What Difference Does it Make Anyway?
A single technology journalist wrote a dissenting opinion, but the rest of the media coverage followed our thoughts on the subject. The public agreed as well, and some even started a boycott page on Reddit to address the issue.
To help answer the question, we ran some tests on both the original Optima and the SandForce Optima. In this chart, we see five low cost consumer SSDs available to the public. The performance we really care about for this class of product is the orange bar in the middle of each group. This explains why we recommended the original PNY Optima 240GB SSD and why we can no longer do as now.
There is a large performance difference between the SMI Optima and the SandForce Optima. With the SMI Optima out of the picture, we now have to recommend the Corsair Force LX 256GB over the other drives in this capacity size and category.
The dissenting opinion piece that exposed a different type of fraud in the industry accused us of being anti-SandForce warhorses. That is hardly the case. Nearly everyone on staff at TweakTown has and uses a SandForce based SSD. I have roughly 60 SSDs with SandForce controllers and use nearly all of them in production systems for testing NAS and SAN products as well as in notebooks.
Like all SSD controllers, SandForce controllers have strong points and weak points. We've covered both fairly and accurately since 2009 when the original SF-1000 Series hit the market.
Looking back at the product description found of PNY's non-USA websites, we clearly see PNY recommends the Optima for "...photo / video applications..." and "...doesn't compromise performance..." The latter is actually industry slang, a way to say a product does NOT have a SandForce controller.
Photo and video files are high entropy files. To use consumer terms, the data is already compressed. SandForce controllers write previously compressed data at a slower rate than data the controller can compress further. This is by design and a topic we've covered many times. It doesn't mean SandForce controllers are bad, it just means the end-user needs to know what they are using the drive for and purchase the appropriate model. As an SSD reviewer, it's my job to sort that out and recommend products based on the needs of our readers. Instead of giving every product that has an Amazon link an award in order to profit ourselves, we actually investigate the products and fulfill our commitment to the public.
Moving beyond incompressible data issues, some readers are no longer interested in purchasing a product with a four-year-old controller, even if it has 8 channels. Others are still concerned about long-term compatibility issues, and rightly so after early SandForce SF-1000 and SF-2000 products ran into numerous issues and bug fixes. Even the newly manufactured Optima SandForce Edition had an update ready on PNY's website, so the drive needed an update right out of the box.
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