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Results: PCMark 7 And PCMark Vantage

SanDisk X210 256 And 512 GB: Enthusiast Speed; OEM Reliability
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Futuremark's PCMark 7: Secondary Storage Suite

PCMark 7 uses the same trace-based technology as our Storage Bench v1.0 for its storage suite testing. It employs a geometric mean scoring system to generate a composite, so we end up with PCMarks instead of a megabytes per second. One-thousand points separate the top and bottom, but that encompasses a far larger difference than the score alone indicates.

This test is a big improvement over the older PCMark Vantage, at least for SSD benchmarking. The storage suite is comprised of several small traces. At the end, the geometric mean of those scores is scaled with a number representing the test system's speed. The scores generated are much different from PCMark Vantage, and many manufacturers dislike it for that reason. It's hard to figure out how PCMark 7 "works" because the benchmark uses a sliding scale to generate scores. Still, it represents one of the best canned tests for storage. And, if nothing else, PCMark 7 helps reinforce the idea that the differences in modern SSDs don't necessarily translate to better experiences in average client workloads.

Instead of showing the post-processed PCMark 7 scores, this chart reflects percentages relative to the fastest drive tested (in this case, Samsung's 840 Pro 256 GB). Our interpretation isn't earth-shattering, but it likely is more meaningful than raw benchmark results. In short, SanDisk's business-oriented X210s and enthusiast-friendly Extreme IIs hit the center mass of the mid-range performance segment like a shotgun blast.

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage: Hard Drive Suite

PCMark's Vantage isn't the paragon of SSD testing, mainly because it's old and wasn't designed for the massive performance solid-state technology enables. Intended to exploit the new features in Windows Vista, Vantage was certainly at the forefront of consumer storage benching at the time. Vantage works by taking the geometric mean of composite storage scores and then scaling them a lot like PCMark 7. But in Vantage's case, this scaling is achieved by arbitrarily multiplying the geometric sub-score mean by 214.65. That scaling factor is supposed to represent an average test system of the day (a system that's now close to a decade behind the times). PCMark 7 improves on this by creating a unique system-dependent scaling factor and newer trace technology.

Why bother including this metric, then? A lot of folks prefer Vantage in spite of or because of the cartoonish scores and widespread adoption. That, and the fact that most every manufacturer uses the aged benchmark in box specs and reviewer-specific guidelines. In fairness, Vantage's Hard Drive suite wasn't designed with SSDs in mind, and is actually quite good as pointing out which 5400 RPM mechanical disk might be preferable.

The two SanDisk drives end up pretty far apart from each other on the chart, but not necessarily in absolute performance.

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