Model: SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB Solid State Drive
Provided By: SanDisk
SanDisk has been a leader in the storage industry for more than 20 years. Founded in 1988 by Dr. Eli Harari, the company has grown from a three-person Silicon Valley startup to the world's largest provider of flash memory storage solutions. The company offers a wide range of products including memory cards, USB flash drives, SSDs and its popular line of Sansa music and video players.
One of the latest additions to SanDisk's line of consumer-oriented solid state drives is the Extreme PRO. Designed with gamers, enthusiasts and media professionals in mind, this high-performance SSD is powered by Marvell's 88SS9187 "Monet" controller and is equipped with SanDisk's new 1Ynm eX2 ABL MLC Toggle NAND flash to deliver up to 550 MB/s sequential read and 520 MB/s sequential write speeds. The Extreme PRO also features a tiered caching system which combines a sizeable DRAM cache with the latest developments in SanDisk's nCache Pro technology. To deliver consistent high performance, nCache Pro uses a large non-volatile SLC cache to accumulate small writes at high speed and then flushes them to the larger MLC sections of the NAND flash memory array.
The Extreme PRO is available in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities. For this review, SanDisk sent us the 480GB version of the drive which comes equipped with 512MB of on-board cache and is capable of delivering up to 550 MB/s sequential read and 515 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 100,000 random read and 90,000 random write IOPS.
|SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the Extreme PRO has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at SanDisk's new SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the Extreme PRO have what it takes? Can it deliver the value and performance we've come to expect from SanDisk? Keep reading as we find out.
The Extreme PRO comes in a small, black and red box. While there aren't a lot of details on the back, the front of the box advertises many of the drive's key features including its 480GB capacity, maximum read and write speeds, nCache technology and 10 year warranty. Inside, you'll find the SSD, a mounting spacer for use with traditional 9.5mm drive bays, and a fold out guide that contains warranty information as well as installation instructions for both desktop and notebook computers.
The Extreme PRO looks very similar to SanDisk's other 2.5-inch SSDs. The top of the outer casing is made out of black plastic with a large, black and red sticker showing that the SSD is part of the company's Extreme PRO series. The bottom of the casing is made out of metal and is painted black to match the top. The large sticker on the bottom covers the screws holding the drive together and shows information like the part number, capacity and serial number.
Like the Extreme II, the Extreme PRO uses Marvell's 88SS9187 "Monet" controller. The 88SS9187 is powered by a dual-core Marvell 88FR102 V5 CPU and supports up to eight NAND flash channels. The controller also features a high-performance ECC engine with adaptive read and write scheme as well as on-chip RAID functionality.
For the 480GB version of the Extreme PRO, SanDisk opted to use their own 64GB 1Ynm eX2 ABL MLC Toggle NAND flash chips. Looking at the picture above, you can see that there are eight of these chips on the top of the PCB. The drive also has a 512MB Micron D9QNS DDR3 1600MHz memory chip that is used for caching.
The Extreme Pro SSD is fully supported by SanDisk's new SSD Dashboard software. This easy to use, Windows-based utility gives users the ability to manage and monitor their drives. From the main screen, you can check the status of your SSD and view information like the firmware version, capacity, temperature and the life remaining.
The SSD Dashboard also gives users the ability to monitor the performance of their drives and optimize the performance by manually running TRIM or scheduling it to run periodically.
The Tools section offers a number of options, including the ability to do a firmware update, perform a secure erase and sanitize your drive by erasing of the data on it. These tasks can be performed from within the SSD Dashboard. Otherwise you can create a bootable USB drive, CD or DVD.
The SSD Dashboard also has the ability to run S.M.A.R.T. diagnostic tests and provide details about your drives and system.
From within the Settings tab, you can update SSD Dashboard and configure the software so that it starts up with Windows. You can also turn off write-cache buffer flushing and select from one of 17 languages.
The test system used in this review was an HP 8200 Elite. The computer came equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive, NVIDIA Quadro FX580 512MB PCIe graphics card and an Intel 82579-LM gigabit network card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Enterprise.
To test the performance of SanDisk's 480GB Extreme PRO SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1, HD Tach RW 188.8.131.52, ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46, AS SSD, HD Tune PRO 4.61, Anvil's Storage Utilities and Iometer. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Samsung SSD 850 PRO, Plextor PX-256M6S, Toshiba Q Series PRO, Plextor PX-256M6M, Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA, OCZ Vector 150, OCZ Vertex 450, Silicon Power Slim S55, Samsung SSD 840 EVO, Seagate 600 SSD, SanDisk Extreme II, Plextor PX-256M5M, OCZ Vector, Plextor PX-256M5PRO Xtreme, Samsung SSD 840 PRO and Samsung SSD 840.
