Ultrabooks are starting to show up and their ultra-thin design means in many cases your standard size SSD will not fit. For several years now traditional notebooks shipped with a 9.5mm z-height drive, what we all consider a standard notebook form factor. Many ultrabooks use a base that is around 9 millimeters high, so your 9.5mm drive isn't going to fit, no matter how big your hammer is.
As many of you know, notebook turned ultrabook manufactures must achieve price points to stay competitive with other OEM makers. During this process some corners get cut. One example can be found in the screen resolution. There are several ultra-high resolution screens on the market today, but very few ultrabooks ship with them. Another premium item that in many cases gets the compromise treatment is the storage system. Several ultrabooks are shipping with 7mm mechanical drives with a single platter. These drives are slow and in most cases very slow. What good is a sleek new ultrabook if the damn drive is slower than the drive in your current notebook? The HDD/SSD is what makes your computer feel fast when reading and writing data.
Luckily you don't have to deal with a slow ultrabook! MemoRight, maker of some of the best SSDs on the planet already has a 7mm alternative to slow; it's called the FTM Plus Slim. The new Slim is based heavily on the original FTM Plus, one of the best SSDs we tested in 2011. The drive has been updated with a new, thinner case and firmware advancements from SandForce. The new programming and firmware make the Slim even faster than the full size model we tested last year and the drive is even more stable now that SandForce has perfected their underlying software.
This isn't just a reduced run of the mill Team SandForce SSD. Let's take a look at the specs and we'll see why.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
MemoRight started out in the SSD business before you even heard of an SSD. They have their own enterprise and military controllers and with that knowledge comes a firm understanding of how to make a typical SSD better.
On the surface you might think the new 7mm Slim is a solid investment for future upgrades and it is, but that isn't what makes this drive better than your average consumer SSD. MemoRight chose to use some of their technology used in their enterprise class drives that delivers cleaner power to your SSD. When it comes to ultrabooks everything is reduced and that includes the battery size. When you have a large battery with several cells it is easy to deliver clean power, but when the number of cells is reduced, you don't have the same buffers in place. Because of this, MemoRight squeezed in their voltage protection circuitry on this new ultrabook-friendly drive.
MemoRight has already released four capacity sizes of the new FTM Plus Slim. Those are the typical SandForce 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and a very large in a small package 480GB model. The IOPS ratings are the same as the full size drives as well - 50K read and 60K write (both random).
At the time of writing I was not able to find the new FTM Plus Slim online for sale, but we know these drives are currently shipping to e-tailers. The original FTM Plus sold for quite a bit less than many of the other SF-2281 / synchronous flash drives on the market. The drive is still listed at Amazon for $167.99 (120GB), which is still a very good price compared to others on the market.
With the drive you get a three year warranty, documentation, desktop adapter bracket that screws for securing the drive in the bracket and in your desktop. MemoRight also has two software packages on their website. The first software utility monitors your drives health and places a visually appealing gauge on your desktop. The second software tool allows you to easily secure erase your FTP Plus or FTM Plus Slim.
The outer package for the new Slim is nearly identical to the original FTM Plus. MemoRight printed the SLIM on the package and included the new 7mm info.
On the back we found some general information about the drive and also some detailed information specific to the Slim.
With the desktop adapter bracket held in a different chamber the inner packaging is good and the drive is secure.
Here we see the included accessory bundle that includes a warranty card, desktop adapter bracket and the screws for securing your drive to the adapter bracket / your computer.
MemoRight FTM Plus Slim 240GB SSD
The MemoRight FTM Plus Slim is only thinner on its Z axis. The X and Y axis are the same so you won't have a problem fitting this drive in your current notebook or desktop.
MemoRight did use a new case design for the Slim, half of which is now made from plastic instead of aluminum.
Here we get a good look at the Z-height. The drive is 2.5mm thinner than a traditional notebook drive, but we can't find a reason why you can't use this drive in your existing notebook. The bottom and size mounting points are located in the traditional locations.
The SATA power and data connectors are also located in the same space as the standard 9.5mm drives. Here we see the included desktop adapter bracket and one of the very few things we can complain about. Visually you can see that the adapter bracket does not offset the drive to the left so the SATA connectors don't line up with backplanes.
