Real-World Read And Write Tests
We try to hammer this home any time we talk about comparing SSDs: upgrading to any modern solid-state drive is going to give you a better experience than the best conventional disk, regardless of the SSD's position relative to its competition. From there, sure, the benchmarks tell us that certain drives are faster than others. But it gets more difficult to tell them apart.
Nevertheless, we wanted to add real-world write testing to help demonstrate the performance delta between SSDs, even at the same capacity points and using similar controller technology.
In our first test, we clone our system drive (a 240 GB Vertex 3) over to each target drive using Acronis True Home Image 2013. The source data comes from my personal laptop, so hopefully it's representative of what many of you have on your machines, too. Aside from the OS, I have hundreds of song files, video content, a handful of games, Photoshop, Office 2010, and a bunch of personal documents. Overall, there's a fairly balanced mix of compressible and incompressible data.
OCZ's Vector leads in this test, but not by much. As the "best" performer, it finishes the workload in 31 minutes and 22 seconds. At the other end of the chart, Intel's SSD 335 finishes the task in 32 minutes and 9 seconds (just 47 seconds behind). I've run this test multiple times, and it seems more consistent than using Todo Workstation, as we did in Time To Upgrade: 10 SSDs Between 240 And 256 GB, Rounded Up. Although there is some variation between one run and the next, the biggest point here is that real-world differences from one drive to another are smaller than the synthetics would indicate.
This file transfer test is a follow-up to the drive cloning exercise. Immediately after, we transfer the 2.86 GB H.264-encoded file that we use for tablet/notebook battery life testing. This is a little different from what we did in the 10-drive round-up linked above, where each SSD was secure-erased after each test. And the result definitely exposes the difference between how certain controllers handle incompressible data. We know this test has a bit of variance to it as well (that's the case for any measurement taken from a real-world workload), so the most accurate we can be is a claim that OCZ's Vector is on par with the non-SandForce-based competition.
Anti-virus scanning involves randomly and sequentially reading different file sizes. There are even some writes involved, as the software decompresses certain archives to scan the files contained within.
Again, this is a real-world metric, and the results jump around between successive iterations. From one test to the next, however, OCZ's Vector comes out on top. We continue to be impressed with the Barefoot 3 controller and SSD it powers. Just bear in mind that the outcome of each benchmark on this page tends to be fairly close, and you're often looking at single-digit performance deltas between modern drives.