Introduction, Specifications, Pricing and Availability
Close to a month ago we took a look at the Corsair Force 40GB SSD powered by the fabulous SandForce SF-1200 controller and determined it to be fast, but without a desktop adapter the value was lacking for some users. Today we are looking at a nearly identical drive, but this time the cost of ownership is lower and the overall cost is reduced with the inclusion of a 2.5 to 3.5" desktop adapter bracket.
The new class of small, fast and cheap SSDs might get a nose raised at them from existing SSD users, but if you already own a SSD these drives aren't made for you. The G.Skill Phoenix Pro 40GB is an entry level SSD designed to get this amazing technology in the hands of those who are either still skeptical to spend the big money on a larger drive SSD, or those financially challenged. In these days of recession and a possible double dip recession, there are enough enthusiasts in this category. When it really comes down to it, I would choose a small SSD over a large platter drive any day and that is what G.Skill is counting on.
G.Skill isn't new to low cost drives. Just about every time we reviewed a G.Skill SSD it was priced lower than all or most of the competing drives in its category. Can the 40GB Phoenix Pro keep that same title? That is what we are going to find out today.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
The latest Phoenix Pro highlight isn't shown on the specifications sheet. The price is where the action is at as Team SandForce companies try to get their 40GB offering as close to 100 USD as possible. G.Skill was able to get very close to the target with Newegg. Newegg currently lists the 40GB Phoenix Pro at 119.99 USD. At this time the Phoenix Pro is the lowest cost SandForce controlled 40GB drive currently offered at Newegg, a feature that outshines anything on the specification sheet.
When it comes to the actual specs, we see that the drive is capable of delivering performance very close to that of the larger capacity SandForce drives. With 280 MB/s read and 270 MB/s write speed, the Phoenix Pro nearly maxes out the SATA II bus and the high IOPS programming is able to deliver up to 50,000 IOPS.
To add value to the Phoenix Pro, G.Skill has included at 2.5 to 3.5" desktop adapter bracket; something that we are seeing included with many of these low cost 40GB drives.
G.Skill uses the same attractive package design for all of the Phoenix Pro drives, including the 40GB version we are looking at today.
All of the useful information is on the back of the package. Here you will find speed claims and other feature / specification information. You will have to look at the sticker on the lower right to find the capacity size.
The inner package is designed very well. Here we found the drive tucked away in the closed cell foam and the adapter bracket holding everything in place.
The G.Skill Phoenix Pro 40GB SSD
Here we get our first look at the Phoenix Pro. The capacity information is listed on the front label.
The label on the back contains the model and serial number.
On the side we found the mounting locations where they should be, so mounting the Phoenix Pro in your notebook will not be a problem.
The SATA power and data connectors are where they should be on the drive, but the desktop adapter places the drive in the middle. This placement doesn't allow the SATA power and data connectors to be placed where they should be, but unless you are using a backplane it will not be an issue.
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.
Our testing shows that the G.Skill Phoenix Pro is capable of achieving even better results than what the company is claiming. In testing we hit 285MB/s read, the maximum limit of our motherboards SATA II and 270MB/s write, the same claimed by G.Skill.
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 Phoenix Pro holds a steady performance line across the drive, but there were three quick dips where the drive slowed to just over 162 MB/s.
The write test across the drive was a different story. Here the actual performance was right around 140MB/s and the spikes were up both directions. On the low side the Phoenix dipped just five times and all were around 120 MB/s. At the high end the Phoenix Pro peaked around 25 times and reached 218 MB/s.
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.
Access time is the real strong point of SSDs and the reason why they feel so much faster than platter drives. Here we see the Phoenix Pro keeping things tidy with a .14 ms average read access time.
The write access time was also very snappy, but we did observe a little more latency in the 40GB Phoenix Pro than we did with the older, full sized SandForce SF-1200 drives.
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.
In CDM we are looking at 4k performance. The standard Team SandForce drives running all sixteen flash chips have all given us really good 4k read speeds that go all the way up to 230 MB/s at a queue depth of 32. The reduced flash Phoenix Pro is only able to hit 94.4 MB/s at the same queue depth.
At a single command the Phoenix Pro 40GB reads around 20 MB/s, but the full size drives achieve close to 30 MB/s, so there is some performance loss between the sixteen flash drives and the twelve flash units that are coming out now.
When it comes to write speeds, we see massive reductions in performance at the 4k level. At a single command we see close to 30 MB/s loss and that number only goes higher as the command length increases.
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
Our synthetic tests would lead us to believe the Phoenix Pro would be a bit of a dog when it comes to real world performance, but the opposite is true. Here we see the G.Skill Phoenix Pro churning out great numbers in many of the common tasks that we all do every day.
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
Even though the standard tests show very good general performance, the 4k issues cause issues when transferring data from one partition of the drive to another. With only 40GB of space you are not going to be transferring a whole lot of data anyhow, but when you do that data will flow slower than if it were on a Western Digital VelociRaptor. That isn't exactly the SSD experience most people are looking for.
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 nearly identical performance between the standard SF-1200 drives with sixteen flash chips and the 40GB Phoenix Pro with only twelve.
When it comes to 40GB SSDs, users are looking for the best SSD experience they can get for the least amount of money. Until SandForce released their 40GB configuration, you could get a low cost 40GB SSD, but the products available lacked a pleasant experience.
When it comes to the price, G.Skill was forced to follow suit. With Intel and Kingston shooting for the 100 USD price point, G.Skill is forced to aim for the same mark. As it sits now, the 40GB Phoenix Pro will set you back 120 USD; not too far off that magical target of 100 USD. Even though G.Skill wasn't able to hit their target in the bull's-eye, they did manage to get their 40GB Phoenix Pro lower than other competing drives, a place where we've found G.Skill many times before.
When it comes to performance, the 40GB Phoenix Pro is able to deliver the general performance users looking to spend this amount of money are looking for. The Pro isn't going to deliver record setting benchmark numbers, but if you are just looking for fast boot times, it will deliver. Advanced users looking to keep more than just a couple of programs on their drive will need to look further up the capacity chain, but for Windows, Office and a game you are good to go with the 40GB drive.
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