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Spring 2010 Solid State Drive Roundup, Part 1


We recently upgraded our storage test system with a SATA 6Gb/s controller and Windows 7 to accommodate the TRIM feature and upcoming SATA 6Gb/s drives. Soon, we’ll be providing a new charts category that lists all of our 2010 SSD tests.

This article included the Crucial M225 256GB, OCZ Vertex 120GB, the SLC flash-based Solidata K5, and Toshiba’s 256GB HG2, as well as Intel’s tried and true second-generation X25-M. The Intel drive can be considered a reference for desktop and notebook applications, thanks to its superior read throughput and I/O performance. But let’s look at the results.

When it comes to read performance, most SSDs achieve around 200 MB/s. Therefore, we wouldn't base a purchase decision on read throughput. The drives employing Indilinx's Barefoot controller—namely Crucial, OCZ, and Solidata—deliver respectable I/O performance, reliable write throughput, and decent application performance. In a word, they’re all very solid. Intel is faster on applications and I/O, while Toshiba handles I/O with the fine dexterity of a toddler.

When it comes to power and efficiency, we found Intel's consumption very low at idle, but higher than the competition running peak loads. In the end, it delivers great performance per watt in I/Os, while bowing to defeat on throughput efficiency. Once again, the Indilinx drives do well, and Toshiba shows its real strength. The HG2 is the most power-efficient SSD we’ve tested. Keep in mind, though, that this comes at the expense of performance, especially in I/O. Moreover, the company's poor North American availability all but disqualifies it to the enthusiasts looking to buy here in the States.

In the end, factors like cost, capacity, and power consumption are what matter most. Solidata's SLC memory is certainly a good choice for durability, but the additional cost is unreasonable for most users, and it's simply not readily accessible in North America. Power consumption remains important for notebooks, but less relevant on desktop PCs. The Indilinx drives are certainly attractive if you’re looking for the best bang for the buck, but Intel still delivers the highest application performance.

This was only the first part of our spring SSD roundup. Part 2 will include Crucial’s SATA 6Gb/s RealSSD C300, the Kingston SSD Now-V, and Western Digital’s new Silicon Edge Blue.