If your desktop drive sled does not have provisions for mounting a 2.5" drive you will need to purchase a different adapter bracket. The second issue we had with this bracket is that it is bends easily. In this image you can see that metal is very thin. This is not the quality we expect from MemoRight. We hope it gets fixed in future drives.
On the other hand this is the quality we expect to see from MemoRight every time they deliver a package to our door. The FTM Plus Slim includes beefy OVP circuitry much like we see on enterprise class drives.
The Slim uses a standard SandForce SF-2281 controller and pairs it with sixteen Micron 25nm synchronous flash chips.
Also shown here is an indication to why we are having issues finding this new model in the wild. This drive has a serial number ending in 0003. It is most likely the third drive manufactured for retail.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance
You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.
In order to fully utilize SATA III you need a system with native SATA III support. P67, Z68, Z77 and X79 systems are preferred, but AMD has made advances in their newer SATA III systems as well. Older X58 systems with Marvell based SATA III ports do not deliver the same high levels of performance, so we recommend newer systems when available.
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.
In ATTO we achieved a maximum read speed of just over 561MB/s. The write speed topped out at just below 530MB/s. These speeds put the MemoRight FTM Plus Slim in the same league as the Intel 520 Series and SanDisk Extreme SSD.
The benchmarks will be interesting because we're including both of those drives in our new chart format!
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
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.
As you can see we changed the charts up a bit. By dividing the products into similar capacity models on the chart we can show more products that compete in price in each review.
The MemoRight FTM Plus Slim 240GB starts out strong and produces the highest sequential read in this test that we've recorded to date with a single 2.5" form factor drive. So much for slow 7mm drives, this one can run with the fastest on the market today.
The sequential write speed is also very high, faster on average than the OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS and very close to the Intel 520 Series and SanDisk Extreme SSD.
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 cache fills. This usually happens only with controllers manufactured by JMicron and Toshiba.
High sequential numbers make for good marketing but most users notices the extremely fast actions after moving to SSDs. The feeling of fast most noticed comes from the low access times which are what we measure on this page.
The FTM Plus Slim is a little quicker on average compared to some of the other SandForce based drives and almost as quick as those based on Marvell controllers with DRAM buffers.
The DDR3 DRAM buffers keep the write latency very low and the drives based on SandForce controller have a difficult time keeping pace in this task. It is important to remember that we are measuring in microseconds, though, so a microsecond here and a microsecond there... it's difficult to tell the difference.
Benchmarks - 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.
* 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.
In CDM we're looking at 4K and NCQ performance. The MemoRight FTM Plus Slim is able to deliver nearly 40MB/s 4K read speeds. This is in line with the results recorded with the SanDisk Extreme SSD, a drive using new 24nm Toggle Mode Flash. Keeping with the SanDisk comparison, the MemoRight drive outperforms the SanDisk in both QD4 and QD32 read tests as well.
The Slim is also able to write 4K and at depth toe-to-toe with the Extreme SSD.
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/
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
In the standard Vantage Test the MemoRight FTM Plus Slim ran with the Intel 520 Series SSD and nearly broke into the 80K range. The numbers look very good with the drive empty; let's have a look at our version of this test.
Benchmarks - 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.
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
Before we get started we need to point out that the SanDisk Extreme currently has an issue with TRIM. With a fresh drive the Extreme produces a score of around 86K Marks. We decided to show the Extreme under the same 'dirty' state as the other drives. When SanDisk releases a firmware update that fixes the TRIM issue, we'll re-test and update the numbers on our charts.
In the drives with data test we like to use the 50% mark (blue chart line). This is a PCMark Vantage test with the drive half empty or half full however you want to look at it. At this state the Slim scores nearly 46K. This is a bit faster than the Plextor M3 Pro, but a little lower than the Intel 520 Series 240GB and the SanDisk Extreme 240GB drives.
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
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
From time to time we observe some very impressive results in these tests by SandForce based drives. Many consider a SandForce a SandForce, but that isn't always the case.
