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Intel SSD 310 80 GB: Little Notebooks Get Big Storage Flexibility

Benchmark Results: Mobile Performance

There are four possible storage configurations that you should keep in mind with an mSATA drive.

  1. SSD + HDD: OS on SSD, programs installed on HDD
  2. HDD + SSD: OS on HDD, programs installed on SSD
  3. SSD: OS and applications installed to SSD
  4. HDD: OS and applications installed on HDD

I would point out that, while it is possible to go with a dual SSD configuration, it would be considered highly unusual and unlikely. In fact, it's not even an available configuration option if you try and buy a system preconfigured with a mSATA drive, according to our system vendor sources.

TypeModelMarket PriceCost per GB
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 250 GBHDDWD2500BPVT44.99$0.18
Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500 GBHDDST9500325AS54.99$0.11
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500 GBHDDWD5000BPVT59.99$0.12
Kingston SSDNow S100 8 GBSSDSS100S2/8G44.99$5.62
Kingston SSDNow S100 16 GBSSDSS100S2/16G54.99$3.44

The typical mechanical 2.5" hard drive shipping with most notebooks is something on the order of 250 GB, 320 GB, or 500 GB. The market price for a 500 GB hard drive barely hits $60 and that includes shipping. Just try staying within a $60 budget for a 2.5" SSD. The best you can manage is Kingston's 16 GB SSDNow SS100 S100S2. Previously, you had to choose performance or storage space.

But what does dropping an mSATA drive into a notebook actually mean for performance? Intel sent us a demonstration-only IdeaPad Y560, so we get crunch some numbers.

Mobile Test Hardware
NotebookLenovo IdeaPad Y560
ChipsetIntel HM55
ProcessorIntel Core i5-460M (Arrandale) 2.53 GHz, 3 MB Shared L3, Power-savings enabled
MemorySamsung 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333
HDDWestern Digital WD5000BEVT, 500 GB, SATA 3Gb/s (System Drive)
mSATA DriveIntel SSD 310 80 GB
GraphicsAMD Mobility Radeon HD 5730
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverAMD Driver 8.702-5

Along with the notebook, Intel provided a demonstration script that we modified for our own purposes. The benchmark does the following:

  1. Launches a virus scanner (Avast Virus Cleaner Tool) to generate background I/O.
  2. Opens an MHTML document in IE8.
  3. Opens a document in Word 2010 and scrolls down, causing the application to do more reads.
  4. Opens a spreadsheet in Excel 2010 and scrolls down.
  5. Opens a PDF document in Acrobat Reader 9 and scrolls down.
  6. Opens Outlook 2010.
  7. Creates an e-mail and displays the time to complete the demo.

There are structural limitations to our demo because it shows a mix of HDD and SSD performance characteristics. The saved Web page, Word doc, Excel spreadsheet, and PDF file are all located on the OS drive. Likewise, Avast stacks the deck a bit further because it is set to start scanning documents on the system drive.

As a result, we have added two additional benchmarks to show a more granular level of performance data. Our restart benchmark is programmed to measure system responsiveness from the time you hit restart to the time Windows is ready to execute commands. The Photoshop benchmark simply measures the time from program execution to the time the program is ready to open a file.

SSDHDDHDD (OS) +SSD (Programs)SSD (OS)HDD (Programs)
Restart Time39.9 secs50.7 secs50.6 secs39.9 secs
Photoshop CS5 (64-bit) Launch3.0 secs9.5 secs4.9 secs12.2 secs
Tom's Hardware's Demo12.7 secs31.1 secs15.8 secs21.9 secs

Due to file dependencies, there is variation in the launch times for Photoshop, but it shows how different configurations can affect performance. Having two drives in your system can be more beneficial to the average user, but you will have to deliberately set up your programs and OS to take advantage of that performance gain.

If you use a handful of applications frequently, a pure SSD setup is going to be fastest. Compared to a configuration based solely on conventional hard drives, mixing and matching technologies can be faster if you tend to multitask. In any situation where there is heavy I/O, you will be best served by dividing the heavy-lifting between solid state and magnetic storage.

  • Annisman
    Great article!

    Been rocking an SSD for about a year now, and there is no going back to mechanical drives, SSD for the laptop segment makes even more sense. I think most of us however would like to see price drops a bit faster though, my 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo cost me over 500 dollars.
    Reply
  • acku
    9509117 said:
    Great article!

