SSD Performance In The Office: Nine Applications Benchmarked

SSDs: Put Capacity Over Benchmark Performance

You use your computer for different things on a day-to-day basis, which makes it hard to generalize about storage performance in all applications, or even to say how much benefit you'll get from an SSD upgrade.

Our trace-based analysis reveals that much of what we do on our PCs is random in nature. The video below demonstrates this behavior using a batch file to open multiple applications. On a SSD, the process occurs so much faster that the performance gain is obvious.

Launch times are only one component of performance, though. Responsiveness during application use is arguably even more important because you open the app once. That's why we tested actions like typing, rather than opening Word up over and over. In that context, an SSD might seem like an expensive toy. But we nevertheless do find ourselves to be more productive on our SSD-based systems. When one operation completes faster, it's easier to move onto the next.

On the other hand, when you watch movies, the access patterns start leaning toward the sequential end of the spectrum. As an easy comparison, in the time it takes to browse 15 webpages, roughly 100 MB of data is moved. Yet, most 1080p movie trailers are easily a few hundred megabytes in size. And so we find ourselves walking a line between chasing down performance and maintaining enough capacity to keep up with burgeoning media libraries. 

For most folks, the question isn't whether to upgrade to an SSD or not. Rather, it's really a matter of the right SSD for you. Gazing across the storage landscape, there's a huge price disparity between the top and bottom of the market.

As you find yourself browsing benchmarks online, keep queue depths in mind. SSD vendors prefer reviewers to run their test using more queued-up operations because that's where drives really shine. As we just saw, though, storage isn't really stressed like that in the desktop world. In fact, you'll rarely see queue depths in excess of 10. Even getting above a queue of one is fairly rare. So, it often makes very little sense to agonize over which SATA 6Gb/s-based SSD is faster. Hopefully, our traces help make that point. The real question you need to ask yourself is: which SSD can I afford, and how much capacity can I get into my next machine?

  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Nice escape, Tom's... I was wondering "hmm, what kind of torrent will they download, 95% of them are copyright infringement"... nice :D And a good article, too - maybe now I can convince some of our "office-only-don't-need-fancy-hardware" clients to switch to SSDs, esp. considering the HDD price increases.
  • iLLz
    I want an SSD so bad I can taste it. The biggest problem for me is Price and Size. For my system drive I would need at least 500-600 GB and these sized SSDs are way to much money. My Steam folder is like 280 GBs alone. I know alot of you are going to say just put Windows and the most critical apps on the SSD and the rest on my 1TB drive but that defeats the purpose in my book. I want all my apps to benefit from the SSD especially if I am going to invest so much money into it. Here's to hoping the prices come down and fast!
  • mikewong
    Better question: which SSD is more affordable, and which is more... reliable?
  • richboyliang
    SSD's are meant for holding only your operating system and a few key applications you can't live without. All your data/media should be stored on a regular, large hard disk.
  • phamhlam
    Unless you are working with huge files like pictures and videos, there isn't much a need for a huge SSD. A pair or HDD in RAID combine with a SSD can give you even better capacity and speed. I think most consumers are better with a 90-120GB SSD and a nice large HDD. I got an alright 120GB SSD for $120 w/ rebate. A good 120GB SSD cost about $180-$220. Laptops can hold two drive if your replace your dvd drive which most people rarely use. Once you get a SSD, it is hard to go back.
  • Proximon
    Your office is apparently far different that the ones I service :p At least you got a virus scan and MS Word typing in there.

    I suppose I can see some inexpensive reliable SSDs in office machines in the near future, mostly to reduce the failures connected with mechanical drives and speed up boot times and installation times.
  • Zero_
    I dont get it :??:
  • billybobser
    Office computer, files on server.

    SSD not really appropriate.

    Unless by office computer you mean where you have the only computer in the office, or files do not need to be shared around the office.

    Given the amount of work people do who open large files (where an ssd may be appropriate), they are too small/too expensive to be justified.

    Example, large 3d CaD drawings, spend extra money on them loading faster, lose funds for better overall computer (graphics especially).
  • xtreme5
    still love ocz vertex3
  • neiroatopelcc
    I've got a C300 in my work pc, and I have to say I'm disappointed. Not by the performance itself, but the overall result. Productivity went DOWN after the upgrade, as the size of the thing simply isn't adequate. You spend more time cleaning up and moving data than you do actually working. And I even had to move all my virtual machines to usb. That didn't exactly speed up anything either. Replacing a 750gb drive with a 120gb ssd simply isn't viable.

    I find it ironic that the only place your tiny ssd drives are good enough are in computers where speed isn't important in the first place. Until 320GB ssd's can compete with regular magnetic drives, it isn't an option to upgrade.

    Imagine the added cost of upgrading the 2442 registered clients to ssd drives! About half could make do with a 120GB drive, and the rest would need at least 160GB and possibly bigger.

    That's an expense you can't possibly gain in productivity.

    Replacing sas drives with ssd's might make sense for your database or vmware/hyper-v systems, but it isn't going to make much sense on the majority of workstations.