Real World Performance with PCMark Vantage

Next up is PCMark Vantage, another system-wide performance suite. I chose to run the whole suite rather than just the HDD test to hopefully better characterize real world performance of these drives.

PCMark

If we look at the individual test subsets of PCMark Vantage we can see the drive's strengths at work.

Memories

The memories suite for example includes a test involving importing pictures into Windows Photo Gallery and editing them, a fairly benign task that easily falls into the category of being very influenced by disk performance. The end result is a 15% performance advantage over the VelociRaptor, a 16.6% advantage over the Samsung SLC based SSDs and a 42% advantage over the 2.5" Seagate Momentus 7200.2 HDD - the X25-M is great for a desktop, but a miracle for a notebook.

TV and Movies

The TV and Movies suite shows that the X25-M won't always dominate. Here the tests are focused on video transcoding which is mostly CPU bound, but one of the tests involves Windows Media Center which tends to be disk bound. Despite the nature of the test, the X25-M competes at the top of the chart but is bested by the VelociRaptor. It's performance isn't bad, but not earth shattering. Again, compared to other notebook drives it is a dream come true.

Gaming

The gaming tests are very well suited to SSDs since they spend a good portion of their time focusing on reading textures and loading level data. All of the SSDs dominate here, but as you'll see later on in my gaming tests the benefits of an SSD really vary depend on the game. Take these results as a best case scenario of what can happen, not the norm. You can also see how tempting it is to opt for one of those JMicron based MLC SSDs, they perform quite well here - the test simply doesn't show the ugly side of living with them.

Music

We're back to utter domination in the Vantage Music test. Here the main test is a multitasking scenario, which SSDs do quite well in: the test simulates surfing the web in IE7, transcoding an audio file and adding music to Windows Media Player (the most disk intensive portion of the test). The X25-M is nearly 60% faster than the VelociRaptor, around twice the speed of the Seagate Momentus 7200.2 and over 37% faster than the Samsung SLC based SSDs. When the X25-M is fast, it's very fast.

Communications

The Communications suite is made up of two tests, both involving light multitasking. The first test simulates data encryption/decryption while running message rules in Windows Mail. The second test simulates web surfing (including opening/closing tabs) in IE7, data decryption and running Windows Defender.

Despite the inclusion of Windows Defender, the X25-M's advantage over the VelociRaptor is only 18%. I would honestly expect more based on some of my other system scanning tests, but I believe the reason we're seeing general domination and not utter destruction is that the tasks being run alongside Windows Defender are quite light on the disk. Yes, I am nitpicking an 18% victory - this drive is that good. The SLC drives do well here but are no match for the X25-M. It's in tests like this that the X25-M really earns its keep, it delivers SLC performance at a much lower cost.

The Productivity test is awesome, let me explain:

Productivity

In this test there are four tasks going on at once, searching through Windows contacts, searching through Windows Mail, browsing multiple webpages in IE7 and loading applications. This is as real world of a scenario as you get and it happens to be representative of one of the most frustrating HDD usage models - trying to do multiple things at once. There's nothing more annoying than trying to launch a simple application while you're doing other things in the background and have the load take seemingly forever.

Note that the test itself isn't very write intensive, so even the JMF602 based MLC drives do well here. I can attest to this as one of the things that drove me to put a SSD in my desktop was that I wanted my applications to pop up instantaneously, regardless of what I was doing. The pausing doesn't get a chance to rear its head, so all of the SSDs rule the playing field here. The X25-M delivers 2x the performance of the VelociRaptor here and is faster than every other drive. Enough said.

Overall System Performance with SYSMark 2007 Application Loading Performance
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  • aeternitas - Thursday, September 11, 2008 - link

    Wow.

    #1 Meaning; Great read.
    #2 Meaning; Why do you not use World of Warcraft in your testings more? This game still has huge system requirements on absolute full settings in crouded areas. No one is getting 60fps in that game in Shatt on a saterday night 16xAA/AF full distance view. Everything maxed running a high resolution. Also, the disk access of this game may not be as much as Crysis, but its far FAR more prolonged as people play this game for a matter of years, instead of a handfull of months tops.
    Reply
  • hoohoo - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    What?! Google Chrome Launch Time? Is this a new benchmark? The world was waiting for that test I can tell ya! Did Google slip a little something in your pocket? Reply
  • Ph0b0s - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    Sorry if this repeats what anyone else has said, but I think this is the best harddisk review I have seen. All the other hdd reviews I have read though, all go into detail about how many mb/s the drive can transfer and what the access time is, I/O performance etc. This is all very nice, but all we really care about is how does the hdd perform in real world apps and games in comparision to other drives. How much faster is my browser going to load.

    And that is why I was so impressed with this review. I realise it probably took more time to create this review, but it was well worth it. You can see how much the drives in the comparision compare to the amount of money you will spend instead of having to extrapolate from throughput benchmarks.

    I would feel a lot more confident in putting down money on the X25 after this review. Because I can see what the benefit I would get after in comparsion to other drives. Though the X25 needs to be another $100 dollars cheaper...

    Anyway, please more hdd reviews like this...
    Reply
  • bruto - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    Anand, could you please post map load times for R6 Vegas 2 using
    these drives?
    That game was killing me, and I'd like to know just how much
    happiness is around the corner :)
    Reply
  • FFFFFF - Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - link

    I am very familiar with the tech works of SSDs and it is interesting to know of the security risk that involves the technology. http://www.techworld.com/SECURITY/NEWS/index.cfm?n...">http://www.techworld.com/SECURITY/NEWS/...cfm?news...
    This is one reason why I am not going to upgrade to SSD just yet till they figure out a more secure encryption.
    Reply
  • cokelight - Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - link

    RE: PLEASE LEARN HOW TO USE COMMAS! by ggordonliddy, 19 hours ago

    You are just making it clear that you do not have a firm grasp of English. You are afraid of those who criticize poor grammar, because you know that you yourself will be exposed for the fraudulent pustule that lies beneath your slimy veneer.

    I have a life. I'm just sick of illiterate authors. Just because it is a tech site is no excuse for extremely poor writing skills. I'm talking about skills that should be completely mastered before being allowed to graduate from elementary school.

    ^
    Take your elitism elsewhere. If you actually practiced what you preached then you'd note your own comma abuse:

    "You are afraid of those who criticize poor grammar, because you know that you yourself will be exposed for the fraudulent pustule that lies beneath your slimy veneer."

    The second clause is dependent. Therefore, it does not necessitate a comma.
    Reply
  • aeternitas - Thursday, September 11, 2008 - link

    Use the reply link. Reply
  • xenon83 - Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - link

    "Do keep in mind though, the numbers we're talking about here are ridiculously low - even 900 µs to write to MLC flash is much faster than writing to a mechanical hard disk."
    But when it comes to random writes ssd's in general - this intel ssd included - fails miserably.
    http://www.alternativerecursion.info/?p=106">http://www.alternativerecursion.info/?p=106
    Reply
  • johncl - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    Yes as the other poster say, the Intel drive have solved the issues with small random writes that the OZC and other MLC drives so far have been suffering from. If you read the whole article thoroughly you will see that clearly.

    Lets hope OCZ can come up with a better controller in their next generation MLC SSDs. We really need the competition here to bring those prices down, the Intel drive is a tad too expensive atm imo.
    Reply
  • balotz - Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - link

    Random writes are exactly as fast as sequential writes on this Intel SSD (10,000 random 4k writes per second).

    The article you referenced uses data from an SSD which appears to suffer from issues relating to the JMicron controller.

    The Intel SSD is obviously not affected, this is clearly shown by the numbers in this very review!
    Reply

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