Rather than rebrand its Indilinx Falcon range, G.Skill has chosen a new name for its SandForce drives: Phoenix. Based on the SF-1200 SandForce drive controller, the Phoenix ships with the most recent 305A13F0 firmware, the same firmware used in the Patriot Inferno. Cracking the drive open revealed that the Patriot and G.Skill drives share more than a firmware too – they’re identical in PCB layout too. However, G.Skill opts for 16 Samsung 8GB NAND modules rather than Intel or Micron chips.
Like most SandForce drives, G.Skill quotes the maximum sequential read as 265MB/sec and the sequential write at 275MB/sec – our ATTO testing verified these claims, with compressible 1,024KB files writing at 269MB/sec and reading 278MB/sec. Move to the uncompressible files of the AS SSD test and it was a different story. The Phoenix clocked in at 206MB/sec read and 123MB/sec write thanks to the SandForce controller’s weakness in dealing with heavy compressed or uncompressible files.
Where's the speed? Click to enlarge.
Random performance, as with all the SandForce drives, was excellent, with our 4KB random read test delivering a random read speed of 49MB/sec and a random read speed of 45MB/sec. This is a little behind that of the Intel X25-M 160GB, but superior to the Indilinx-powered Vertex. The Phoenix uses the standard SF-1200 firmware, so lacks the extra random write juice of the OCZ Vertex 2 or Corsair F100, but the result is still excellent, and more than sufficient for home PCs.
As we saw with most of the other SandForce drives, the only notable drop in performance after our TRIM testing was in the AS SSD write test, where the uncompressible write speed dipped to 87MB/sec. This wasn’t the case in ATTO though, where the drive showed no loss of performance.
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While the G.Skill Phoenix packs all the performance you’d expect from SF-1200 based SSD, it’s let down by a couple of factors; namely price and warranty. At £293 the Phoenix is £20 more than the OCZ Vertex 2, which has superior random write speeds. While G.Skill is releasing Phoenix Pro range to match the Vertex 2, these drives will be even more expensive than the basic Phoenix. G.Skill also plans to release 120GB Phoenix drives in the near future too, just as other SandForce SSD manufacturers are.
The two year warranty is also a little stingy considering the 1,500,000 (171-year) mean time before failure (MTBF), though we’ll admit that a 100+ year warranty would be silly. OCZ and Corsair offer three years of cover, while Patriot guarantees its drive for five years. While the G.Skill Phoenix ticks the performance boxes and runs the latest 305A13F0 firmware, it’s pricing and warranty mean there are better SandForce SSDs available.