Corsair Force LX SSD Review (256GB)
Corsair are using Computex to launch/announce a wide range of products from cases through USB drives and even new GPU cooling products. They also recently launched a new product in their SSD range, the Force LX. Using a new controller for Corsair and aiming to hit a value price point today we find out how it performs.
In terms of packaging and bundle the Force LX is a very basic product. Simple (but informative) box, plastic protective tray inside and a warranty leaflet.
Having said that we do get access to the Corsair SSD Toolbox which is a free download from their site. The toolbox allows us to monitor and maintain our drive, including firmware updates and secure erase. We can also use the software to clone our existing drive, moving the Operating System/data to the LX without a new installation.
The Force LX
Corsair use an all-aluminium casing for the Force LX and attach a branding label to the top. This is a 7mm thick drive and of course it features a SATA 6GB/s connector.
Inside the casing we find a half length PCB and on this model we have eight Micron 20NM MLC flash chips, four on each side. Our 256mb cache is Nanya branded and sitting next to it is the Silicon Motion controller. The LX is available in two capacities, 128GB and 256GB with ours being the larger model. It has a formatted capacity of 238GB in Windows 8.1. Corsair rate the drive at 560MB/s read with write at 300MB/s and this performance is then maintained by TRIM in operating systems such as Windows 7 and 8. Power draw is listed as 4.6w active, 0.6w idle and finally we have a MTBF rating of 1.5million hours with Corsair setting their warranty at 3-years.
Starting with the build quality of the Force LX we have a drive which doesn’t skimp on the casing, full metal here which is always good to see. Inside we have a quality brand for the NAND Flash chips and a known brand cache chip too. Silicon Motion may not be the best known SSD Controller brand however we can take some confidence from the fact their parts are showing up in drives from multiple manufacturers.
All of the component choices are of course aimed at offering a lower cost SSD and in that area the LX may find things a little tough. The free software is a bonus and we do note that due to a discount on Newegg the drive currently looks a little more favourable but in the UK it finds itself too close to the full spec write speed drives for our liking (around £10-12). More importantly though, the new Crucial MX100 is ultra aggressive in its pricing and that’s what Corsair need to hit both sides of the Atlantic because they perform at very similar levels for the 256GB options.
In terms of performance the Force LX slots in as one of the drives which has limited read speeds, in this case 300MB/s. A reasonably common occurrence on value orientated drives. For our comparson benchmarks we took two approaches, both reasonably tough on the LX. First off we grabbed the fastest mechanical drive we could, an up to date Seagate model which peaks over 200MB/s to show the most challenging results against a traditional drive, the type of product Corsair would like you to upgrade from. We also tested against an enthusiast SSD to see how much of an impact the 300MB/s limit has in any real world scenarios. How did the LX do? Fairly well really. In the peak performance test, as expected the mechanical drive was slower, the other SSD faster but look a little closer and we start to see some interesting figures. For example the Windows Boot times and game load times on the LX compared to an enthusiast SSD were very similar. File copy operations were a touch faster on the enthusiast drive, though we are talking 15 or so seconds on a large 9GB file copy. Where the higher priced drive does benefit us is in the really demanding tasks like HD video editing. Looking at the comparison with the mechanical model, we have significantly faster load times, copy times and HD video performance on the LX, all nice to have.
Priced appropriately the Force LX will be a solid entry in the Corsair SSD range offering a good option for those looking to move from a traditional mechanical drive to something faster.