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Corsair Force 3 240GB SSD

January 2nd, 2012 1 comment


Corsair Force 3 240GB SSD

Corsair’s Force 3 series SSD drives are enthusiast-grade solid-state drives, with advertised maximum sequential read/write speeds of 550MB/s read and 520MB/s write. While prices of SSD drives have been steadily declining, mechanical drives have started going up due to the flood in Thailand. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your storage, now might be a good time to consider the Corsair Force 3 SSD for your system.

PROS

  • Rock-solid stability
  • Fast performance
  • Good capacity for notebooks
  • Super simple to install
  • Includes 3.5-inch adapter for desktops

CONS

  • Firmware utility only supported in Windows

Corsair Force 3 box

INSTALLATION
Installation of the Force 3 on most laptops should be a breeze. Desktops are also a piece of cake because Corsair includes a 3.5-inch adapter––something not all manufacturers do.

Corsair Force 3 unboxed

PERFORMANCE
The Force 3 Series SSDs support SATA III (6Gb/s) connections and are backwards compatible with SATA I/II. They’re also based on SandForce controllers and offer up quite a performance boost. The first benchmark I ran was ATTO benchmark. The transfer rates I got were slightly better than advertised.

ATTO Disk Benchmark max transfer rate

Unsurprisingly, the results from both CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD Benchmark were significantly lower because those benchmarks use incompressible data to test transfer rates. SSD drives that use asynchronous NAND flash, like the Corsair Force 3, don’t perform as well on incompressible data. Though the Force 3’s transfer rates are lower with incompressible data, keep in mind that in the real world, most people won’t ever notice a difference. Put it this way: asynchronous NAND SSD drives are still about three times faster than 7200RPM mechanical drives with incompressible data and over six times faster with compressible data.

Corsair Force 3 SSD drive

RELIABILITY
SandForce-based SSDs performed extremely well from the get go. Unfortunately, there were some bugs early on that caused instability in SSD drives that used the SandForce controllers, which was practically everybody.

I’ve had the Corsair Force 3 running in my primary system for over two months now, and have not experienced a single stutter, hang, crash or blue screen. I also haven’t experienced any issues waking up from a sleep state or hibernation. The drive I received had firmware version 1.2.

SandForce recently sent out updated firmware code to manufacturers, claiming they had fixed the bugs causing the instability in a lot of SandForce SSD drives. Corsair integrated those fixes into firmware 1.3.3, but I want to stress that even before firmware 1.3.3, the Force 3 did not exhibit any stability issues for me. The Force 3 has been very reliable during the course of my evaluation.

Corsair Force 3 SSD ports

SPECS

Form Factor 2.5-inch
Unformatted capacity 240GB
Controller SandForce SF-2281
Storage technology Asynchronous NAND
Interface SATA III (backwards compatible w/SATA I & II)
Sequential Read Up to 550MB/s
Sequential Write Up to 520MB/s
Max Random Write IOPS Up to 85,000 (4K aligned)
MTBF 2 million hours
Warranty 3 years

CONCLUSION
The Corsair Force 3 240GB SSD is a great solution if you need a high-performance drive but want to save a few bucks for other system upgrades. The benefits of SSD drives include incredible performance gains, low power consumption, quiet operation and fast boot and shutdown times. 240GB (223GB formatted) is a nice size for single-drive notebooks or for desktop users who want to use it as a boot drive with lots of applications. Either way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the Corsair Force 3 SSD.

Available from Amazon.com.

Review unit provided by Corsair

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Corsair Vengeance 1500 Dolby 7.1 USB Gaming Headset

November 27th, 2011 No comments


Corsair Vengeance 1500

Back on September 16, Corsair introduced their new Vengeance line of gaming headsets and peripherals. The Vengeance 1500 headset is the follow up to the Corsair HS1, one of the best gaming headsets available, at any price. The new Corsair Vengeance 1500 USB gaming headset is based on the Corsair HS1 USB headset and now looks as good as it sounds.

