Please help me choose a 256gb SSD

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by handheldgames, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. handheldgames macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2009
    I'm about to jump on the SSD wagon with a $400ish budget to fill the empty 2nd optical bay. After too much reading, I've narrowed my lust down to:

    1) Samsung 470 256GB
    2) OWC Mercury Expreme Pro 3G
    3) am I missing something?

    At this point, I'm leaning toward the Samsung product. Long term reviews are very positive and I haven't found mention of product failure anywhere. I'll be using the drive for OS, apps, virtual machines and game development.

    Browsing product feedback, OCZ appears to have a high failure rate. Fast is good. Reliable and fast is even better.

  2. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    If reliability is important to you, I strongly recommend Intel drives. Their failure rate is considerably lower than anything else. Sure, they don't have the best performance on the market, but this is picking on a very high level! Except for benchmarks, you won't notice the difference.

    I replaced the 160GB G2 in my Pro a couple of days ago with a 320 which is considerably faster on benchmarks, yet I haven't noticed any difference whatsoever.
  3. handheldgames thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2009
    Intel's products are intriguing, but $559 for the 300GB 320 is just a tad out of my budget for the storage size I'm aiming for. Honestly, I'd like to keep the price around $200, but 128GB is just too tight.
  4. sunnyj macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2010
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    i just ordered the OWC Mercury Expreme Pro 3G for my macbook pro
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Generally speaking, I agree (particularly as of the brands considered, Intel is the only one that actually does their own design work and manufacturing = proper product testing and QC).

    But so long as the drives considered (and unit actually selected) has a reliable history, then it shouldn't be a problem vs. other drive companies that just sell products such as OCZ (also assumes that this is reference to said drive working well under OS X in terms of TRIM and/or Garbage Collection to reduce performance degradation from filled addresses = double writes).

    I don't recall posts that indicated the OWC drives are unreliable, and the OP has indicated the Samsung has decent reliability (not sure how well it does/doesn't work under OS X over time), then they could be viable alternatives. Especially if they're more attractive for the available budget (money always seems to get in the way for some reason :eek: :p). ;)

    But I'd avoid OCZ like the proverbial plague from what I've read about defective units (high % of DOA or fails soon after installation). Not sure on the Corsairs (would be hesitant since they get their products via ODM's), but I don't think they play that well under OS X in terms of TRIM (though there is the TRIM Enabler out now, and Lion includes TRIM support from what I've read).
  6. FluJunkie macrumors 6502a

    Jul 17, 2007
  7. handheldgames thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2009
    Apple's use of Samsung SSD in the MBP & MBA brought them to my attention. The performance numbers look rock solid for the 3G interface in the MP.

    AFAIK, Samsung is the other vendor, besides Intel, who designs the product from end to end.. From the SSD controller to the onboard nand.. It's a complete samsung solution. One would think they need to have a rock solid product to supply Apple, Dell, etc.

    So intel is higher on the list... OCZ is still off the list... (too many product failure reviews at NewEgg for my taste) And there is a new 2011 Midrange SSD shootout today... The plot thickens!
  8. strausd macrumors 68030

    Jul 11, 2008
    As far as I know the Crucial M4s are the fastest, but the MPs currently can't take advantage of the SATA 6GB/s speeds on their own. I have a 120GB OWC SSD and havent had a single problem.
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I was thinking more in terms of OCZ, Corsair, OWC, ... types of companies, as most products these days are ODM'ed from another source. They essentially resell items with a label on it (specs they issue to the ODM are basic features that is the basis of a product, or select an OEM model that the ODM already offers <just slap a label on>; not submit their own full designs = schematic + Bill Of Materials).

    But in the case of Samsung, I seem to recall that their earlier SSD controllers had some noticeable issues vs. some of their competitors (Intel's controllers at the time were much better, as were SandForce's products when they released; Indilinx was a mixed bag just as Samsung's early entrant). So I wasn't sure if they had ironed out the kinks, or gone on to use controllers from another company (seems they kept this newer controller release quiet = I figured they may have shifted their focus away from SSD controllers, and just to NAND Flash and finished products in terms of SSD's). If I had to guess, it was as a means of avoiding the embarassment that would have occured had it not lived up to promises (recall the press wasn't all that favorable vs. the competition). BTW, Marvell's released a decent controller recently (first foray into the market), and disks built around it perform rather well from what I'm seeing (might be worth a look if drives of your capacity requirement built on it can fit your budget).

    As per memory, they're a major supplier of all types, including MLC based NAND Flash (many disks actually use Samsung chips). Of course, they supply a lot of other components (from panels to semiconductors and a lot of parts in-between).

