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SanDisk Extreme II review: High speed at low cost

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The Good The SanDisk Extreme II offers faster performance, is now available in a 7mm design, and has a friendly price tag.

The Bad There's no desktop drive bay converter or other accessories included.

The Bottom Line The SanDisk Extreme II is a speedy replacement for any hard drive, and it won't dig a big hole in your wallet.

8.1 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 9

The SanDisk Extreme II solid-state drive (SSD) has a lot more going for it than just being 2.5mm thinner than the previous SanDisk Extreme.

In my testing, the new and trim SSD offered fast performance, comparable to that of even the fastest consumer-grade SSDs, while costing well less than $1 per gigabyte. The drive can work with both laptops and desktops, but unfortunately, doesn't come included with a drive bay converter to fit easily in a desktop, which is its only shortcoming, and a minor one.

The Extreme II definitely is an easy recommendation to those looking to upgrade their computer's existing hard drive to a much faster alternative. It currently costs just $230 for 240GB (or $450 for 480GB) with street pricing expected to fall even lower once the drive has been on the market for awhile. For more choices of excellent SSDs, check out the drives on this list.

The Extreme II SSD next to its predecessor, the Extreme SSD.
The Extreme II SSD next to its predecessor, the Extreme SSD. Dong Ngo/CNET
Capacties 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
Current pricing $140, $230, and $450, respectively.
Controller Marvell 88SS9187 (Monet)
NAND SanDisk 19nm eX2 ABL MLC NAND
Standards 7mm 2.5-inch design, SATA 3, SATA 2, SATA
Sequential Read Up to 550MBps
Sequential Write UP to 500MBps
4KB Random Read Up to 95K IOPS
4KB Random Write Up to 78 IOPS
Endurance 80TB Written
Warranty Five years
OS supported Windows, Mac, Linux

Standard design, advanced configuration, and friendly pricing
At first glance, the Extreme II looks almost identical to the Extreme, both with black cover and a big SanDisk logo in red. Looking closer, however, the new drive is just 7mm thick, similar to most new SSDs, and downright trim compared to the 9.5mm girth of the previous model.

The new thickness means it can now work in certain ultrabooks, in addition to desktops and standard laptops. This is not the thinnest SSD on the market, however, since the Seagate 600 SSD comes in a version that's just 5mm thick.

On the inside, the new Extreme II is now totally different than its predecessor. The drive uses the Marvell 88SS9187 Monet controller (as opposed to the SanForce controller of the original Extreme drive) and SanDisk 19nm eX2 ABL MLC NAND flash memory. Not only that, the new Extreme II also use nCache, which was first introduced in the SanDisk Ultra Plus. All of these improvements translate into the random performance ratings being more than twice those of the the Extreme.

Beyond those specs, the SanDisk Extreme II is a standard SATA internal drive that supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) and works with all revisions of the SATA standard. The drive is the first high-end SSD I've seen that's priced less than $1 per gigabyte at release, currently costing $230 and $450 for the 240GB and 480GB, respectively. The 120GB is slightly more expensive at $140. Like most SSDs, the price of the Extreme II likely gets lower the longer it's on the market.

Internal hard drives' cost per GB
(Shorter bars indicate better performance, Measured in dollars, based on current street pricing)
Cost per GB  
SanDisk Extreme II (480GB)
SanDisk Extreme II (240GB)

Note that, unlike some other SSDs that include a 3.5-inch drive bay converter that helps fit the drive into a desktop, the Extreme II doesn't. This is not a big deal, however, since you can always get a third-party caddy or you might even leave the drive hanging loose inside a desktop's chassis. Since there's no moving parts, an SSD doesn't need to be securely attached to a computer that's not moved around often.

High endurance and top warranty
As all SSDs go, the new Extreme II has finite endurance, called program cycles (read more about them here), meaning you can write only so much data to it before it becomes unreliable. However, the drive has a high endurance rating of 80TB over its lifetime. This means if you write 50GB to the drive every day, it will take about 4.5 years for the drive to run out of program cycles. Most of us don't write more than 10GB to the computer's internal drive per day, and there are many days that we don't write much to the drive at all.

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