Read more…

Corsair Carbide Series 400R Mid-Tower Case

October 10th, 2011 4 comments

5 Stars- Techdad Review
Corsair Carbide Series 400R

Corsair makes some of the world’s best PC enclosures; just read all the critical acclaim and awards that their Obsidian and Graphite Series cases have garnered.  I had the chance to review the Graphite Series White 600T about six months ago, and was impressed with its interior space, cable management, flexible cooling options and Corsair’s attention to detail.  Despite the impressive performance and features of the Graphite and Obisidian Series cases, there’s no question that the premium price kept Corsair’s enclosures out of reach for many people––until now.

To complete their offering of high-performance cases, Corsair has introduced the Carbide Series mid-tower case.  As their entry-level case, the 400R promises “everything you need, nothing you don’t” at an MSRP of $99.99.  Let’s see if the 400R lives up to that promise.

PROS

  • Plenty of interior space
  • Supports up to 10 case fans
  • Built-in SSD mounting
  • Excellent cable management
  • Fantastic value

CONS

  • Reset switch too close to fan LED on/off switch

IN THE BOX

400R in the box

  • Quick start guide
  • USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter
  • Zip ties and wire mounts
  • Motherboard standoffs
  • Motherboard screws
  • Hard drive and optical drive screws
  • Power supply screws
  • Fan screws

 

AESTHETICS

Corsair Carbide Series 400R frontCorsair Carbide Series left side

 

The exterior of 400R has a very clean and simple design.  It doesn’t stand out like the Obsidian or Graphite Series cases do, but the simple design will probably appeal to a lot of people.  It’s also a more typical mid-tower size than the 600T.

At 18.5 lbs, the 400R is almost 10 pounds lighter than the 600T.  The dimensions are also smaller, all the way around.  If you have furniture with say, a standard-sized computer stand or you just need something smaller for your space, the 400R should work out nicely.  Like the 600T, the 400R uses a mixture of steel and molded ABS plastic.

As an added convenience, the 400R has a carry handle in the front, which makes it easy to carry around to LAN parties.  I also use it to store USB cables for quick access.

Corsair 400R handle

 

INSTALLATION

Corsair Carbide 400R side open

 

 Corsair 400R open front

Installing components in the 400R was comfortable and easy because of the roomy interior space.  The 400R doesn’t have the unique latch mechanisms for the side panels like the 600T, but I didn’t mind using the standard thumb screws.  The screws are also conveniently attached to the side panels so you don’t misplace them.  The muscular design of the side panels not only make them look cooler, but also increases the space at the sides.  This made reattaching the right panel a lot easier.  In fact, I didn’t even bother spending the time to tidy up the cables on the right side because the panel shut easily without doing so.  If you’re a total neat freak though, there are a fair number of tie-down loops and Corsair even includes a few nylon zip ties.

The motherboard was easy to drop into the 400R, even without a motherboard tray.  Large heatsinks also aren’t a problem because of the large CPU cutout.  In my initial build, I had a stock air cooler installed and later installed a Corsair H80 water cooler.  Because of the CPU cutout, I didn’t have to remove the entire motherboard, just to install mounting brackets for the water block––score!  The PSU install was also a cinch and I was able to rout the ATX 8-pin power connector to the motherboard via the cutout for it.

Corsair Carbide Series 400R CPU cutout

 

Like the 600T, the 400R has plastic drive caddies.  I noticed that the caddies on the 400R are a bit more flexible than the ones in the 600T, but it made no difference in mounting the drives.  Hard drives snapped right in to the caddies, without having to mess around with screws or rails.  SSD drives can also be mounted into the same caddies, but with the use of screws.  This means you no longer have to buy SSD desktop kits or use velcro to safely mount your SSD drive.

Corsair Carbide 400R tool-free HDD caddiesCorsair Carbide Series 400R drive caddy

Optical drives are even simpler to install, since they use the same tool-free mechanism as the 600T.  Just slide the optical drive in until it clicks and you’re done; no screws or rails to slow you down.

