CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

SanDiskUltra II SSD review: A new level of SSD affordability

Looking to replace your aging computer? Maybe it's better idea to get a SanDisk Ultra II as an upgrade instead. Here's CNET's full review of the new and affordable solid-state drive.

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.
Dong Ngo
5 min read

The SanDisk Ultra II SSD delivers the goods as a budget solid-state drive (SSD).


SanDiskUltra II SSD

The Good

The SanDisk Ultra II SSD delivers good performance, and its high-capacity versions are currently the most affordable on the market. The drive includes helpful software.

The Bad

The drive's 120GB version is comparatively expensive. The three-year warranty is not as long as might be expected.

The Bottom Line

With the lowest pricing on the market, the SanDisk Ultra II is an excellent upgrade for your aging computer.

The new internal storage device is available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB capacities that cost just $80, $108, $219 and $495, respectively. This is proving to be, for the most part, a new low in SSD pricing.

While the Ultra II isn't the fastest SSD I've seen, nor does it have the longest warranty, the drive has enough performance and features to be an excellent deal for those looking to upgrade an aging computer that's still running on a regular hard drive.

If you have a computer that already runs on an SSD and you want to upgrade to an even faster drive, check out this list of top SSDs on the market for alternatives.

The SanDisk Ultra II is a new budget standard SSD from SanDisk. Dong Ngo/CNET

A SanDisk drive first: TLC NAND flash memory

The Ultra II is a standard 2.5-inch 7mm-thick internal drive, looking very similar to the Ultra Plus or even the new Extreme Pro that came out a few months ago.

On the inside, however, it's very different from its older brothers, being the first drive from SanDisk that uses the company's second-generation 19nm Triple Level Cell (TLC) flash memory. Prior to this, TLC NAND flash memory was mostly used in Samsung's drives, such as the Samsung 840 .

In a nutshell, TLC flash memory allows the memory cells to stack up vertically, which in turn packs more storage into the same space. This means the SSD is now cheaper to make but has slower performance and shorter endurance -- the total amount of data that can be written to the drive before it become unreliable -- than other types of memory, including Multiple Level Cell (MLC) and Single Level Cell (SLC).

SanDisk, however, says that its firmware, combined with the Marvell 88SS9187 controller, will still make the Ultra II perform well and provide high endurance. However, unlike the case of the Extreme Pro, SanDisk doesn't provide a specific endurance rating for the Ultra II. But the included three-year warranty generally means that you won't have any problem with it within at least the first three years.

SanDisk Ultra II SSD specs

Interface SATA 6GbpsSATA 6GbpsSATA 6GbpsSATA 6Gbps
Controller Marvell 88SS9187Marvell 88SS9187Marvell 88SS9187Marvell 88SS9187
NAND flash memory SanDisk 2nd Gen 19nm TLCSanDisk 2nd Gen 19nm TLCSanDisk 2nd Gen 19nm TLCSanDisk 2nd Gen 19nm TLC
Sequential read 550 MB/s550 MB/s550 MB/s550 MB/s
Sequential write 500 MB/s500 MB/s500 MB/s500 MB/s
Random read 81K IOPS91K IOPS98K IOPS99K IOPS
Random write 80K IOPS83K IOPS83K IOPS83K IOPS
Warranty 3 years3 years3 years3 years

nCache 2.0 technology

The Ultra II is equipped with SanDisk's nCache 2.0 tech, a new caching architecture that converts a portion of the drive's TLC flash memory to SLC mode, thus offering better performance and reliability. This means the drive can deliver much faster peak performance than it would normally without nCache. SanDisk says nCache 2.0 will also help deliver consistent performance with low energy consumption.

The drive also includes SanDisk Dashboard software that allows users to monitor and manage the drive's features, as well as contacting the company's customer support via Live Chat. On top of that, the software also provides links to download Apricorn's EZ GIG IV for drive cloning, and Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus+ to protect the system from malware, both for free.

The SanDisk Dashboard software is a handy utility. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

New low in SSD pricing

For a long time, SSDs were priced at around $1 per gigabyte, but in recent months, the price has dropped to around half of that. Now with the Ultra II, for the first time you can get a 960GB SSD in the US for just $380, or 40 cents per gigabyte. Other than the 120GB capacity that costs $80 ($0.67 per gigabyte), the rest of the Ultra II's capacities are currently the most affordable on the market.

