They say it is better to be late than never, but I think I found an exception to the rule. When it comes to technology, the early bird gets the worm. But what happens to the birds that like to sleep in until Noon?
Team Group is known for their Xtreem performance memory and has a couple of successful SSDs under their belt now with the new SandForce controlled S1 ready to hit the shelves at any moment. I have to feel bad for Team since the bottom has dropped out of SandForce consumer pricing. Since Team waited until September to get their first SandForce drives to market, they missed the period in time when you could actually make money on the drives.
The SandForce SSD market has turned into a commodity market; everyone has a SandForce drive out now. The Team SandForce market has peaked and the only thing left for manufacturers to do is drop pricing. As it sits right now, pricing and value added inclusions like longer warranty terms and accessories are giving buyers reasons to pick one drive other another. If you are a company looking to actually make money on a product, introducing a SandForce SSD nine months late isn't really the way to do it.
All logic tossed aside, this is exactly what Team Group is trying to do, but the first drives have yet to hit etail shelves, so we are left with some uncertainties; the kind that make or break a product. As I sit here writing this, I don't have pricing information or a list of etailers that will be carrying the new Team Group Xtreem S1. What I do know is that a Team Xtreem S1 has the potential to be very popular if Team can get the price under competitor's current listings.
Today we are going to look at the Team Group Xtreem S1, a 120GB SandForce controlled SSD that has a couple of unique features, but has an unknown price. Let's get started.
Specifications, Pricing, Availability and Packaging
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
Team's first SandForce controlled SSD has all of the elements that we have come to love about the SF-1200. The read speed of 285MB/s and write speed of 275MB/s is easily our favorite and most beneficial, but all of the other goodies are there as well such as RAISE and Dura Write.
When it comes to add on features, Team Group is including a standard 2 year warranty, but our sample didn't come with a desktop adapter bracket that makes it easy to install the drive in a standard 3.5" form factor bay. With several manufacturers now sporting three year warranties and giving adapter brackets out with every purchase, Team is going to need to price the Xtreem S1 aggressively to compete with others who have already cut their teeth.
At this time we are not sure what the Xtreem S1 pricing is going to look like, but the plan is to release 60, 120 and 240GB models this month. At this point we can only wait and see.
Team put together a very nice, highly visible package for the Xtreem S1. On the front we get to see the actual drive and a few of the features are also listed.
On the back we were treated with some additional features and specifications in a couple of different languages. The model and serial numbers are also listed on the back; this one is serial number 0001.
Inside the drive is held in place well with little chance for your new SSD to move around during shipping.
The Team Xtreem S1 120GB SSD
Here we get our first look at the Xtreem S1. Team is the first and only company to my knowledge to release a gold colored drive. The finish of the drive looks very good; I really dig the color even though I am not a fan of gold.
The back of the drive holds the model and serial number sticker. Also on the back we can see the four SATA spec mounting holes.
The side of the drive also has the standard mounting locations, so you will not have any issue mounting the Xtreem S1 in your 2.5" bay.
The back of the drive also follows the SATA specs list and the drive is aligned ready to install.
It is always interesting to see what a PCB and configuration can tell us. Here we see the SandForce controller in the middle and the Intel flash modules on the sides.
Here we actually run across something that tells us that Team is making their PCBs. This could lead to Team being able to shave more of the price off when the Xtreem S1 hits store shelves.
Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance
We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: AVADirect, GIGABYTE, Cooler Master, LSI and Noctua.
You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.
ATTO Baseline Performance
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.34
ATTO is used by many disk manufacturers to determine the read and write speeds that will be presented to customers.
The Team Group Xtreem S1 uses the 30K IOPS programming and we can see that in the 4K ATTO test that produces 147MB/s, up from the base configuration that does around 130MB/s. The 50K High IOPS programming would have given us around 180MB/s, but we have yet to find a real world test that gives us a performance gain with this programming.
When it comes to all out speed, the S1 is able to meet the marketing claims of 285MB/s read and 275MB/s write.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.00
Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com
HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:
- Benchmark: measures the performance
- Info: shows detailed information
- Health: checks the health status by using SMART
- Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
- Temperature display
HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.
The read speed from across the disk is very linear once you get past a small bump at the beginning.
The write test was a little bumpy, but the new firmware from SandForce has caused this on all of the SF-1200 drives.
Benchmarks - Everest Random Access Time
Everest Random Access Time
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.60
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Everest Ultimate and Corporate Edition offer several different benchmarks for testing and optimizing your system or network. The Random Access test is one of very few if not only that will measure hard drives random access times in hundredths of milliseconds as oppose to tens of milliseconds.
Drives with only one or two tests displayed in write the write test mean that they have failed the test and their Maximum and possibly their Average Scores were very high after the cached fills. This usually happens only with controllers manufactured by JMicron.
