Is A SATA 3Gb/s Platform Still Worth Upgrading With An SSD?

Hardware And Test Setup

We're using Samsung's 840 Pro MZ-7PD256 for today's testing, based on the company's own SATA 6Gb/s-capable S4LN021X01-8030 NZWD1 (internally known as MDX) controller, sporting a triple-core Cortex-R4 processor. The ASIC is complemented by 512 MB of DDR2 data cache. There are also non-Pro models out there with triple-level cell memory that's neither as fast nor as robust as the 21 nm MLC NAND found in the higher-end drive family. Samsung covers its 840 Pro with a five-year warranty.

Samsung specs the 840 Pro for up to 540 MB/s sequential reads and 520 MB/s sequential writes. It's supposed to achieve 100,000 random 4 KB read IOPS. And, right now, the 256 GB model we're using sells for about $230 on Amazon. You can also find 128 and 512 GB models of this drive, which run about $140 and $460, respectively.

Samsung SSD 840 Pro Technical Specifications

ManufacturerSamsung
Model840 Pro
Model Number
MZ-7PD256
Form Factor2.5" (7 mm)
Capacity256 GB
ControllerMDX
Flash Type21 nm MLC Toggle-mode NAND
Over-Provisioning7%
Cache512 MB
InterfaceSATA 6Gb/s
In The Box
Samsung Magician Software
WarrantyFive-Year


Benchmark System and Software

We used our Windows 7-based benchmark system with Gigabyte's Z68X-UD3H-B3 motherboard, an Intel Core i5-2500K CPU, and 4 GB of Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D RAM. The SSD was connected to the first 6 Gb/s port, and we were able to throttle the port to 3 Gb/s in Gigabyte's firmware.

As a basis for comparison, we also added Western Digital's VelociRaptor WD1000DHTZ hard drive. The 1 TB VelociRaptor is a 2.5” drive in a 3.5” format. It’s the fastest disk we’ve ever benchmarked due to its 10,000 RPM spindle and 2.5” platters. Its I/O performance is higher than that of any competing hard drive.

Benchmark System Hardware
HardwareDetails
Processor
Intel Core i5-2500K (32 nm, Sandy Bridge, D2), 4C/4T, 3.3 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache, w/ HD Graphics 3000, 95 W TDP, 3.7 GHz max. Turbo Boost
MotherboardGigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3, Revision: 0.2
Chipset: Intel Z68 Express, BIOS: F3
Memory2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333, Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D
SSD System Drive
Intel X25-M G1, 80 GB, Firmware 0701, SATA 3 Gb/s
ControllerIntel PCH Z68 SATA 6Gb/s
Power Supply
Seasonic X-760 760 W, SS-760KM Active PFC F3
Benchmarks
General Performance
h2benchw 3.16
PCMark 7 1.0.4
I/O PerformanceIOMeter 2006.07.27
Fileserver-Benchmark
Webserver-Benchmark
Database-Benchmark
Workstation-Benchmark
Streaming Reads
Streaming Writes
4K Random Reads
4K Random Writes
Benchmark System Software and Drivers
Software / DriverDetails
Operating System
Windows 7 x64 Ultimate SP1
Intel Inf9.2.0.1030
Intel Rapid Storage 10
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80 comments
    Your comment
  • Far Out! I didnt realise there was such a big difference between my Raptor, and a Samsung's 840,

    Thanks toms, Samsung will get a few hundred out of me next pay day. :P
    9
  • I have been using an M4(on SATA 3gigabit/sec) on my older media center as a boot drive and for some games. The difference from the hard drive it replaced was massive. The old hard drive is still great for storing media and files.
    8
  • This... was a kind of stupid test. Of COURSE an SSD is a good thing even on a SATA II connection.

    Does Tom's not remember the early days of SSDs, when everyone wanted one and noone could afford one? There was no such thing as SATA III back then, and if SSDs didn't give a benefit, nobody would have payed attention with how expensive they were.
    -14
  • Quote:
    Even With SATA 3Gb/s, An SSD Makes Sense

    I could've told you that. I put a OCZ Vertex 2 in my HP dv6t-2100 laptop a while ago and the difference was like night and day. SATA II is definitely SSD worthy!
    4
  • This article measured what was intuitively obvious. My primary system's boot drive is a 3Gb/s mSATA Crucial M4; I've felt no need to upgrade. Just today I put a 128GB 6 Gb/s SSD on an old 790GX board, and the difference is amazing.
    3
  • IMO It well worth it, if u had the budget... (even it in sata2 mode)

    still the price is the issue...
    hope the price will continue to decline, so it became affordable for (most of) everyone....
    -1
  • Yes it is
    -4
  • Combat WombatFar Out! I didnt realise there was such a big difference between my Raptor, and a Samsung's 840,Thanks toms, Samsung will get a few hundred out of me next pay day.


    Any SSD on 3Gb/s kill Raptors outright. Even my older X25-M does due to the sheer IOPS compared to a Raptor or any mechanical HDD.

