Final Words

Like most budget products, the conclusion depends on pricing. The Force LS is a low-end drive by today's standards but with the right price, it can be a competitive offering. Since Corsair does not offer the Force LS in the states, I can't rely on my regular NewEgg price comparison, so I decided to use, a large British component etailer. The prices in the table don't include UK's 20% VAT as I tried to make the prices as comparable to the US market as possible (£1 = $1.6019). Price Comparison (9/21/2013)
  60/64GB 120/128GB 240/256GB
Corsair Force LS £45.60 ($73) £73.12 ($117) £128.24 ($205)
Corsair Neutron N/A £79.12 ($127) £131.25 ($210)
Corsair Force GS N/A £75.12 ($120) £139.24 ($223)
Crucial M500 N/A £71.56 ($115) £119.24 ($191)
Intel SSD 520 N/A £88.12 ($141) £134.24 ($215)
OCZ Vertex 450 N/A £70.12 ($112) £155.25 ($249)
Samsung SSD 840 EVO N/A £72.12 ($116) £119.25 ($191)

The problem with most budget SSDs is that they aren't cheap enough, and that's Corsair's Force LS problem as well. For about the same or less, you can get a Samsung SSD 840 EVO or Crucial M500both of which are great SSDs. Even out of Corsair's own lineup, the Force GS is priced similarly at 120GB and the Neutron is only slightly more expensive at 240GB. I can't see where Force LS falls in Corsair's lineup—the Neutron (GTX) is without a doubt Corsair's high-end offering and at least the idea behind the Force LS is for it to be a low cost model but unfortunately its pricing does not reflect that. Of course, prices fluctuate and it's possible that retailers are pricing the Force LS a bit higher as it's new (prices tend to drop when the product gets older).

All in all, I have hard time recommending anything for budget SSD use other than the Samsung SSD 840 EVO at the moment. Usage of TLC NAND gives Samsung a price advantage and with the upgrades Samsung made in the EVO compared to the regular 840, the performance is on-par with most MLC based SSDs. With the right price, I can see myself recommending the Force LS to an average user but it must be noticeably cheaper than the 840 EVO and others to be worth the saving. A couple dollars (or Euros) simply isn't enough to warrant the "budget" label, and considering you can find sales on some of the better drives on occasion that are well below the above prices, patient users are advised to wait for a good sale rather than settle for a slightly cheaper but slower SSD.

Ironically (given our introduction), if you're looking for an inexpensive SSD these days, your best bet is likely going to be one of the many SandForce SF-2281 drives. The 240GB SF-2281 drives are routinely available for around $170/£105, sometimes less. Performance may not be better than the other SSDs, but the competition among SandForce licensees has pushed prices down about as low as they'll go. That at least makes them worthy of the "budget" label, whereas the Force LS in practice only ends up costing slightly less than the Neutron.

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  • Runamok81 - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    Looks like we have a shrinking middle-class withh SSDs as well. Does this mean manufactuers should focus on one extreme of the performance/value slider or else risk consumers purchasing leftover stock from last years tech?
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    The problem with budget and middle class SSDs is that the bulk of the cost goes into the flash - which you have to buy anyway. The controller does cost a bit, but you can't save much by making an SSD slower. That's why it's not really worth it for customers to spend a little less for a significantly slower SSD. Exception: Samsung 840/840 Evo. they've still got the excellent controller and at least decent performance, yet they mostly cost significantly less than others.
  • ericbentley - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Samsung 840/840 Evo can afford to use a good controller yet still be budget oriented because they use TLC flash, while the Corsair LS here still uses MLC. While MLC is better in terms of longevity, most people still want the benefits of speed from the controller and MLC vs TLC is a back-burner issue for them

    I'm wondering if Corsair had tried TLC before and had some reason for not using it for a drive like this, seems like a no brainer to me, unless they couldn't secure a large enough supply
  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    I think we are starting to get to a similar point as where DRAM is now. For an average user, the difference between a low-end and high-end SSDs is becoming negligible because even the low-end SSDs are pretty good now (e.g. the Force LS). That means the middle-class no longer serves a purpose because the average users will mostly go with the cheaper options and enthusiasts only want the fastest.
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    The big thing still out there, that hasn't been answered is lots of flash for cheap. When buying an SSD many customers look for the fastest, since the cost is marginal between what's available. However, the one area of the market that is still "expensive" is in the mass-flash +1TB (or even +512GB). Even with a slower controller/NAND, I think Corsair could slide into this space. Look at Apple and what they're shipping their new Mac with - what's it called? Fusion? - essentially a hybrid drive, rebranded. I'm sure a company that focuses on the best balance of quality vs cost, wouldn't do that if SSD costs were lower. --- There's still the niche market for high capacity flash, the ultimate HDD terminator.
  • Spoony - Sunday, September 29, 2013 - link

    Apple is shipping a 128GB SSD alongside a normal platter drive in 1TB or 2TB configurations. Fusion Drive is just the name for a logical volume manager with block migration. They are not re-branding a hybrid drive like a Momentus XT. It is a custom solution which merges two discrete devices in software. For better or worse.

    I definitely agree with you. 1-2TB SSDs at $0.40/MB rather than the current $0.95/MB would be very compelling. I would buy if it was reliable, even if it wasn't blazing fast.
  • Spoony - Sunday, September 29, 2013 - link

    1TB or 3TB configs. Not 2TB. Sorry.

    Also, edit functionality would be convenient.
  • Cumulus7 - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    Since you recommend the Samsung EVO over the Crucial M500: aren't yout concerned that the EVO may not last as long as the M500?
    I prefer the M500 at the moment since i expect its NAND to last a lot longer. But i may be wrong...
  • fokka - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    of course mlc should theoretically last longer, but that doesn't mean tlc doesn't last more than long enough, as you can read here:
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    I'd choose and recommend the Evo as well, for all typical users. People write much less on average than they fear they might. It's only a different story for power users, servers etc.

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