Corsair Force GT 120GB Solid State Drive Review

Recently we looked at the budget minded Force 3, but today we have Corsair's flagship offering - the Force GT.

Manufacturer: Corsair
12 minute read time


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Even before the Corsair Force GT arrived at my door, I knew it would be hot. I get a lot of emails from readers and don't mind answering each and every one, but right after our review of the Force 3 went live I was flooded with emails asking about the Force GT. The only other product that I can think that generated so much interest to date was the Fusion-io ioDrive.

The Force GT has some nice features that allow it to stand out from the rest of the Team SandForce products. The first is Corsair's known reliability and exceptional customer support. The drive itself is also red, much cooler than the run of the mill black SSDs floating around. Then there is the mystery over what components Corsair chose to use in their flagship SSD.

The Corsair Force GT uses the SandForce SF-2281 SATA III controller that is quickly becoming the industry standard for SSDs in 2011. As you may know, this controller is the starting point and the flash it's paired with is what's differing the high end products from the mainstream. The Force 3 is Corsair's mainstream offering with async flash and the Force GT uses synchronized flash. For a while we predicted the GT would launch with Toshiba Toggle flash, but that isn't the case. This combination puts the Force GT directly in line with the OCZ Vertex 3 and these two drives will battle it out on the price front for the next year.

Ah, pricing. Let's look at the specs first.

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

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Corsair is offering the Force GT in three capacity sizes right off the bat; 60GB, 120GB and 240GB. Today we're looking at the 120GB model. The 120GB Force GT sits in the sweet spot, it costs less than 300 USD and offers enough capacity for you to install Windows, Office and a few games to get started. Corsair claims a read speed of 555MB/s and write speed of up to 515MB/s. These are very high numbers even for a new SATA III SandForce controlled drive. In order to achieve peak performance you will need to pair the drive with a native SATA III chipset like Intel's Z68.

Not listed on the specification sheet is the part that we're finding the most important with these new SandForce SF-2281 controlled drives, the type of flash it's paired with. The Corsair Force GT uses IMFT 25nm synchronous flash, the same found in the baseline Vertex 3. The Force 3 uses asynchronous flash and while that drive performs very well out of the box, it slows down considerably when data is present on the drive. The new GT model still slows down, but not to the same degree.

At the time of writing Newegg lists the 120GB Corsair Force GT at 289.99 USD and the 60GB model at 144.99. The 240GB model was MIA at the time of writing at Newegg and Amazon. Adding value to the total package, Corsair includes a standard 3 year warranty and an all-important desktop adapter bracket.

The Packaging

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The Force GT uses similar packaging to the Force 3. The main difference on the front is that Corsair has included performance ratings on the Force GT - we didn't see this on the Force 3.

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The back of the package gives us some general information about SSDs and the Force GT specifically.

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The inner packaging is very good. Corsair placed the drive in a separate partition from the desktop adapter bracket.

The Corsair Force GT 120GB

The Corsair Force 3 120GB

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The Corsair Force GT is red! In many of the press images we've seen the enclosure looks like it's anodized like the Patriot Inferno last year, but the casing is painted or powder coated instead. The finish is pretty good, but not as nice as an anodized drive. From two feet away you really can't tell the difference, though.

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There isn't much happening on the back of the drive. Here we see the under mount locations and I can report they are there and placed where they should be.

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The side mounting points are also where they should be.

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On the back of the drive we see the SATA power and data connectors. The desktop adapter bracket keeps everything in line, so you won't have any issues installing the drive in your system, be it a desktop or notebook without the bracket.

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I was really expecting to find Toshiba Toggle Flash in the Force GT, but as we see here, Corsair choose to run with IMFT 25nm synchronous flash. There are sixteen flash chips in all - eight on each side and a single SandForce SF-2281 controller on this side.

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The Force GT has several surface mount components, so you're getting your money's worth.

Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance

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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, Corsair and Noctua.

You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.

In order to get the most out of the Corsair Force GT Series drives, you'll need a motherboard with native SATA III capabilities.

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.

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Speaking of getting your money's worth, take a look at the 560MB/s read speed we achieved with the Force GT! On the write side of things we hit 517MB/s.

Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro

HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.00

Developer Homepage:

Product Homepage:

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.

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There are a few back stories with this article. The first and most obvious is the Force 3 and Force GT performance and how they compare to each other. Next on the list is the latest SandForce firmware. This will play out in the benchmarks between the Vertex 3 and Force GT, since they both use the same controller and more importantly, flash type.

When it comes to reading across the drive, we see the Force GT putting some big numbers on the board. With an average read speed of 411MB/s, this drive is very fast when working with compressible data.

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The new Force GT is also very fast when writing data; here we see an average speed of 403MB/s, the fastest on this list comprised of the best of the best.

Benchmarks - AIDA64 Random Access Time

AIDA64 Random Access Time

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.60

Developer Homepage:

Product Homepage:

AIDA64 offers 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 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 and Toshiba.

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All of the manufactures like to talk about their big number read and write speeds but in the end users like having instant access to their data. The Corsair Force GT does a little better than the Force 3 but when we are measuring at thousands of a second the difference is not that big of an issue. What is a big issue is how much faster SSDs can access data when compared to traditional spinners like the WD VelociRaptor shown at the bottom of the graph.

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The Force GT is also faster at writing data to the drive when compared to the Force 3 as well. This isn't the reason to choose the Force GT over the Force 3, though. Read on.

Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark


Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview

Developer Homepage:

Product Homepage:

Download here:

CrystalDiskMark is a disk benchmark software that allows us to benchmark 4K and 4K queue depths with accuracy.

Key Features:-

* Sequential reads/writes

* Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes

* Text copy

* Change dialog design

* internationalization (i18n)

Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 Technical Preview was used for these tests since it offers the ability to measure native command queuing at 4 and 32.

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Normally we use CDM just for looking at 4K and NCQ performance, but today CDM was called upon to show us something different. CrystalDiskMark uses incompressible data while testing the performance of a drive. Here we see that the Force GT with synchronous flash is twice as fast as the Force 3 with asynchronous flash.

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In the chart above I want to point out a few things. First, the Force GT is faster than the Force 3, that's going to be the theme here today, soak it up.

With that out of the way, we can focus on other issues. The three 120GB SandForce SF-2281 controlled drives hit a brick wall at roughly 167MB/s (137MB/s on the async drive). This wall is lifted when using a 240GB model. I don't have a 240GB Force 3 or Force GT, but I wish I did. I really think the 240GB Force GT would outperform the Vertex 3 in many of these tests, since the Force GT is faster at 4K writes.

Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests

PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0

Developer Homepage:

Product Homepage:

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.

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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 Corsair Force GT outperformed every other drive in this series of tests and even managed to perform better than the 240GB Vertex 3. Let's take a look at the real, real world test.

PCMark Vantage - Drives with Data Testing

For a complete breakdown on the Drives with Data Testing please read this article. You will be able to perform this test at home with the files provided in the article - full instructions are included.

Brief Methodology

SSDs perform differently when used for a period of time and when data is already present on the drive. The purpose of the Drives with Data testing is to show how a drive performs in these 'dirty' states. SSDs also need time to recover, either with TRIM or onboard garbage collection methods.

Drives with Data Testing - 25%, 50%, 75% Full States and Dirty / Empty Test

Files needed for 60 (64GB), 120 (128GB), 240 (256GB)

60GB Fill - 15GB, 30GB, 45GB

120GB Fill - 30GB, 60GB, 90GB

240GB Fill - 60GB, 120GB, 160GB

Empty but Dirty - a test run just after the fill tests and shows if a drive needs time to recover or if performance is instantly restored.

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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

For me and many of our readers, this is the real world test that matters most. I'd speculate that most users keep their SSD at around 50% full. At that fill rate the Corsair Force GT is faster than the Vertex 3 when we tested it and a lot faster than the Force 3.

There are really two distinct Team SandForce products this year, the async and the sync and that is what we are looking at here. The async drives cost a lot less than the sync drives because asynchronous flash costs less than synchronous flash. As you can see here, the two products really aren't in the same league when tested under real world conditions.

I've seen a lot of websites talk about the incompressible data differences, but fail to show how that relates to your real world usage. This test and this chart show what you can expect. If you are looking for a true, next generation drive with the performance that matches that title, you want a drive with synchronous flash like the Force GT.

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:

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

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Here we see another example of the difference in performance between the Force 3 and the Force GT. The data being transferred is incompressible and as you see, the GT is quite a bit faster than the Force 3.

Benchmarks - Passmark

Passmark Advanced Multi-User Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.1

Developer Homepage:

Test Homepage:

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.

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I doubt many reading this will fill their server with Corsair Force GT drives, but the technology is very similar to true enterprise drives. Because of that, a handful of you want to see these benchmarks and I'm always down for more tests.

Final Thoughts

Let me step back for a minute and share a struggle that I'm having. I wasn't expecting Team SandForce partners to ship three divisions of drives this year. So far I've praised and ridiculed the new async drives and even now I really can't define where I stand on them. On one hand I see where the manufacturers are coming from - they are cheap, give entry level users the ability to get into the SSD game and at the same time, allow manufacturers to charge more for their proper next gen performance drives. On the other hand, most end users see the same 500+MB/s rating and then buy a drive based on the list price thinking that lower is obviously better for the wallet.

Luckily the Corsair Force GT is a synchronous flash product, so I don't have to work out my issues this minute. If I'm looking at Newegg or a local shop and seeing a Force 3 and Force GT sitting on the shelf, I'm reaching for the Force GT even though it costs 80 Dollars more at Newegg right now. The performance difference when the drives are at 50% full are worth 80 Dollars more when dealing with 120GB drives. I'd say it's even worth 100 USD more..120..well, I might have a change of heart at that point, but 80 Dollars makes it an easy choice.

In this review we saw the latest firmware revision from SandForce and it allowed the Corsair Force GT to outperform every other drive in our charts. The Force GT is wicked fast and comes very close to reaching the performance limitations of SATA III (585MB/s) today. In ATTO we hit 560MB/s which is significant since that means this drive will still look good when next year's SSDs ship. There isn't really a lot of room to grow until SATA IV which hasn't even been announced, or for that matter publicly talked about.

The only thing left to talk about is the price and this is also where we find the only obstacle for most end users. At 289 USD today the Corsair Force GT costs 80 Dollars more than the Force 3 and a little more than the Vertex 3. Pricing is always a dynamic issue, though, and while the Force GT will never cost less than the Force 3, it will level off at the same level as the Vertex 3 over time. The Force GT does offer some things that the Vertex 3 doesn't. The Force GT is red which will matter to some users looking to break out of the cookie cutter SSD market and it also comes with Corsair's reputation for excellent customer service. The Force GT also tested a bit faster than the Vertex 3 in our tests, so those looking for the fastest drive on the market will enjoy that satisfaction.

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