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SanDisk Extreme 120GB SSD Review – Performance at a bargain price

Author

Wendy Robertson
Senior Administrator and Reviewer
Article posted 25 May 12 22:33

Final thoughts and the conclusion

Final thoughts and the conclusion


User experience

A modern operating system such as Windows 7 rarely does one thing at time; it processes hundreds of threads at once. Just take a look at the processes and services that are running in task manager for an idea of how much is going on, even with the PC idling at the desktop. When you start running applications on top of this, the workload increases in line with the number and type of applications you are running. It’s also fair to say that many of these processes are already loaded into system RAM, but many are also loaded into and unloaded from RAM from the system drive as and when they are required.

The fact of the matter is this. If you are running a mainstream or high end modern PC with a powerful CPU and graphics card, and are still running a traditional HDD as a system drive, regardless of how fast that HDD is, it is still bogging the system down substantially. It has long since passed the stage where one can meaningfully debate if an SSD is really faster than a traditional HDD. The fact is they are, and not just by a little bit: they are much faster.

If we look at the 4 basic requirements for a really fast SSD, they are as follows.

  • Small file threaded performance needs to be high.
  • Small random file performance needs to be high.
  • Sequential read and write speeds needs to be high.
  • Fast access times. 

The SanDisk Extreme 120GB SSD has all of the above attributes, and feels as snappy as any other SSD I have tested this year.

Stability

I have only had the SanDisk Extreme SSD for a few days, so it’s not possible to comment on the drive’s long term reliability. But what I can tell you now is that during the testing period, the SanDisk Extreme has been 100% stable, with not a single issue to report.

The SanDisk Extreme is as “plug n play” as it gets. There are no special tweaks needed other than simply making sure that AHCI SATA mode is enabled in the system UEFI (BIOS) and installing the latest Intel RST SATA drivers if you want to get the best performance and compatibility out of this SSD.

Long term testing on the SanDisk Extreme begins now, and I will report back if I should encounter any reliability issues with the SSD.

Conclusion:


Let us summarise the most important positive and negative points below:

Positive:

  • Silky smooth operation as a system drive.
  • Excellent sequential reading performance.
  • Very good sequential writing performance.
  • Outstanding 4K random I/O performance at high queue depths.
  • SATA 6Gbps support.
  • TRIM support under Windows 7.
  • Fast access times.
  • Excellent price.
  • Completely silent operation.
  • Fast operating system start-up and shutdown times.
  • 3 years warranty.

Negative:

  • Including a 3.5 inch to 2.5 inch drive converter bracket, would have been a nice addition.


To sum up, this is what I would say:

Throughout this review, the SanDisk Extreme has gone head to head with the best and fastest SATA SSDs currently available. The SanDisk isn’t the fastest SSD in this article, however, it is the fastest 120GB SSD I have tested, and with very aggressive pricing, it is most certainly the cheapest SSD I have tested.

It’s been refreshing to be able to test an SSD at a price point that most mainstream users will be able to afford. As mentioned above, the 120GB SanDisk Extreme isn’t the fastest SSD, but it has competed extremely well in these tests, even when up against SSDs that cost up to five times more than the SanDisk Extreme 120GB SSD.

I’m very impressed.

Price

As I write this article, I found the SanDisk Extreme 120GB SSD available for £84.95 including VAT, which makes the 120GB SanDisk Extreme an absolute bargain.

The prices in Euro and US Dollar are derived from the current UK pound to Euro/US Dollar exchange rate.

Model

User capacity

Price

Cost per GB


SanDisk Extreme 120GB


111GB

£84.95
€105.41
$134.25

£0.76
€0.95
$1.21

 

The parting sentence is

“The SanDisk Extreme 120GB is an excellent performer, and with very aggressive pricing it’s an absolute bargain”.

 


You may comment on this review below.

Thanks to:


EFD Software for providing the fully licensed versions of HD Tune Pro

Alex Schepeljanski for AS SSD Benchmark

Anvil’s Storage Utilities

 

There are 11 comments

alan1476
Senior Moderator, Software Editor and Head of Promotions
Posted on: 25 May 12 23:21
    I own the 240gb version of this drive Wendy and have not even installed it yet. But from what I have heard its a great drive as you have just shown us, great review Wendy, and I think the SSD may be great also but I personally think OCZ has set the bar here with the new Vertex 4 and all others will be playing the catch up game.
    CDan
    MyCE Resident
    Posted on: 26 May 12 06:14
      The price is competitive, but no better than any other comparable 120GB 3rd generation SSD. I'd say that many folks would opt for a 2nd generation SSD (for the average desktop) and save the bucks.
      alan1476
      Senior Moderator, Software Editor and Head of Promotions
      Posted on: 26 May 12 14:37
        Quote:
        Originally Posted by CDan
        The price is competitive, but no better than any other comparable 120GB 3rd generation SSD. I'd say that many folks would opt for a 2nd generation SSD (for the average desktop) and save the bucks.
        I usually agree with you CDan, but if you are talking about the Apple crowd that has to go with SATA2 on 90% of their Mac Pros I agree, but if you are talking about the PC crowd that builds and benchmarks, you are not right, these people have been looking for new tech in SSDs like OCZs Indilinx and SATA111 Toshiba Toggle Nand. Its the best and people who build their rigs and want the best for a few bucks more can get it.
        deanwitty
        Moderator
        Posted on: 27 May 12 03:42
          Thanks for another great review

          Just have a quick question. Currently the Samsung 830 128GB SSD is priced comparable to this SanDisk drive in the US. Looking at my CrystalDiscMark results with the Samsung, I'm inclined to think it may be a better choice of the two. But I'm not the expert . Is there anything about the 830 that might make the Sandisk a better option for all-around desktop performance? Wish I could send you a Sammy 830 and get your hands-on opinion .

