The C300 has been a bit of a mixed bag for Crucial in recent weeks. At CES everything was going so well for the company and it was looking like Crucial was going to be able to forgo most of the issues that seem to tip up with new solid state drives. Things were looking even better when we finally got our hands on the 256GB model and ran with a launch day review. At the time the RealSSD C300 was without serious competition and was the only next generation SSD on the market. After a few weeks of real world use we started to see some performance issues while running benchmarks and we then started hearing about issues with TRIM or the lack of working TRIM with the first release firmware.
It was at this time that SandForce started getting their consumer controller, the SF-1200 in the hands of partners and products based on that controller were starting to hit our labs. Just days later the new Intel RST 9.6 drivers with TRIM support came along and gave the SandForce drives a boost in performance. Since the C300 runs native SATA 6G and Intel is still a year out from ICH SATA 6G, the new RST benefited the SATA II SandForce drives and Crucial's C300 started to fall a bit behind in real world performance.
Last week Crucial released a firmware update that fixed the issues with TRIM and even though Crucial spent many hours testing the software, a compatibility issue popped up with some popular enthusiast motherboards and the firmware update tool, so the new update was pulled from Crucial's website. With V2 firmware now out of reach for consumers, Crucial is working feverously to get a new update tool ready. At anytime the firmware and new update tool will be released and it appears that Crucial is going to be able to escape heavy criticism from both the tech media and consumers. We will cover this topic more in our next installment of The State of Solid State coming just after Computex.
We have taken a look at several SandForce SF-1200 drives in recent weeks, but all of them arrived in 100GB capacity sizes. With the 128GB version of the C300 having a reduced performance envelope when compared to the 256GB version, we wanted to get this drive in to see which is a better buy; the Crucial RealSSD C300 128GB or one of the many SandForce controlled SF-1200 100GB products that are saturating the market.
Ready, set, let's go!
Update: Crucial has now re-released its update tool giving the ability to flash to firmware 0002. It is confirmed to give 100% working TRIM support. For further details, click here.