Corsair Carbide 400R tool-free optical drive

Expansion cards pose no installation problems for the 400R and the bracket covers are vented for better airflow.  You get eight PCI-E slots with support for up to 316mm (12.4 inch) long expansion cards.  So yeah, if you want to set up SLI or CrossFire, the 400R has you covered.

The last thing I want to mention about working inside the 400R are the cable-routing holes.  If you read my review of the 600T, then you already know how much I like Corsair’s cable-routing holes.  They allow me to keep the case free of cable clutter, resulting in unrestricted airflow and a better looking case.

COOLING

The 400R comes with three 120mm fans––one rear exhaust and two front intake.  The front intake fans also have white LEDs. With the default number of fans, the 400R has good cooling and is pretty quiet.  However, if you have greater cooling requirements, the 400R supports up to 10 total fans.  You can even install a 240mm radiator at the top of the case. Obviously, cooling options on the 400R are plentiful.

Corsair Carbide Series 400R airflow

 

MISCELLANEOUS

The 400R’s I/O panel is conveniently located at the top and includes 2 x USB 3.0 ports, power switch, HDD LED, mic and headphone jacks, FireWire (1394) port, fan LED on/off switch, and a reset switch.  The only issue I had with the I/O panel was that the fan LED on/off switch is located just above the reset switch.  Twice, I accidentally hit the reset switch when I meant to hit the fan LED switch.  Granted, this happened in the dark, but they’re so close together, I could see myself and others hitting the wrong switch even in the daylight.

Corsair Carbide Series 400R I/O panel

The 400R also comes with a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 converter for the motherboard, which is a nice touch.  Additionally, the I/O cables are neatly wrapped in a black cover and clearly labeled.  I know it’s minor, but it’s probably the best looking I/O cables I’ve seen yet for a PC enclosure.

Corsair Carbide Series 400R connectors

 

Finally, I just want to mention another example of the detail that Corsair paid with the 400R.  To install optical drives on the 400R, you have to remove the entire front panel of the case.  Seasoned system builders have performed this act, countless times in their careers.  It goes something like this: unclip the stupid plastic tabs located all over the left and right sides, partially pull the front panel out, unclip the stupid tabs again that clipped back in, then finally remove the front panel completely.

Removing the front panel of the 400R is a different story and it goes something like this: pull the front panel out.  Done.  The 400R doesn’t use plastic tabs.  It’s a little hard to describe, but the 400R uses a circular metal tab that when you give it a quick pull, the entire front panel comes out without fuss. Those Corsair engineers are pret-ty smart.

Corsair 400R front panel tab

SPECS

 

Dimensions 20.5″ (H) x 19.8″ (L) x 8.1″ (W)
Mobo Support ATX, mATX
Expansion Slots 8
Form Factor Mid-tower
Material Steel structure w/molded ABS plastic accent pieces
Drive Bays 5.25” (x4), 3.5”/2.5” (x6) w/drive caddies
Cooling 120mm fans w/white LED (x2), 120mm fan (x1)
Front I/O Panel USB 3.0 (x2), IEEE 1394 (x1), Headphone (x1), MIC (x1)
Power Supply ATX (not included)
Warranty 2 years

 

CONCLUSION

The Corsair Carbide Series 400R mid-tower case has hit its mark.  For $99, you probably shouldn’t expect too much out of an ATX case, but the 400R has raised the bar.  The 400R gives system builders and enthusiasts an affordable alternative to Corsair’s higher-end enclosures, without sacrificing a whole lot.  You still get the same Corsair-grade build quality, support, tool-free design, cable-routing holes, roomy interior, flexible cooling and good looks.  So yeah, you could say that the 400R has lived up to its billing and is a great way to step into a Corsair case without breaking the bank.  I highly recommend it.

Available from Amazon.com.

