Specifications, Pricing and Availability
Before we can begin to appreciate what Corsair and SandForce have done with the F40 we first need to discuss the competition. Both Intel and Kingston have 40GB drives on the market that are technically SSDs. They are priced very aggressively with a target of 100 USD or lower. To get there the number of flash chips needs to be reduced and with the competition's drives that means the number of channels must also be reduced. When you start dividing channels you also start dividing performance. It isn't hard to figure out that drives that are already not at the top of the performance charts suffer greatly when you start dividing performance to get to a better cost. How much of a performance loss is acceptable before you can really still call a product an SSD still?
Either by design or just some luck followed by an engineer stating, "Hey look what happens when I start removing flash" SandForce was able to get their controllers working with just 12 NAND flash chips instead of the standard 16 but retain all of their channels. With all of the channels still working drastic cuts in performance were avoided and we are left with a low cost SandForce controlled SSD that still is fast enough to be considered an SSD and not a marketing ploy.
Everything sounds really good up to this point but there are still more to consider. In our 60GB drive tests we learned that the smaller flash chips did have a slight performance hit. This is amplified with the reduced flash count so don't expect 240GB capacity like performance. We will get into the performance later in this article but performance is only half of the story.
At some point the 100 USD price point became a big target for SSD makers. Intel and Kingston have both been there for a few months now but as I have already pointed out the performance has been less than honorable (write speeds of 35MB/s for the Intel X25-V). The enthusiast in me all but denies the existence or need of such products but the practical side of me can at least recognize the importance of this price point. Newegg currently lists the Corsair Force F40 at just under 125.00 USD. To help reduce costs the F40 doesn't include a desktop adapter bracket that is now standard with many Force Series drives but the warranty does stay the same at 3 years.
Looking through the specs we see that all of the standard SandForce SF-1200 goodies are also included; SATA II, TRIM, garbage collection, no moving parts and even the propriety stuff that makes the consumer 1200 controllers awesome are there. The claimed speeds are 280MB/s read and 270MB/s write, this is down from the 285 / 275 of many of the other Force drives, but at these speeds we are just splitting hairs with that one.