The read access times are in line with other SandForce SF-1200 controlled drives we have tested previously.
The write access times are nearly identical to those tested with the OCZ Vertex 2, so the Team Xtreem S1 is on track to be a helluva performer.
Benchmarks - Crystal Disk Mark
Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview
Developer Homepage: http://crystalmark.info
Product Homepage: http://crystalmark.info/software/CrystalDiskMark/index-e.html
Download here: http://crystaldew.info/category/software/crystaldiskmark
CrystalDiskMark is a disk benchmark software.
* Sequential reads/writes
* Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes
* Text copy
* Change dialog design
* internationalization (i18n)
Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 is not available to the public yet, but the Technical Preview does allow us to test 4K performance at queue depths of 4 and 32 in addition to 1. The current release Crystal Disk Mark only shows us QD 1.
CDM shows solid performance and scaling in the 4K and 4K queue depth area, with just over 20MB/s read with a single command and over 130 at QD 32.
The write tests show performance that mimics the other high performance SandForce based SSDs we have previously tested.
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests
PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage/
Buy It Here
PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
FutureMark has developed a good set of hard disk tests for their PCMark Vantage Suite. Windows users can count on Vantage to show them how a drive will perform in normal day to day usage scenarios. For most users these are the tests that matter since many of the old hat ways to measure performance have become ineffective to measure true Windows performance.
HDD1 - Windows Defender
HDD2 - Gaming
HDD3 - Windows Photo Gallery
HDD4 - Vista Startup
HDD5 - Windows Movie Maker
HDD6 - Windows Media Center
HDD7 - Windows Media Player
HDD8 - Application Loading
The Team Group Xreem S1 posted the fastest application load times to date for a single SSD in our lab. Looking down the chart, we see that the drive performed very well in all of the tests.
Benchmarks - AS SSD
AS SSD Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.3577.40358
Developer Homepage: Alex Intelligent Software
Product Homepage: Alex Intelligent Software
Download here: http://www.alex-is.de/PHP/fusion/downloads.php?cat_id=4&download_id=9
AS determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests. The synthetic tests are to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are carried out without the use of the operating system caches.
In all synthetic tests the test file size is 1GB. AS can also determine the access time of the SSD, the access of which the drive is determined to read through the entire capacity of the SSD (Full Stroke). The write access test is only to be met with a 1 GB big test file. At the end of the tests three values for the read and write as well as the overall performance will be issued. In addition to the calculated values which are shown in MB/s, they are also represented in IO per seconds (IOPS).
Note: AS SSD is a great benchmark for many tests, but since Crystal Disk Mark covers a broader range of 4K tests and HD Tune Pro covering sequential speeds, we will only use the Copy Benchmark from AS SSD.
- Copy Benchmark
The new firmware put out by SandForce is slowing the already slow copy performance of these SF-1200 drives. The effect is magnified when moving compressed data.
Benchmarks - Passmark
Passmark Advanced Multi-User Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 6.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.passmark.com
Test Homepage: http://www.passmark.com
Many users complain that I/O Meter is too complicated of a benchmark to replicate results so my quest to find an alternative was started. Passmark has added several multi-user tests that measure a hard drives ability to operate in a multi-user environment.
The tests use different settings to mimic basic multi-user operations as they would play out on your server. Variances is read / write percentage as well as random / sequential reads are common in certain applications, Web Servers read nearly 100% of the time while Database Servers write a small amount of data.
The Workstation test is the only single user environment and will be similar to how you use your system at home.
With one foot in the enterprise market and a hand in the consumer market, some of that enterprise tech was rubbed off on the SF-1200 powered drives. Here we see the Team Group Xtreem S1 performing enterprise tasks at speeds platter drives will never be able to achieve.
Team Group has what is essentially a standard SandForce SF-1200 with the 30K IOPS programming, but put it in a really attractive gold anodized case that deserves to be shown in your custom PC. Team has a bit of history with high performance PCs and they have a following, so those who need to know already know what the story is there.
When it comes to performance, it is difficult to improve upon the best 100 to 128GB SSD on the market, but Team gave it their best shot. The 30K IOPS programming should allow Team to keep the cost down, but still deliver performance that is higher than your run of the mill SF-1200.
That leads us right into the price and availability. At this time both of these are lost in space; we have no idea what Team Group will start the Xtreem S1 at or when exactly we will see them. More importantly, we don't know where the market will be at when Team does bring these drives to market.
As it sits now, you can pick up at 120GB SandForce SF-1200 for less than 300 USD and if you look hard enough it is possible to get closer to the 250 USD mark. Team is going to need to get these drives closer to that 250 than the 300 to keep consumers happy. Let's hope they can hit that mark.
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