AnandTech DAS Suite and Performance Consistency

This section looks at how the Samsung Portable SSD X5 fares in real-life workloads.

Benchmarks - robocopy and PCMark 8 Storage Bench

Our testing methodology for DAS units also takes into consideration the usual use-case for such devices. The most common usage scenario is transfer of large amounts of photos and videos to and from the unit. The minor usage scenario is importing files directly off the DAS into a multimedia editing program such as Adobe Photoshop.

In order to tackle the first use-case, we created three test folders with the following characteristics:

  • Photos: 15.6 GB collection of 4320 photos (RAW as well as JPEGs) in 61 sub-folders
  • Videos: 16.1 GB collection of 244 videos (MP4 as well as MOVs) in 6 sub-folders
  • BR: 10.7 GB Blu-ray folder structure of the IDT Benchmark Blu-ray (the same that we use in our robocopy tests for NAS systems)

Photos Read

For the second use-case, we take advantage of PC Mark 8's storage bench. The storage workload involves games as well as multimedia editing applications. The command line version allows us to cherry-pick storage traces to run on a target drive. We chose the following traces.

  • Adobe Photoshop (Light)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Heavy)
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Adobe Illustrator

Usually, PC Mark 8 reports time to complete the trace, but the detailed log report has the read and write bandwidth figures which we present in our performance graphs. Note that the bandwidth number reported in the results don't involve idle time compression. Results might appear low, but that is part of the workload characteristic. Note that the same testbed is being used for all DAS units. Therefore, comparing the numbers for each trace should be possible across different DAS units.

Adobe Photoshop Light Read

Performance Consistency

Yet another interesting aspect of these types of units is performance consistency. Aspects that may influence this include thermal throttling and firmware caps on access rates to avoid overheating or other similar scenarios. This aspect is an important one, as the last thing that users want to see when copying over, say, 100 GB of data to the flash drive, is the transfer rate going to USB 2.0 speeds. In order to identify whether the drive under test suffers from this problem, we instrumented our robocopy DAS benchmark suite to record the flash drive's read and write transfer rates while the robocopy process took place in the background. For supported drives, we also recorded the internal temperature of the drive during the process. The graphs below show the speeds observed during our real-world DAS suite processing. The first three sets of writes and reads correspond to the photos suite. A small gap (for the transfer of the videos suite from the primary drive to the RAM drive) is followed by three sets for the next data set. Another small RAM-drive transfer gap is followed by three sets for the Blu-ray folder.

An important point to note here is that each of the first three blue and green areas correspond to 15.6 GB of writes and reads respectively. Throttling, if any, is apparent within the processing of the photos suite itself.

Performance Consistency and Thermal Characteristics

The temperature of the X5 does not cross 55C in our stress test. That said, we see some differences in the transfer rates from one run to the next for the same data set. It looks likely that the thermal management features are at play (given that Samsung wants to maintain the internal SSD around 45C), but, we also want to rule out the SLC cache running out. The test outlined in our next section clears up that aspect.

Synthetic Benchmarks Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • ganeshts - Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - link

    The DIY configuration took around 650 seconds to write 900GB of data, while, for the same queue depth and write block size, the X5 took almost 7000 seconds.
  • MarkieGcolor - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    Hard to believe Samsung messed up the thermals so bad. Thank you for pointing this out!

    It's great how the marketing then spins the throttling into a feature 😂
  • shelbystripes - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    Thermal throttling IS a feature. It just shouldn’t come on under normal circumstances (and sustained use in a temperature controlled office is a “normal circumstance”.
  • Simpliciter - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    Could you review the Sonnet Fusion Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Flash Drive? It claims not to have any thermal throttling and therefore to be able to maintain maximum throughput ... the Achilles' heel of this unit, it seems.

    That would be very interesting and helpful comparison,

  • BPB - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    "our DIY Thunderbolt 3 SSD is a better choice"

    Did I miss the article or note on this?
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link
  • BPB - Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - link

    Thank you sir!
  • 4everalone - Thursday, August 30, 2018 - link

    Thank you, not sure how I missed that gem.
  • hubick - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    WTF Samsung, Alpine Ridge? :-(

    The new Titan Ridge chips have been shipping for some time now (2018 MacBook Pro, HP Thunderbolt Dock G2), and would allow for use via regular USB-C as well.

    I've been waiting for a TB3 upgrade to my 1TB Samsung T1 drive, which, among other things, I use to backup photo/video from my action cam and phone while travelling. It would sure be nice to use the TB3 on my PC to retrieve all that when back home, but without USB-C compat, it's basically impossible to get anything onto the drive out in the field, making this offering useless.

    I don't understand offering an expensive premium device like this which such limited technology when the right solution is already out there!? :-(
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    Wow, awesome job getting a full review of this up on release day, ganeshts! This pretty much answered all of my questions that the other sites regurgitating press releases left unanswered.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now