60/64 GB SSD Shootout: Crucial, Samsung, And SandForce

Real-World Tests

After receiving a number of requests for more real-world testing, we're moving in that direction. Our trace-based benchmarking gives you a holistic performance picture. And the more specific random/sequential read/write measurements drill down into more targeted workload profiles.

However, we understand that those results are still sometimes too abstract for folks not intimately familiar with storage jargon. We’re still experimenting with more relatable real-world benchmarks, so bear with us as we tweak our testing.

Most of our real-world tests have a majority of their operations queued one deep and involve a mixture of compressible and incompressible data. That’s why the slowest SSD isn’t always going to be faster than a decent hard drive.

This is particularly apparent in our first file copy test, where Seagate’s 640 GB Momentus is just as fast as the 60 GB SandForce-based SSD with asynchronous flash.

During a large copy operation consisting of incompressible data written sequentially, both SandForce-based drives stumble.

Scanning for viruses can involve a lot of random read activity. However, it generally involves a lot of processing, too. That overhead somewhat obscures the large benefit of an SSD until you fire up another option in addition, though. For example, with a hard drive, loading a game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 takes ~8 minutes while a background virus scan runs. With an SSD in the same machine, the level loads in under 30 seconds.

A Steam backup involves incompressible and compressible sequential writes, along with a sizable number of random write operations.

The random operations are only 4 KB in size, while sequential operations are 128 KB. So, even if you have an exactly equal split between random and sequential writes, the sheer volume of sequential data is much greater. That explains why this chart looks similar to our H.264 file copy test.

Boot times are probably the best example of where an SSD excels, since there’s a lot going on. Random reads are involved, as are sequential reads. You'll even observe writes attributable to logging. Plus, queue depth can easily exceed four, as the operating system accesses multiple files in quick succession or at the same time.

Don't read into the differences between SSDs too much here. Unlike our other tests, we had to hand-time this one, so there’s up to a one-second margin of error.

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43 comments
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  • GhosT94
    what about ocz vertex 3 ?
    -1
  • acku
    GhosT94what about ocz vertex 3 ?

    Read page 2.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    6
  • Anonymous
    Wow. Absolutely wonderful article. I did second guess my decision on SSD for my next build for a few. But honestly I'm just using it as a boot drive.
    2
  • acku
    kixofmyg0tWow. Absolutely wonderful article. I did second guess my decision on SSD for my next build for a few. But honestly I'm just using it as a boot drive.


    Glad to hear that!

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    1
  • xtreme5
    gr888888!
    0
  • rossi004
    Ok, so I have the whole SSD for boot, HDD for storage and less intensive programs, but I have a practicality question:

    Is there a way to have files and programs automatically downloaded, installed, and run from the HDD without doing it manually every time if I have the SSD as the base drive?
    0
  • james_1978
    rossi004Ok, so I have the whole SSD for boot, HDD for storage and less intensive programs, but I have a practicality question:Is there a way to have files and programs automatically downloaded, installed, and run from the HDD without doing it manually every time if I have the SSD as the base drive?


    You can move your personal folders to your HDD (my documents, my music, downloads, ...), so downloads will end up there automaticaly, but programs will go to your C drive (SSD) by default.
    1
  • james_1978
    james_1978You can move your personal folders to your HDD (my documents, my music, downloads, ...), so downloads will end up there automaticaly, but programs will go to your C drive (SSD) by default.

    Ok, sorry, but actually you can move your program files by editing the registry:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/6643-63-windows-boot-drive-user-files-program-files-normal
    Moving only user files is far easier nevertheless, just using "move" in the folder properties...
    0
  • james_1978
    james_1978Ok, sorry, but actually you can move your program files by editing the registry:Moving only user files is far easier nevertheless, just using "move" in the folder properties...

    "Add an url" didn't quite work for me :-)
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/6643-63-windows-boot-drive-user-files-program-files-normal
    0
  • Soul_keeper
    nice article

    Worth mentioning, plextor PX-M3S are micron based and use toggle nand
    I don't think they make a 64GB version however
    0
  • exban224
    Are the tests on the m4 with the new firmware, if not then is you update the firmware the m4 is overall better. 120gb sandforce speeds anyone in a 64gb package.
    0
  • ojas
    Hey great in-depth article Andrew, really liked it!

    BTW: Intel lists different IOPS for its drives. They say, for example, that:
    Random Write (8GB Span)=21000 IOPS
    Random Write (100% Span)=600 IOPS

    Reads seem to be unaffected. What's this about?


    p.s. The graphs in any article (in general) aren't readable using the iOS app :( have to open it in safari then use the reader...and some comments aren't displayed entirely...i'm using an ipod touch, maybe it works fine on a tablet? :O Just thought i'd let someone know, didn't who develops the app...
    0
  • Dacatak
    What kind of flash does Super Talent use in their 64GB SATA III drives? They are hardly any slower than the higher capacity drives, which shows lower capacity doesn't always have to mean lower speed.
    0
  • burnley14
    Confirms my good decision to buy the 64GB m4! :)
    0
  • john4real4ipok
    my Nokia 2688 is hot and faitning
    1
  • a4mula
    http://www.hardocp.com/article/2011/08/07/nand_flash_faces_off_synchronous_vs_asynchronous/1

    Something that isn't even mentioned in the article is how full these drives were when benched. A fresh installed SSD with most of its capacity available will perform wonderfully. In real world scenarios where the drive is at 50% capacity however, the asynchronous drives performance falls off the map while the synchronous drives continue to perform well.

    Another issue that really could have been tackled here is RAID0 and performance per dollar of the 60/64GB drives vs their 128/256GB counterparts. I know there is a RAID0 scaling article already out there it would have been nice to see that incorporated here.

    Looking strictly at these benches it would seem as though a 256 m4 is the automatic choice. Maybe straight out of the box, not taking RAID0 into consideration that's the case. Once the drives start filling and considering the near 100% scaling of RAID I think you'd come to a different conclusion.
    2
  • peevee
    So, it is pretty clear that at the current flash density 64GB is both too slow (even slower than an old-tech HDD in some cases!) and too inconvenient (fits almost nothing you want to be faster).
    If you cannot afford at least 120GB, just wait and save money, with money saving and prices falling soon you will be able to buy it and enjoy your speed with almost everything except videos and backups/archives (for which HDDs are absolutely adequate).
    Or 240GB better yet.
    2
  • BlackHawk91
    *&^*&, should have bought it back on Black Friday when it was $100 bundled with Batman: Arkham City, but didn't had the money at the time.
    0
  • Reynod
    Thanks Andrew.

    I'm getting a Samsung ... this looks to good to miss as a new boot drive, and I'll keep my Momentus XT for storage.

    I'm thinking of 2 of the Seagates in RAID0.

    Does that seem good value for the money ?

    cheers.

    :)
    1
  • jjb8675309
    I have had a single crucial m4 64 GB running for a little over a year now as a rock solid and fast OS/APP drive
    0