Today we have Sandisk’s latest consumer SSD release to add to our collection of SSD reviews… the Extreme II. This SSD is the successor to Sandisk’s previous high performance consumer SSD, the Extreme, and comes with a number of enhancements. Please read on for our review and testing of the Extreme II as we add more choice to our SSD feature.

COMPARISONS: We will be running our SSD COMPARISON ARTICLE after all SSDs have been reviewed individually. This comparison will compare all our SSD samples, so, this article will not contain any comparisons with other drives. We hope you return to read our full SSD comparison, to see which drive comes out on top!

A while back, we reviewed the original Extreme drive and found it could still offer very impressive performance, and, due to the Extreme II being release, it was available at a fantastic price. It is now a perfect choice for mid-range users who would not need the absolute maximum performance and want to build their system on a budget. The Extreme II, however, raises the bar and claims very impressive specifications.

The drive itself comes available in two kits. One kit is a barebones notebook kit, which has just the drive and a 9mm form factor conversion kit (the drive itself is 7mm) and the other is a desktop kit, which includes a 3.5″ bracket, and a SATA cable. In terms of software, Sandisk are using their own proprietary software, the Sandisk Toolkit, which is available free to download from their website. The tookit has a nice, simplistic interface, and a variety of monitoring tools for the SSD. Overall, it is a very nice extra to have for those who like to keep tabs on their drives on a regular basis.

As always, the drive comes in black and red themed Sandisk packaging, however, the design team made a few changes with this product. The Sandisk logo is now printed in white atop a red background, which is positioned at the bottom of the packaging. The name of the drive (Extreme II) is printed in a shiny gold text across the top of the packaging, with the product image being in the center (all can be seen in the picture below). With Windows 8, more and more companies have changed their software interfaces, packaging designs and product appearances to match the new simplistic style, and it appears this is the way the world is going. I, personally am a fan of simplistic designs, so, the packaging really appealed to me.

Taking a look inside the drive, we see that Sandisk are using a Marvell controller, alongside their own NAND. Eight 19nm MLC NAND packages are used, all located on the top side of the PCB. The 88SS9187 controller and 256MB of cache are also situated on the top half of the SSD, with nothing of interest being seated on the underside – an unusual choice of placement. Back in its casing, the drive measures 100.5mm in length, 69.85mm in width and 7mm in thickness.

Sandisk advertise the Extreme II as being capable to performing at up to 550MB/s sequential read and 510MB/s sequential write, with IOPS rates being at 95,000 and 75,000 respectively (over SATAIII). Not only is this drive pushing for high performance, but Sandisk wanted to ensure it also focused on long term reliability. Firstly, the NAND packages are rated for 2 million hours use, or 80 terabytes of transfer. Secondly, the company has offered a FIVE year warranty with the drive, and finally, a host of new safety and performance features have been added; lets take a look at them…

Multi-stream mode alongside tiered cache allows the drive to perform better at multitasking, but also groups together smaller writes into larger chunks so the SSD can endure heavy use over a longer period of time. TRIM is supported and Sandisk’s nCache features have been added for more stability. Last but not least, Sandisk have ensured that the drive will reduce its performance if it detects high temperatures to prevent long term damage to the drive, a nice feature for people who plan on using the drive very heavily.

Now, when I went to check the current market prices for the Sandisk Extreme II, I was expecting £200-£215 for the 240GB version, however, the prices I found really blew me away. The 240GB version of the Extreme II is available for £173.46 (desktop kit) and £160.97 (notebook kit), both on Amazon UK. Keep in mind, if you have a desktop and already have a mounting option and SATA cable, there is no need to buy the desktop version. £160.97 for this high performance, high endurance SSD which is new to the market is EXCEPTIONALLY good value, and really puts Sandisk in a good position, at just £0.67 per GB, taking the notebook version. In the US, the drive is available for $229.99 from Amazon, which works out at $0.95 per GB. Not quite as good, but still good for a drive of this specification.

Now, the true test is to see if the drive can keep up in the benchmarks… lets run the tests!

ATTO Disk Benchmarking Tool
ATTO is one of the most trusted and reliable disk benchmarking utilities available. The figures given by ATTO are the most accurate way of identifying the drives maximum capability if it were pushed beyond real-use limits and brought to theoretical maximum performance. As we expected from Sandisk, the drive performs fantastically, and heavily beats its rated write speed.

8192KB Read – 548.09MB/s
8192KB Write – 535.08MB/s

32KB Read – 502.66MB/s
32KB Write – 491.34MB/s

CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark is one of my personal favourites in regards to drive benchmarking, as it often gives a very accurate figure as to how your drive will perform if it is pushed to its limit, whereas you usually will not be able to reach the figures provided in ATTO manually. CrystalDiskMark tests sequential speed, as well as a number of random read/write tests for 512K and 4K. The Extreme II falls a bit short of its rated speeds in some test, but still performs fantastically in most (particularly 4K & 4K QD32), especially considering the price it is available for (as of time of writing).

Sequential Read – 517.2MB/s
Sequential Write – 503.6MB/s

512K Read – 355.1MB/s
512K Write – 441.7MB/s

4K Read – 34.3MB/s
4K Write – 77.0MB/s

4K QD32 Read – 373.6MB/s
4K QD32 Write – 322.1MB/s

SiSoftware Sandra
SiSoftware Sandra is another tool used by many benchmarkers to see if the drive is consistent across multiple tests in different benchmarking tools. The Extreme II scores extremely high in Sandra, considering the testing software does not usually give the maximum speed, but a speed closer to the real-life usage speed of the drive.

Sequential Read – 539.5MB/s
Sequential Write – 497.1MB/s

I have no reservations whatsoever in awarding this drive with a gold award. It is available at an outstanding price on Amazon UK (as of time of writing) and, for the performance it offers, it is an absolute steal. I think Sandisk called it the Extreme II because not only does it impress in performance, but also in reliability (hence the II). This drive is highly recommended for performance users.