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Round-Up: 10 mSATA SSDs From Adata, Crucial, Mushkin, And OCZ

OCZ sells a great many 2.5" SSDs, but it only has one mSATA offering called the Nocti. You'll want to keep in mind that it's an older design, which is why it's specifications are mismatched against the Adata, Crucial, and Mushkin contenders in our round-up. Nevertheless, you can still buy Nocti drives online. In some cases they're even more expensive than the competition. So, it's important that we include the Nocti in our benchmark results.

Notice that OCZ is using a second-generation SandForce controller on its sole mSATA-based SSD. On paper, that'd give it the chops needed to hold its own in testing.

However, we can also see that the company is leaning on TSOP packaging. Unlike the BGA modules used by Adata, Crucial, and Mushkin, these TSOP packages communicate over a single channel each. An mSATA drive with four packages is only utilizing half of what the SandForce controller has available. And that's why OCZ only rates the drive for sequential reads of up to 280 MB/s and writes as high as 260 MB/s. 

Now you see just how dire the Nocti's disadvantage is. That it's still selling for as much as some of the competing drives out there really doesn't make sense.

In lightweight storage workloads, where the Nocti is faced with a queue depth of one, it's actually just as fast as the higher-end SSDs we're testing. It's even competitive at a queue depth of two. But when you start stacking I/O operations, it quickly falls behind. Fortunately for OCZ, most mobile and mainstream desktop applications are not storage intensive. Even still, at the same price (or less), we'd rather spring for the SSD able to utilize all eight of the SandForce controller's channels.

Writes (particularly writing incompressible data) are dismal compared to the Adata and Mushkin drives. Whereas the 120 GB Nocti tops out around 80 MB/s, those two competitors exceed 150 MB/s.

Sequential reads and writes are also pretty bad in comparison to the XPG SX300s and Enhanced Atlases.

At least, that's in theory. Iometer workloads are fairly synthetic, mostly useful for validating manufacturer specifications. Moving on to more real-world testing should help us determine whether OCZ's spec sheet-based disadvantage is something you'd need to worry about in day-to-day use.

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