SanDisk Extreme II SSD Review: Striking At The Heavy-Hitters

Not Extreme To The Second Power, But Close Enough

There's a lot to like about the Extreme II, and it's good to see SanDisk leveraging its unique strengths to create an enthusiast-oriented offering. Moving units in the retail space isn't just about selling more drives; getting the message out to raise SanDisk's profile is probably even more important to the company. If the Extreme II is a success, the benefits will no doubt go beyond selling a few more boxed SSDs.

With that in mind, it's helpful that the Extreme II represents itself assertively in the hand-to-hand knife fight that is high-performance storage. Is it the fastest of the fast? Probably not. It is fast enough to do battle amongst that esteemed company? We sure think so. And it's hard not to like the idea of Marvell's '9187 controller with Toggle-mode NAND and an emulated-SLC twist. nCache seems a lot like what OCZ has been doing with its Vertex 4/450 and Vector drives, at least on a spiritual level, if not on a technical one. SanDisk and OCZ are both looking for advantages anywhere they can find them, and their respective solutions add value in a segment where innovation is increasingly hard to come by.

The Extreme II isn't very fancy-looking. But it's fast and has the cachet that comes from a NAND fabricator's SSD. Samsung, Intel, and Micron/Crucial have reputations based in large part on their engineering and validation, but also from the fact that they're responsible for what is arguably the most important ingredient in an SSD: the flash itself.

More competition from SanDisk is going to put more pressure on the vendors already left in the lurch by higher material costs. The Extreme II is just another evidentiary exhibit that the SSD producers at the bottom of the food chain are on borrowed time. Even as solid-state drive shipments increase year-over-year, the harsh reality is that companies like SanDisk are already in the driver's seat. The more precariously-positioned firms are going to be along for the ride. When push comes to shove, who can undercut a NAND manufacturer that builds its own SSDs?

We'd have a hard time naming every SSD manufacturer, and the average enthusiast familiar with storage probably couldn't name more than a few. But there's a good chance that Intel, Crucial, and Samsung are on that list. At the end of the day, maybe what SanDisk wants most is to be included in the conversation.

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  • Someone Somewhere
    Where's the 840/840 Pro?
    Also, you appear to have put one of the labels back on the wrong way round.
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  • awez
    My thoughts exactly, where's the 840 and 840 pro?
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  • boulbox
    I have always been a fan of Sandisk SSDs, can't wait until to try this out in someone else's build as they usually sell their products that is very acceptable for budgets.
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  • Dixevil
    heavy hitters with no 840pro
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  • slomo4sho
    I am also curious about the selection of the comparative models. Having the Extreme (not II) in the charts for comparison between the two generations would have been a welcomed addition along with the inclusion of the 840 series.
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  • flong777
    I know a lot of people have already pointed this out but can't Tom's Hardware afford a damn 256 GB 840 Pro? I mean come on, it is the fastest SSD on the planet right now.
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  • raidtarded
    Seriously, what is the point of this article? The fastest car in the world is as Yugo if you dont test against a Lamborghini.
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  • teh_gerbil
    Why are there 2 of your most recent SSD reviews lack the Samsung 840/Pro? Are you being paid by the respective companies to avoid using them, as for both SSD's, as per other reviews I have read, the 840 Pro cr@ps all over both of them, but due to your lack of them, they're both top of your benchmarks! Very very bad benchmarking.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/vertex-450-256gb-review,3517.html
    -1
  • merikafyeah
    Want an 840 Pro comparison and far more in-depth review?
    See here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7006/sandisk-extreme-ii-review-480gb

    It's Anand's new favorite SSD, and based on the results, I'm inclined to agree.
    It's peak performance is right up there with the 840 Pro, but what's really extreme is the drive's consistency. It's performance when the drive is close to full is unmatched.

    There are no high peaks accompanied by low valleys in performance when it comes to the Extreme II. It's pretty much smooth and fast sailing all the time, which in my book, places the Extreme II a step above the 840 Pro. The 840 Pro would have to be at least $30 cheaper than the Extreme II for me to even consider it over the Extreme II.
    -1
  • JPNpower
    Why is the 840 Pro the fastest SSD on the planet? It has its share of drawbacks, and is slower than the OCZ Vector, and the Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme on many benchmarks. Don't make broad statemets that aren't always true.
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  • JPNpower
    To Toms,
    The "Heavy hitters" for modern SSDs include the fastest SSDs on the market right now, which are The Plextor M5 pro Xtreme, the OCZ Vector and Samsung 840 pro. Of these, you have only included the OCZ, and the slower version of the Plextor. Also, you have also included the old Crucial m4, which is a good drive, but old, and not one of the heavyweights now. At least include the improved "M500" version. I also find it confusing why you include the older Samsung 830.
    These are minor points though. Thank you for the great comparison. I look forward to more storage comparisons
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  • Branden
    you call the article "striking at the heavy-hitters" yet you don't compare it to THE heavy-hitter: the samsung 840 pro.
    that single omission itself made this review critically flawed.
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  • povu
    I'm still using a Sandisk Sansa Fuze mp3 player, good stuff.
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  • bucknutty
    About a year ago I got a Sandisk extreme 120gb on sale for $90. I knew it was not the fastest drive or the most high-end drive, but the price was right. It has been running 12-15 hours a day every day for the past year and it works great. Its fast for video editing and loading video games, and that's all I wanted it. Sandisk has put out 3 updated firmwares in that time as well as a little, ssd health program, so you can monitor your read writes, update the firmware or check the ssd for errors. I feel that I got a great value for my $90.
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  • foolishone
    Tom's you really need to stop referring to these components as SandForce. It was acquired by LSI 17 months ago.
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  • cangelini
    We're working on getting Christopher multiple capacities of the 840 Pro to add to his library of drives. We have nothing against the 840 Pro. In fact, the rest of our staff is using them as our reference for 2013. The fact that Christopher doesn't have one is simply an artifact of him recently coming on-board as our consumer SSD editor.
    Thanks,
    Chris
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  • computertech82
    I would REALLY like to see RELIABILITY, NOT about just speed reviews. Like the 840 pro that has MANY post on newegg about dying drives (and other models/makes as well). CORSAIR is the only one that doesn't but they also don't have that many post.
    1
  • danwat1234
    Why wasn't the Intel X25-m G2 SSD in these benchmarks? It's still a very good reliable drive and I'm interested in how it compares in random reads/writes.

    What we are seeing is stagnation. We have a great Marvell controller, Indilinx Barefoot 2 controllwer and a solide Sandforce 2000 series controllered SSDs.
    I'm waiting for the next generation, maybe for the Sandforce/LSI 3000 series controllers that can do 200,000 IOPS! Google it. Though that drive was using a PCIe 4x interface rather than SATA but it was in the 2.5" drive form factor.
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  • Someone Somewhere
    200K IOPS is 800MB/s of 4K transfers. Not going to happen on SATA 6Gb/s which is 600MB/s MAX, including overhead, after 8b/10b encoding.
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  • danwat1234
    I agree with you but it would finally be an SSD that would saturate the SATA 3 interface with Tomshardware's 'Storage bench 1.0'. Right now the fastest SSD maintains an average speed of 268MB/s. Probably significantly faster real world desktop traces too and PCmark.
    Maybe increase queue depth of 1 4KB random reads and write speeds too. So far I've only seen as high as about 30MB/s 4K random read with a queue depth of 1 on Crystaldisk Mark.
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