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Silicon Power Velox Series V30 120GB Solid State Drive Review

Better late than never, Silicon Power launches their first SATA III SSD. But can this SandForce SF-2281 drive offer up anything to really stand out?

@ChrisRamseyer
Published Mon, Oct 17 2011 9:14 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 86%Manufacturer: Silicon Power

Introduction

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It wasn't that long ago we reviewed the Silicon Power V20, a SATA II SandForce Driven SSD using the SF-1200 controller. The V20 landed on US shores well after others SF-1200 products came to market, but still used 3Xnm flash even though 25nm had become the norm.

Silicon Power learned from their V20 release that you have to bring products to market quicker if you want market share. This round Silicon Power is getting their new V30 product here and even taking a stab at making the low cost kings at the same time.

The Silicon Power V30 uses the latest SandForce SF-2281 controller and pairs it with 25nm IMFT synchronous NAND flash. To date this is the fastest combination available on the consumer market today. On paper the V30 has what it takes to be one of the fastest solid state drives on the market.

Silicon Power is known for their ability to release good products on the market at low prices. The V30 should fall into this same category when SP starts to get aggressive. Let's check out the products specs and get into the pricing details.

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

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Silicon Power doesn't give us a whole lot of information on the specification list, but this isn't our first go around with a SandForce SSD either. SP claims the V30 is able to achieve 550MB/s read and 510MB/s write with the 120GB model that we're looking at today. There are four separate capacity sizes with V30 branding; 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and a large 480GB model.

After a quick search we found that Amazon has the three largest capacity V30 drives. The 120GB drive that we are looking at today is currently selling for 225.35 USD. The 240GB is available for 490 and the fat cat 480GB is priced at 1,120. These aren't the lowest priced drives on the market, but they aren't very far from it.

Silicon Power includes a three year warranty with the new V30 product line and you get a desktop adapter bracket in the package. There is one area that has us a bit concerned, something that we tend to take for granted most of the time. After looking around Silicon Power's website we were not able to find a single firmware update for any of their SSD products. Silicon Power has been selling SSDs for a number of years and should have a dedicated area in the Download Section, but we couldn't find anything.

The Packaging

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Silicon Power put together a retail friendly package for the V30. In the front you actually get to see the SSD inside and that serves to show the capacity.

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On the back of the package we found some general information and a list of specifications including the read and write performance claims.

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Inside we found a dedicated section for holding the drive away from the other pieces. A desktop adapter bracket is also included, as are screws for your installation and an installation guide.

The Silicon Power V30 120GB SSD

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There isn't anything particularly flashy about the V30 on the outside. The front label shows the capacity and reminds us that this is a SATA III drive.

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There isn't a label on the back, but the four mounting points are there and 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 side where the SATA power and data connectors are we see that the connectors are offset where they should be. You won't have any problems installing this drive in your notebook or desktop with the included bracket.

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Inside we found a SandForce SF-2281 controller and premium 25nm synchronous flash from Intel.

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The V30 uses sixteen flash chips total, eight on each side.

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 performance out of your Silicon Power V30, or for that matter any other SATA III SSD, you need a motherboard with native SATA III built into the chipset. At this time your best performance will come from P67 and Z68 motherboards. I'm currently using a GIGABYTE P67 and am very impressed with its performance.

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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In ATTO we surpassed Silicon Power's own performance claims. We recorded nearly 558MB/s read and 517MB/s write speeds. Things are starting off very well for the V30.

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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Our first test where we read across the flash turned out quite well. The average result was 372MB/s and we peaked at 395MB/s.

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Things didn't go as well on the write test. Here we achieved an average speed of just 227MB/s. The peak performance was in line with what we expected to see, but the graph had a lot of variation in it. The wave was all over the place.

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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The read access times were very good and in line with other SandForce SF-2281 controlled drives.

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The write access times increased slightly, though. This is the third drive I've tested in as many weeks that had a higher than average write latency time.

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 the 4K and native command queuing performance. The 120GB SandForce drives perform slower than the larger 240GB models in these tests. Here we see the Silicon Power V30 running very close to the same performance levels we recorded with the Vertex 3 120GB.

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The same can be said in the write test, except here the 4K read is more than 20MB/s slower with the V30 when compared to the 120GB Vertex 3.

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

We prefer real world tests, but rely on the synthetic tests to give us insight into specific areas that affect real world performance. In Vantage, a real world test using common day to day programs, we see the V30 does a really good job and keeps pace with the OCZ Vertex 3 120GB. There is no doubt the V30 is a very fast drive.

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

Last year we found a bit of a flaw in the way PCMark Vantage tested SSDs, so we came up with a way to correct the issue. When SSDs have data on them they slow down. The amount they slow down is the variable, though, and in this series of tests we can determine how much a drive slows.

Using the 50% full capacity as the reference point, we see the V30 performance worse than the Vertex 3 120GB. It actually dips down to the same performance as the 128GB Crucial m4 range.

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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With the latest firmware update from SandForce, the Copy Tests have received a fairly large performance boost. I wasn't able to find an updated firmware on Silicon Power's website and the end result was the drive suffered from mediocre performance 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 Silicon Power V30's 2281 controller is akin to the enterprise class 2500 Series and because of that the V30 performs really well at enterprise workloads.

Final Thoughts

We are starting to draw closer to the end of the SF-2281 era. It's now October and in a few months chatter will start to pick up about 3000 Series controllers from SandForce. So far we've seen a lot of drives based on the SF-2281 and even one using the SF-2282. In that time we've called out some winners and losers, but there is a new field starting to emerge; the average in between, unremarkable products. The Silicon Power V30 fits in this last class of products - it may even be on the low end of that group as well.

The Silicon Power V30 performs well when up against drives using Marvell controllers, but when running side by side with a similarly equipped 2281 / 25nm synchronous flash product, there isn't anything special that makes us prefer it over the competition.

Just as unremarkable is the price. Amazon currently lists the Silicon Power V30 at around 225 Dollars. This would have been a very competitive price six months ago, but today we are seeing drives with the same hardware combinations selling for less than 200 without a mail-in rebate.

The final nail in the coffin is the accessory package. The V30 ships with a three year warranty, the standard at this time for Team SandForce products. You also get a desktop adapter bracket, also pretty much a standard accessory. Pulling the V30 down, though, is the fact that we couldn't find a firmware update for it or any other SSD on Silicon-Power.com.

After a quick Google Search I learned that I'm not the only one looking for SP's SSD firmware updates. Even more remarkable is the fact that no one from Silicon Power or another forum user chimed in to help these other guys out. I guess such a place does not exist.

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