While there’s 128 GB of NAND on board, 119 GB are available to the end user. This being the difference in the practice of expressing the physical measure of drives in GB (1 GB equals 1 billion bytes) and using the systematic measure by Windows in GiB (1 GiB equals 1,073,741,824 bytes). It’s really a matter of nomenclature which makes it a little confusing.
Overall, the performance of the Corsair Performance 3 Series of drives is very good. Hitting 410 MB/s reads and 210 MB/s writes is certainly a step up from previous versions but the SATA 6Gbps ceiling is much higher so there’s ample room for improvement. RAID 0 kicks it up to 830 MB/s and 400 MB/s read/writes but most users don’t want the hassle or extra expense this brings. While the Marvell based Intel 510 Series showed better performance, real world differences won’t be discernible to most users.
The Marvell controller is proven and certainly a solid performer and Corsair has backed the drives with a 3-year warranty to back up their workmanship. With TRIM support and garbage collection, we saw performance remain mostly unchanged given time for these administrative tasks, even after some serious benchmark thrashing. In fact, as we showed on the ATTO benchmark, performance actually increased when the drive contained data. This should ease the minds of consumers who are constantly concerned about performance degradation over time. Really, from the majority of drives we’ve seen over the past few months, that should be a fading concern as it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem across the board anymore. In fact, soon we will be giving an update on how our longer term test of the Samsung 470 Series drive is shaking out.
The firmware employed by the Performance 3 drives is custom, according to Corsair, but they weren’t specific as just how it differs from the standard firmware. Likely it could be a few tweaks for maintenance/wear-leveling and it maybe responsible for the increased performance when the drive contains data. Even so, there’s more performance left in the Marvell controller left on the table although they will also be launching new SandForce ‘Force GT’ drives soon. These will offer greater performance and they may want a distinct performance gap between their product lines to offer consumers variety.
With that in mind, we expect the pricing of $174.99, $319.99 and $749.99 for the 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB drives to be below that of the new Force GT drives although this is purely speculation. The type of NAND used may impact this as prices continue to fluctuate. How competitors price their drives will also play a part as there’s a ton of competition in the SSD space these days. For consumers, this is the component they are most interested in, in terms of upgrades.
Legit Bottom Line: Corsair’s Performance 3 Series is a big step up from the previous generation with the SATA 6Gbps interface giving it room to stretch its legs. However, they face stiff competition from the similarly equipped Intel drives and the emerging SandForce based drives so how fast they’ll move from the shelves is uncertain.