During our research for the Strontium HAWK 120GB Solid State Drive we found our way on to Wikipedia and spent a little time reading all about an earth metal called… yes, Strontium. Anyone who paid attention in school would think this is common knowledge but not for us, we had just learned something new. Strontium, the chemical element with the symbol Sr is described as a soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element that is highly reactive chemically.
Ok ok, we are not here to talk about our education (or the lack thereof) We are here to take a look at the new HAWK 120GB Solid State Drive from Strontium Technology. The amusing thing is that the description from Wikipedia has been stuck in our mind and has influenced how we describe the solid state drive in two lines, take a look.
The Strontium HAWK 120GB solid state drive is housed in a white metallic case with a yellow label and is highly recommended with great performance and price.
In case you do not know much about Strontium Technology and the HAWK series of solid state drives, here is a bit of information taken directly form their website to get you up to speed.
About Strontium Technology.
Our in-depth understanding of the memory market, coupled with expert product knowledge, gives us a true competitive advantage over our industry peers.
The HAWK Series.
Strontium HAWK Solid State Drive (SSD) is the ultimate solution in taking your computer system to the next level. Driven with the award winning SandForce controller and coupled with the quality solution from SK Hynix, our SSD ensures outstanding sequential read/write speeds and is powered by a backwards-compatible with SATA Revision 3.1 (6Gb/s) interface.
- SandForce 2nd Gen SSD SF-2281VB1-SDC Processors
- MLC NAND Flash for Fast Performance
- Sequential Performance (256KB, MAX)
Read: 510 MB/s Write: 470 MB/s
- Random Performance (4KB, MAX):
Read: 50,000 IOPS Write: 38,000 IOPS
- Supports 1.5/3.0/6.0 Gbps SATA I/ II/ III Interface
- TRIM support (O/S support required)
- Mean Time Between Failure (MBTF): 1.2M
- Power Consumption
Active: 0.82W (Typ.) Idle: 0.26W (Typ.)
- Voltage: 5.0V±5%
- Three year Strontium warranty
- Available Capacities: 120GB and 240GB
- Dimension : 100 x 69.9 x 6.8 mm
- Weight: Nearly 66.9g
For the full list of specifications please visit the Strontium HAWK series page
The first thing that caught our eye was the colour, White! with the bright yellow and red label. It just looks good. The white aluminum case comprises of two parts and is only held together by four screws. The drive is the first and only one we have seen where at least one of the screws is not covered by a “warranty void if removed” sticker.
The Hawk Series of solid state drives utilises the SandForce SF-2281VB1 Processors and offers performance of 510MB/s read and 470MB/s write or 50,000 IOPS read and 38,000 IOPS write. The drive has full TRIM support and it is compatible with SATA3/SATA2 controllers.
Taking a look under the hood.
After removing the four screws, separating the two halves to reveal the PCB was easy. Located on the back of the PCB is the SandForce SF-2281 processor along with the eight empty spots. We assume that is where the additional NAND flash memory modules would be installed for the 240GB version. On the Top side of the PCB the eight Hynix NAND flash memory modules can be seen neatly stacked in two rows of four chips.
Solid State Drive Test methodology
Our main goal is to provide accurate and consistent results for your reference when investigating a product to purchase. Our test suite if you can call it that, includes both old and new benchmark applications. When looking at the results from two applications you may notice that the scores are similar. The reason we offer the spread or duplication is to enable you to compare it directly to your current setup or other reviews using the application data you prefer.
The BelowZer0 test setup for solid state drives comprises of the following hardware and is slightly overclocked to 4.5Ghz. The SATA controller is configured as AHCI
- Intel Core i7 3770k @ 4.5Ghz
- ASRock Z77 OC Formula
- PNY 660Ti XLR8
- BeQuiet! Dark Power 1200watt PSU
- Avexir Core Series 4x4GB 1400Mhz Memory Modules
AIDA64 provides several methods to measure the system performance. These benchmarks are synthetic, so their results show only the theoretical (maximum) performance of the system.
As we expected the AIDA64 results show the HAWK preforming at the maximum speed of the device, what got our blood pumping was that the drives read speed exceeded the listed specification of 510MB/s by a good margin. The random read benchmark reached a maximum speed of 680.9MB/s Unfortunately AIDA64 does not have write speed tests available.
ATTO Disk benchmark is a widely-accepted Disk Benchmark utility to help measure storage system performance. Disk Benchmark can be used to identify performance in hard drives, solid state drives, RAID arrays as well as connections to storage.
ATTO Disk Benchmark supports transfer sizes from 512KB to 8MB and transfer lengths from 64KB to 2GB. RAW data is used by ATTO for both read and write. RAW data can be compressed and the results should show the theoretical (maximum) performance of the system
Looking at the ATTO Disk Benchmark results, once again we see the read speed exceeded the listed specification and for the first time ATTO exposes the write speed. Both the Read and Write speeds are higher than the advertised maximum speed of the drive but the benchmarks preformed by ATTO do represent best case scenarios by making use of RAW data that can be compressed.
CrystalDiskMark is a lightweight application that is used to measure the read and write performance using RAW or Random test data. CrystalDiskMark will expose “real” world speeds of the drive when random test data is selected due to the fact that random test data includes information that can not be compressed. Random test data is the default option in CrystalDiskMark
RAW test data
The RAW data tests again show the HAWK’s class. Both read and write peaked at over 500MB/s
Random test data
When it comes to the random test data, for the first time we can see by how much the Strontium HAWK is in front or behind the competition in the same price category. Both the read and write speeds of the random test data peeked above 300MB/s and at the time of publishing this article the Strontium HAWK 120GB solid state drive is the fastest SandForce SF-2281 based drive we have tested.
AS SSD Benchmark is a small but very handy SSD benchmark tool. Unfortunately it is developed by and supported in German. HWbot.org is currently testing the software and offers limited support in their forums. AS SSD Benchmark only uses data that can not be compressed and will always bring out the worst performance from a solid state drive.
The IOPS performance of the HAWK was excellent. 58084 IOPS write and 51046 IOPS read was recorded by the benchmark and is above the listed specification.
When Viewing the test results as MB/s the data is not that much different from CrystalDiskMark.
HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive’s performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more.
The HD Tune results again show the Strontium HAWK in a good light. The file benchmark tests we see both the read and write speeds peak above 500MB/s
When we first got a glimpse of the HAWK series drives at the Strontium offices in Taipei, there was a real love at first sight moment. The white aluminum case has a large amount of appeal in our books but that is just one aspect of a solid state drive. Realistically while the marketing and appearance of a drive can give you the warm and fuzzy feeling it is only a small factor when looking to make the purchase.
Ultimately the performance and cost are the main factors we use to determine where we spend our money. After testing the drive we were very happy to see that the The Strontium HAWK 120GB Solid State Drive compares exceptionally well to the competition.
Where other drives fall short the Strontium HAWK showed its pedigree. The SandForce SF-2281 controller paired up with the Hynix NAND flash memory is a winning combination that leaves the competition in the dust.
The Strontium HAWK 120GB drive retails for around one thousand Rand. We found it quite refreshing that the drive does not ship with a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket. Most new computer cases have a 2.5″ drive bay by default and the extra weight just adds to the landed cost in South Africa. Having the Option to buy one if needed is much better.
The Appearance of the Strontium HAWK 120GB solid state drive attracted us to it. The price then reinforced our interest but ultimately for the price, the performance blew us away. Would we recommend it and use it our self? without a doubt YES!