In most cases, it's in fact cheaper than the ARC 100 series from OCZ , which used to be the cheapest on the market. With the Ultra II, SSD pricing has gotten to a new low, which is always a great news for consumers.

SSD US street price

WD Black 2 Dual Drive $0.18SanDisk Ultra II (960GB) $0.40SanDisk Ultra II (480GB) $0.42SanDisk Ultra II (240GB) $0.45OCZ ARC 100 (240GB) $0.50Samsung SSD 840 Evo (256GB) $0.51Plextor M6S (256GB) $0.53OCZ Vector 150 (480GB) $0.58Samsung SSD 840 Pro (256GB) $0.64SanDisk Ultra II (120GB) $0.67Intel SSD 730 (240GB) $0.70SanDisk Extreme II (240GB) $0.73SanDisk Extreme Pro (240GB) $0.75Samsung SSD 850 Pro (256GB) $0.78
Note: Measured in cost per gigabyte, based on current prices at online retailers. A lower number indicates better value.


Considering its low cost, the Ultra II's performance was quite impressive. I tested the drive both as a secondary drive in a computer as well as the main drive that hosted the operating system.

As a secondary drive, it registered a sustained real-world data transferring speed of 310MBps for writing and 310MBps for reading. When used as a main drive and performing both writing and reading at the same time, it, however, scored just 127MBps. Overall, it was below average when compared to recently reviewed drives, but most of these are high-end drives, however.

CNET Labs' SSD data transfer scores

Samsung 850 Pro 246.25 454.32 448.11SanDisk Extreme Pro 250.98 450.59 457.46OCZ ARC 100 series 163.53 289.39 385.71Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 236.18 269.78 270.8Intel SSD 730 Series 189.52 265.53 266.84OCZ Vector 150 231.42 265.32 200.46Seagate 600 SSD 192.26 259.01 275.21SanDisk Extreme II 224.27 255.86 203.42Transcend SSD720 145.26 230.58 269.55SanDisk Ultra II 126.49 210.21 319.23Plextor M6S 155.34 144.78 227.89WD Black 2 Dual Drive 174.65 114.66 228.2
  • As OS drive (read and write)
  • As secondary drive (write only)
  • As secondary drive (read only)
Note: Measured in megabytes per second.

In tests using the PCMark benchmark suite, the drive also did as expected. It has slightly higher storage bandwidth than that of the OCZ ARC 100.

PCMark 8 SSD storage score

Samsung 850 Pro (RAPID 5005 368.13Samsung 850 Pro 4979 267.32SanDisk Extreme Pro 4957 244.17Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 4948 236.18SanDisk Ultra II 4922 208.55OCZ ARC 100 series 4948 203.72
  • Storage score
  • Storage bandwidth (MB/s)
Note: Higher number means better performance.

And finally, in application testing, the Ultra II offered much improvement when compared with a conventional hard drive. Compared with other high-end SSDs, it was slightly slower, though not by much.

PCMark 8 application performance

Samsung 850 Pro (RAPID) 58 133.9 355.7 28.2 9.1 9.1Samsung 850 Pro 58.1 133.8 369.8 28.3 9.1 9.2SanDisk Extreme Pro 58.4 133.9 361.1 28.3 9.2 9.2SanDisk Ultra II 58.8 134.6 363.1 28.4 9.3 9.3OCZ ARC 100 series 58.9 134.7 362.3 28.4 9.4 9.3Standard laptop HDD 138.9 366 565.19 51.7 26.6 27.4
  • World of Warcraft
  • Battlefield 3
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
Note: Measured in seconds. Shorter bars means better performance.

Note that you need to use the Ultra II in a computer that supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) to get the best performance out of it. However, considering its low cost, the drive will still make a great upgrade for an older computer that supports SATA 2 (3Gbps).


Pricing has always been one the most important factors in buying an SSD, and SanDisk delivers in this regard with the Ultra II. It's the first on the market that a cost as low as just 40 cents per gigabyte.

The new drive is also SanDisk's first step in the TLC SSD market, which has been dominated by Samsung. This opens up the competition and means that, going forward, the price of SSDs will be likely to go down even further.

While the Ultra II isn't the fastest on the market, it has enough power to make a significant improvement to any computer that currently runs on a regular hard drive. For this reason, instead of spending a few hundred dollars for a new budget computer, upgrading your aging one with a 240GB Ultra II SSD for $108 will be a much better investment that, for the most part, will return the type of performance you need.


SanDiskUltra II SSD

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 8Support 7