We learned quite a bit from the results, although we didn’t go through our entire suite of benchmarks because of time constraints. Each run takes roughly five hours to complete, which was the main reason why we decided to go with PCMark Vantage. The benchmark may be synthetic, but it actually reflects everyday performance rather well. The Samsung 470-series SSD drives we used are new, and pretty much representative of today's solid state storage market when it comes to an analysis of TRIM and the potential impact of a solid firmware upgrade.
The results clearly show that you definitely want to go with a system that supports TRIM. Although the overall performance levels are almost identical with and without TRIM (‘fresh’ test runs), a SSD without TRIM suffers from severe performance drops if you start torturing it with high-intensity workloads, especially if they involve sequential activity (high capacity) and a large number of I/O operations. This type of torturing may already occur with a few concurrent P2P downloads happening alongside other user activity, although our scenario was designed to be more extreme, of course. The conclusion for TRIM is simple: go with modern hardware and Windows 7 and you’re fine, otherwise you will not be able to take full advantage of you precious SSD.
We found the latest firmware to be impressive in two ways. On one hand, it actually improved the SSD’s overall performance in a few sections of PCMark Vantage. On the other, it maximized performance after our torture test in such a way that many of the performance drops are more moderate now. This applies both to the test runs with TRIM and also the ones without the feature, which may be interesting for users who specifically need to run SSDs on pre-Windows 7 operating systems.
Our test results also show that there still is a lot of progress to be made when it comes to optimizing architectures by fully taking advantage of the available features--these being hardware features or SSD firmware tweaks or just the better utilization of TRIM. Therefore, we recommend keeping your eyes open for updates, as these are definitely more important than ever before.