Here you can see what happens when a company optimizes their drive for very high speed data transfers. Very few SandForce based SSDs are able to get into the 400MB/s range like the FTM Plus Slim.
Benchmarks - Anvil Storage Utilities
Anvil Storage Utilities
Version and / or Patch Used: BETA 11
So what is Anvil Storage Utilities? First of all, it's a storage benchmark for SSDs and HDDs where you can check and monitor your performance. The Standard Storage Benchmark performs a series of tests, you can run a full test or just the read or the write test or you can run a single test, i.e. 4K DQ16.
Anvil Storage Utilities is not officially available yet but we've been playing with the beta for several months now. The author, Anvil on several international forums has been updating the software steadily and is adding new features every couple of months.
The software can be used several different ways and to show different aspects for each drive. We've chosen to use this software to show the performance of a drive with two different data sets. The first is with compressible data and the second data set is incompressible data. Several users have requested this data in our SSD reviews.
Fill Compressible Data
Being a SandForce based drive the MemoRight FTM Plus Slim will slow when incompressible data (data that is compressed) is read and written to the drive. Several users have asked us to publish our Anvil Storage Utilities benchmark results. We are currently working on a chart format for these tests.
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.
MemoRight lists the FTM Plus Slim in the Commercial Products Area of their website so it isn't advertised as an enterprise class drive. We've heard from several administrators about their use of consumer class SSDs in their servers, though. Because of that, we like to run these tests on the consumer drives and see how they settle in.
Ultrabooks are relatively new and will go through the same growing pains that every other new technology goes through. At this time they are trendy with their ultra-thin height and sleek looking stance. I remember another product a few years back that had a trendy look and went through the same growing pains, netbooks. Oh yes that netbook, you remember those, right? They were small, had tiny keyboards and were supposed to take on full sized notebooks in the mainstream Facetwit activities. People were going to love them and they did, until they had to actually use them.
Just like the netbook, most ultrabooks shipping today are using either small 7mm mechanical drives or solid state technology that is very old. I read a report on a Toshiba model just before digging in to write this conclusion. The sequential write speed of this Toshiba Ultrabook was 44MB/s. The 4K write speed was just over 4.5MB/s. Not that the .5 matters, we just like to be accurate. It doesn't matter what kind of user you are, when your HDD / SSD is that slow, the entire computer feels slow, all of the time. You might as well put it in the closet with your Dell Mini 9 and go back to your full size notebook. Then again, you've already spent over a thousand dollars on your new ultrabook, so you might as well upgrade it to have the performance to match the look.
That is where the MemoRight FTM Plus Slim comes in. You can all but guarantee your big box store ultrabook is going to ship with a sub-par SSD or power sucking, slow as can be single platter HDD. Just figure in the price of a nice SSD in with the cost of the ultrabook and you'll be all good.
The MemoRight FTM Plus Slim delivers full size SSD performance, but is the right size to fit in your new trendy must-have-toy. If the Slim compromised even a little we could stop there, but MemoRight doesn't compromise too often on anything. The FTM Plus Slim doesn't just deliver good performance, it delivers the same outstanding performance as the two highest rated drives on the market today. The three are interchangeable - Extreme SSD, 520 Series and FTM Plus Slim. The difference is only one will fit in your 7mm opening... and it will most certainly cost less when available.
The new 7mm standard isn't going anywhere either. At this stage of the game nearly everyone reading TweakTown has the hots for an ultrabook, me included. All you have to do is see one to want it. Internet pictures don't do them justice. With that in mind, maybe your next SSD purchase should be a future proof. If you are buying an SSD for your notebook, you will want to use it in your next notebook purchase. Chances are your next notebook will be an ultrabook. If you are like me and cycle through the latest and greatest in your desktop, maybe your next desktop SSD should be a candidate for your future ultrabook purchase.
The MemoRight FTM Plus Slim is a premium class, ultra speed SSD today with a brighter future for tomorrow. If you already have an ultrabook then this is one of the very few performance options available today. If you want an ultrabook later, but want an SSD today, then the FTM Plus Slim is a wise investment over 9.5mm drives that may not fit in your next upgrade.