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A 1400 MB/s SSD: ASRock's Z97 Extreme6 And Samsung's XP941

Testing Samsung's XP941 On Z97 Express

In most of the stories we write, it doesn't matter where Windows is installed. Storage testing is a bit different though, particularly when we need to turn off the PCH's SATA ports. Thus, utilizing Windows to Go makes a lot of sense. A fully-functioning image can be ported from one machine to another over USB 3.0. It's just as quick as an installation to a SATA-attached SSD, and it enables testing methodologies otherwise considered impractical.

Note also that we're using Intel's new Rapid Storage Technology 13-series driver. It doesn't have much bearing on today's story; the fancier features will get rolled into a version of the RST software later this year. But it was time to upgrade, and so I have.

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i5-4670K (Haswell), 22 nm, 3.3 GHz, LGA 1150, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost Enabled
MotherboardASRock Z97 Extreme6
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1866 @ DDR3-1333, 1.5 V
System DriveMuskin Ventura Ultra 240 GB USB 3.0 UASP
Drive(s) Under TestSamsung MZHPU512HCGL-00000 512 GB M.2 Gen 2 x4 PCIe, AHCI
Power SupplySeasonic X400 FL2, 80+ Platinum
ChassisLian Li A01-NB ATX
HSFNoctua NH-L9i
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 4600
OSWindows 8.1 Enterprise, Windows to Go
DriversSTORAHCI.SYS (Generic AHCI), Intel RST 13.1 (SATA)
Comparison DrivesPlextor M6e 256 GB M.2 PCIe x2, Firmware: 1.00
Plextor M6S 256 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: 1.00
Plextor M6M 256 GB mSATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: 1.00
Adata SP920 256 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: MU01
Crucial M550 512 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU01
Intel SSD 730 480 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: L2010400
SanDisk X210 512 GB, Firmware X210400
Crucial M500 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU02
Samsung 840 EVO 250 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: EXT0AB0Q
Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware DXM04B0Q
Seagate 600 SSD 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: B660
OCZ Vector 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 2.0
Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s Firmware: 1.02
Benchmarks
ULINK DriveMaster 2012DM2012 v980, JEDEC 218A-based TRIM Test, Protocol Test Suite
Test Specific HardwareSAS/SATA Power Hub, DevSlp Platform, PCIe SSD Power Adapter
Tom's Hardware Storage Bench v1.0Intel iPeak Storage Toolkit 5.2.1, Tom's Storage Bench 1.0 Trace Recording
Iometer 1.1.0# Workers = 1, 4 KB Random: LBA=16 GB, varying QDs, 128 KB Sequential, 16 GB LBA Precondition, Exponential QD Scaling
PCMark 8PCMark 8 2.0.228, Storage Consistency Test
  • aminebouhafs
    Once an SSD in plugged into the Ultra M.2 slot, the bandwidth between central processing unit and graphics processing unit is cut-down by half. Therefore, while the end-user gets additional SSD performance, the end-user may lose some GPU performance because of insufficient bandwidth between it and the CPU.
    Reply
  • JoeArchitect
    Very interesting article and a great read. Thanks, Chris - I hope to see more like this soon!
    Reply
  • wussupi83
    great article! - although z97 still seems boring
    Reply
  • Eggz
    This makes me excited for X99! With 40 (or more) lanes, of PCI-e (probably more), there will be no need to compromise. We have to remember that the Z97 Chipset is a consumer-grade product, so there almost has to be tradoffs in order to justify stepping up to a high-end platform.

    That said, I feel like X99, NVMe, and and M.2 products will coincide nicely with their respective releases dates. Another interesting piece to the puzzle will be DDR4. Will the new storage technology and next-generation CPUs utilize it's speed, or like DD3, will it take several generations for other technologies to catch up to RAM speeds? This is quite an interesting time :)
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    Chris test the asrock z97 itx... and another thing... my last 3 motherboard from asrock and i want to say Asrock Rock's!
    Reply
  • Damn_Rookie
    While storage isn't the most important area of computer hardware for me, I always enjoy reading Christopher's articles. Very well written, detail orientated, and above all else, interesting. Thanks!
    Reply
  • hotwire_downunder
    ASRock has come along way, I used them a long time back with disappointing results, but I have started to use them again and have not been disappointed this time around.

    Way to turn things around ASRock! Cheap as chips and rock steady!
    Reply
  • alidan
    @aminebouhafs if i remember right, didn't toms show how much performance loss there is when you tape gpu cards to emulate having half or even a quarter of the bandwidth? if i remember right back than the difference was only about 12% from 16 lanes down to either 4 or 8
    Reply
  • Eggz
    13445787 said:
    @aminebouhafs if i remember right, didn't toms show how much performance loss there is when you tape gpu cards to emulate having half or even a quarter of the bandwidth? if i remember right back than the difference was only about 12% from 16 lanes down to either 4 or 8

    PCI-e 3.0 x8 has enough bandwidth for any single card. The only downside to using PCI-e lanes on the SSD applies only to people who want to use multiple GPUs.

    Still, though, this is just the mid-range platform anyway. People looking for lots of expansion end up buying the X chipsets rather than the Z chipsets because of the greater expandability. I feel like the complaint is really misplaced for Z chipsets, since they only have 16 PCI-e lanes to begin with.
    Reply
  • cryan
    Once an SSD in plugged into the Ultra M.2 slot, the bandwidth between central processing unit and graphics processing unit is cut-down by half. Therefore, while the end-user gets additional SSD performance, the end-user may lose some GPU performance because of insufficient bandwidth between it and the CPU.

    Well, it'll definitely negate some GPU configurations, same as any PCIe add-in over the CPU's lanes. With so few lanes to work with on Intel's mainstream platforms, butting heads is inevitable.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan


    Reply