    As per their end product design (finished products such as HDTV's, ... rather than the component side that makes the panels, semiconductors, ...), it's varied in my experience. I've owned Samsung computer products (drives; and had access to their monitors at work) to home theater gear. For example, I've had issues with their products over the years (namely firmware related, including the HDTV and BD player I currently own), but they're not the only manufacturer to fall short in this area. But it should have been better IMO, as it was the top tier products of the time, not bottom end. Maybe I'm just picky (or a matter of pride as hardware engineering is my profession), but buggy products /= acceptable at the upper most levels.
  10. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Where did you get that info? Every test I've seen shows Sandforce 6G demolishing everything 85% of the time. It may win on price/ performance but is not THE fastest.
  11. philipma1957, Jun 8, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2011

    philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    the crucial m4's hold their own. here is a good deal on one
    iops are 40,000 read and 40,000 write

    USE Thankspop for a 10 dollar discount.

    iops for the vertex 3 are;

    4k reads 60k

    4k writes 60k/20k

    those numbers do not kill or destroy the crucial m4's

    Crucial's m4 Lineup

    CT064M4SSD2 CT128M4SSD2 CT256M4SSD2 CT512M4SSD2
    User Capacity 59.6GiB 119.2GiB 238.4GiB 476.8GiB
    Random Read Performance 40K IOPS 40K IOPS 40K IOPS 40K IOPS
    Random Write Performance 20K IOPS 35K IOPS 50K IOPS 50K IOPS
    Sequential Read Performance Up to 415MB/s Up to 415MB/s Up to 415MB/s Up to 415MB/s
    Sequential Write Performance Up to 95MB/s Up to 175MB/ Up to 260MB/s Up to 260MB/s

    The speed through port is not important in a mac pro since mac pros have sata II and the iops are close so buying
    the crucial is not a bad move.

    vertex link
  12. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
  13. xgman macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    I think the ocz vertex 3 and new owc products are very similar if not identical.
  14. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    For what it's worth, Intel and OWC are the only suppliers of SSD's to offer 5 year warranties on current gen drives.

    I agree with much of the advice given above.

    There are basically 3 controllers (that I'm aware of) and one source of NAND. Controllers come from Intel, Marvell, and SandForce. NAND comes from Micron/Intel.

    I would avoid OCZ. Although their drives often benchmark the best, they have a history of shady practices. It's not clear to what extent their reliability issues stem from the Sandforce controller, but just by association, I would steer away from SandForce based drives (which would perhaps unfairly omit OWC from my short list).

    Micron and Crucial (Micron's retail brand) are both reputable brands and they design the NAND, so they ought to know what they are doing. They use Marvell controllers which are performing great these days. Intel even uses a Marvell controller in it's 5xx series of SSDs. The C300 is still the king of random 4K reads at low queue depths. Even the newer M4 is slower in this regard, having traded random performance for improved sequential performance.

    The Intel 320 is where I would put my money if I were in the market for a new SSD. It has the perfect blend of performance, reliability, and price for me.

    Having said that, I don't know much about the current Samsung and Toshiba drives. They don't seem to get much press - perhaps because they focus on the OEM channel and don't sell much via retail? :confused:
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Apparently, there's a few other SSD controllers out there; Indilinx, Toshiba JMicron, and Samsung for sure (ones I could find).

    As per NAND Flash, there's more as well. Toshiba, Samsung, Renesas, Matsushita, Hynix, STM and Numonyx for sure.

    It may not have anything to do with the Sand Force controller though (could be firmware related, poor parts selection elsewhere on the drives, or poor QC for example).

    I'd hate to see good drives get eliminated from consideration due to guilt by association. ;)

    I found one review of a Toshiba (there are some on the Samsung 470) if you're curious. ;)

    As to being quiet on announcements, I'm not all that sure either.
  16. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    I don't want to proliferate hearsay but I thought OCZ uses their own tweaked firmware (either good or bad) and the rest use standard Sandforce firmwares. So I would say all SF based are similar except OCZ.
  17. Peteman100 macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    The tweaks aren't very extensive. Mostly just marketing bullets. The firmware is still developed by the Sandforce team.
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Can you link a source?
  19. handheldgames, Jun 8, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011

    handheldgames thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2009

    The 1st sandforce 3 solution to hit the dust. There are far too many users out there with reports of failing product with the sandforce chipset. Just browse newegg. Granted there is the idiot factor.. But too many sound genuine.

    Again. Samsung's solution is their own. From the NAND to the controller etc. It's not a sourced product. Remember, they press the cpu in every apple mobile product. I can give up a bit of performance for stability and value.

    NAND is very finicky. Period. Performance, stability, etc varies from mfr to mfr even between minor revisions of the silicon. Drivers may need to be tweaked between production runs. It's vastly different from the world we came from. Someone who controls the entire solution from end to end may be the way to go... Honestly...

    Btw.. I use the 1st 40gb of a 2tb Samsung 5400rpm drive for my main source code build partition. I average 138mb/sec + read/write speeds. My boot drive sucks and really needs a ssd.
  20. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Found this...

    About mid way down this page...

    Not good for Sandforce and potentially all their partners.

