When looking through the numbers you might think that the new 5.0.3 is just a faster firmware when compared to the older 5.0.2. That is NOT the case; 5.0.2 is a much faster firmware when fresh out of the box. 5.0.3 is built using more of the 3 Series code than the 5 Series. The difference on the drive we looked at today is 5.0.2 at roughly 90K Marks in Vantage FOB compared to roughly 80K Marks at FOB. Even though 5.0.2 starts out strong the performance quickly falls behind the TRIM enabled 5.0.3 and even though it's not shown today, it falls behind the amazing drives Plextor is putting out as well.
5.0.3 starts out a little slower, but is able to keep its composure when cycling through the benchmarks. This means it'll also be able to cycle through your daily use workload and stay fast too. If you had an SSD back before TRIM, with Windows XP then you know the hassles of secure erasing your SSD every three months and re-imaging your OS and programs. Nobody liked to do it then and no one should have to do it now. 5.0.3 will let you keep your OS install longer before the drive feels slow. It's really that simple, you get the performance right out of the box and you keep it.
Since I started writing this article two days ago I've heard from more manufacturers and more of them are getting ready to announce the new 5.0.3 FW on their websites. It sounds like within a week many of you with SandForce based SSDs will have access to this firmware. A few others seem to think 5.0.4 is right around the corner and they are holding off and seeing what happens.
In my testing 5.0.3 felt solid and we didn't have any issue. We've only run this drive on two Z77 motherboards so far and don't have the massive validation test lab that a Corsair or SanDisk has, but I'm going to keep using 5.0.3 and work on moving all of my drives over to it.
If you would like to learn more about TRIM, garbage collection and other advanced SSD technology we found a good white paper that covers all of the fine details. It's worth your time to look over it.