Noise levels were measured with a TES-52 Digital Sound Level meter 1" from the side of the drives at idle and under an HD Tune seek load. Drives were run with the PCB facing up.
Our noise level and power consumption tests were conducted with the drives connected to the motherboard's P55 storage controller.
I've consolidated the solid-state drives here because they're all completely silent. The SSD noise level depicted above is a reflection of the noise generated by the rest of the test system, which has a passively-cooled graphics card, a very quiet PSU, and a nearly silent CPU cooler.
The SandForce drives may be no quieter than the average SSD, but they can lower system noise levels by quite a bit versus high-performance mechanical hard drives. This fact is especially apparent under seek loads, which tend to make mechanical drives chatter audibly.
For our power consumption tests, we measured the voltage drop across a 0.1-ohm resistor placed in line with the 5V and 12V lines connected to each drive. We were able to calculate the power draw from each voltage rail and add them together for the total power draw of the drive. Drives were tested while idling and under an IOMeter load consisting of 256 outstanding I/O requests using the workstation access pattern.
The Agility 2, Force F100, and Vertex 2 sit in the middle of the middle of the pack in our power consumption tests. Whatever wattage SandForce saves by not using a DRAM cache is clearly being consumed elsewhere in these drives. With DuraWrite and RAISE accelerated in hardware, I suspect the SF-1200 pulls more juice than other SSD controllers.
Capacity per dollar
After spending pages rifling through a stack of performance graphs, it might seem odd to have just a single one set aside for capacity. After all, the amount of data that can be stored on a hard drive is no less important than how fast that data can be accessed. Yet one graph is really all we need to express how these drives stack up in terms of their capacity, and more specifically, how many bytes each of your hard-earned dollars might actually buy.
We took drive prices from Newegg to establish an even playing field for all the contenders. Mail-in rebates weren't included in our calculations. Rather than relying on manufacturer-claimed capacities, we gauged each drive's capacity by creating an actual Windows 7 partition and recording the total number of bytes reported by the OS. Having little interest in the GB/GiB debate, I simply took that byte total, divided by a Giga (109), and then by the price. The result is capacity per dollar that, at least literally, is reflected in gigabytes.
With greater overprovisioning than is typical for consumer-grade SSDs, the SandForce drives score poorly on our storage-per-dollar scale. Of course, these drives are also very new, and some are still out of stock at a number of online retailers. Prices may fall as supply catches up with demand. Firmware updates with less overprovisioning will also help to improve the cost per gigabyte of SF-1200-based drives.