ASUS Zenbook SSD Review – Not Necessarily SandForce Driven Hits A Speed Bump

TEST REGIMEN

Our testing is going to be very simple and straight forward.  Each system was plugged in, turned on from brand new and then placed in high performance mode.  We inserted our Super Talent RC8 , which contains so many of our favorite benchmark programs, started Ceedo and walked through several benchmark applications.  You may remember our first use of this software and flash drive from last years trip to Computex where we were able to test several SSDs right then and there.

ATTO DISK BENCHMARK VER. 2.46

ATTO Disk Benchmark is perhaps one of the oldest benchmarks going and is definitely the main staple for manufacturer performance specifications. ATTO uses RAW or compressible data and, for our benchmarks, we use a set length of 256mb and test both the read and write performance of various transfer sizes ranging from 0.5 to 8192kb. Manufacturers prefer this method of testing as it deals with raw (compressible) data rather than random (includes incompressible data) which, although more realistic, results in lower performance results.

ADATA XM11

SANDISK U100

The ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD displayed typical results of 556MB/s read and 508MB/s write while the Sandisk U100 had lower results at 490MB/s read and 272MB/s write.  This may be an indication of the direction that we are travelling but, in all honestly, we were happy to see both SATA 3 SSDs performing at their specifications in an ultrabook.  You definitely get points here ASUS.

CRYSTAL DISK BENCHMARK VER. 3.0 X64

Crystal Disk Benchmark is used to measure read and write performance through sampling of raw (0/1 Fill/compressible) or random data which is, for the most part, incompressible. Samsung SSDs have similar results regardless of the sample data and our test below shows the worst case test scenario with random or ‘highly incompressible’ data being transferred during the test.

For this test, the AData XM11 is the SSD on the left and the Sandisk U100 is on the right. We will display four results with the top two using highly compressible data samples while the bottom two use incompressible data samples:

These results were very concerning, especially with respect to the lower three U100 write transfer speeds of 21, 11 and 10MB/s.  We were so concerned, in fact, that we did the tests several times and even rebooted the system and checked for any issues that might be hidden in the Device Manager.  The results stand, however.

We expected the AData XM11 ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD to to drop in performance a bit when testing highly incompressible data but the U100 results remained to be very concerning, so much so in fact that we elected to follow through with AS SSD tests.

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AData XM11 owner
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AData XM11 owner

The Sandisk U100 owners at least can laugh at the AData XM11 owners when they stumble on the Sandforce SF-2281 BSOD bug…

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Old news and severely blown out of proportion.

Ryomitomo
Guest
Ryomitomo

My cousin’s OCZ Vertex3 SF drive BSOD almost daily. I don’t think the problem was blown out of proportions…

name
Guest
name

hello, I know this is a very old article. however i just want to know if i could use the adata xm11 drive in my desktop? can I just plug it into my sata and power connector? thanks

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

It depends on whether you have the original Zen that we tested in this article, or a newer model with M.2 SATA listed in the specs. Can you advise?

Kira Bondarev
Guest

I have a UX31 with a Sandisk U100 and I get the BSOD pretty often as well. I am not a expert, but my guess would be that all since SSD is still a pretty new technology and not that popular as the HDD it’s not yet perfect and still has some issues and bugs.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

I have been with SSDs since there first release in 2007 and I wouldn’t believe that your BSODs are common because of it being a new technology. Typically there is another reason which hasn’t yet surfaced. I have been through just about every SSD on the market and run 10 or so systems and laptops and I never experience BODSs randomly.

Someone
Guest
Someone

The SandForce BSOD bug has been fixed as it has been tested and verified by AnandTech and many other publications. I don’t like SandForce, but you have to admit they (or at least Intel) have stabilized their firmware and their SSD’s are now very competitive with the rest.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

The SandForce bug was overblown. I couldn’t count the numbet of drives we reviewed and tested an, to this day, I only know of one instance of a drive bricking personally. This is compounded by the fact that I have installed probably over a hundred drives in the past two years for clients in my area and they have yet to experience the issue as well

Pedro Amador
Guest

Is the bug fixed or not? Thanks in advance!

amb9800
Guest
amb9800

Interesting follow-up to this is that the 256GB SanDisk U100 seems to be far worse– the machine stutters and freezes with even light multitasking and can barely handle 480p local video without stuttering.

