Like the Indilinx Barefoot market before it, companies are trying to find that one piece of special something to make their product stand out from other company's offerings. The names are still the same; OCZ, Crucial, Corsair, Patriot, G.Skill; the list goes on and on. There are two types of products in the SSD world; those that stand out because of their excellence and those that were designed off a template and just try to take a piece of the market share on brand recognition alone. Moving a product into the excellence category is a difficult task, but there are a few ways it can be done. The first is simply outperforming all other products on the market. Readers of TweakTown tend to like this one the best, but others may look for the best warranty, customer service or best price. The products that usually win the hearts of consumers combine excellence from all these categories and sprinkle it with a little something extra called luck.
When looking back at what we discussed today, G.Skill tried very hard to wrap everything into one package, but the luck just wasn't there to bring it all together. On paper the Samsung M Die looked like it would provide better performance and propel the Phoenix ahead of the pack. On paper the OCZ Vertex 2 and Corsair Force also looked like they would pull away from the pack in performance, but Lady Luck didn't want it to be. With all of the consumer SandForce drives performing right around the same G.Skill will need to compete in other areas to stand out.
The only problem now is G.Skill caught Lady Luck on a bad day when the M Die gamble didn't pay off. The Samsung M Die didn't equate to superior performance and is now acting like an anchor since it causes the drive to use more power. If you are an enthusiast using a desktop computer it isn't going to matter what kind of power your SSD pulls in next to your 300 watt video card. Notebook users on the other hand aren't going to feel the same way once they learn that their new SSD could be robbing them of precious battery life.
When it comes to price, the G.Skill Phoenix is right in the mix with the OCZ Agility 2 fighting for the lowest cost on Newegg. The two are currently 10 USD apart with the favor going to the Agility 2. Given that G.Skill is usually the lowest price SSD when matching drives by capacity and controller, we have to wonder what this fight would have been like with 3xnm flash in the Phoenix. Surely the BOM cost would have been reduced making the Phoenix cost less to manufacture and thus less at the e-tail level. I would really like to see G.Skill quickly ramp up a Phoenix II with IMFD 3xnm flash, or if it would work the new IMFD 25nm flash that was just announced. Even though the Phoenix is within arm's reach now, many manufacturers are tightening their belts and getting ready for an all out war in the SSD market. I really don't see the Phoenix in this form competing when prices fall to the other side of 350 USD for 100 to 128GB capacity sizes. Given that prices have fallen so quickly already, we predict this to happen in days, not months from now.
It is too bad G.Skill changed the recipe. The last time we had a bird from G.Skill it tasted pretty good, but this time something wasn't quite right. The performance was everything you would want, but only for desktop users who are oblivious to power usage. Notebook users should look elsewhere for their SandForce fix and those shopping for the best deal may find something else about the Phoenix to overcome the current 10 Dollar price gap between it and the Agility 2, like service or warranty terms. We already know that pricing now will not be the pricing in a few days and we question G.Skill's ability to scale their price down as quickly as some others while using exotic flash.