Corsair Force LE 200 SSD Review

We're approaching a radical shift in storage technology that will impact computer users all over the world. NVMe is poised to dominate the retail market in late 2017 with a projected 70% market share. You may wonder how that's even possible when SATA still enjoys a lead with its massive install base. Today we'll show you why your next SSD will use NVMe, and why legacy computers will still have a very low-cost SATA upgrade path.

NVMe SSDs are well on the way to taking over the upper- and mid-level market with low-cost TLC flash. The low-end market will be the next to fall. SATA SSDs will come in two primary forms; high capacity with mainstream performance and very low-cost boot drives for legacy systems that don't support the NVMe protocol. The Corsair Force LE200 falls into the latter category. DRAMless SSDs are the new entry-level that allow SSDs to finally take on hard disk drives as the lowest-priced option for building a new system.

In June 2015, we reported that OEM customers were waiting for 256GB flash-based products to reach the $40 mark. At that price point, system builders can move away from the spinning disks that carry a $40 minimum cost due to the requisite mechanical components. It's interesting that the market didn't reach this point until Western Digital acquired SanDisk, but that's one for the conspiracy theorists. What's important is that we are here now, sort of.

The ongoing NAND shortage has caused a price spike as the fabs work to stabilize the 3D NAND technology that will further reduce costs. This is the calm before the storm, but in reverse order. The market will settle when Flash Forward (Toshiba and Western Digital's joint manufacturing venture) and IMFT (Intel Micron Flash Technology) increase their 3D NAND yields. At that point, DRAMless 256GB SSDs will reach the $30 mark for volume sales at the Dell, Lenovo, and HP level.

The Corsair Force LE200 isn't a product many of our readers would buy for themselves. This is a true entry-level SSD that you may install in a computer for your parents or friends that have basic needs, such as surfing the web, checking email, and so on. It also isn't a typical Corsair product. In recent years, the company has released several new products to see what sticks. Shoppers have asked for low-cost SSDs for years, but the Force LE200 may be a step too close to the OEM level for most to feel comfortable.

Specifications

The Corsair Force LE200 comes to market in two capacities of 120GB and 240GB. The series uses the new Phison PS3111-S11 single-core controller. We tested the new DRAMless controller with 3D NAND in our 11-Drive DRAMless SSD Roundup. For the Force LE200, Corsair paired the low-cost dual-channel controller with Toshiba 15nm planar TLC flash.

The performance shifts slightly between the two capacities, but the Force LE200 sports up to 560/530 MB/s sequential read/write speeds. Random performance also varies based on capacity, but the 240GB model provides up to 77,000/40,000 random read/write IOPS.

Phison PS3111-S11 Features

Corsair was shy about the features and benefits of the new LE200 series, but we met with Phison at CES in January to discuss the new S11 controller, so we have a few details.

  • SATA Version 3.2
  • Built-in LDPC ECC
  • Program RAM
  • 40nm Process
  • 1.2V and 1.8V Flash I/O
  • Supports 1z nm MLC, TLC, And 3D Flash
  • Supports Next Gen Large Block Flash
  • SLC and pSLC Modes
  • SmartECC
  • SmartFlush
  • GuaranteedFlush
  • SmartZIP
  • SmartWrite
  • Static And Dynamic Wear-Leveling
  • End-to-End Data Path Protection

Phison carried many of the S11's features over from its eight-channel S10 and E7 controllers. This is the first Phison consumer SSD controller to enable Low-Density Parity Check (LDPC) ECC to increase endurance. Phison also uses its SmartZIP technology to "enhance endurance," although we've yet to find details about what SmartZIP actually does.

Pricing & Accessories

We found the Corsair Force LE200 available at Newegg, Amazon, and Corsair's website. The LE200 240GB retails for $89.99 at Newegg and Amazon, and you can find the 120GB model for $58.78 at Amazon. The drive ships in a retail package, but there are not any accessories included. Once Corsair updates the software, the SSD Toolbox software will allow you to run various management tasks and check SSD status. The status information is useful for monitoring endurance.

Warranty & Endurance

Corsair covers the Force LE200 with a three-year warranty. Oddly, both capacities have the same 30TB endurance rating, which we've encountered before with SSDs from other manufacturers. We reached out to Corsair to verify the rating.

Packaging

The Force LE200's package is similar to the Force LE we recently tested. This is Corsair's standard package design inside and out. We found some performance and warranty information listed on the packaging.

A Closer Look

The drive is fairly standard. It employs a 7mm Z-height (thickness) for compatibility with nearly every desktop and notebook available, sans M.2-only Ultrabook designs. The Force LE200 uses the Phison S11 reference design, which consists of the 2-channel controller and four packages of Toshiba 15nm TLC.

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