Armed with Phison's new v.1.6 firmware for the S10 processor and low-cost flash, Zotac takes aim at the mainstream and gamer SSD markets.
Phison's quad-core PS3110-S10 controller is officially one year old, but it's only just starting to affect the SSD market in a meaningful way. First released in Corsair's Neutron XT, the S10 was initially intended to operate in the high-end consumer drives. And indeed, on paper, the advanced processor boasts impressive specs. But under benchmark scrutiny, it didn't live up to the hype. Phison worked to increase real-world performance with a series of firmware updates. Today, we have the latest build to test in Zotac's low-cost Premium Edition SSD.
Zotac is well known in several different PC-related product categories. The company tends to focus on gaming, but has planted seeds in other areas over the last few years as well. Recently, low prices on flash helped open the door for its expansion into SSDs. Zotac is hoping that its popularity as a reliable component vendor yields traction with customers who already trust the company. SSDs are just the next frontier.
As of this writing, the Premium Edition SSDs we're testing today are some of the lowest-priced models sold online. That will certainly help grab the attention of builders looking for value in storage.
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Zotac sells the Premium Edition SSD in two popular capacities: 240GB and 480GB. The series targets gamers, but its price and competitive performance are attractive universally.
The Premium Edition SSDs deliver up to 520 MB/s sequential read and 500 MB/s sequential write performance. Zotac publishes its random performance numbers in throughput rather than IOPS, so we'll have to drill down into those figures later in the review.
Phison's S10 controller, which powers both versions of Zotac's drive, is interesting from a technical point of view. However, it's a processor that we feel never realized its full potential. We published our first look at the controller in Phison S10: Toshiba MLC And TLC Versus Micron L95B MLC. And after shipping for a full year, Phison is seeing better performance. The Premium Edition products ship with firmware version 1.6, which doesn't make any explicit claims of improved results. However, we can see areas in our benchmark suite where performance is in fact higher than previous builds.
Pricing, Warranty And Accessories
The most attractive aspect of the Premium Edition SSD is its price. You can find the 240GB model for less than $65 at Newegg, and the 480GB version is available under $140. Zotac manages to undercut the value-oriented SSD market leader (Samsung's 850 EVO) by a large enough margin to stand out from a crowded field of low-cost SSDs.
The Premium Edition SSDs ship with a three-year warranty, but the drives do not include an accessory package. This is pretty much a bare SSD, with only two paper manuals included.