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Corsair Neutron SSD review: Corsair Neutron SSD

The Corsair Neutron Series SSD's relatively friendly pricing plus its fast performance make it an excellent buy.

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo

SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

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The Corsair Neutron solid-state drive (SSD) is the budget version of the Corsair Neutron GTX and is inferior to its big brother in terms of performance. Compared with other SSDs, however, it's still quite a formidable contender. That in addition to its affordable price -- well less than $1 per gigabyte for the 240GB-capacity version -- makes it a worthy entry-level SSD.

Corsair Neutron Series SSD (120GB, SATA 3, 6Gb/s)
8.0

Corsair Neutron SSD

The Good

The <b>Corsair Neutron</b> solid-state drive (SSD) offers fast performance at a relatively affordable price.

The Bad

The Corsair Neutron's pricing could be more friendly, especially its 120GB-capacity version.

The Bottom Line

The Corsair Neutron makes a great entry-level SSD thanks to its above-entry-level performance and relatively friendly pricing.

It's not a perfect entry-level SSD, however, since, well, it's not as budget-friendly as other SSDs I've seen, especially its 120GB-capacity version, which costs about $130.

That said, pricing is the only thing that concerns me about the drive. Hopefully soon, like with other SSDs, the street price will get lower to make this truly the best budget SSD on the market. If you're not on a budget, I'd also recommend the Neutron GTX or any on this top-five list.

Design and features

Drive type 7mm thick, 2.5-inch standard internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 120GB, 240GB
Product dimensions 7mm thick, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 240GB
Controller LAMD LM87800
Integrated DRam Cache memory
256MB of DDR2-800
Flash memory type
Micron synchronous NAND
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

Similar to the Corsair Neutron GTX, the Corsair Neutron comes in the 2.5-inch 7mm standard and sports the new LAMD LM87800 controller. The drive uses Micron's Synchronous NAND (as opposed to the high-performance Toggle Mode NAND from Toshiba), which is slated to offer slower performance at lower cost.

Like all 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch SSDs, the new Corsair Neutron can fit in the vast majority of systems, including the ultrathin laptops that won't work with regular 9.5mm-thick drives. The Corsair Neutron also comes with a 3.5-inch drive bay converter (and all necessary screws). This means it can also be easily used in a desktop system, just like any other 3.5-inch standard hard drive.

It's quite easy to upgrade your system's existing hard drive to the Corsair Neutron, as long as you get your own cloning software. In my testing the drive worked with all SATA standards, but if you want to get the most out of it, make sure you use it with a system that supports SATA 3 (6Gbps). The drive also works with all platforms I tried: Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Similar to the the Neutron GTX, the Neutron comes with an all-metal casing, which helps the drive feel solid and sturdy but doesn't offer anything in terms of looks. This is not a big deal for an internal drive, though. The drive also comes in a very small package that's just slightly larger than the included drive bay converter. I actually prefer this type of packaging; it produces very little trash.

Out of the box, the Neutron is not preformatted, so it will need to be formatted to work with a system. This is not a big task; it takes just about two or three minutes. For those who want to upgrade their system, this actually helps make the process faster since the cloning software doesn't need to delete the existing partition.

Cost per gigabyte
The new Corsair Neutron is noticeably more affordable than its big brother, the Corsair Neutron GTX, but not affordable enough compared with other SSDs. The drive's 240GB-capacity version currently costs about $214, effectively just about 89 cents per gigabyte, which is still slightly more expensive than the Samsung 830 Series, which is also much faster. The drive's 120GB version costs even more at $1.08 per gigabyte.

As I said earlier, though, the Corsair Neutron is relatively new on the market; SSD prices tend to get lower a few months after the release date.

Performance
The Corsair Neutron didn't perform as well as the Neutron GTX, but it wasn't that bad, either. The test machine, when using the new drive as its main storage, took about 12 seconds to boot and slightly more than 6 seconds to shut down. While these were very short times, they were actually among the longest for SSDs I've tested.

Nonetheless, applications took very little time to launch, especially when compared with a hard drive in the same setup. In fact, in real-world usage, you probably won't see any difference in application performance between the Neutron and the Neutron GTX.

In data copy tests (data copying isn't the primary use for SSDs, but it shows their performance most clearly), the Neutron did well. As with the previously reviewed SSDs, I tested the drive both when it was used as a secondary drive (and performed only the writing) and when it was used as the main drive of a computer (and performed both writing and reading at the same time). The latter is more representative of what customers will experience with the drive.

When the drive was used as a secondary drive, the Neutron hit 238MBps (compared with the Neutron GTX's 274MBps), among the top six on the charts. When used as the main drive of the test machine, it registered 138MBps; that's about average among the internal drives I've reviewed.

Data transfer scores (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As Secondary drive  
As OS drive  
Corsair Neutron GTX
273.62 
161.38 
Samsung 830 Series
261.63 
172.88 
Plextor M5 Pro
251.19 
155.65 
OCZ Vertex 4
246.55 
168.36 
Corsair Neutron
237.69 
138.44 
RunCore Pro V 7mm
236.71 
155.89 
Crucial M4
235.51 
117.99 
Sandisk Extreme
234.15 
117.66 
Plextor M3
221.98 
110.4 
OCZ Agility 3
207.75 
101.67 
OCZ Vertex 4 (256GB)
190.34 
148.33 
Patriot Pyro
190.01 
76.44 
RunCore Pro V Max
186.78 
92.55 
OCZ Octane
183.41 
135.43 
Monster Digital LeMans
177.56 
121.11 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
126.33 
58.05 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59 
47.12 
Sandisk Ultra
96.4 
65.6 

Boot and shutdown time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot Time  
Plextor M5 Pro
6.21 
11.1 
Corsair Neutron
6.2 
12 
OCZ Octane
6.3 
12 
Patriot Pyro
6 
12.5 
Plextor M3
7 
13 
SanDisk Ultra
7.2 
13.5 
Crucial M4
6.8 
13.7 
OCZ Agility 3
6.7 
14.7 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
12.2 
56.2 

Conclusion
Fast and relatively affordable, the Corsair Neutron is another excellent SSD on the market, especially if its price gets a little friendlier in the near future.

Corsair Neutron Series SSD (120GB, SATA 3, 6Gb/s)
8.0

Corsair Neutron SSD

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 8Support 8