SANDISK EX­TREME PRO 480GB

£172 inc VAT • sandisk.co.uk

Tech Advisor - - GROUP TEST: SOLID-STATE DRIVES -

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

Sup­port Per­for­mance

Value

Over­all

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.

Per­for­mance

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.

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