We've looked at what seemed to be an endless number of SandForce SF-1200 controlled drives over the past year or so and been given an inside look at how the firmware and programming has progressed. The firmware revision seems to be the best to date delivering exceptional synthetic and real world performance. Of course, we really only care about the real world performance since very few of us go around benchmarking their SSDs all of the time. The real world results are also what SandForce has focused on and they are really kicking butt in this area.
With so many SF-1200 based drives on the market, making a purchasing decision includes a lot more than just a performance rating. Over the last year we've seen drive manufacturers focus on price, accessory extras and performance. The Zalman N Series holds its own when it comes to performance and even though I hate to do so, we now have to take performance out of the equation since the N Series matches the speeds of a large number of other SandForce SF-1200 based drives.
That leaves pricing and accessories included with the package. When it comes to pricing Zalman has a very good price at Newegg for the 128GB drive we looked at today, but it is far from the lowest priced SF-1200 drive on the market. At the time of writing our Zalman N Series 128GB drive had a cost of 239.99 USD at Newegg. The price is respectable, but as I stated it is not the lowest available. Zalman has a long history of producing great products that stand the test of time, but that leads us to the accessory package.
When we talk about accessories we tend to clump more than just physical gadgets under the accessory banner. Zalman is still new to the SSD game, so we can't comment on how quickly they update firmware revisions on their website, but going in their favor is the fact that the N Series is shipping with the latest offering available. Hopefully Zalman is able to stay on top of firmware revisions as they become available. Warranty terms also come into play when we talk about accessories and Zalman has chosen to go with a three year term. This is obviously much better than a one year warranty, but three years tends to be the average these days for solid state drives. The highest to date has been a five year warranty and Zalman falls short of that market.
When it comes to physical accessories like a 2.5" to 3.5" desktop adapter and an exhaustive manual, Zalman falls short of what is now considered the standard. Zalman doesn't include a desktop adapter bracket at all, something that comes in very handy when a user wants to install a Zalman N Series SSD in their desktop computer that was never designed to accept a 2.5" drive. Notebook users could really care less about a bracket since nearly all notebooks use the 2.5" form factor standard.