SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Design 9.0
Features 9.0
Performance 9.0
Value 9.0
Distributor: SanDisk
Review Date:
March 2013
Reviewer:
Peter Bourke

9.0


SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD
(Notebook Version)

I've been a PC enthusiast for the last 30-years and it's great that the industry continues to change and challenge itself. I remember when floppy discs (these were the USB drives of the day) went from 720K to 1.4 megabytes and I thought as a kid... how will I ever be able to fill that! Then came my first 20MB hard drive and I thought the same thing.

Needless to say, I've soon since realised that size does matter... to some extent! Fast forward several years later and the SATA has moved aside for solid-state drives (SSD) which boast exceptional speeds and performance but unlike the giant sizes of SATA drives, the SSD are still relatively small and still pricey.

 

 

Coming in a variety of sizes, SanDisk have allowed Impulse Gamer to review their latest technological release, the Ultra Plus 256GB SSD which not only supports the SATA Revision version 3.0 but uses a considerable amount of less power (0.12w) than traditional SATA or IDE drives and best of all, offers superior boot up and shut down speeds. Even though the review unit was just 256GB, it is the perfect the drive to hold your operating system and programs that you want loaded <insert pun> in a flash.

In terms of contents, this package comes with the drive itself, a manual and a spacer. Users can also download the free SSD Toolkit application from SanDisk which monitors your drive and allows users to update the firmware if and when available. The drive also supports advanced Flash Management which includes three types of cache, Volatile cache - DDR DRAM cache, nCache™ technology- A non-volatile flash write cache and Mass storage MLC NAND flash.

I'm always amazed at notebook versions of SSD drives as they are extremely lightweight with this unit weighing in at only 36grams. The drive also measures at (give or take) 100 x 70 x 7.0 millimetres which is almost non-existent when it comes to hard drives.

Features
 
Drive type 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard internal drive
 
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
 
Product dimensions 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 256GB
Controller Marvell SS889175 (6Gbps SATA/NAND combo controller)
Flash memory type
 
SanDisk 19nm eX2 ABL MLC NAND
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux
Sequential Read up to 530MB/s
Sequential Write up to 445MB/s

In terms of specifications, the drive supports the Marvell SS889175 Controller which supports 6Gbps and uses 19nm Flash technology. With that said, the drive is backward compatible with other SATA formats but you really want SATA 3 to get the speeds this drive is created for.

The unit supports three operating systems (we tested the unit with Windows 8) and when formatted gives the user around 240GB of space to use. The remainder of the space is used by the drive itself.  Another highlight which is ideal for notebooks is that the drive's shock resistance is 1500G@0.5m/s and can run it at temperatures of up to 70 degrees Celsius.

When installed in our test system with Windows 8, the drive was extremely fast in terms of boot-up. The Ultra Plus booted at 10.3 seconds and shut down our system at 3.2 seconds. In terms of general use, applications loaded faster, images displayed quicker, including games. We tested World of Warcraft which actually reduced the loading time of the game by 3 seconds, giving it a new time of 5 seconds. Skyrim loaded the game in 8 seconds which is actually quite fast considering the graphical intensity of this game.

With benchmarking, we used ATTO as the primary program which had a maximum read speed of 530.23MB/s and a write speed of 443.23MB/s. CrystalDiskMark (4K QD32 Performance) rated the drive at 308.2MB/s (write) with a read speed of 192.2MB/s. However its sequential speeds were at 519.3 (write) and 454.3 (read) that is very impressive for a drive of this size.

Final Thoughts?

The SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD may not be the fastest drive on the block but it still produces some rather impressive results. We found the drive online for $199AUD (March 2013) which makes it quite an affordable drive when compared to its competitors.

Benchmarks are just that... benchmarks and when it came to real-world testing such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, Surfing the Net and Playing Games, the UltraPlus drive won on all fronts. We were also quite impressed by the boot-up speed of Windows 8. Add in a 3-year warranty and we could happily recommend this drive to anyone who is looking at an affordable upgrade.

Full Features 

·    SATA Revision 3.0 (6Gb/s) compliant ; Backwards compliant to SATA Revision 2.0 (3Gb/s) & SATA Revision 1.0 (1.5Gb/s)

·    ATA Command Set ACS-2

·    NCQ support up to queue depth = 32

·    Support for TRIM

·    S.M.A.R.T. feature supported

·    Advanced Flash Management:

o nCache™ technology– Non Volatile Write Cache

o Dynamic & Static Wear-leveling

o Bad Block Management

o Background Garbage Collection

·    Advanced features:

o Tiered caching Volatile and non-volatile cache

o Supports multi stream improves user experience in multitasking systems

o Minimal write amplification increases endurance and performance

·    Support for Thermal throttling

o Performance will be throttled in the event junction temperature of critical components is measured to be exceeding the maximu m allowable for the product






 
 



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