    Been rocking an SSD for about a year now, and there is no going back to mechanical drives, SSD for the laptop segment makes even more sense. I think most of us however would like to see price drops a bit faster though, my 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo cost me over 500 dollars.

    I believe the last report I read mentioned close to 60% of all SSD purchases are mobile related. SSDs can really mark up a notebook's price, so I'm right there with you on prices. We need price drops, more of them, and in quicker succession.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    Reply
  • alyoshka
    It's high time they came up with the ROM or CMOS chip that has the capacity to just store the OS on it and a few other programs, that itself will make the system really very fast..... then they could go over for a change to the 6GBps SATA drives and make them work at that speed..... Really, we already have ample RAM and expandable slots for them, why not get a little more creative and just get the job done instead of going all the way round and trying this approach.
    We have fast, extremely fast drives but at prices that touch the sky, wouldn't it be better to just have loaded or embedded the OS straight onto the mobo.... cheaper until it's capable of handling the high data flow rates offered by SSD... yet not being able to saturate the SATA flow rates or capacities.....
    Reply
  • Archimag
    How about its life cycle compairing with regular hard drives?
    Reply
  • amk09
    Newegg Daily Shell Shocker has a 128GB Kingston SSD on sale for $119.99!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    History has been made. SSD's are finally starting to hit a dollar/GB. Keep those prices dropping!
    Reply
  • druids84
    Although I of course would enjoy having 120+GB SSD on my laptop or home desktop, only true photo/video professionals or gamers with ample games need that much fast storage! I am able to squeeze Win7 and several Valve games within my old 30GB OCZ Vertex SSD, and I would feel quite comfortably with having 64GB SSD just to have more breathing space. You do NOT need more than that unless you're processing a lot of photos/videos. 120+GB is only if you include movies and music. You don't need 20,000 IOPs or 250MB/s seq.reads for your movies and other sitting junk! ;) Just buy a cheap external 2.5" HDD and store all your movies/music/photos on that, and this solution is quite mobile if you drag your laptop everywhere!
    Reply
  • Travis Beane
    druids84Although I of course would enjoy having 120+GB SSD on my laptop or home desktop, only true photo/video professionals or gamers with ample games need that much fast storage! I am able to squeeze Win7 and several Valve games within my old 30GB OCZ Vertex SSD, and I would feel quite comfortably with having 64GB SSD just to have more breathing space. You do NOT need more than that unless you're processing a lot of photos/videos. 120+GB is only if you include movies and music. You don't need 20,000 IOPs or 250MB/s seq.reads for your movies and other sitting junk! Just buy a cheap external 2.5" HDD and store all your movies/music/photos on that, and this solution is quite mobile if you drag your laptop everywhere!My Steam folder alone is 437GB. I have another 100GB+ on non steam games also. Then add my OS and etc.
    I currently enjoy the faster speeds of 4x500 RAID 0 with the OS on a 1TB. I would actually be running 8x500GB RAID 0 if my case was large enough, and my graphics card weren't so large (blocks 2 slots).

    How does Toms feel about doing a showdown between $500 of modern HDD vs $500 of modern SSD? With and without a dedicated controller.
    I know for my next build I don't know whether I want 4x 3TB or a 3TB with 2-3x SSD or 3x 3TB with a single small SSD, or is it better to go with, say, 8x 1TB or 4x 3TB in either RAID 0, 10, 5, 6, 50, 60 etc. :)
    Reply
  • druids84
    Well, just as I mentioned earlier, my point still holds: you DON'T need more than 120+GB unless you're serious gamer or professional working in multimedia business. And your setup sounds a bit like "gamer with ample games" case from my argument. ;) I really can't see a way I could squeeze 4x RAID in ordinary non-gaming laptop, which is what many if not most of people use for actually doing their work.
    So, if I would have to choose between old-school 500GB HDD, overkill 256GB SSD, or just simple 60-128GB SSD + external 2.5" HDD for a laptop, I'd go with the last one.
    Reply
  • romulous75
    meh, when I added an SSD drive I did not notice much improvement. I have a raid 5 array of WD2003FYYS drives which use to be the boot drive ;)
    Reply
  • romulous75
    oh, and also I seem to be the first one loaded in COD black ops when it changes levels :)
    Reply