Our test bed consisted of an Asus P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt motherboard, an Intel Core i7-2600K CPU, and 32GB of Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz DDR3 memory. The operating system was Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit).
When it came to reading data, every drive we tested turned in good numbers. Oddly enough, the 256MB OCZ Vertex 4, which took fourth place overall with its combined reading and writing, was the slowest reader at 393.5 MBps (file mix and large file combined). The highest combined mark, on the other hand, wasn't tremendously higher: Samsung's 240GB 840 Pro delivered 450.8 MBps (about 14% faster).
Overall, the aforementioned Samsung 840 Pro and OCZ's 256MB Vector were the stars of the roundup, finishing first and second respectively. The 840 Pro delivered an overall combined read/write speed of 496.2 MBps, and the Vector delivered 489.1 MBps. The 840 Pro finished first in every test except for writing our mix of smaller files and folders, where the Vector bested it. The Corsair Neutron GTX (240GB) placed third with a speed of 459.1 MBps, the OCZ Vertex 4 took fourth place at 449.4 MBps, and the 240GB Corsair Neutron finished a rather distant fifth at 414.3 MBps.
The Kingston HyperX was the most capable of the SandForce-based drives, posting a combined read/write rate of 407 MBps. The 240GB SanDisk Extreme finished next at 385.8 MBps, followed by the 240GB Intel 335 Series at 368.4 MBps.
To establish a baseline, we also tested an older SSD (a 90GB Corsair Force Series 3) and two mechanical hard drives: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.12 and Western Digital's VelociRaptor, both of which offer capacity that no current SSD can match: 1TB. The WD VelociRaptor is a very fast enterprise-class hard drive that spins its platters at 10,000 rpm. Note, however, that the Corsair and Seagate products do not represent the respective manufacturers' latest and greatest technology; we selected them as representative of the boot drives that consumers might be upgrading from. The Seagate 7200.12, for instance, has half as much cache as the newer 7200.14 model with the same total capacity. And the Corsair drive uses slower asynchronous NAND paired with a SandForce 2200 controller that predates the SandForce 2281 used in the newer drives we reviewed.
The Corsair Force Series 3 SSD managed an overall read/write rate of only 190.7 MBps. Seagate's 7200-rpm hard drive delivered 117.7 MBps, while the VelociRaptor achieved 213 MBps. In plain language, the bargain SSD smoked the Seagate hard drive, but it couldn't keep pace with the VelociRaptor.
On the next page, I'll tackle the issue of pricing, bundles, and the bottom line.