by Robert Tanner on March 2, 2011 in Storage
There couldn’t be a better time than the present to purchase an SSD, and on the same token, it’s also a strange time. Performance drives cost the same as budget drives, and a perfect example of this is Corsair’s Force F90. It’s priced-right, offers incredible performance, and makes perfect use of its SandForce SF-1200 controller.
Synthetic benchmarks have typically been favored for performance testing, but the results they provide can be fairly abstract, and the methods they use to assign their scores can be dubious at times. By contrast, real-world application benchmarks provide performance metrics that apply directly to real-world usage, and we endeavor to apply both in our performance comparisons.
SYSmark 2007 Preview from BAPCO is a special case, because its synthetic scores are derived from tests in real-world applications. However, we still believe that synthetic benchmarking scores are best used to directly compare the performance of one piece of hardware to another, and not for developing an impression of real-world performance expectations. SYSmark is more useful than most synthetic benchmarking programs in our opinion, because its tests emulate tasks that people actually perform, in actual software programs that they are likely to use.
The benchmark is hands-free, using scripts to execute all of the real-world scenarios identically, such as video editing in Sony Vegas and image manipulation in Adobe Photoshop. At the conclusion of the suite of tests, five scores are delivered: an E-learning score, a Video Creation score, a Productivity score, and a 3D Performance score, as well as an aggregated ‘Overall’ score. These scores can still be fairly abstract, and are most useful for direct comparisons between test systems.
A quick note on methodology: SYSmark 2007 requires a clean install of Windows 7 64-bit to run optimally. Before any testing is conducted, the hard drive is first wiped clean, and then a fresh Windows installation is conducted, then lastly, the necessary hardware drivers are installed.
SYSmark provides an exhaustive battery of real-world usage tests by replaying the same recorded commands given by one individual as they used a library of content creation and productivity applications. According to BAPCo, differences of three points or less is not meaningful for the final score. Although we have no idea why the program is still marketed as a “Preview” given the programs utilized are older versions (Photoshop CS2 anyone?), they still make for an effective test today.
It is important to note that a SSD is just one part of a computer system, and just because it can make disk accesses faster, the OS more responsive, and keep the system running smoothly that it doesn’t automatically make all programs execute faster. We can see here that most SSDs are capable of attaining the best scores, to see a larger difference we would need to first upgrade our Q6600 test platform. SSDs make the most sense in fast, modern systems and especially laptops where slow 5,400RPM hard drives are still often utilized today (*cough* Apple).