The SSD Power Consumption Hoax

Sandisk SSD 5000, 32 GB

We looked at the Sandisk SSD 5000 almost a year ago. It does not belong to the segment of high-speed flash SSDs, as it provides no more than 68 MB/s read throughput and less than 50 MB/s write performance. Still, it is an alternative to some conventional hard drives due to its short access times.

The SSD 5000 is not an I/O operations winner either, as even the Travelstar 7K200 provides more operations per second. And it clearly loses in the Mobilemark 07 performance benchmark, where the Memoright Flash SSD is almost five times faster, and other Flash SSDs provide at least double the performance.

However, the Sandisk SSD 5000 is the only flash based drive that was able to reach the same battery runtime as the conventional Travelstar 7K200 2.5” hard drive by Hitachi: we measured seven hours and two minutes for the Sandisk drive, which is practically identical. So here the claims for power efficiency seem to be true — but there is no improvement in battery runtime over high-performance 2.5” notebook hard drives. Maybe we should have compared this unit to 5,400 RPM drives, but then again the price point and product positioning would be way off.

Reference HDD: Hitachi Travelstar 7K200, 200 GB; 7,200 RPM

Finally, the Travelstar 7K200 is here to defend the reputation of conventional hard drives against charges that they are power hungry, noisy and belong to a dying breed. Of course, there would never be enough flash memory available on the market to replace substantial numbers of conventional hard drive shipments by flash based drives, even if capacity were no issue.

This article shows clearly that the traditional hard drive, which in this case is based on two platters, a 7,200 RPM spindle speed and 8 MB cache, still has every right to exist. These drives will soon reach the 320 GB capacity point, and they offer average users much better battery runtime than most of the flash SSDs that everyone believes to be beneficial for roadrunners, when in fact they’re counterproductive.

Please note that other 7,200 RPM 2.5” notebook hard drives deliver similar results: they beat the flash SSD products when it comes to battery runtime. Read the review on the Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 and 5K250.