RunCore Pro V SATA II Plus 120GB Solid State Drive Review

RunCore extends their SF-1200 product lineup with the Pro V Plus, a 25nm flash model.
@ChrisRamseyer
Published Mon, Aug 1 2011 11:37 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 64%Manufacturer: RunCore

Introduction

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At Computex 2011 Cameron was hand delivered a new product from RunCore that we weren't expecting. The new RunCore Pro V Plus builds upon the success of the original Pro V, but changes the script a bit by using new IMFT 25nm flash. Drives with this controller / flash combination made a lot of noise in the tech press a few months ago. To make a long story short, one SSD manufacturer (not RunCore) made changes to their build of materials list and started selling new 25nm drives under the same model name as the older 3xnm drives. The new 25nm offerings are a bit slower than the older models and also have less user accessible capacity.

Obviously a change big enough to affect performance and user capacity should be noted and that is exactly what RunCore is doing with their new Pro V Plus model. For the most part we've been pretty quiet about the whole deal just telling people to stay away from the undocumented model affected. Part of that was due to not having a SandForce SF-1200 drive paired with 25nm flash, but that all changes this week; we now have two of them in house including one from RunCore and the other from a new company call Strontium. Today we're going to take a quick look at a bare RunCore Pro V Plus that was hand delivered to us.

In the retail and e-tail market RunCore sells these drives in two different kits. The first is a Notebook Upgrade Kit and the second is called a Desktop DIY Kit.

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

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RunCore is making the Pro V Plus in four capacity sizes; 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and a massive 480GB model for those with more loot to spend on an SSD than I do. The generic rating for the Pro V Plus Series is 280MB/s read and 270MB/s write, but we expect the smallest 60GB performance to vary a bit from the stated claims.

These 25nm models should use less power than the older Pro V Series that use 32nm IMFT flash, but they also have a lower P/E cycle which means they will not live as long, but users should expect to have a drive that works optimally for several years. RunCore's warranty on these drives is 2 years, so they will cover their drives for at least that amount of time.

Normally we'd go shopping for RunCore products at RunCoreStore.com, but at this time the Pro V Plus isn't listed for sale there. MyDigitalDiscount.com doesn't list the Pro V Plus either, so at this time you really can't buy the drive unless you have some kind of inside line that I don't.

Instead of speculating on the real world performance of the new 25nm drive, let's just get right to it and see what she can do.

The RunCore Pro V Plus 120GB SSD

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We are going to have to take a sort of 'run what you brung' approach to this (p)review, since we didn't get either of the retail kits. What you see is what we've got. This is a new case design for RunCore; the embossed lettering is gone and replaced with a more traditional sticker that shows the drives model number, serial number and the product name.

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The back of the drive has the standard mounting points, so you won't have an issue installing this drive in a 3rd party adapter bracket.

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The side mounting points are located where they should be as well, but this is where things gets a bit funny. I've opened this type of casing before even though it is a pain in the butt, but I can't get the new Pro V Plus case open to show the drives PCB configuration. I spent around a half hour poking and prodding without success. I finally stopped after slicing my thumb open.

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The SATA power and data connectors are offset how they should be.

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.

Since this is our first SF-1200 controlled drive paired with 25nm IMFT flash, I'm a bit excited to see how she runs. You only need a SATA II port since this Pro V Plus isn't a SATA III capable drive.

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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RunCore's specified performance rating of 280MB/s read and 270MB/s write seems to be spot on. We measured the same performance with our sample 120GB Pro V Plus.

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.

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There is a large divide on the chart between the RunCore Pro V Plus and the OCZ Vertex 2 that we should be comparing it to. The Vertex 2s tested used the older configuration with 32nm flash and everything in between uses the new SATA III interface.

Here we see that the RunCore 25nm drive is a bit slower in our synthetic read test across the drive. We still managed to get around 215MB/s average, but that is down from the 225MB/s average of the old SF-1200 configuration.

