SANDISK EXTREME PRO 480GB
£172 inc VAT • sandisk.co.uk
Like Crucial/Micron, Samsung and Toshiba, SanDisk sits at the big table for flash memory dealers. It has a range of SSDs for consumers and business, with the Extreme name reserved for the top solid-state drive for personal computers. The SanDisk Extreme PRO builds on the already excellent Extreme II SSD, adding a larger DRAM cache and revised firmware.
Like the previous Extreme II it replaces, the Extreme PRO relies on the Marvell 88SS9187 controller running SanDisk’s own custom firmware. This combination is backed with a generous 1GB of DDR3 memory for the largest 960GB capacity model, and also the 480GB size that we tested.
The main flash chips are again SanDisk’s own, the second generation of its 19nm-process NAND. And now sitting between the volatile dynamic RAM cache and the more permanent NAND storage chips is a new version of the non-volatile cache that SanDisk now calls nCache Pro.
SanDisk’s nCache Pro is based on fast and resilient single-layer cell (SLC) flash and acts as a halfway house for saving up smaller chunks of data at high speed before consolidating and then flushing them out to the main MLC flash banks.
Three capacities of drive are again offered, only this time they’ve been moved up in size by a factor of two – so the entry-level SSD is now 240GB rather than 120GB, and a 960GB is the new large. Only the traditional 2.5in SATA form factor is offered at present, in the now-standard 7mm height, so no mSATA or M.2 SATA alternatives.
To maintain and oversee this SanDisk SSD, the company offers its SSD Dashboard program for Windows. We found this to be simple yet well-featured, clearly laid out and able to secure erase, sanitize and TRIM the drive on demand. Firmware
updates are easily executed here, too. One feature will not work though, Crypto Erase, since the Extreme PRO does not include any onboard hardware encryption. SSD Dashboard just needs a tick-box setting to switch off in-line advertisements, since we use the program to operate the SSD, not shop for more SanDisk products and those of third parties.
SanDisk stands behind its top consumer SSD by being the first company to offer a 10-year guarantee. Whether there will be many PCs supporting SATA Revision 3.0 drives in another decade is another question.
The SanDisk Extreme PRO easily clears the low hurdle of high sequential speeds as measured by ATTO Disk Benchmark, with 556MB/s reads and 525MB/s sequential writes. It also pulls off a similar feat with CrystalDiskMark, which is usually a tougher judge here, with 511MB/s reads and 478MB/s writes; mirrored closely in speed when using random data here, too.
When presented with 4kB single-threaded datastreams it kept up the pace, just behind the Samsung with 32MB/s 4kB random reads and 88MB/s random writes. As the queue depth increased to 32 threads the SanDisk remained unfazed, ending in a read IOPS figure just shy of the nominal watershed of 100,000 IOPS, and write performance at around 79k IOPS. VERDICT: SanDisk’s top consumer SSD is backed by a confident 10-year guarantee, and its clear high performance a great value at around 36 pence per gigabyte make this one of the top SSDs you can find today, even a year after its launch.