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Roundup: The Best SSDs For Enthusiasts

Corsair Force F160 (160 GB, SandForce)

Did Corsair name the Force series because it’s based on SandForce controllers? Is it a play on Air Force? Either way, the drive is jet fighter-fast on 4 KB random write operations I/O performance, even if it lags a bit on throughput. We’d also love to see better throughput in the CrystalDiskMark 3.0, as well as better minimum transfer rates in our h2benchw 3.6 benchmark.

The reason for this throughput performance behavior can probably be found in Corsair’s memory installation. The architecture is laid out for a maximum capacity of 320 GB. A maximum of 16 flash memory ICs can be accomodated on the PCB. The 160 GB model uses 12 Intel 128 Gb MLC NAND chips soldered onto the board, bringing the drive to a gross capacity of 192 GB. Keep in mind that the SandForce controller utilizes part of the flash memory for caching, leaving about 180 GB. We don’t exactly know how the controller drives its memory, but somewhere there has to be an explanation for minimum transfer rates dropping to 180 MB/s while peak throughput stays competitive.

The Force F160 reaches one of the higher positions in our PCMark Vantage testing. This one includes several real-life load scenarios and conveys how the drive performs under these conditions.

We can’t complain about the drive’s power consumption, which is slightly lower than other SandForce-powered SSDs. Although the Force F160 can’t dip to power levels seen on SSDs with fewer ICs or newer products, such as Samsung’s 470-series, it delivers great overall performance at relatively low power, a three-year warranty, and a set of 2.5” to 3.5” mounting brackets for desktop users.

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