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Review: Corsair Neutron XT (240GB)

by Tarinder Sandhu on 17 November 2014, 14:00

Tags: Corsair

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Component manufacturer Corsair is jumping back into the solid-state drive (SSD) fray with the announcement of the Neutron XT - destined to become the highest-performing consumer SSD in its arsenal.

Said Neutron XT is due to be made available in the January 2015 timeframe, but Corsair wants to show the progress it has made with respect to speed and consistency. Powering the Neutron XT - which is to debut in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB flavours - is a new controller from Phison.

Corsair has teamed up with Phison for initial exclusivity for its all-new PS3110-S10 controller. Touting four cores, class-leading performance, enterprise-level features and advanced wear-levelling techniques, on-paper specifications are certainly premium.

The Neutron XT uses Toshiba's A19nm MLC NAND in concert with the controller to deliver up to 560MB/s read and 540MB/s write, and up to 100,000 IOPS read and 90,000 IOPS write, thus putting its raw numbers alongside premium drives from the leading players. Here's how the trio of Neutron XTs play out in the spec table.

Corsair Neutron XT

Nominal Capacity
Phison PS3110-S10
19nm Toshiba MLC
Total NAND Capacity
SATA 6Gb/s, compatible with SATA 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s
Sequential Read Speed
up to 560MB/s
up to 560MB/s
up to 560MB/s
Sequential Write Speed
up to 540MB/s
up to 540MB/s
up to 540MB/s
Random IOPs (4KB Reads)
up to 99.8K IOPs
up to 99.5K IOPs
up to 100K IOPs
Random IOPs (4KB Writes)
up to 88.1K IOPs
up to 87.6K IOPs
up to 89.8K IOPs
Available Form Factors
2.5in, 7mm
Active Power Consumption
Idle Power Consumption
Life Expectancy
5 Years
Current Retail Price

Performance is consistent amongst drive capacities which is always good to see. Phison details a 120GB drive with similar specifications but Corsair likely feels the smaller capacity doesn't make much sense for the enthusiast.

The Neutron XT keeps a little space spare for overprovisioning; other drives offer the full capacity available on the NAND chips, but this often limits performance when the drive is nearly full.

Phison claims its advanced controller is better adept at keeping performance consistent when the Neutron XT is almost full, citing the advantages of having three dedicated cores for flash management. Samsung, too, offers up numerous advantages of its tri-core MEX chip powering the latest 8-series drives, so it will be interesting to see how well the Phison is able to handle sustained endurance testing.

No numbers are provided for the longevity side of things, unfortunately, but Corsair backs Neutron XT up with a five-year warranty. The Neutron's other specifications suggest it bridges the gap between premium consumer SSD and entry-level enterprise, with end-to-end data protection - detecting errors between the controller, NAND and DRAM - as well as incorporating hardware-based AES-256 encryption.

The drive itself is presented in an eye-catching red and sports the usual 7mm height. Corsair adds in a matching 2.5mm adapter for chassis or laptops that accommodate a thicker SSD.

Here's the first time we've spied this Phison controller inside a consumer SSD. Surrounded by a Nanya buffer chip and eight Toshiba 256Gbit 19nm NAND devices, Corsair could easily transition this drive to a smaller form factor, notably M.2. As it is, like many recent SSDs, the PCB takes up barely half of the regular SATA form factor.