The RunCore Pro V Max 120GB drive physically has 128GB on board as we saw when we peeked inside. Logically, there’s 111GB available to the user after some spare area is set aside and Windows takes its administrative share. This is congruent with other SF-2281 drives available from other makers. As always, the spare area is set aside for drive maintenance activities performed by the controller which helps extended the useful life of the drive.
What we find with most drives where the controllers are the same is it’s all about the NAND. The type and density play a large role in performance and is certainly noticeable in the benchmarks. Synchronous NAND performs better than the asynchronous variety and the higher density NAND is typically faster when interleaving is leveraged for concurrent I/O activity to the NAND itself. The performance of 120GB drives are generally less than that of the larger drives for this reason. Looking at the performance results across all of the drives, the Pro V Max compares very well against the other 120GB drives we have tested but trails most of the larger drives – especially in dealing with writes. 4K performance was very good and performance on the real world tests showed it to be good as well.
The fact that they are using the “Golden” firmware from SandForce is a plus but there are others such as Intel and OCZ that we know have customized firmware that may leverage the same optimizations or more. As we mentioned previously, RunCore is unaware of any issues with BSODs on this firmware although that doesn’t necessarily mean that this relatively rare phenomenon has been addressed. We experienced no such issues during our testing and we always spend at least a few solid hours of general computing on every drive to get a feel for real world use and to see if any weirdness crops up. It did do well in the file copy tests which may be indicative of the sustained read/write speeds that the Golden firmware promises.
With an MSRP for the 120GB drive at $229, we are looking at about $2.06 per usable GB. However, they can be found online for $199 which skinny’s that down to more like $1.80 per usable GB. This is slightly higher than you can find for a lot of comparable drives (most with rebates) that have been on the market for a while but certainly not outrageous. So in terms, of pricing, they are much more in the ballpark than where the previous generation drive was. There are also capacities available of 60GB, 240GB, and 480GB at MSRPs of $129, $429 and $899 respectively if the 120GB doesn’t fit your needs.
Really, we have no real complaints about the drive. It performs as expected and puts up performance numbers similar to that of its peers. So, it joins the ranks of the SandForce clone drives with little distinction. Not that it’s a bad thing but the market is flush with a good number of very capable yet similar drives. For consumers, it ultimately comes down to two things – price and availability. We’ve established that the price isn’t really an issue but some may be put off that it’s not available through their favorite e-tailer.
Legit Bottom Line: RunCore has put together a solid drive with the Pro V Max line powered by the popular SandForce SF-2281 controller but consumers may have to hunt a bit to get their hands on one.