          CDM results:
          Seán
          Senior Administrator & Reviewer
          Posted on: 27 May 12 18:25
            I recently purchased the 256GB SanDisk Extreme model. As my motherboard lacks SATA3, I also picked up an PCIe SATA3 card (IOCrest Asmedia ASM1061). While not as fast as Intel's on-board SATA3, it seems to be the next best option without forking out on an expensive RAID card.

            The following are two benchmarks of this SSD with this card in my PC. The left image is the SSD straight out of the box. The right image is after a few days of regular use. I'm quite a heavy multitasker and have been using VirtualBox on it (Virtual PC running Windows 8), so it seems this has had an impact on the write performance, just something to beware of like with other SandForcce based SSDs:

            Attachment 239618

            Either way, at least the read performance remains the same and I'm still very happy with its performance considering it was the second cheapest ~240GB SSD I could find at the time (£157 on Amazon UK.)

            For anyone curious on how the Asmedia 1061 card performs, the following is a benchmark using the '0xFF Fill' mode, which basically tests any SandForce-powered SSD in its "best case" scenario:

            Attachment 239617
            bigmike7
            MyCE Resident Old Fart
            Posted on: 28 May 12 02:39
              Yo Wendy-

              Darn EXCELLENT review-eh!!
              killabee_me
              New Member
              Posted on: 12 Jun 12 21:47
                This is one of the best SSD reviews I have ever read. I really like your style of writing. The analysis of what to look for in a SSD is excellent. The set of benchmarks you used is great too. Great work, Dee!

                I have the 240GB Sandisk Extreme SSD and enjoy it every moment. This is one of the fastest SSD overall in most real life workloads. See my benchmarks below.

                Anvil's
                http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b355/apep_wow/SSD/my_Sandisk_Extreme
                SSD240GB_Anvils.png

                CDM - random
                http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b355/apep_wow/SSD/my_Sandisk_ExtremeSSD240GB_CDM_RST11_noC-states.png

                CDM - zero fill
                http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b355/apep_wow/SSD/my_Sandisk_ExtremeSSD240GB_CDM_0fill_RST11_noC-states.png

                AS_SSD
                http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b355/apep_wow/SSD/my_Sandisk_ExtremeSSD240GB_as_ssd_RST11_noC-states.png
                alan1476
                Senior Moderator, Software Editor and Head of Promotions
                Posted on: 20 Jun 12 18:19
                  Quote:
                  Originally Posted by killabee_me
                  This is one of the best SSD reviews I have ever read. I really like your style of writing. The analysis of what to look for in a SSD is excellent. The set of benchmarks you used is great too. Great work, Dee!

                  I have the 240GB Sandisk Extreme SSD and enjoy it every moment. This is one of the fastest SSD overall in most real life workloads. See my benchmarks below.

                  Anvil's
                  http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b3...andisk_Extreme
                  SSD240GB_Anvils.png

                  CDM - random
                  http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b3...noC-states.png

                  CDM - zero fill
                  http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b3...noC-states.png

                  AS_SSD
                  http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b3...noC-states.png
                  Welcome to Myce.com killabee_me, the reviews here are the most inclusive and knowledgeable on the internet. The reviewer that did this particular review is well known for her knowledge and reviews that everyone can understand. Its good to have you here. I hope you enjoy your stay.
                  AllanDeGroot
                  MyCE Resident
                  Posted on: 21 Jun 12 19:01
                    People who are short sighted might opt for a slower/cheaper drive to save money, but the way many enthusiast users upgrade computers...

                    Basically the computer they have NOW might not take full advantage
                    of a drive like this (currently retailing for $129), but their NEXT computer certainly will...
                    alan1476
                    Senior Moderator, Software Editor and Head of Promotions
                    Posted on: 09 Jul 12 22:28
                      This is my SSD
                      TSJnachos117
                      MyCE Senior Member
                      Posted on: 18 Nov 12 09:06
                        *Sigh*
                        I think Sandisk's attempts at creating competitive SSDs are the reason why Sandisk's line of "Sansa" DAPs has gone down the toilet. The Fuze was a great alternative to iPods, but it's successor, the Fuze Plus was a surprisingly sloppy and careless attempt at creating something decent. The Sandisk forums is full of (identical) horror stories of DOA units. Then, Sandisk stopped releasing firmware updates, and has yet to supersede the Fuze Plus.

                        In fact, Pamaury, a developer of Rockbox.org, has hypothesized that the firmware is actually some RTOS not originally developed for this device, which certanly explains why everything is so laggy and buggy.

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