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Corsair Force LE 200 SSD Review

Final Analysis

The Corsair Force LE200 240GB earns the coveted title of "The Best of the Worst," at least for now. DRAMless SSDs serve as hard disk drive replacements, and more are planned in the future, so competition will intensify.

Over time, several key technologies will increase DRAMless SSD performance. NVMe is one of the most obvious, and 3D NAND will also weigh in to improve both performance and endurance. We've already tested the Phison PS3111-S11 with both Micron and Toshiba 3D, and we are testing a Maxiotek DRAMless controller with 3D NAND.

DRAMless NVMe SSDs that use your system memory to cache the table map (Host Memory Buffer - HMB) will debut by the end of the year. The Windows 10 Anniversary update added support for the new technology, and products will follow in short order. HMB technology suffers a little more latency than direct-attached DRAM designs, but the cost savings, as well as access to a larger buffer, are beneficial. Both Toshiba and Marvell have demonstrated working HMB products. At Flash Memory Summit in 2016, Toshiba displayed an HMB SSD on a modified Asus motherboard, and at CES, Marvell displayed a prototype with an off-the-shelf motherboard.

I don't think our readers will consider the category a viable option for personal use until DRAMless NVMe SSDs with HMB technology and 3D NAND make it to market. Intel's Optane cache technology also provides increased system responsiveness, which brings another technique with similar low-cost attributes into the picture.

That leads us to another set of problems with the current DRAMless designs. The size of the flash translation table increases in tandem with the amount of data stored on the drive. We haven't heard of the controller companies increasing the SRAM capacity on the controller to accommodate higher capacity SSDs. We've already tested several 512GB DRAMless products and found that performance decreases as capacity increases. A 1TB or larger DRAMless SSD filled to 75% capacity could be slower than an HDD in some applications. That wouldn't be acceptable, and the user experience would suffer even if it were behind a high-speed next generation cache.

As far as our readers are concerned, I think the current crop of DRAMless SSDs, like the Corsair Force LE200 we tested, are the type of product you install in someone else's computer. Users that would normally install a hard disk drive are the primary target market. The Force LE200 delivers better performance than a hard drive. Many people are happy with a 1TB HDD and see the capacity as excessive because they won't fill the drive. An upgrade to a Force LE200 will increase the user experience by decreasing latency, which leads to a more responsive system.

The biggest problem we see for the Corsair Force LE200 is the price. The MSRP for the 240GB model we tested today is $99.99. You can already find the drives for $89.99 (a $10 savings), but I don't think it's enough. The Hyundai Sapphire we recently tested retails for $55 at Newegg. The Force LE200 is faster, but this isn't a performance race--it's a race to the best value. Price is high on the list of concerns when your real competitor is a hard drive that costs as low as $45.

In the past, we've seen Corsair release products at a high price point, and then lower it to an acceptable level within two months. I have no doubt we'll see the Force LE200 priced in the mid $70's before Computex in June. There are already several DRAMless SSDs from Asia on Newegg and Amazon at that price. Corsair can charge a little more for brand recognition, but in the race to the bottom, name recognition doesn't mean much.


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  • hdmark
    Am i missing something or is this pricing way too high even for release? an 850 evo is 8$ more right now on amazon and crucials mx300 275gb is retail at 99$. Shouldnt the initial price have to be much lower considering the performance drop?
    the 70$ price by june might make it more reasonable?
    Reply
  • Snipergod87
    The product at this price point doesn't make sense when you can an 850 EVO 250 GB for a few dollars more, also the 30TB of endurance is rather weak.
    Reply
  • Andrew_190
    ummmm im right there with HDMARK i know SSD (well RAM in general) has gone up for reasons that don't make sense (illuminati) as just a few months ago i was grabbing Crucial 275 drives for around 80 and and there 525GB drives i grabbed for 120. So how is this entry level???????????
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    Is an NMVe capable SSD that is also SATA backward compatible technologically reasonable or would the cost of two interface capabilities be excessive?

    Does the DRAM savings really make that much of a difference ?

    How are these DRAMless devices getting so much throughput with a single channel while the high end controllers need eight channels ? Is the scaling on additional channels efficient ?
    Reply
  • 3ogdy
    $100 for 240GB? I know we're in the middle of a NAND shortage, but man...that is a lot for 240GB in 2017. That should be the price of a half-terabyte SSD.
    Reply
  • blazorthon
    We keep talking about shortages and such, but the simple fact is that you can only have a chip shortage if the companies decide to not make enough to force the price up. If all of them decide to make less than enough at the same time, then it's obviously colusion if there isn't a huge disaster wiping out half of the factories, which there isn't (even the previous situation with hard drives was blown way out of proportion).
    Reply
  • popatim
    IMO the price to beat is PNY's CS1311 which performs a bit better and at a lower cost...
    Reply
  • Brian_R170
    19678120 said:
    We keep talking about shortages and such, but the simple fact is that you can only have a chip shortage if the companies decide to not make enough to force the price up. If all of them decide to make less than enough at the same time, then it's obviously colusion if there isn't a huge disaster wiping out half of the factories, which there isn't (even the previous situation with hard drives was blown way out of proportion).

    All NAND fabs combined can't make enough to satisfy the demand right now. They are all running at maximum capacity. Increasing yields (as mentioned in the article) will be the fastest way to increase supply. They can build more factories, but it takes a couple years and billions of $. They can switch to a better process technology, but that can take even longer and even more $.
    Reply
  • littleleo
    I think the SK Hynix performs better and is at a great price $95.58 & FREE Shipping on Amazon. I've watched prices increase steadily since October with no end in sight. The shortages are real and the explanations have been given over and over. The Hard Drive factory disaster that hit WD and affected the whole hard drive segment was real too. We saw it coming and went through it and came out the other side.

    When I see people still in denial about the Nand shortage, and the HDD factory flooding. I just have to wonder why are they so uninformed to the point I think they must be joking and are just baiting people.
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    We just have a few more months....like 6ish. Samsung ramps up a new fab between now and mid-July. Toshiba will have their new fab up between now and the start of next year and IMFT (Micron / Intel) are about to release 64-layer to double capacities again. In just a few short months we should see bit output nearly double. I think we will make a 6 month stop at pre-shortage prices and then the bottom will fall out as yields improve. I think 2TB SSDs will become fairly common by this time next year and 512GB will be the new starting point (where 256GB is today).
    Reply