Under the Hood
Opening up the Strontium Matrix confirms that this is indeed a rebranded Micron C400, most commonly sold by Crucial as the m4. The Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 controller within supports SATA 6Gbps. There are a total of sixteen 8GB (64Gbit) 25nm MLC NAND devices, which are rated for 3000 program/erase cycles, as well as a 128MB DDR chip used for caching.
The Strontium Matrix's specifications are nearly identical to those of the m4. While we don't have a Crucial m4 for comparison, we wouldn't expect performance to be any different.
The Strontium Gamma uses a previous-generation SandForce SF-1222 controller that supports only SATA 3Gbps. Despite being more than a year old by now, the SF-1222 can still put up a good fight.
Of course, the Strontium Gamma uses 25nm MLC NAND, which is known to result in lower performance compared to the 34nm MLC NAND that SF-1222 drives initially used. Fortunately, we have a 34nm OCZ Vertex 2 on hand, which we can use to find out the impact of shifting from 34nm to 25nm NAND on performance.
The Strontium Gamma is 9mm tall and will not fit into notebooks which only allow 7.5mm drives. The Matrix is also 9mm tall by default, but you can decrease its height to 7.5mm by removing the plastic spacer in between the top and bottom halves of the casing. It's not clear if doing so will void the drive's warranty, and you'll also have to find shorter screws.
The Strontium Matrix with (top) and without (bottom) the spacer.
The SandForce SF-1222 controller sets aside one flash die's worth of space to store error correction data. The Gamma 115GB has eight NAND dies, which means 16GB out of the 128GB raw capacity is unavailable to the user. After further subtracting spare area used for over-provisioning, we're left with 109.7GB of usable space, which isn't too far off from the advertised capacity of 115GB.
The Matrix's usable capacity, on the other hand, is much closer to its advertised capacity.
|Intel SSD 320||120GB||111.79GB|
|Processor||Intel Core i3-2100 (SpeedStep, C-State disabled)|
|Memory||2 x 4GB DDR3-1333|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 2000|
|Storage||Western Digital WD3200AAKS|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit|
Intel Chipset Drivers 188.8.131.520
Intel Rapid Storage Technology 10.5.0.1027
The following solid state drives were tested:
- Corsair X128 128GB (Indilinx Barefoot, Samsung 50nm MLC)
- Kingston SSDNow V+ 96GB (Toshiba T6UG1XBG, Toshiba
- OCZ Vertex 3 240GB (SandForce SF-2281, Intel 25nm MLC)
- OCZ Agility 3 240GB (SandForce SF-2281, Micron 25nm MLC)
- OCZ Vertex 2 120GB (SandForce SF-1222, Intel 34nm MLC)
- Intel SSD 320 300GB (Intel PC29AS21BA0, Intel 25nm MLC)
- Intel SSD 320 120GB (Intel PC29AS21BA0, Intel 25nm MLC)
- Intel SSD 510 250GB (Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2, Intel 34nm MLC)
- Strontium Matrix 120GB (Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2, Micron 25nm MLC)
- Strontium Gamma 115GB (SandForce SF-1222, Micron 25nm MLC)