Crucial BX100 (120GB, 250GB, 500GB & 1TB) SSD Reviewby Kristian Vättö on April 10, 2015 1:20 PM EST
We've been looking at performance consistency since the Intel SSD DC S3700 review in late 2012 and it has become one of the cornerstones of our SSD reviews. Back in the days many SSD vendors were only focusing on high peak performance, which unfortunately came at the cost of sustained performance. In other words, the drives would push high IOPS in certain synthetic scenarios to provide nice marketing numbers, but as soon as you pushed the drive for more than a few minutes you could easily run into hiccups caused by poor performance consistency.
Once we started exploring IO consistency, nearly all SSD manufacturers made a move to improve consistency and for the 2015 suite, I haven't made any significant changes to the methodology we use to test IO consistency. The biggest change is the move from VDBench to Iometer 1.1.0 as the benchmarking software and I've also extended the test from 2000 seconds to a full hour to ensure that all drives hit steady-state during the test.
For better readability, I now provide bar graphs with the first one being an average IOPS of the last 400 seconds and the second graph displaying the IOPS divided by standard deviation during the same period. Average IOPS provides a quick look into overall performance, but it can easily hide bad consistency, so looking at standard deviation is necessary for a complete look into consistency.
I'm still providing the same scatter graphs too, of course. However, I decided to dump the logarithmic graphs and go linear-only since logarithmic graphs aren't as accurate and can be hard to interpret for those who aren't familiar with them. I provide two graphs: one that includes the whole duration of the test and another that focuses on the last 400 seconds of the test to get a better scope into steady-state performance.
Steady-state performance has never been Crucial's nor Silicon Motion's biggest strength, but 5K IOPS is fairly average for a value-oriented SSD and for the target group the performance is just fine.
As some of you have mentioned in the comments, displaying standard deviation alone isn't very useful because it totally ignores the IOPS, so I've changed the graph to IOPS divided by standard deviation during the last 400 seconds of the run. The SM2246EN has always been very inconsistent and it appears that the BX100 is no exception since it has the worst consistency we've tested so far.
Putting the IOPS under a microscope shows that the consistency really is poor. That's nothing new to the SM2246EN and the graph is very similar to the other SM2246EN drives we have tested, although I was hoping that Crucial would have tuned the firmware for better consistency. On the other hand, the users buying the BX100 are unlikely to put the drive under harsh 4KB random write workloads, so all in all the consistency isn't much of an issue.