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OCZ RevoDrive 120GB PCI Express SSD
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by Robert Tanner on August 23, 2010 in Solid-State Drives

Looking to upgrade your PC with a fast SSD? How fast do you want it? If you answered “ultra fast”, then OCZ’s RevoDrive is worth a look. With read speeds of 500MB/s and beyond, a PCI Express interface, and a modest price premium, this SSD is hard to ignore. We’re on the bleeding-edge here, though, so this drive isn’t without a few caveats.

Synthetic: SYSmark 2007 Preview

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’s exhaustive battery of recorded real-world usage tests is an important factor when trying to precisely gauge drive performance. According to BAPCo, differences of 3 points in the final scoring should be considered meaningful. Given the age of this test suite, the “Preview” part of the benchmark’s name, however, is definitely not.

Perhaps most impressive is that even with the OCZ RevoDrive, the overall SYSmark score peaks at 178. While still an impressive feat, it serves as a reminder that not all programs are disk bottlenecked, and in fact most programs simply are not. Short of a disk benchmark or another type of workload that is primarily bottlenecked by the storage medium, it is clear we would see a much larger gain by upgrading the test platform itself before we upgraded from a capable SSD to a drive such as the Revo.