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Difficulty choosing between 120-128GB X 2 options

Last response: in Storage
October 19, 2011 11:19:53 AM

I had been planning to purchase 2 Crucial M4 128GB models, but I heard that sandforce based SSDs have had a recent firmware update which is supposed to alleviate the numerous BSoD reports.

I had been planning to steer clear of the current gen sandforce, but if someone can explain to me how I would go about updating the firmware before installing the OS as I'm confused by OCZ's own website stating, essentially, "this is bad, don't do it" whilst wherever else I look it seems unless you do so you end up with major problems.
I'd rather avoid booting up my spangly new PC only to find error messages staring me in the face, especially as this will be my first time using SSds!

I intend to Raid 0 them and am interested in two things; speed and stability. If something reads at 1000mb p/s but breaks down within 3 months I'm not interested in spending my money on it.

I'm willing to spend all the way up to £380, but I'd expect to spend nearer £300, it all depends on quality.

I don't see the point in listing models as I'm not asking whether to grab a pair of M4, Vertex 3 or Adata in specific but which model out of any on the market, preferably with some useful reassurance with any of the recent sandforce controller SSDs.
All suggestions are welcome! Including anything different to my intended set-up such as more 60GB drives or a single 240GB, so long as you can provide me with a valid reason to change my mind.

For the TL;DRers: I want a pair of 120-128GB's in Raid 0, if you suggest sandforce stuff please provide some sort of assurance or how to with regards to avoiding BSoD/updating firmware before OS installation.

Thanks for your time!
a c 277 G Storage
October 19, 2011 12:40:03 PM

Based upon no benchmarks, with no hard data that I can point to (are you still bothering to read this?), I would recommend that you get one 256 GB drive instead. Let the manufacturer deal with distributing IO on multiple channels and other tasks for which they have test labs.

Tom's does a regular roundup of best SSDs for the money. Very few of us can give you anything other than anecdotal evidence; most of us have not tested a dozen SSDs head-to-head. I can tell you that I am very happy with my Crucial C300, but that doesn't give you much information. Take a look at
October 19, 2011 2:41:31 PM

Thanks for the response! I did check Tom's hardware reviews, but they don't give any clue in regards to how consistent (or how to evade) the BSOD issues with current gen sandforce SSDs are as of present.

The other issue is I've personally, from reviewing other people's benchmarks on forums seen that, at least in terms of read/write Raid 0'd good quality SSDs are faster than a single larger and slightly faster in a 1v1 scenario drive.
I do have a genuine usage for the high speed, so unless it cripples the longevity of the drives I'd prefer to opt for that unless someone proves me wrong.
Related resources
a b G Storage
October 19, 2011 2:52:49 PM

Antha said:
how to evade) the BSOD issues with current gen sandforce SSDs

How to evade it is to buy an Intel or Crucial M4 SSD.
a c 154 G Storage
October 19, 2011 3:01:10 PM

When ssd's were first released, I was an early adopter. I bought a Intel X25-M 80gb ssd. It worked well.
I needed more room for my "C" drove, so I bought a second 80gb drive and combined it in raid-0 to get a single 160gb image.
My objective was met, and my benchmarks looked good. Truth is, I could detect no difference in performance.
I subsequently replaced the two 8ogb drives with a single X25-M 160gb drive, and performance was as good, if not better.
Perhaps it is because a larger drive has more underlying nand chips that can be accessed in parallel. Sort of an internal raid-0.

Do not expect any real app performance improvement from raid-0.
In fact, you might be worse off because a SSD in a raid array loses the trim command.
That can cause large delays with updates.

There is much hype with SSD benchmarks. Fast sequential reads and high IOPS seem to be the performance metrics.
Unfortunately, that is not what we normally do. The OS does mainly small random reads and writes. It does so at relatively low queue
The actual drive response times are what matters, and those response times do not differ much among all SSD's.
The SSD gives you much better response times compared to even the fastest hard drives.