Review unit provided by Corsair

Categories: Reviews Tags: , ,

Corsair Hydro Series H80 High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler

August 28th, 2011 No comments

5 Stars- techdad

Corsair H80 Hydro Cooler

 

 

This past July, Corsair announced the availability of the Hydro Series H80 and H100 liquid CPU coolers.  You might recall that Corsair released the H50 in June of 2009 to great fanfare.  Though not the first closed-loop liquid cooler, the H50 was wildly popular for its cooling prowess, cool looks, and reasonable price (for a water-cooling system).  Each iteration of the Hydro series since the H50, has evolved with greater cooling efficiency and more features, keeping competitors on their toes.  The H80 is the next step in the Hydro series, offering compact and quiet cooling, easy installation, and support for Corsair Link.

PROS

  • Great cooling performance
  • Very quiet in Quiet profile
  • Easy to install
  • No maintenance required
  • Looks cool
  • 3 cooling profiles
  • Fan connectors located on the cooling module

CONS

  • Can’t change cooling profiles without the opening case

Corsair H80 boxCorsair H80 box open

Water cooling in general, is a scary proposition for many enthusiasts.  It requires a lot of dedication to cooling because of maintenance, high cost, and the risk of spills.  However, the H80 is a closed-loop system that requires no maintenance and has a reasonable, one-time cost.  The H80, like the H50, is pre-filled and sealed. It uses high-quality Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) tubing that helps minimize coolant evaporation so you never have to worry about refilling the coolant.  Besides great cooling performance, water cooling systems are good for keeping noise levels down.  If that sounds like something you might be interested in, read on.

INSTALLATION

Corsair Hydro H80 installed

Installation of the H80 was fairly easy and I appreciated the small cooling unit.  Air coolers that use huge heatsinks with gigantic fins can be challenging to install because they have a tendency to block memory slots on motherboards.  Another advantage of the light-weight H80 cooling unit is that it doesn’t cause undue physical stress on the motherboard.

Since this was my first closed-loop water cooler, I took a little extra time to look over the quick start guide and even watched an installation video on the Corsair blog.  I had no problems installing the universal Intel mounting bracket it and was easy to adjust for the LGA775 socket of my motherboard.

Push-Pull config

Credit: Corsair

Next, I installed the radiator and two 120mm fans in place of my rear case fan.  Following Corsair’s recommendation, I installed the fans so that they drew air in (push-pull). Conveniently, the fans plugged directly into the cooling unit, instead of having to string the fan cables all over the motherboard.  After installing the radiator and fans, I lined up the cooling block and tightened the screws.

PERFORMANCE

Corsair H80 cooling unit

TEST SYSTEM
CPU: Intel E4500 (overclocked to 2.75GHz)
Motherboard: Abit IP35 Pro (LGA775)
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Enclosure: Corsair Carbide Series 400R

According to Corsair, the cooling unit of the Hydro H80 uses a split-flow manifold and a micro-channel copper cold plate that allows it to absorb heat more efficiently.  Plus, the double-thick radiator increases cooling capacity and the dual 120mm fans aid in achieving maximum cooling performance.

Before running my tests, I ran RealTemp to check out the CPU temperature and was amazed at the difference in idle temperatures between the stock Intel HSF and the H80.  With the H80, idle temps never went above 37°C in any of the H80’s cooling profiles.  The real test though, would be how it’d perform at 100% load.

To test the H80, I set AIDA64 (previously Everest Ultimate) to log the CPU core temps, which recorded the temperature about every 10 seconds or so.  I then ran IntelBurnTest v2.52, 10 times, to bring to CPU load up to 100%.  I extracted the last 5 minutes of log data and averaged the temperatures.  I repeated this procedure for all three cooling profiles (quiet, balanced, and performance) and recorded the ambient temperature at 28.5°C.

