Corsair Force F120 SSD review

A quick and affordable SSD for the masses
Photo of Corsair Force F120 SSD
£165

The original Force series of SSDs is no longer Corsair’s flagship range, but it’s arguably the quickest product from the previous generation of solid state drives – so while it can’t quite boast the performance of drives like OCZ’s new Vertex 3, which smashed our storage speed records last week, it doesn’t come with the same kind of price tag.

With an SF-1222 controller at its heart, the Corsair Force 120GB boasts peak transfer rates that come close to saturating its 3Gbit/s SATA II interface. Although 6Gbit/s ports are now found in almost all high-end motherboards, the vast majority of PCs out in the field are still SATA II, making this product highly relevant to the majority of users looking to boost their PC’s performance.

Limited by SATA II
In order to confirm the drive’s peak transfer rates we loaded up Atto, a benchmark that shows sequential throughput when transferring various file sizes. Sure enough, the Corsair delivered a read transfer rate of 283MB/s and a peak speed when writing of 273MB/s. This hovers around the theoretical maximum transfer rate allowed by SATA II, and is at least twice as quick as the fastest conventional hard drives. Compared to the more up-to-date OCZ Vertex 3, however, these impressive numbers appear almost pedestrian. That drive managed nearly double these figures, registering 560MB/s when reading and 520MB/s when writing.

Closer in real-world performance
Despite making for impressive headlines, those peak transfer rates offered by the latest SSDs like the Vertex 3 are not necessarily representative of real-world performance. Most day-to-day work performed by your primary OS drive involves the reading and writing of small random files, and in this task the older Corsair comes much closer to the Vertex 3.

In CrystalDiskMark’s 4K random read test, the OCZ Vertex 3 is just 50 per cent faster, and when writing random data this difference closes to just 20 per cent. This is confirmed by AS SSD, which shows the drives even closer together. Arguably the most relevant benchmark in our SSD suite is PCMark Vantage, a test that mimics a variety of real-world scenarios such as scanning for malware, booting the OS and loading up levels in games. Here the OCZ once again stretches its legs, delivering a score of 58000 compared to the Corsair Force’s 40,000. This is an impressive lead, but still a far cry from the near twofold increase suggested by the sequential numbers.

Great value for money
Where Corsair’s Force comes into its own is in the value for money stakes. At £165 including VAT, it’s £50 cheaper than the OCZ Vertex 3 – enough in the current market for an 8GB kit of memory. Enthusiasts with the latest Sandy Bridge-based machines probably have at least that much installed already, but for the rest of us having two upgrades for the price of one would be a much cannier buy – especially given that the newer, faster Vertex 3, which is designed for the latest 6Gbit/s SATA III disk interface, loses almost all of its advantage if connected to a SATA II bus. Corsair also offers a great three-year warranty with its SSDs, and you get a bracket and screws with the product, allowing for easy desktop installation.

Corsair’s Force may no longer rule the roost in terms of absolute performance, but for users with SATA II ports it remains an excellent solid state purchase. It will dramatically transform your PC’s performance compared to conventional storage and is arguably the fastest SATA II-based drive on the market today.

Company: Corsair

Website: http://www.corsair.com/

Contact: Corsair on +1 510-657-8747

Positives
  • Fast real-world performance, excellent value, good bundle.
Negative
  • OCZ's Vertex 3 is much faster.

Verdict

Those lucky enough to have 6Gbit/s SATA ports on their machines - and deep pockets - may be tempted to shell out for even greater speed from OCZ's Vertex 3.But for the rest of us, the Corsair Force F120 is a great SSD that provides excellent performance and good value for money.