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Strontium Hawk 120GB review: Strontium Hawk 120GB

Strontium's SF2281-based SSD brings faster writes than your standard SandForce SSD.

Craig Simms Special to CNET News
Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.
Craig Simms
3 min read

SandForce may be a fading name in the consumer world after the LSI acquisition in October last year, and the long wait between the second- and third-generation architecture is certainly allowing others to catch up on what was once an impressive lead.


Strontium Hawk 120GB

The Good

Faster write speeds than SF2281 usually brings. All-white design may just suit your build.

The Bad

Agility 4 beats it on the value stakes.

The Bottom Line

Strontium's SF2281-based SSD brings faster writes than your standard SandForce SSD.

SandForce's second-generation controller still has a role to play, though, if anything in helping to drive down the prices of SSDs into something resembling affordable.

On the test bench today is Strontium's Hawk 120GB (which gives us 112GB of usable space). The Singaporean brand's SF2281 controlled SSD is the first all-white SSD we've seen, and, at the time of writing, the 120GB model can be had for around AU$110, while the 240GB model can be had for about AU$200. It's 7mm high, making it suitable for all but the thinnest of laptops. It's an MLC drive, using Hynix H27QDG8VEBIR NAND.

Both CrystalDiskMark and Anvil's Storage Utilities were set to 1GB datasets, using incompressible data.

CrystalDiskMark reads (in MBps)

  • Sequential read
  • 4K QD32 read
  • 4K read
  • 589.6300.624.04
    Samsung 830 (256GB)
  • 508.0346.629.70
    OCZ Vertex 4 (512GB)
  • 506.9224.432.42
    SanDisk Extreme (480GB)
  • 500.0225.037.11
    SanDisk Extreme (240GB)
  • 474.6233.927.0
    Intel SSD 520 (240GB)
  • 470.3215.628.89
    Intel SSD 335 (240GB)
  • 466.4112.823.77
    Intel SSD 330 (120GB)
  • 360.5184.323.87
    Strontium Hawk (120GB)
  • 357.7226.820.93
    OCZ Agility 4 (128GB)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

We're admittedly being a bit tough on the SandForce controller, as it performs its best with compressible data. Yet despite this, Strontium's Hawk holds its own reasonably well. While as a general rule higher capacities tend to be faster, Strontium's 120GB manages to hold out against SanDisk's 240GB in writes, even though they use the same controller. No doubt if we had a 240GB Hawk in the labs, it would be an interesting beast.

Strontium's biggest threat, though, is OCZ's Agility 4; while the Hawk for the most part takes the sequential cake, the Agility eats it for breakfast when you start throwing multiple requests at it. You also have to take into account that you squeeze out another 7GB of usable data from the Agility, and that it can generally be found for cheaper. In terms of bang for buck, it's a hard drive to beat.

Still, these days it's all about pricing — and if you can find the Hawk for a good price, then it's certainly nothing to turn your nose up at.