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The write test across the drive is where the new 25nm drive takes the biggest hit, though. Here we see the RunCore Pro V Plus delivering an average write speed of just 160MB/s. That's not all that fast compared to the older models that still managed to break 210MB/s.

Benchmarks - AIDA64 Random Access Time

AIDA64 Random Access Time

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.60

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

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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Luckily the new Pro V Plus delivers where it counts, the access times. Here we see that the changes to the flash type don't have an adverse effect on how quickly the drive can start reading the data.

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The write access times went up just a little bit, but not enough to really be concerned about.

Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark

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 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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In CDM we are looking at NCQ performance and how it scales at the 4k block size. The RunCore Pro V Plus delivers about half the performance as the older model Vertex 2.

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NCQ performance is even worse when writing data. From the numbers delivered I'd say that NCQ isn't working at all, but the brick wall of pain is actually limited by the flash and not the SandForce controllers design.

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.

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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

When you get outside of the synthetic benchmarks and start to test real world applications, the RunCore Pro V Plus doesn't look that bad. This test does have one very important flaw, very little data is on the drive when tested and that is why we came up with the Full Rate Test on the next page.

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

This is where we've found a bunch of issues with 25nm asynchronous flash all together and not just with the RunCore Pro V Plus. Just below the RunCore drive we see the OCZ Agility 3 that uses the same 25nm asynchronous flash, but paired with the new SandForce SF-2281 SATA III controller.

I'm really not sure which is worse, the fact that the RunCore Pro V Plus slows down as much as it does, or the fact that it damn near beats the OCZ Agility 3 240GB when both drives are half full. I think this is just one of those cases where even the winner is a bit of a loser when comparing these two drives.

On the other hand, the Corsair Performance 3 using a Marvell controller and no slow down firmware does a really good job even when half full and costs about the same as the Pro V Plus and Agility 3.

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

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The limits on write speed really hurt the Pro V Plus when transferring data from one partition of the drive to another. Clearly the older 32nm SF-1200 drives have a big advantage here.

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.

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The RunCore Pro V Plus is a consumer model with multi-level cell flash, so it isn't going to find its way into the server environment. It is always fun to run these tests and see how things look nonetheless.

Final Thoughts

SandForce allowed manufacturers to make these 25nm SF-1200 drives out of necessity. There isn't a lot of 3Xnm flash going around these days and it all costs quite a bit more than the new 25nm stuff. I don't think anyone really predicted that performance would take as big of a hit as it did, but it is what it is. For the most part manufacturers were to reduce the final cost of these drives to consumers, but I think the consumer market had already bottomed out before the change to 25nm took place. What we ended up with were 25nm drives using the same SF-1200 controller being sold for the same price as the SF-1200 / 3Xnm drives - around 200 USD for a 120GB model.

The performance is obviously down quite a bit with the new flash and the drives are pretty much guaranteed to not work as long as their older technology counterparts. Manufacturers have come up with nice marketing names for these new drives like this model, the PLUS, but in reality RunCore should have dubbed this one the Pro V Minus since it isn't as fast as the previous generation.

Hopefully RunCore is able to price the Pro V Plus at a competitive point that is much lower than the older Pro V. That is really the only reason anyone should look to buy the Plus; the price has to be right and being right means being very low. I don't have any pricing information on the RunCore Pro V Plus and maybe that is a good thing since we can just leave it at that. Sometimes I can't help myself, though, and think that a RunCore Pro V Plus 120GB priced between 140 and 150 USD would be a good price point. Anything higher and you might as well buy a SF-2281 controlled drive paired with asynchronous flash for 200 USD.

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Chris Ramseyer started his career as a LAN Party organizer in Midwest USA. After working with several computer companies he was asked to join the team at The Adrenaline Vault by fellow Midwest LAN Party legend Sean Aikins. After a series of shake ups at AVault, Chris eventually took over as Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start Real World Entertainment. Look for Chris to bring his unique methods of testing Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives as well as RAID controller and NAS boxes to TweakTown as he looks to provide an accurate test bed to make your purchasing decisions easier.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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