SSD vs. HDD
SSDs are fast - that's common knowledge by now. But how well are the fastest SSDs competing with the fastest SATA hard disk drives on the market?
SSDs reviewed: For example Intel's X25-M 80 GB [Source: view picture gallery]
With increasing performance and dropping prices flash chip SSDs become more and more attractive as system drives. We compared the three currently fastest SSDs on the market with each other and also had them compete against the fastest SATA hard disk drive. The following competitors had to endure our tests:
Intel X25-M: SSD (MLC), 80 GB, ca. 580 Euro
Mtron Pro 7500 32: SSD (SLC), 32 GB, ca. 430 Euro
Memoright GT 32: SSD (SLC), 32 GB, ca. 690 Euro
Western Digital Velociraptor WD3000GLFS: HDD, 300 GB, ca. 220 Euro
The price per gigabyte of SSDs is still much higher than the one of normal magnet hard drives - even if Western Digital's 10,000 rpm Velociraptor, which isn't actually regarded to be a low-priced device, is used for comparison. But is the performance worth the price? Test 1: Transfer rates
The results are irregular in regards of the average transfer rate, which is important for dealing with big files: Intel's X25-M is regardless of the low-priced MLC chips far ahead with 200 MB/s, but drops down to 75.9 MB/s on average in writing procedures - the performance level of older hard drives. The devices of Memoright, Mtron and Western Digital are closed together, although the hard disk drive is a little behind in both disciplines. We were positively surprised by the Memoright model that reached a better writing performance than specified by the manufacturer: Instead of 120 it reached 123 MB per second.
Test 2: Access times
Average transfer rate in MB/s [Source: view picture gallery]
This is SSD territory - especially the reading access times of those drives are excellent since they don't have clumsy heads that have to be adjusted. Low access times are important for applications and the operating system since they usually utilize many small files. As expected the SSDs stay below 0.1 millisecond while reading - the Western Digital device doesn't stand a chance. But in writing the Intel is the only one that reaches brilliant 0.1 millisecond on average again, while the others need more time - the Mtron even is obviously beaten by the hard drive. But the maximal access times of all SSDs are much higher than those average values; writing operations have and still are the big drawback of the NAND chips.
Test 3: Copy time
Average Access time in ms [Source: view picture gallery]
How well are the competitors doing under realistic conditions? The Intel device is, regardless of its weak writing transfer rate, surprisingly fast in copying a 5 GiByte big file, but the Memoright is close behind. Only the Mtron can't really keep the pace.
A real stress test is the transfer of a 5 GiByte big folder that doesn't contain only one big file but 25,000 smaller and bigger files. Here transfer rates and access times are equally important as the controller and the size of the cache. The Intel device isn't looking that good in this test: The procedure takes 2 minutes and 54 seconds. The other competitors are faster, especially the Memoright which finishes the transfer in 44 less seconds.
Copy time in min:s [Source: view picture gallery]
The copy test reveals: Transfer rates and access times alone don't give a clear picture of the performance. For normal use the balanced Memoright SSD is the fastest device - and even the in theory inferior hard disk drive is doing well. The duel between memory chips and magnet discs remains interesting.
If you need more space than those devices have to offer, you might want to take a look at: Eleven SATA hard drives with 640 to 1,500 Gigabyte reviewed