    Are you considering the Intel 320? If not, I'm curious why not. :)
  21. handheldgames thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2009
    The intel 320 is out of my target price range unless they have some kind of hidden game developer discount ;) like ATI/AMD!! I'm shooting for $400, 550 is just too much. Even 400 is a ton of cash to drop but 128gb is just too small.
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Thanks for the link. :)

    BTW, what disks did you look up on newegg besides the OCZ for reviews on the reliability of the SF-2281 controller (I realize OWC uses them, but they're not sold on newegg to get reviews)?

    I ask, as the only one I know of (after going to mentioned in your link,and translating it), is the Corsair Force 3 series (looking for more samples of the disks that use that particular controller to get a better idea of what may be going on - bad chip or something else). I like looking into things like this myself (yes, I'm that much of a hardware geek). :eek: :p

    Thanks for the link as well. :)

    If it is a bad part, it's definitely bad for both Sand Force and all their partners. But mistakes in parts tend to get missed when the final product is a mish-mash of various vendors and contract design and assembly companies.

    I noticed that the article indicates OCZ does their own design and manufacturing (they're based in San Jose, CA). They may have had manufacturing capabilities back when they focused on memory (which they're getting out of), but even if they didn't, I looked deeper. And I discovered they acquired Power PC & Cooling back in 2007 (explains a few things; missed this :eek:). As Power PC & Cooling have manufacturing facilities in Taiwan, they got immediate manufacturing capability even if they didn't have it previously. Now as to what it's been expanded to accommodate the manufacture of additional products, I don't know. But if they're doing all of the work themselves, they're not doing a good job of it (bad PCB design needing rework isn't a good indication of well designed products generally speaking).

    Another thing of interest, is they recently acquired Indilinx.

    Here's a few links that might be of interest (sources)...
    OCZ Vertex and Agility 3 corrected in firmware (translated from
    Corsair Force Series 3 withdraws with Sandforce SF-2200 (translated from
    OCZ's About page
    OCZ wiki
    Power PC & Cooling wiki
    Power PC & Cooling (news page)
  23. NightSun macrumors member

    Jun 1, 2011
    I went for the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD finally, just ordered it yesterday.

    Check out this review, which presents a quite thorough benchmark:

    I was also thinking about the Crucial M4, but OWC has its own garbage collection and you don't need to hassle with enabling TRIM on this one in order to avoid performance degradation. The story is different with Crucial M4 and someone reported his experience having problems when using TRIM enabler.
  24. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I think that's a good choice. It comes with a 5 year warranty which is reassuring, even if the latest Sandforce controllers are a bit suspect in reliability. Worst case is you have to live with the occasional inconvenience if the drive fails. Just make sure you're backing up anything important.

    BTW, Almost all the current gen drives and even last gen drives have decent garbage collection that is more than sufficient at maintaining peak performance in typical desktop usage scenarios. A lot of enthusiasts in the PC world run modern SSD's in RAID0 arrays and don't have any issues with performance degradation due to lack of TRIM (which is not supported in RAID). Even my old Gen1 Intel's run fine without TRIM and their garbage collection is a couple of generations old now. I wouldn't base a decision on that nowadays unless you're filling your drive to capacity regularly and writing a lot more than usual.

    It's worth pointing out that even performance differences in real world scenarios now are almost immeasurable among different drives.

    The key things to make a decision on, in my opinion, are brand and reliability (which are closely coupled) and price per GB.

    Where are you shopping for your Samsung drives? I'm interested in having a look. Thanks.
  25. handheldgames, Jun 9, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011

    handheldgames thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2009
    I'm shopping for Samsung over at NewEgg and looking at prices on Google Products. BugDig has the 256GB for $399 w/ free shipping. Ive picked up 3 of the 2TB F4 drives @ $80 w/free shipping. Have been rock solid over the last 6 months logging 1175 hours of use... I used one for Time Machine and the 2nd for building code, photos & itunes.​

    Hmmm... the smoke seems to be clearing:

    My choice is definitely getting easier. I'm no longer considering any SF based product: "After numerous report regarding failing SandForce 2000-series powered SSDs reached the Web, it seems like the company is now considering withdrawing all the solid state drives that use these controllers from the market."

    Going over to NewEgg... Clicking on ANY random SF based product..

    "Piece of GARBAGE died 40 days after purchase, with maybe 50 hours on it. Like many of the others on here, I experienced random BSOD, with no real pattern. Woke computer from nap as I had several times before, monitor resolution had changed, then hourglass, then the final BSOD, and it can not be found."

    "Cons: Unreliable. 2 RMAs in 8 weeks!

    Other Thoughts: DO NOT BUY. Don't spend your hard earned money on this product. The cost of downtime is considerable. I ran this on a Desktop that was continuously on."

    And seeing reviews like these... I would NEVER buy a hard disk with reviews like this. Why would I do the same with a SSD?? While I'd like to base my decision from the results of a thrashing from a hardware tweaker.... I value real user feedback as the "final stamp of approval".

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