When we look at drive capacity, there’s a bit of complexity when it comes to storage devices, regardless of if it’s an SSD, flash drive, or spinning platter drive. The 256GB of flash on board the Neutron GTX is expressed in GB (1GB = 1 billion bytes) and the virtual capacity as reported by Windows is expressed in GiB (1 GiB = 1,073,741,824 bytes). Doing the math we get ~238GB available and as for most modern SSDs you also set another chunk aside for spare area – 7% in this case. The end result is ~223GB available to the user as shown in the drive properties via Windows. This spare area is NAND set aside for the drive to use for maintenance and drive endurance activities so there’s fresh NAND available to the controller when it needs it.
In the introduction I commented on the fact that we got our hands on this well after the release which gives us the opportunity to see how they are faring out in the wild. As such, I put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and did some investigating by perusing Corsair’s support forums, retailer reviews, as well as other popular user forums to see what issues, if any, have cropped up. I specifically looked for hints of widespread trends with issues like, failure, data loss, BSOD, TRIM issues, etc. What I found is more positive feedback than negative with issues reported being isolated and generally the result of hardware conflicts or user setup issues (i.e. not using the proper SATA ports). Happily, Corsair seems to be rather active in responding to customer complaints on retailer sites and their forums which is always a good sign in terms of quality of service. That said, it’s only been a few months since these have been available so it still may be too early for trends to really manifest themselves but for having a new Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD) LM87800 controller on board, it’s good to see that Corsair did their due diligence in working out any bugs prior to mass release. The fact that there still hasn’t been a firmware update also suggests no fixes or tweaks have been needed. We didn’t encounter any issues or anomalies in testing either of the Neutron drives we received. Corsair does offer a generous 5-year warranty against defects which is better than the majority of drives on the market.
In terms of performance, the Neutron GTX is a varitable beast. It took on all benchmarks and posted top, if not best, scores and didn’t really care what type of data was thrown at it. If we had to pick out a weakness, and this is really being picky, it would be the smaller file size performance, particularly in reads that we saw on the ATTO benchmark. It wasn’t as pronounced in the other tests and it’s surely something that can be tweaked in the firmware should they feel the need to address it. It’s certainly not something to worry over and if we have to reach a bit to say anything negative, it’s a good sign.
We currently find the 240GB GTX selling at e-tailers for $250, which works out to be roughly $1.12 per usable GB. This is a little steeper than the price you can find for a number of similar sized drives on the market but factor in that these haven’t been on the market all that long and new controllers generally require more capital to produce at the outset. When the SandForce controllers came out, they were very expensive but as supply increased and manufacturing hit its stride, and multiple companies started buying them for their own drives, prices dropped considerably. With only Corsair using the LAMD LM87800 controller for the moment, don’t expect the prices to drop all that quickly. The toggle NAND used isn’t exactly cheap either. The more budget minded consumer may look towards the non-GTX version for about $50 less though clearly the GTX takes the performance prize. It’s exciting to see another very strong contender in the SSD controller market and with CES just around the corner, we eagerly await to see the next generation of drives.
Legit Bottom Line: Pairing the Link_A_Media Devices LM87800 controller with Toshiba toggle NAND has proven to be a formidable combination that puts the Corsair’s flagship Neutron GTX SSD on the very short list of drives we’d want in our system.