Hot on the heels of our last series of SSD reviews, we're featuring another mini-roundup. This time, we're looking at four drives in the 120-128GB capacity range. Focusing on performance on both the PC and Mac platforms, we have SSDs from Crucial, Kingston, OCZ and Other World Computing. While the first three names are well known in the computer hardware industry, the last has had a long history in the Mac oriented hardware upgrade market.
Crucial's m4 series has been on the market for a while now, and has gone through some firmware updates which helps boost performance. Hardware wise, nothing has changed since launch. The exterior remains the same, and Marvell's 88SS9174 NAND controller is utilized. It's also no surprise to find Crucial's parent company Micron's NAND within. The NAND configuration consists of 16x Micron 29F64G08CFACB-12 modules (8GB each, 2 dies per module, synchronous), with Micron DRAM for cache.
Kingston's HyperX 3K is a relatively new SSD on the market, only released a few months ago. It's a budget oriented version of the original HyperX SSD. Instead of the blue trim that was on the original HyperX, the 3K has black accents, and it looks very slick. Like the HyperX, the HyperX 3K uses LSI Sandforce's SF-2281 NAND controller. The main difference is that the 3K uses NAND that is rated for 3000 P/E (program/erase) cycles, versus the original HyperX which is rated for 5000 cycles. Inside the NAND configuration is comprised of 16x Intel 29F64G08ACME3 NAND modules (8GB each, 1 die per module, synchronous).
It's been more than a year since its release, but OCZ's Vertex 3 Max IOPS is still recognized as a fast top-end performer as we found in our review of the 240GB version of this drive. The exterior of the drive looks like any other SSD from OCZ, with the only differention coming from the product sticker on top. A step up from the synchronous NAND utilizing Vertex 3, the Max IOPS variant uses toggle NAND and boasts even higher performance. It's easy to see how the Max IOPS is able to accomplish it's claims of high performance with heavy workloads when looking at its channel saturation oriented NAND configuration: 16x Toshiba TH58TAG602FBA49 modules (8GB each, 2 dies per module, toggle).
Our first look at an SSD from OWC was the budget oriented Mercury Electra 6G. It came with a good Mac oriented package, but performance wise, we were left underwhelmed with its asynchronous NAND configuration. So this time around, OWC sent us their performance oriented SSD, the Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G. Like the Mercury Electra 6G, it uses Sandforce LSI's SF-2281 NAND controller, but the Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G uses a toggle NAND configuration: 8x Toshiba TH58TAG702FBA89 modules (16GB each, 1 die per module, toggle). It has a bright and recognizable blue metallic exterior.