The SSD Relapse: Understanding and Choosing the Best SSDby Anand Lal Shimpi on August 30, 2009 12:00 AM EST
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Overall System Performance using PCMark Vantage
Next up is PCMark Vantage, another system-wide performance suite. For those of you who aren’t familiar with PCMark Vantage, it ends up being the most real-world-like hard drive test I can come up with. It runs things like application launches, file searches, web browsing, contacts searching, video playback, photo editing and other completely mundane but real-world tasks. I’ve described the benchmark in great detail before but if you’d like to read up on what it does in particular, take a look at Futuremark’s whitepaper on the benchmark; it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to be a member of a comprehensive storage benchmark suite. Any performance impacts here would most likely be reflected in the real world.
The overall PCMark Vantage score takes into account CPU and GPU performance and thus storage performance is only one aspect of determining your score. All of the SSDs do well here, the slowest configuration still around 36% faster than the WD VelociRaptor; something I'd say is more than reflected in real world performance.
The memories suite includes a test involving importing pictures into Windows Photo Gallery and editing them, a fairly benign task that easily falls into the category of being very influenced by disk performance.
Once again the SSDs all perform very similarly here. The fastest of the group is Intel's X25-E, but the Indilinx drives actually hold the next three spots followed by the new G2. The performance range is very small between these drives though, you honestly can't go wrong with either an Indilinx MLC or X25-M.
The TV and Movies tests focus on on video transcoding which is mostly CPU bound, but one of the tests involves Windows Media Center which tends to be disk bound.
The standings continue to be roughly the same. We see just how much more competitive Indilinx is this time around than when the OCZ Vertex first hit the streets. We do have a real alternative to Intel.
The gaming tests are very well suited to SSDs since they spend a good portion of their time focusing on reading textures and loading level data. All of the SSDs dominate here, but as you'll see later on in my gaming tests the benefits of an SSD really vary depending on the game. Take these results as a best case scenario of what can happen, not the norm.
The Vantage Gaming Suite shows us our first example of the X25-M G2 pulling ahead of even the SLC X25-E. Even the Samsung based OCZ Summit does very well here.
In the Music suite the main test is a multitasking scenario: the test simulates surfing the web in IE7, transcoding an audio file and adding music to Windows Media Player (the most disk intensive portion of the test).
The Intel drives are at the top, the G1 faster than the G2, followed by the Indilinx drives, then the Samsung drive and the mechanical drives. New performance is important here because once TRIM shows up, this is closer to what you'll be seeing for a drive with a good amount of free space.
The Communications suite is made up of two tests, both involving light multitasking. The first test simulates data encryption/decryption while running message rules in Windows Mail. The second test simulates web surfing (including opening/closing tabs) in IE7, data decryption and running Windows Defender.
I love PCMark's Productivity test; in this test there are four tasks going on at once, searching through Windows contacts, searching through Windows Mail, browsing multiple webpages in IE7 and loading applications. This is as real world of a scenario as you get and it happens to be representative of one of the most frustrating HDD usage models - trying to do multiple things at once. There's nothing more annoying than trying to launch a simple application while you're doing other things in the background and have the load take seemingly forever.
Here the Intel drives are at the top, by a noticeable margin. The G1, G2 and X25-E are all around the same level of performance. Samsung comes close with the OCZ Summit and the Indilinx drives pull up the rear. You can't go wrong with either the Intel or Indilinx drives but Intel is clearly faster here.
The final PCMark Vantage suite is HDD specific and this is where you'll see the biggest differences between the drives:
When it comes to pure drive performance, the breakdown doesn't get any simpler. Intel's X25-E holds the top spot, followed by the G2 and G1. While the G2 is only 5.6% faster than the G1, remember that we're looking at "new" performance here. Over time, with TRIM, the G2 will be closer to this performance, while the G1 will never get here again.
Despite poor random small file write performance, the OCZ Summit actually does very well here.
All of the drives perform incredibly compared to any mechanical hard drives.