its bundle includes a 3.5-inch bay adapter but no software.

The Corsair Neutron is a slightly detuned version of the company's Kick Ass award-winning Neutron GTX SSD.

The Corsair Neutron is a slightly detuned version of the company's Kick Ass award-winning Neutron GTX SSD.

To test the drive, we ran it through our gauntlet of benchmarks and compared it with the Samsung 840 as well as other drives at its price point. On the whole, the Neutron performed extremely well for a midrange drive, though it didn't top every category of testing. In our top-speed test of sequential reads, it delivered impressive 454MB/s and 363MB/s read and write speeds, respectively, placing it just behind the Samsung in read speeds, and making it the second-fastest in write speeds, just behind the OCZ Vertex 4.

When it comes to incompressible data such as MP3s and video, the Neutron performed respectably in our AS SSD benchmark, again losing slightly to the Vertex 4 but outpacing the Samsung. Corsair claims the drive shines in tests such as this, and though its score isn’t top of the charts, it’s in line with Corsair's marketing, as its read speeds are stellar, even if its write speeds are a bit slower than the competition.

Corsair's Neutron uses the LAMD controller found in the Neutron GTX, but goes with the less-costly Micron NAND.

Corsair's Neutron uses the LAMD controller found in the Neutron GTX, but goes with the less-costly Micron NAND.

In our ATTO 64K sequential-read and -write test with a four-command queue, the Neutron was about on par with the Vertex 4 in read speeds but back-of-the-pack in write performance by a small margin. Where the Neutron really shines is in high I/O scenarios such as our love-meter test, which pummels the drive silently via software with a queue of 32 4K random write requests. In this test we saw the Neutron deliver a beat down on every other drive we tested, and its score of 80,466 I0PS puts it in the same league as its much more expensive top-tier competitors. It also threw down the gauntlet (despite not having arms) in our real-world PC Mark Vantage test, racking up a surprising score of 70,030, which is impressive for a drive of this price range. In our final test of Premiere Pro, the Neutron hung with its compatriots, so there’s nothing special to report on that front.

All in all, the Neutron impressed us with its speed, warranty, and price point. It's not quite as inexpensive as the Intel 335 or the Samsung 840, but it’s faster. When compared to the Vertex 4, though, it loses in most tests by a healthy margin even though the two are priced the same. That makes it a nait-biter since both drives have a five-year warranty and the Vertex 4 is a little long in the tooth. But the numbers don't lie - the OCZ drive is faster.

Corsair Neutron Series 240GB Specs

§  Capacity: 240

§  Formatted capacity: 223

§  Interface: SATA3

§  Power connector: SATA

§  Price: $225

§  Warranty: Five year RTB

§  Details: www.corsair.com

 

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