Since we've already spent some time with SK Hynix's 20nm NAND flash we had an idea of what to expect from the new, incremental updated Corsair Neutron. With companies being forced to 20nm IMFT flash, 25nm is increasingly difficult to obtain, we expect to see more Hynix flash used in consumer SSDs. 20nm is the start of what could be a significant fall for multi-level cell (MLC) flash. The NAND experts warned about this coming, yet outside of engineers or those directly involved, the warnings fell on deaf ears. New technologies will emerge to replace consumer MLC, but we may go through a period of regressed performance, at least when writing data. New PCIe based technologies are coming and they'll increase the ceiling for read performance, but write performance may decline due to a technology gap. I certainly hope not.
Right now, we're in this odd little time where Toshiba has already moved to 19nm and not suffered performance losses, at least not on the consumer SSDs we've tested. Intel / Micron on the other hand struggled a bit at 20nm, an issue we first sported nearly one year ago. IMFT left the crack in the door open a little too far and Hynix is coming through with 20nm. With Hynix owning LAMD now, Corsair made the right choice to move Neutron to Hynix flash, and the results are better performance, than what 25nm IMFT flash offered. This drive on 20nm IMFT in the low capacity sizes with the Neutron would have been bad for Corsair.
Today we skimmed over the Neutron 128GB, but didn't talk much about it. The mid-size Neutron will get more coverage in an updated look at Neutron GTX. We purchased GTX in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacity sizes since it had a minor change to the flash as well. GTX moved from 24nm Toshiba Toggle flash to 19nm Toggle flash. Going into that review we expected it to be really exciting, but the truth is the performance is nearly identical in two of the three capacity sizes. To spice it up we're compare the Neutron 128GB to the GTX 120GB.
When it comes to Neutron 256GB, the price when we purchased it was amazing, just $170. The price went up a bit since then, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it dip back down again soon. At that price point, it's the lowest priced 256GB class SSD with a five year warranty and the new flash increases performance in an era where performance is on the decline. Corsair made the right move and delivered the best value in the 256GB price class. The included accessory package really puts this drive over the top. Other companies are trying to give less, while reducing performance, but Corsair has taken a stand to not follow others down the same path.