    I do need to upgrade but not for the speed, mostly for size. 80GB is not enough even for OS and a few apps. I have messed with everything from a SATA II SSD to a PCIe SSD (Revo 3) and as long as you are on SATA II or better its going to be more than fast enough.

    But that said, I might just wait for Broadwell and SATA Express.
    1
  • 1. This test feels kind of incomplete. What i felt was the right comparison was to add a native SATA2 SSD on a SATA2 port, and then compare it to a SATA3 drive on a SATA2 port.

    2. The startup and shutdown times will increase once you start adding softwares to the system. Specially, an Antivirus (kaspersky internet security) makes me weep on startup on a mechanical disc.

    3. Kind of stupid question : Will overclocking the CPU improve the startup/shutdown times, now that the storage bottleneck is largely removed ?

    4. Can we have the time taken by each system to install all the Windows updates, just after the fresh install ?
    -11
  • DarkSableThis... was a kind of stupid test. Of COURSE an SSD is a good thing even on a SATA II connection.Does Tom's not remember the early days of SSDs, when everyone wanted one and noone could afford one? There was no such thing as SATA III back then, and if SSDs didn't give a benefit, nobody would have payed attention with how expensive they were.


    This article does give very important guideline, where people evaluate different upgrade options. Conclusion is, you don't need to replace a SATA2 computer with SATA3 computer for the mere of SSD speed benefit.
    2
  • I understand the desire to pick the best of the best SSD in this test but wouldn't it be more practical to pick the Samsung 840 which is typically 25-30% cheaper than the 840 Pro in this test? If someone is adding a SSD to a dated system, there really isn't any sense in picking the top performing SSD which is bound to be bottlenecked by the 3Gb/s interface.
    9
  • Fantastic job once again by the staff at tomshardware. Theoretical vs Real-World. This is the kind of analysis we need!
    9
  • What kinda queue depths do you get with few virtual machines?

    There could be a test for few linux images + 2 windows images or something..
    This is getting common place, even on laptops. (you can run your company image as VM for example)

    I bet updating few linux VM's will make very high queues :)
    -4
  • Both the SSD's in my HTPC and my desktop are connected at 3Gb/s, because that's what the motherboards supports.

    The conclusion was pretty obvious. In fact I'd say that buying the slowest SSD and connecting it at 1.5Gb/s would still make a significant difference to a PC.
    0
  • I have an Intel X25-M on an old ASUS P5W64 motherboard with SATA 3Gb/s. When I installed it it made one hell of a difference!

    I'm thinking of putting an mSATA Crucial M4 64GiB SSD on an mSATA to IDE adapter to replace the old 80 GiB 2.5 inch HDD in my old laptop. Even though it would only be working at 100MB/s, the seek times would be worth it alone, but the 2.5 inch drive's 22MB/s transfer speed would be outdone by a factor of 4. Still worth it considering the M4 64GiB models are around 50 GBP, + adapter for around 15 GBP.
    1
  • This article was made for me. I'm still using a Asus A8N32SLI Deluxe, and my RAID 0 2 x Seagate Barracuda 9 are showing their age. Upgrading right now!
    1
  • ET3DBoth the SSD's in my HTPC and my desktop are connected at 3Gb/s, because that's what the motherboards supports.The conclusion was pretty obvious.


    Only to you as you already have an SSD and have real world experience. What about people with a SATA2 motherboard who are thinking about upgrading to their first SSD? This article has helped save them money as they now know that they do not need to upgrade their motherboard.
    2
  • Thank You Tom's for making another great article. I was gonna upgrade my board and Ram so that if I get an SSD it wouldn't be bottlenecked. Now after reading this, I don't have to. Thank You again for the info and taking your time on making an informative article like this. To all the ppl that are bashing that its obvious that 3Gb/s is enough for a SSD like the 840 Pro are not thinking. I am one of the many other ppl that didn't know that because we don't have an SSD and we think upgrading our boards is a first before getting one.
    0
  • Congratulations for the excellent article!!! :) It just made my day!!!:)

    I have a SSD (Samsung 830) connected to a SATA 3Gb/s port, even tough my motherboard (P6X58D-E) has 2 x SATA 6Gb/s ports.

    The reason I connected the SSD through the 3Gb/s port, instead of the one 6Gb/s port available is its controllers. The 3Gb/s ports have Intel ICH10R controller, while the 6Gb/s ports have Marvell® PCIe 9128 controller.

    I was told the the Intel ICH10R controller on the 3Gb/s port would be faster than the 6Gb/s ports with Marvell® PCIe 9128 controller.

    I have never tested my SSD on the 6Gb/s port, and I guess I will never will -- or I should?
    2
  • Perfmon lists disk queue depths of around 0.5 frequently for my SSDs, and higher for my HDD.

    Apparently, the number of commands actually queued are that reported number x 100, i.e. i'm seeing around 500 commands queued.

    What's up with this? Is this the same queue depth that you guys are talking about? Or do you mean a queue depth of 32 as 3200?
    0