PCMark Vantage

Next up is PCMark Vantage, another system-wide performance suite. For those of you who aren’t familiar with PCMark Vantage, it ends up being the most real-world-like hard drive test I can come up with. It runs things like application launches, file searches, web browsing, contacts searching, video playback, photo editing and other completely mundane but real-world tasks. I’ve described the benchmark in great detail before but if you’d like to read up on what it does in particular, take a look at Futuremark’s whitepaper on the benchmark; it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to be a member of a comprehensive storage benchmark suite. Any performance impacts here would most likely be reflected in the real world.

PCMark

If you've paid attention to the synthetic tests from the previous pages, the results here should make sense. The Intel drives take the top two spots followed by the two OCZ drives, then the JMicron and conventional HDDs take up the rear.

While PCMark does do a great job of measuring disk performance, it doesn't seem to stress random write performance as much, allowing the JMicron drives to relax a bit.

Now let's look at the individual test suites:

The memories suite 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.

Memories

The TV and Movies tests focus on on video transcoding which is mostly CPU bound, but one of the tests involves Windows Media Center which tends to be disk bound.

TV and Movies

SSDs won't always dominate and in many cases they won't offer tangible improvements over a fast hard drive.

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 depending on the game. Take these results as a best case scenario of what can happen, not the norm.

Gaming

In the Music suite the main test is a multitasking scenario: 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).

Music

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.

Communications

I love PCMark's Productivity test; 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.

Productivity

The results here are the best characterization of my personal experience with the drives. The Intel drives are the fastest, a good 25% faster than the Summit or Vertex. Next up are the OCZ drives, with the Vertex dangerously close to the Summit. The older Samsung SLC is next in the standings, followed by the JMicron drives. There's a healthy combination of reads and writes going on here which benefits all of the SSDs, including the less desirable ones.

The final PCMark Vantage suite is HDD specific and this is where you'll see the biggest differences between the drives:

HDD

Again we're seeing the sort of breakdown we'd expect. The Intel drives come out ahead, while the Vertex is the best bang for your buck.

SYSMark 2007 The Fresh Boot Test
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  • KadensDad - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    How do these drives fail? I have heard that they will just suddenly die, no more writes or reads possible. What I would like to know is what happens when it dies? Do you lose all data? Just can't write anymore? How does the OS respond? Any early warnings? What about e.g. CRC? How does possibility of data corruption compare to traditional SSD? What about RAID? Since the drives are electrical, not mechanical, this reduces the number of failure vectors and environmental concerns (e.g., ambient temperature over lifetime of the drive). Won't SSDs therefore fail closer together in time in a RAID configuration? This reduces the window of opportunity for fixing an array and also decreases the applicability of RAID, however marginal.
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