As I mentioned earlier, the Extreme PRO is based on Marvel's 88SS9187 controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to SanDisk, the Extreme PRO is capable of reading at 550 MB/s and writing at 515 MB/s when connected to a SATA 6 Gb/s port. While the drive performed well, it came up a bit short of these numbers in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read and write speed tests.
The Extreme PRO performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 514.9 MB/s and write at 486.7 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 184.108.40.206:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the Extreme PRO's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD 480GB
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the Extreme PRO had average read and write speeds of 437.5 MB/s and 300.6 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 381.8 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the Extreme PRO's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the Extreme PRO's read speeds topped out at about 560 MB/s and its write speeds at 525 MB/s.
AS SSD is a relatively new benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
HD Tune PRO 4.61:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune PRO. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the Extreme PRO's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD 480GB - HD Tune Read Benchmark
Samsung SSD 850 PRO 256GB - HD Tune Read Benchmark
SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD 480GB - HD Tune Write Benchmark
Samsung SSD 850 PRO 256GB - HD Tune Write Benchmark
The Extreme PRO performed very well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 511.1 MB/s and 459.2 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 116.3 MB/s when reading
SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD 480GB - HD Tune Random Access Read
Samsung SSD 850 PRO 256GB - HD Tune Random Access Read
SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD 480GB - HD Tune Random Access Write
Samsung SSD 850 PRO 256GB - HD Tune Random Access Write
The Extreme PRO didn't disappoint when doing random reads and writes. When writing 4KB blocks, the drive reached 20,913 IOPS and had an average speed of 81.692 MB/s. The Extreme PRO was even faster when reading, reaching 29,442 IOPS with an average speed of 115.008 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another new benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the Extreme PRO's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The 480GB Extreme PRO's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 536.96 MB/s and write at 501.19 MB/s.
The Extreme PRO also performed pretty well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 165.82 MB/s and write at 298.01 MB/s.
According to SanDisk, the 480GB Extreme PRO is capable of 100,000 IOPS when reading and 90,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 42,450 random read IOPS and 76,290 random write IOPS. The only way I came close to SanDisk's numbers was to increase the queue depth. With the queue depth set to 32, the Extreme PRO reached 98,025 random read IOPS and 77,133 random write IOPS.
While SSDs offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To address this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 7, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the Extreme PRO's TRIM function, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill the entire drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. This had very little effect on the Extreme PRO's read speed. However, its average write speed dropped to 199.9 MB/s.
SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD - Dirty
To see how well the Extreme PRO could recover, I let the computer sit for about half an hour and then reran the test. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the drive's average writing speed jumped back up to 406.8 MB/s.
SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD - After Trim
Lastly, I used SanDisk's SSD Dashboard utility to perform a secure erase on the Extreme PRO. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 446.3 MB/s and 402.4 MB/s, respectively.
SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD - Secure Erase
SanDisk's Extreme PRO is a great choice for the gamer, enthusiast or media professional looking for an SSD that delivers consistent, pro-level performance and long term endurance. Building off the success of the award-winning Extreme II, the Extreme PRO combines Marvell's 88SS9187 controller with SanDisk's own 1Ynm eX2 ABL MLC Toggle NAND flash to deliver a fast and responsive storage experience. In our sequential read and write tests, the Extreme PRO was able to read at speeds as high as 560 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 486 MB/s. Thanks to SanDisk's nCache Pro technology, it also did very well in our random write tests, producing more than 76,000 IOPS at low queue depths. Moreover, it performed equally well with compressible and incompressible data and was able to sustain these speeds, even after intensive use.
The SanDisk Extreme PRO is available now in 240GB, 480GB and 960G capacities. Prices on Amazon.com and Pricegrabber currently range from $179 up to $570, with the 480GB version reviewed here going for about $350.
- Available in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities
- Marvell 88SS9187 controller
- nCache Pro Technology
- Excellent sequential read and write speeds
- Good random read and write performance
- Performs equally well with compressible and incompressible data
- Consistent performance, even after intensive usage
- SATA 6Gb/s interface
- Toggle Mode NAND flash
- Large DRAM cache
- Supports TRIM, garbage collection and wear leveling
- Ultra-slim form factor
- Works with SanDisk's SSD Dashboard software
- 10 year warranty
- Does not support hardware based encryption