Corsair H80 average CPU temp

As you can tell from the graph, the H80 performed remarkably well.  With the stock Intel HSF, I actually had to stop the test early because it got dangerously hot.  The H80 on the other hand, barely broke a sweat.  It performed nearly 26% better in Quiet mode and 34% better in Performance mode, than the stock Intel HSF! To cycle between cooling profiles, all I had to do was push the button on top of the cooling unit and the indicator lights showed which profile was running.  The only drawback was that I had to open the case each time to change the cooling profile, but the Corsair Link Commander add-on should address this as soon as Corsair releases it.

The noise level of the H80’s 120mm fans range from 22dBA to 39dBA.  The H80 is very, very quiet in Quiet mode, but still performs nicely at 100% load––crushing the performance of the stock Intel HSF.  I found the balanced mode to be somewhat loud, but not significantly louder than systems that require a lot of cooling.  Performance mode was the loudest, but as expected, had the best performance.

SPECS

Warranty 5  years
Radiator Dimensions 120mm x 152mm x 38mm
Fan Dimensions 120mm x 120mm x 25mm
Fan Speed (+/- 10%): up to 1300 RPM (Low Noise), 2000 RPM (Balanced), and 2500 RPM (High Performance)
Fan Airflow 46 – 92 CFM
Fan dBA 22 – 39
Fan Static Pressure 1.6 – 7.7mm/H20

 

CONCLUSION

The Corsair Hydro Series H80 Liquid CPU Cooler is by far, the most effective CPU cooler I’ve ever used. The H80 solves the problem of high performance cooling solutions that are too bulky. Like many enthusiasts, I’ve had to return gigantic air coolers that were just way too big for my system. Factor in the H80’s great performance, good looks, zero maintenance, 5 year warranty and flexible cooling profiles, and what you’ve got is a cooling solution that can meet just about everyone’s needs. Plus, when Corsair releases the Corsair Link Commander, it’ll give you configuration and monitoring options that you only dreamed of. I highly recommend the H80.

Available from Amazon.com.

Review unit provided by Corsair.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , ,

Corsair Memory 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 SODIMM Memory (CMSO8GX3M2A1333C9)

August 14th, 2011 No comments

5 Stars- techdad

Corsair CMSO8GX3M2A1333C9

“Memory you can rely on.”  That pretty much sums it up, in my opinion.  Corsair makes some of the fastest and most reliable memory for laptops, netbooks and desktop systems.  The 8GB dual channel kit is one of the few PC3-10600 (1333MHz) rated kits you can get for your laptop and is my choice for laptop memory upgrades.

PROS

  • Rock solid stability
  • Great performance
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Great customer service

CONS

  • Difficult to remove from packaging

When deciding which laptop memory to buy, it really boils down to reliability and price.  The price for the Corsair kit is aggressive and you can often find good deals after rebates.  As far as reliability goes, Corsair is one of the best, if not the best, in memory reliability.

INSTALLATION & TESTING

After struggling a little bit to get the memory out of the packaging, I installed and tested two separate kits inside both a Lenovo ThinkPad T420 and T520. Both ThinkPads immediately identified the new Corsair memory.  So far, so good.

Lenovo memory info

I then re-ran the Windows Experience Index and got an improved score–going from 5.9 to 7.5 (upgraded from 4GB to 8GB).

Windows Experience Index score

 

The Lenovo ThinkPads I used for testing included some very comprehensive hardware tests, including those for memory.  I decided to use them to test the Corsair memory kit.  The first test included several kinds of memory tests and the Corsair memory passed them all without any problems.

Lenovo memory test

The second test was a memory stress test and again, the Corsair memory passed the test without any problems.

Lenovo memory stress test

As a final and conclusive test, I ran Memtest86+ on the kits for about 2 hours each and they again, passed without a problem.

