Reviews  

Corsair Force 120GB SSD F120

Madana Prathap 2011-03-08
92 Superior
Price: Rs 13,200

Full Review

Corsair has been on a mission to show that the brand is about more than just RAM modules, with their Graphite 600T desktop case being one such example. But the company is undeniably based in memory products, including flash-based USB drives and Solid State Drives, like the F120 drive under review in this page.

The drive itself is a bit thicker than most SSDs we've seen so far.


The Corsair Force 120GB is part of the Force series of SSDs, with the box we got having a model number of CSSD-F120GB2-BRKT. The BRKT suffix as you might have guessed, indicates the presence of a bracket/adapter, for this SSD to be mountable into a 3.5-inch standard HDD slot on desktop PCs. Besides the bracket (with mounting screws) and the SSD itself in a plastic retainer, the retail package had nothing else and thus the box was quite small.

Specifications

The drive itself is a bit thicker than most SSDs we've seen so far, not that this negatively impacts it in any way functionally. It looks just like the standard laptop hard disk drive, with a 2-5-inch form factor and SATA-2 interface for data transfer. Body of the drive is coloured black as expected, with a matte texture to the touch which almost feels like brushed metal. The upper surface of the Corsair F120 has a white label affixed as usual, with text in black detailing the drive's model number, and the brand itself.

Corsair F120 SSD - texture, brushed

According to the drive's specs on their site, it consumes 2 Watts while active and 0.5 Watts when idle. This is much lower than a spinning magnetic hard drive, meaning some improvement in battery life on laptops. It uses MLC NAND flash, can withstand light shocks, barely gets warm in operation, and is silent. As expected, standards support include NCQ and the TRIM command.

As the drive name makes apparent, the Corsair Force 120GB uses the SandForce controller. This usually means better performance characteristics than SSDs that don't use a SandForce controller, at least at this point of time. This SSD provides 111.8 GB of usable storage space, after formatting. Corsair offers a three-year warranty on this product. More details can be seen on this review's "Specifications" page or on this drive's product page.

Performance: Benchmark Tests

We run synthetic benchmarks and real world tests using the fastest PC components at hand, to eliminate most bottlenecks that hold back performance. The test-bed consisted of an Intel Core i7 965 processor, Intel DX58SO motherboard, AMD Radeon 5970 graphics card, Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, WD VelociRaptor 300GB, 12 GB of Silicon Power DDR3 RAM, Tagan BZ-1300W PSU and Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate (in addition to the Corsair F120 that was under test). We used the latest WHQL signed drivers available at the time of testing. A RAMdisk drive was used for real-world file transfer tests.

In summary, a speed of approximately 200 MB/s was seen in both read and write operations. That puts the F120 among the top 2 SSDs reviewed at PCW India till date, and the speed at double that seen with normal desktop HDDs. Being a solid-state drive with flash-memory, results were consistent across the drive, without dips in the speed graph. This SSD obtained 46,965 points in the PC Mark 05 HDD Suite index. Click on the "Performance" tab of this review to directly view the performance details in tabulated form. In making sense of these numbers, remember higher read/write speed is to be interpreted as good, and lower access time is good.

For synthetic tests, we used a number of benchmarks. As each application has its own methods, and speeds were obtained across time gaps, you'll find tests diverging in the numbers they threw up. Note that each benchmark was run at least 5 times, and the images here are only a representation of one of these runs. For full details that allow you to draw your own opinions upon its performance, shown below are screenshots of some of the benchmarks run upon the E20.

AS-SSD
Read and Write scores, AS SSD Benchmark.
Yes, the sequential speeds are lower than the Silicon Power E20 128GB, but 4K write speed is very good.


AIDA64 Disk Benchmark
Disk Benchmark: Read Test Suite, from AIDA64 (formerly known as Everest).

HDtune Read

HDtune Write
Read and Write graphs, from HD Tune Pro.

HD Tach RW
Read and Write, HD Tach RW.

Crystal DiskMark
Read and Write, Crystal DiskMark.

Performance: Real-world Tests

Real world write speed while copying a single large file of 6.42 GB onto the SSD stood at 151.8 MB/s. Copying multiple smaller files (800 files totaling up to 6.36 GB) onto the SSD was slower as is normal, at 105.5 MB/s. Copying multiple small files from one partition to another (intra-disk file transfer speed), was at 83.1 MB/s.

Now on to the reverse process, to quantify the read speed. Copying large and small files from this SSD onto our reference RAM drive (which is virtual but simulates a hard drive) was quick as it could be. The SSD supplied data at 208 MB/s, which puts it close to the potential shown in the synthetic benchmarks, and also means great real-world read speed.

No particularly remarkable "stutter" was seen at 4KB file size. Compared to a standard hard drive, we found that the Windows boot/reboot, application and game startup times improved drastically - graphs were not included since this varied a lot even when the hardware was unchanged.

Bottom Line

The performance of the Corsair Force 120GB SSD was excellent. It overtook most of the SSDs we have reviewed in the Test Center, although it traded blows with the Silicon Power E20 128GB and is not ahead out clean. We did expect a bit more from the F120, considering its SandForce controller. To that extent it did not disappoint, and turned in (relatively) good 4K sector write speed for an SSD.

Moreover, at a price of Rs. 13,200 for the CSSD-F120GB2-BRKT, it offers a good balance of price, performance and capacity. Solid state storage is now sufficiently well-priced for enthusiast desktops, and you are certainly missing out on something if you don't have a good SSD in your gaming PC.


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