Newer drives tout the benefits of 6gb sata, and they do show up well in synthetic benchmarks.
But how many apps do you run that do sequential processing?. If it is enough to make a difference, you probably
can't afford the price for the capacity you need.

As to which brand, I think the safe choice today is Intel. They have had much lower return rates in the past:

I think that Samsung might also be more issue free.

Both Samsung and Intel make their own nand chips, and are probably better positioned to get the kinks out of their own products.

My take is, get the capacity you need and don't look back. A SSD makes everything feel so much quicker.
a c 351 G Storage
October 19, 2011 4:01:45 PM

Agree with geofelt's Assessment

Prior to SSDs, I used raid0 on ALL of my HDDs; However with SSDs I quit using raid0.
Raid0 Improves seq read/write performance, but does nothing to improve access time (some improvement if you also used Short Stroke with Raid0).
For OS + Programs Sequencial proformance is the least importan matrix and is Only important when working with large files.
With Raid0 you lose Trim Support. While Garbage Collection has improved, it does not equal Trim.

When reading reviews:
(1) ignore Seq performance using UNCOMMPRESSED data, look at benchmark that uses compressed data such as AS SSD's benchmark. OCZ shines when data that is readily compressable is use - NOT real Life.
(2) Look at random 4k with low queue depth (ie 3). Avgerage user = 1-5.
(3) Look for what Firmare version is used. Example: for M4 ver 9 Improved performance. OCZ ver 8 -> 9 reduced performance. compared to 6. Not sure about 11 and 13. Latest for OCZ is 15 which supposedly fixed they BSOD - BUT they sure are not going to advertize effect on performance UNLESS it improved.
(4) Reliabilty is still Intel/Samsung. NOTE: The Intel's Sata III uses a marvel Controller, a first time that they have not used a INTEL controller.
(5) FW Update. For the OCZ FW upgrade, I had no trouble using the Linix BOOT CD to upgrade my 2 Agillity III from 6 -> 13. Their tool box (for doing a secure erease is good. Used it for one of the agility III. For M4s had No problem updating the Firmware from 0002 -> 0009.
Great read:

Currently have 8 SSDs going from 1st generation Intel G1 to Sata III Installed currently in I5-750 (2 ea), I5-2500k (2 ea 120 gig agillity III FW 2.11), I5-2510M laptop (2ea 128 gig M4's FW 0009) and 1 2nd gen SSD in a C2D laptop. I consider the Agillity III's a step above junk and will be removing and replacing with M4's or the new Samsung 830's
October 19, 2011 6:41:31 PM

Thanks for the post geofelt. Random read/write numbers are what matter most to me, not sequential. I already knew that and had been basing my choice on the difference in random read/write between a single and Raid 0'd drives.
However, thanks for the heads up all the same.

I hadn't considered Intel thus far because while they're definitely touted as the most reliable their speed doesn't compare to other current gen SSds. I will take a look at some Samsung models, especially as they have a recent product review.

Thanks for the information for me to use to better assess the SSds I'm looking at RetiredChief, I was unsure initially anyway so I'll look into some single drive performances.
I didn't absorb the recent Samsung review completely as I was tired when I read it, but I'm gonna go check it out again following your comment.

Quick addition. While I still doubt I'll go the OCZ route I'm also really thankful for your explanation on updating the firmware.

Second edit: after looking harder at 4k random writes with queue depths of 1 across a few articles, I feel sold on going for a Crucial 256GB M4. My initial choice when I began considering setting up SSDs in Raid 0 were two 128GB M4's, but that was based partially on value whereas with the 256GB model I feel it's a better decision than a 240GB Vertex 3 for example.
Thanks for the help, especially RetiredChief.
a c 351 G Storage
October 19, 2011 9:27:07 PM

As I indicated, I have a pair of 128 Gig m4's in my laptop. One for Os + programs and the 2nd one as a data/scratch disk. The 256 model is a litle faster than the 128 gig model which offsets raid0 using 128 gig model.