Corsair Neutron 128GB and 256GB (2013 Hynix Edition) SSD Review
Recently Corsair made some changes to their popular Neutron Series products. Both the base model and GTX have new firmware, new flash and new price points. The Neutron 256GB is now one of the best value SSD's on the market and they are selling like crazy.
It's been quite a while since we wrote about Corsair's Neutron Series, Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD) or SK Hynix Memory solutions. That's going to change this week because we went out and purchased a handful of Neutron and Neutron GTX drives. Before we start down that road, let's take a look at the LAMD and SK Hynix relationship.
LAMD is a specialty SoC builder with a handful of products. Although founded in 2004, the first time we noticed LAMD came when testing the Seagate Pulsar.2 enterprise SSD. Fast forward a year and a half later and LAMD tipped up again in Corsair's flagship Neutron GTX consumer SSD.
A few months after Corsair publicly launched the then new Neutron Series, SK Hynix, a South Korean DRAM, NAND and CIS manufacturer, purchased Link_A_Media Devices. Not including portable flash devices like thumb drives, we rarely run across SK Hynix flash in consumer SSDs. The most recent was a SSD built by SK Hynix that used a LSI SandForce controller paired with the company's own flash.
The SK Hynix NAND paired with a LSI SF-2281 controller produced some very interesting results. The read performance was down a little compared to other 2281 drives on the market with IMFT 25nm flash, but write performance increased. As we move forward to smaller packages, write performance will become a larger issue, because the performance is decreasing. This is a bigger issue with smaller capacity SSDs and one that you can see for yourself by the performance numbers released in marketing docs for the Crucial M500 and OCZ Vertex 3.20, both with new IMFT 20nm flash.
The first and only time we reviewed the Corsair Neutron was just after Computex 2012 one year ago, and it was the 240GB model. The base Neutron shipped with IMFT 25nm flash. Around the same time, we reviewed the Neutron GTX 240GB with 24nm Toshiba Toggle Mode flash. That was then and this is now. The Neutron shipping today has changed. The flash comes from SK Hynix now on the base Neutron and the full 256GB of capacity is now in the user's hands thus the new 256GB capacity size in the new marketing material. The Neutron GTX has a smaller change, now with 19nm Toshiba Toggle flash, but we'll talk about that in a couple of days with a special follow up review.
When we discovered the changes, the Corsair Neutron 256GB was at Newegg for right around $169. Not only did we notice the great price, but also the new capacity size. We reached out to Corsair for a sample, but almost right away, the request was shot down. As you can imagine, Corsair wanted to send us a sample for review, the problem was with allocation. The marketing team can't get their hands on them because the new low price means they are selling like crazy. So, we waited in line like everyone else and ordered a handful of new Corsair Neutron and Neutron GTX drives from Newegg.
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