Testing a drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs & HDDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for drives to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our testbed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what you the end user’s experience will be like.
Even when the hardware issues are taken care of the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup; however, just like with the hardware solution most people are not going to do this. For this reason our standard OS setup is used. However, except for the Vista load test times we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive. With the main drive being a Phoneix Pro 120GB Solid State Drive.
For synthetic tests we used a combination of ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HD Tune, Crystal Disk Benchmark, IOMeter, AS-SSD and PCMark Vanatage.
For real world benchmarks we timed how long a single 10GB rar file took to copy to and then from the devices. We also used 10gb of small files (from 100kb to 200MB) with a total 12,000 files in 400 subfolders.
For all testing a Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition (or Vista for boot time test). All drives were tested using AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers.
All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.
In between each test suite runs (with the exception being IOMeter which was done after every run) the drives are cleaned with either HDDerase, SaniErase, OCZ SSDToolbox or Intel Toolbox and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.
While optimum condition performance is important, knowing exactly how a given device will perform after days, weeks and even months of usage is actually more important for most consumers. For home user and workstation consumers our Non-Trim performance test is more than good enough. Sadly it is not up to par for Enterprise Solid State Storage devices and these most demanding of consumers.
Enterprise administrators are more concerned with the realistic long term performance of any device rather than the brand new performance as down time for TCL is simply not an option. Even though an Enterprise device will have many techniques for obfuscating and alleviating a degraded state (eg Idle Time Garbage Collection, multiple controllers, etc) there does come a point where these techniques fail to counteract the negative results of long term usage in an obviously non-TRIM environment. The point at which the performance falls and then plateaus at a lower performance level is known as the “steady state” performance or as “degraded state” in the consumer arena.
To help all consumer gain a better understanding of how much performance degradation there is between “optimal” and “steady state” we have included not only optimal results but have rerun tests after first degrading a drive until it plateaus and reaches its steady state performance level. These tests are labelled as “Steady State” results and can be considered as such.
While the standard for steady state testing is actually 8 hours we feel this is not quiet pessimistic enough and have extended the pre-test run to a full ten hours before testing actually commences. The pre-test or “torture test” consists of our standard “NonTrim performance test” and as such to quickly induce a steady state we ran ten hours of IOMeter set to 100% random, 100% write, 4k size chunks of data at a 64 queue depth across the entire array’s capacity. At the end of this test, the IOMeter file is deleted and the device was then tested using a given test sections’ unique configuration.
Processor: Core i5 2500
Motherboard: Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Memory: 8GB Corsair Vengeance LP “blue”
Graphics card: Asus 5550 passive
Primary Hard Drive: Intel 520 240GB
Power Supply: XFX 850
Below is a description of each SSD configuration we tested for this review:
Intel 910 800GB (Single Drive) HP mode: A single LUN of the Intel 910 800GB in its High Performance Mode
Intel 910 800GB (Raid 0 x2) std mode: Two of the Intel 910 800GB SSD LUN's in Standard Mode Configured in RAID 0
Intel 910 800GB (Raid 0 x2) HP mode: Two of the Intel 910 800GB SSD LUN's in High Performance Mode Configured in RAID 0
Intel 910 800GB (Raid 0 x4) std mode: All four of the Intel 910 800GB SSD LUN's in Standard Mode Configured in RAID 0
Intel 910 800GB (Raid 0 x4) HP mode: All four of the Intel 910 800GB SSD LUN's in High Performance Mode Configured in RAID 0
Intel DC S3700 200GB: A single DC S3700 200GB drive
Intel DC S3700 800GB: A single DC S3700 800GB drive
Intel DC S3700 200GB (RAID 0): Two DC S3700 200GB drives Configured in RAID 0
Intel DC S3700 800GB (RAID 0): Two DC S3700 800GB drives Configured in RAID 0
Intel 710 200GB (RAID 0): Two 710 200GB drives Configured in RAID 0