SPECS

Density 8GB (2x4GB SODIMM)
Speed 1333MHz (PC3-10600)
Timing 9-9-9-24
Type DDR
Format SODIMM
Pins 204
Voltage 1.5V
Warranty Lifetime

CONCLUSION

Other than some slight issues with the packaging,  the 8GB (2X4GB) DDR3 SODIMM Memory from Corsair is the perfect memory upgrade for your laptop.  It performs well, is very reliable–passing every memory test I threw at it–and is inexpensive.  If you own a laptop, don’t even think about buying memory upgrades from the laptop manufacturer; get a Corsair kit instead.  You won’t be disappointed.

Available from Amazon.com.

Review samples provided by Corsair

Categories: Reviews Tags: , , ,

Corsair 8GB SODIMM Mac Memory Kit (CMSA8GX3M2A1066C7)

June 30th, 2011 17 comments

5 Stars- techdad

Corsair mac memory

     

Does your Mac only have 4GB of RAM? Upgrading the memory in your system is still one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost its performance. Buying it from a memory company instead of Apple will save you TONS of money. Though, unlike high performance desktop memory, there aren’t as many distinguishing factors when considering which SODIMM to buy. Pretty much all the major manufacturers have similar stated performance specs, so why would you choose Corsair’s Mac Memory Kit over the others?

PROS

  • Great price
  • Tested at Apple’s compatibility lab
  • Proven reliability
  • Excellent support
  • Lifetime warranty

CONS

  • Hard to remove from packaging

Corsair Mac Memory Packaging

INSTALL & MEMORY TEST

Installing the Corsair Mac Memory kit in a 15-inch MacBook Pro was quick and easy, though I struggled a little bit trying to remove the modules from the plastic packaging. The memory was immediately recognized by OS X and everything ran quickly and smoothly. Rember verified the memory size, type and speed.
Rember RAM details

The Corsair kit also passed memory tests with flying colors.

Rember test pass

RELIABILITY, VALUE & SUPPORT

The timing for the CMSA8GX3M2A1066C7 is 7-7-7-20, which is the same as the kits offered by the other manufacturers. So then why would you consider the Corsair memory kit over the others? The most obvious is price. The Corsair kit has a very competitive street price. Did you know that Apple charges $400 for an 8GB memory kit?!

What might be less obvious is that the Corsair kit has been tested at Apple’s compatibility lab. This ensures that the memory you buy has actually been tested to work with Apple’s products. Though I’m sure that kits by other manufacturers have been tested for compatibility, the fact that Corsair went through the trouble of testing their memory at Apple, provides extra peace of mind and tells me that Corsair is willing to go the extra mile for their customers.

Additionally, Corsair’s top notch support is always something to consider. Sure, like Corsair, many memory makers provide lifetime warranties, but how good is their support and how simple is the RMA process? If your Corsair memory goes bad, getting a replacement takes just a few short steps and their turnaround time is very reasonable. If you’re in a hurry, you can even request an advance replacement (provided that you give them a credit card #, just in case you don’t return the defective memory).

SPECS

Density 8GB (2x4GB SODIMM)
Speed 1066MHz (PC3-8500)
Timing 7-7-7-20
Type DDR
Format SODIMM
Pins 204
Voltage 1.5V
Warranty Lifetime

 

CONCLUSION

You can buy memory for your Mac from anybody, but why would you? You’d might as well get it from a company known for high-performance, reliable memory, who actually tested their memory at Apple’s lab. The 8GB Corsair Mac memory kit is a terrific value and I recommend it to anyone looking to maximize their Mac’s performance without sacrificing reliability or top notch support.

Available from Amazon.com.

* Review unit provided by Corsair.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , , ,

Corsair HS1 and HS1A Gaming Headsets

June 8th, 2011 No comments

5 Stars- techdad

Corsair HS1A Gaming Headset

To say that Corsair’s entry into the gaming headset market started out with a boom, would be an understatement. More widely known for their high-end PC components, Corsair began their invasion into the gaming audio market with the Gaming Audio Series HS1 USB Gaming Headset. Several months later, in a move that appears to have been made to appease high-end audio card users, Corsair released the HS1A Analog Headset. I’ll go over both Corsair gaming headsets in this review.

Read more…

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