Here’s ATTO from my UX31 (results are the same even with less data on the drive): comment image

CrystalDiskMark: comment image

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Understandable as the specs would be much the same and for any but typical usage their would be just that.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Thank you very much. As a reviewer, it is hard to make a decision in testing, as with this review, and to decide whether to hold back and get another sample for testing or to go ahead and believe the results are similar to what others have received.

My initial decision relied upon that of other forum posts and its nice to have validation here as well.

Pedro Amador
Guest

This is
totally true, I have a SanDisk SSD U100 256GB in a new ASUS and the performance
is horrible. With all the resources stopped, I’m not able to see a film…
sometimes is stopping!

Do you know if there is a solution or I need to change the hard disk or
computer?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Thank you for the personal experience to validate our findings Pedro and we are sorry of your predicament.

Pedro Amador
Guest

But your blog helps a lot… congratulations… I’m a new fan 😀

By the way… I had been working as a performance consultant with ERP system 12 years ago. I was strange what you mention to turn off the pagefile of Windowns (Totally?), are you sure about this? (I guest that people with just 1GB can’t do it, people with 8GB can do it… but with 4GB???)

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Believe it or not, I have been suggesting such since 07 and have watched the world slowly move to my side. 4GB minimum for the typical user is the recommendation. If you have highly intensive needs, I would recommend 8GB but many would be amazed how much they can get going in Win 7 before they resources suffer.

I haven’t had PF on since the day I got 4GB RAM and have never once experienced a warning or problem….and I can be fairly intensive!

Pedro Amador
Guest

Thanks for the answer! I turned off some days ago… and the performance is better (but I’m not very happy with this SDD… it is the third one I have it, and I found it very slow).

Best regards

mattseds
Guest
mattseds

Unreal. I had no idea there was ever a difference offered, and found this thread while searching for potential firmware updates for the U100. I was quite sure the SSD was my issue, as there was ZERO capability to do any simultaneous disk activity. Unzipping something while surfing the net, and the net crawls because it can’t load pages into cache. Anyhow, just adding that the disabling of the page file makes a huge improvement. I’m guessing that this disk is so IO thread-limited that performing one operation while Windows swaps to the page file is enough to bring it… Read more »

mattseds
Guest
mattseds

Just correcting my above that the sustained spike was 100MB/s, not 10MB/s

Pedro Amador
Guest

It is not really good. I have the pagefile turned off. But some times Windows is not working… and start a crazy state!

amb9800
Guest
amb9800

@TheSSDReview:disqus, do you know of any 256GB (or larger) SSDs in the same form-factor as the U100? I’d love to replace it, but looks to be a proprietary shape/connector and incompatible with Apple’s SSD pinouts?

A bit surprised that Asus is still using the U100 in the Zenbook Prime series…

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

The ‘gumstick’ form factor of the Zen is similar but not compatible with its Mac counterpart, so unfortunately the OWC drive will not work. The ONLY other drive that would work is the ADATA twin of that drive that we reviewed and it is not available through consumer sales. Sorry.

amb9800
Guest
amb9800

For what it’s worth, upgrading to Windows 8 CP gave me a pretty nice bump in SSD performance. A few months in, and while it’s still horrible (gets stuck while switching between desktop and Metro, had a few multi-minute full-system freezes during I/O-intensive tasks, videos are hopeless, etc.), it’s at least better than under Win 7. Also, for some reason, switching to an older version of the Intel AHCI driver gives a 5-10% bump in write performance.

Me
Guest
Me

Running only synthetic benchmarks is not enough, I would expect to see some user scenario measurements and also some power consumption comparison.
I got the Zenbook with SanDisk U100 and after 2 weeks I can say that I’m very happy.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

The review displays the most realistic method of ‘true user experience’ evaluation seen today with PCMark Vantage and, as well, AS SSD Copy Benchmark is also a true copy test benchmark. There is nothing defective about the U100 whatsoever and in typical use, it would be difficult to differentiate from any other. The difficulty lies in anyone purchasing a system with this ssd for specific uses such as photography, movie editing and whatnot. It took 47 seconds to move a file….those are back to HDD days!

Lun916
Guest
Lun916

I find an interesting video on YouTube.
Its talking about the Sandisk SSD compared with ADATA that use in Zenbook.
Check it ! LOL

http://youtu.be/QjY7Ki85dWw

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Excellent Find!

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