SanDisk Ultra II SATA III SSD Review

Most of you know that the easiest way to get a performance boost from your old mechanical hard drive is to get rid of it and replace it with a shiny new SSD. SanDisk's Ultra II offers a lot of capacity for the money and comes with a 3 year warranty. Is that enough to compete in a market where prices are falling across every category?

Introduction

The SanDisk Ultra II was released in late 2014, and has the distinction of being the first TLC-based SSD available at retail that isn’t made by Samsung. TLC-based NAND promises greater capacities for less money by allowing each cell to store 3 bits per cell (rather than 2, as in traditional NAND), and have a somewhat checkered reputation due to the widely-publicized issues that caused certain Samsung TLC SSDs to degrade or lose data over time. Hopefully with those hard-learned lessons in mind, major manufacturers have pressed on with TLC-based products in 2015, including OCZ Trion 100 that we recently reviewed.

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Despite TLC’s real-world issues being better-understood by manufacturers now, Samsung’s 850 EVO is the only current TLC-based SSD that garners any real consideration from enthusiasts. The other TLC releases have been entry-level or midrange drives, an increasingly difficult segment to make appealing when there’s often only $20-30 between high- and low-end offerings at a given capacity point.

SanDisk’s Ultra II isn’t the base model of their range (that would be the SSD PLUS, which tops out at 240GB), but sits in the midrange and is slotted beneath their excellent Extreme Pro. The Ultra II is available at capacities ranging from 120GB-960GB, and in 2.5" SATA and mSATA form factors.

Today we’re testing the Sandisk Ultra II 960GB variant in 2.5" SATA. Specs and street prices for this and the other capacities at press time are as follows:

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The Ultra II promises strong performance for the money, even at smaller capacities. Judging by the numbers, it seems like a fair value for the money, especially at the 960GB level. Could this be the budget SSD that finally replaces the mechanical disks that we still use for non-critical applications?