Overall System Performance using 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 Vantage - Overall Suite

PCMark Vantage mostly echoes what you'd expect based on our data thus far. There's no real performance difference, in the real world, between the 100GB and 50GB SandForce SF-1500 MLC drives. It's only in the HDD specific test that we see any evidence of a slower drive, and even then the drop isn't that great.

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.

PCMark Vantage - Memories Test

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.

PCMark Vantage - TV & Movies Test

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.

PCMark Vantage - Gaming Test

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).

PCMark Vantage - Music Test

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.

PCMark Vantage - Communications Test

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 forever.

PCMark Vantage - Productivity Test

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

PCMark Vantage - HDD Test

Random Read/Write Speed AnandTech Storage Bench


View All Comments

  • Kiru - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    I've bought a bunch of stuff from OWC (3 external Fire wire drives, and 18 gigs of memory), and had no issues with RMAs when I've needed to (the power supply for one of my externals died). I've had just as many issues with faulty product from New Egg as from anywhere else. But that refurb story IS definitely a pisser. I'm surprised they didn't work with you on that. Reply
  • mobilehavoc - Saturday, February 27, 2010 - link

    It's pricey at $800 but still cheaper than the OCZ Vertex LE. I'll be running it in a Macbook with Snow Leopard so internal GC is a nice feature since no TRIM support.

    Any chance these will be upgradeable via firmware in the future? Or is it you buy the drive and that's it? I'm just nervous about buying something that may not be properly supported for times to come.
  • Di22yDucRydr1198 - Saturday, February 27, 2010 - link

    Do any SSDs support this format which is starting to appear on some conventional HDDs? If one has an Advanced format HDD for storage and a SSD for OS and apps, will the two work together without a hitch?
    Why is that the Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB falls off so dramatically on the 4k random write aligned to 512-byte sectors?
    Thanks for your efforts on this and all the preceeding SSD articles.
  • Griswold - Sunday, February 28, 2010 - link

    I dont think there needs to be advanced format compatibility with SSDs. Reply
  • hyc - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    And you're completely wrong. Advanced format brings similar benefits to SSDs as for HDDs. Not to mention that most SSDs are already using multiple-of-4KB erase blocks, so it actually has *more* benefit than for HDDs.

    Anand, your "aligned" random write result for the 50GB drive looks identical to your unaligned result. This looks like a test error to me. At worst, the difference in peak performance should be a factor of 2, due to using half as many channels in the 50GB drive vs the 100GB drive. I think you need to reformat that drive and repeat that test.
  • kunedog - Saturday, February 27, 2010 - link

    At last we get an acknowledgement of the market prices of the G2 X-25M, now that they're finally where they were supposed to be at release. It only took six months for your predictions to come true!
  • buzznut - Saturday, February 27, 2010 - link

    There are a lot of comments here, so I don't expect this to be read. I am going under the assumption that the data for the Kingston SSD-v 40GB will be the same for the Intel 40GB drive. Many of us have purchased the Intel 40GB as a boot drive. Unfortunately I rarely see it in any benchmarks.

    I was wondering if there were any plans to do an article on raid performance. Also, are drive manufacturers planning on including trim support for raid at some point? Could we expect a firmware upgrade for this, or would it be for newer drives only?I understand that garbage collection is still available, but that's not the same is it?

    I know that filling a drive to capacity is bad, but I have heard that one might leave anywhere from 10%-25% space available on a typical SSD. I have been paranoid about ruining the performance of my drive, so I have been running it at half capacity. Is there a sweet spot between capacity and performance on these smaller 40 GB drives?

    Also would any of you recommend adding a second drive in raid 0? It seems to me to be an inexpensive way of adding capacity and performance without shelling out $200+ for a new higher capacity drive (which my wife will surely not approve). Again I am hesitant for the lack of trim support in raid. Will this require much more maintenance on the drive(s)?
  • greenguy - Saturday, February 27, 2010 - link

    As another data point, I have 3 of these drives. I usually just read the kingston 40GB figure as it is the same drive. Performance degradation is something that increases as you read and write to the drive more. The less of this you do, the longer it will last in a near-virgin state.

    But yeah, I am interested in the questions you ask as well.
  • jimhsu - Saturday, February 27, 2010 - link

    I'm curious about the unaligned vs aligned writes. How are these being set up: formatting NTFS with either 512 bytes or 4096 bytes allocation units? Or something else?

    Also, being an owner of a X25-M G2, I see that earlier generation drives don't have much variation between the two, while these new generation drives have dramatic variation. How does this translate into real-life performance metrics (i.e. the anandtech bench test)?Are there situations where failing to take advantage of aligned 4K leads to a severe performance impact, compared to the new drives?
  • semo - Saturday, February 27, 2010 - link

    Any chance of seeing articles about PCI-E SSDs? Or are they not being talked about due to cost and/or lack of TRIM? Reply

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