Four-Way SSD Round-Up, OCZ, Super Talent, Mtron

Article Index

Performance Analysis and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Overall, when we look back at our benchmark data, our SSD test candidates as a whole offered higher average read bandwidth and generally competitive write bandwidth, though definitely not as robust with small file writes in the 4K - 32K range.  That said, most end user scenarios generally aren't write intensive with small file sizes below 64K.  If you're storing a bunch of low resolution pictures, for example, you might notice a performance differential but these days, file sizes certainly aren't shrinking.  The write performance limitation of current SSD technologies would likely manifest itself in database server applications under transactional conditions, though we didn't prove this out in our testing due to the issues we saw with IOMeter and SSDs under Vista.  We'll be revisiting this test setup under Windows XP in the days ahead, as we look at next generation SSD technology that is coming to market from other major OEMs.

What was absolutely impressive however, were the random access and seek times, along with the benefits that come with them and Solid State Storage in general.  You simply have to experience first hand, the responsiveness of a desktop system running an SSD, to fully appreciate it.  From lighting fast boot times, to near instantaneous application loading, our SSDs blew the already lighting fast WD VelociRaptor out of the water, when it came to standard end user desktop usage models, which are predominantly read-intensive.  This was evident in our PCMark Vantage testing, where many of our SSDs posted numbers that were two to three times faster in some test cases, like Vista Startup, Windows Defender, Application Loading and Gaming.



We should note however, that there are still a few caveats with SSDs that the informed consumer should consider.  First, in general there have been moderately high failure rates with some of the earlier version SSD MLC technologies, with reports of both data corruption and loss, so make sure you look at warranty coverage for any product.  And as always, protect your valuable data with daily backups.  In addition, it has been widely reported that the Windows Vista operating system exhibits performance issues with SSDs under certain conditions, due to inefficient handling of data over an SSD's 4K page or sector size, versus a traditional hard drive's 512-byte sector size.  Major OEMs like Samsung are reportedly working on the problem with Microsoft, so hopefully things will getting better for SSDs and Vista in the not-so distant future.  While it certainly may make sense to hold off on a major SSD investment until things mature a bit more for SSD technologies, we do feel 2008 will likely go down as "the year of the SSD".

 
OCZ Core Series 64GB SSD:  The OCZ Core Series drive was generally the fastest of the bunch, in terms of average read performance but it also exhibited the most inconsistent random write performance with lots of spikes and valleys across its 64GB volume.  We've been told the "V2" revision of the drive will offer better performance all-around and V2 drives are showing up at places like NewEgg now.  Though the Core Series V2 is currently selling for a premium over the V1 series drive ($214 for the Core Series V1 and $239 after rebate for the V2), we're also told the V1 will go away completely in the near future and V2 pricing will continue to fall.  In addition, the nice thing about the new V2 series drives is that they also incorporate a mini-USB port for future firmware upgrades.  This will definitely come in handy as the landscape settles for SSDs and tweaks and optimizations can be implemented easily in the field with end user programming. 

Regardless, we like the relatively low cost and robust performance of the OCZ Core Series SSD and it's one of two in our round-up that we feel confident recommending to our readers. 



  

  

  • Fast 119MB/s average reads
  • Blazing fast <1ms random access 
  • Low power consumption and heat
  • Zero noise
  • Spotty 75MB/sec random write performance
  • Much higher cost per GB versus standard HD
  • 2 year warranty



OCZ 64GB Standard SLC SSD:  The OCZ 64GB standard SLC-based SSD we tested actually proved to be another interesting and compelling option, due to its highly stable and consistent performance for both read and write operations.  This drive showed significantly less variation in random write performance over small file sizes, though it didn't top out quite as high in read performance versus the other drives in our round-up.  The real issue with this SSD for the average end user will be its price.  It's the second most expensive drive of the bunch at $695 after mail-in rebate.  It's likely that most folks won't be able to justify its $10/Gig cost structure.  In general, these types of SLC-based SSDs will cater to the performance enthusiast and enterprise applications in the future, while MLC-based products will continue to mature as a mainstream offering.

 




  

  

  • Stable, Fast 92/74MB Read/Writes
  • Blazing fast <1ms random access
  • Low Power Consumption
  • Zero Noise
  • Extremely High Cost Per GB
  • Relatively Low Capacity
  • Much higher cost per GB versus standard HD
  • 1 year warranty



Super Talent MasterDrive MX 60GB MLC SSD:  The Super Talent MasterDrive MX was an interesting product in that it mirrored the OCZ Core Series SSD in nearly every test, though it was also consistently slightly behind it in all our benchmark scores.  And frankly, Super Talent's specifications of the drive were a bit more conservative versus the OCZ Core Series product, with the MasterDrive MX able to hit closer to its specified read/write speeds of 120MB/sec for reads and 80MB/sec for writes.  Super Talent does also offer a 3-year warranty as well, which is a bit better than OCZ's 2-year policy.  In the end, though it didn't offer quite as much peak performance as the OCZ Core Series, it's also currently the cheapest drive of the group we tested at $196 dollars via NewEgg after mail-in rebate.  And you can be sure that overall prices will continue to decline for SSDs, so make sure you cross-reference the competitive landscape on a regular basis.

 



  

  

  • Fast 113MB/s average reads
  • Blazing fast <1ms random access 
  • Low power consumption and heat
  • Zero Noise
  • 3-year warranty
  • Spotty random 75MB/sec write performance
  • Much higher cost per GB versus standard HD


  

Mtron MSP 7500 Pro 32GB SLC SSD:  The Mtron SLC-based MSP 7500 Pro was a bit of a mixed bag for us.  On one hand it offers extremely stable read/write performance across its entire volume, exhibiting far less variability versus the other SSDs and even the WD VelociRaptor 10K RPM hard drive.  It also offered near-zero CPU utilization with its on-board control processor, SRAM and DRAM cache subsystems.  However, though its read performance clearly fell into the top-end for our round-up, with the drive coming close to the OCZ Core Series performance numbers, the MSP 7500 Pro's write performance was the worst of the bunch by a fairly significant margin in many tests and it was obvious in our PCMark Vantage testing.  Finally, this drive is far and away the most expensive of the group, weighing in at a hefty $779 MSRP currently for only a 32GB density.  In reality, the MSP 7500 Pro is probably better suited for industrial or enterprise applications, where deterministic performance and reliability is much more critical.  Mtron also brands this drive with "24/7 reliability", which is something you traditionally do not see highlighted currently with most SSDs.  We'd feel most comfortable with this drive in server environment, which is something we probably wouldn't advise with the other MLC-based drives in our round-up.  Mtron also offers a 5-year warranty on this drive, which is the best of the lot that we tested.


  

  

  • Fast 117MB/sec reads
  • Very stable performance across entire drive 
  • Low power consumption and heat
  • Zero noise
  • 5-year warranty
  • Slower average writes
  • Extremely high cost
  • Relatively low capacity


Related content

Comments

Show comments blog comments powered by Disqus