Intel 520 SSD Review (Round Two) – RAID Testing at 1.5GB/s With Highpoint 2720SGL RAID Controller

PCMARK VANTAGE X64 HDD SUITE

Our final results of our testing with the Highpoint controller happen to be our favorite, PCMark Vantage. In PCMark Vantage the data simply cannot be manipulated, and a result is provided based on the transfer speeds observed in eight simulated user activities.  PCMark Vantage remains the gold standard of real life usage testing. This is also a widely accepted opinion held by many reviewers and storage enthusiasts. This benchmark uses both mixed read/write tests and is a good test for overall performance.

There are eight tests in all and the tests performed record the speed of data movement in MB/s to which they are then given a numerical score after all of the tests are complete.  The simulations are as follows:

  • Windows Defender In Use
  • Streaming Data from storage in games such as Alan Wake which allows for massive worlds and riveting non-stop action
  • Importing digital photos into Windows Photo Gallery
  • Starting the Vista Operating System
  • Home Video editing with Movie Maker which can be very time consuming
  • Media Center which can handle video recording, time shifting and streaming from Windows media center to an extender such as XBox
  • Cataloging a music library
  • Starting applications

The PCMark Vantage HDD Suite was tested on the array and the results came in at a respectable score of 82112. While this is not much higher than a single drive score, one must take into consideration that tests used in the software are based on typical user scenarios and cannot fully utilize the RAID array to its full potential.  RAID arrays excel at resolving high load situations quickly, thus minimizing ‘wait’ times.

WINDOWS EXPERIENCE INDEX

The Win7 Experience Index (WEI) represents Microsoft’s method of rating computer systems and, more specific to our usage, provides a storage evaluation through a graduated rating system up to 7.9 on PC components and the system as a whole.

This benchmark is built into Windows and anyone can use it by simply typing:

  • Go to Win Orb/All programs/Accessories and right click on the Command prompt;
  • Click Run as Administrator
  • In DOS, type winsat disk and hit enter.

The purpose of Winsat testing is to view the system as the Operating System does. These are the metrics that are important to the base performance of Windows. This is an extremely important benchmark for users who are utilizing their desktops in typical user patterns, such as gaming, browsing, etc.  These results show near-linear scaling with the SSD and controller combo.

For the lay person, a simple explanation is that you aren’t leaving any of the performance on the table from your drives. In many scenarios when using drives together in a RAID configuration you will lose some performance of the drives, as a whole. You gain tremendously, but lose a bit at the same time and this is not the case here.

The score of 832.32MB/s in the ‘Random 16.0 Read’ metric is very indicative of extremely good random speeds, which equate to very fast end-user speeds. This measurement is directly related to the “snappiness” of your computer.  Scores of the maximum 7.9 across the board tell the story!

AIDA 64

This benchmark will be used for an independent latency measurement so that we can verify the great results that we witnessed with the AS SSD benchmark. One of the great features of AIDA 64 as a testing tool is that it measures the latency to a fine point of granularity.  These results mirror those of the AS SSD bench.

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WOW!
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WOW!

Wow thats alot of benchmarks to be running on the SSDs. I would never do that many within a months time on my SSD.

Paul Alcorn
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Paul Alcorn

That is true, many would not. A funny aspect of this is that by the time I had tested this on the HighPoint, I had ran it through two other controllers, putting it through its paces. We used the HighPoint in the end because it gives the clearest view of the drives performance itself, with no caching involved. These drives have taken quite the beating before we even reached review time, and they have much more in front of them in Enterprise testing!

Ghostrecon69
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Ghostrecon69

It looks very impresive #s at a highly price cost, when I compare a bit less performance of my Revodrive3 X2 for the half of the cost of all this hardware setup the only thing that I envy out this setup is the 4k #s compare of the Revo3X2. Im still happy with my revo.

paul alcorn
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paul alcorn

They both certainly have their place. the nice thing about this controller is future expandability. you can upgrade drives as new tech comes out 🙂

Christopher Ryan
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Christopher Ryan

That’s some sexy stuff, Paul.

paul alcorn
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paul alcorn

Thanks Chris! the full review of the new drivers for the highpoint is now up 🙂

Fortune
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Fortune

Paul, will you do a step by step how-to install of the Highpoint 2720sgl on a X79 motherboard? Or is it just plug-n-play w/ update firmware? Meaning just let it boot after updating the firmware then do a soft raid. I have an Asus RIVE, but read some review on an e-tailer it’s not compatible with it, but it seem to work with your ASRock.

paul alcorn
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paul alcorn

i have no issues with it. If you are having issues though here is some pointers: boot the computer with NO DEVICES connected instal the management software for the card (its called RAID Management) then once installed, flash the BIOS to the “QuickBIOS”. This bios allows the user to not see the control panel that comes up pre-boot. therin usually lies the problem, with incorrect option rom assignments from the motherboards. So, once installed, reboot. you will see no pre-boot GUI, just some test. that should be curative 🙂 it is a ‘low profile’ boot method to get past any… Read more »

apocalypzez
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apocalypzez

Hey Paul,

I just bought this raid card and am trying to use 2x intel 520 240GB ssds via this card as a main boot drive. How do I go about doing this?? I have posted this question in the forum as well. And how do you boot to the raid management?? And BIOS version for the card you suggesting. I have installed the latest bios that was available in highpoint website!!

Thx

Mrfsys
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Mrfsys

The factory enables INT13 by default, so the following sequence is what I would recommend, having previously installed 2 of these 2720SGL cards: (1) boot into the card’s BIOS with CTRL-H; (2) initialize all member SSDs; (3) create a RAID-0 array with 2 x SSDs as members; (4) re-boot into your motherboard BIOS and choose this RAID array in your Boot Priority; (a) Highpoint recommends that all other storage devices be disconnected from the motherboard’s ports, temporary: see README.TXT for further details; (5) proceed to do fresh install of Windows, from your Windows Setup disc. (The above sequence is obviously… Read more »

MRFS
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MRFS

First, read the README.TXT file (what a concept, eh?) INT13 is enabled by default at the factory and, if you are not hosting your OS on that controller, you should DISABLE INT13. There is a Windows program that makes this easy, BUT you must download both the latest device driver and the Windows program to update the card’s BIOS. Obviously, you need Windows installed on some other storage device(s), in order to be able to run this BIOS update program. If you plan to install an OS on this card, you don’t need to change the INT13 setting. Installing Windows… Read more »

Jimmy
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What is the water cooling system you have installed here on the test images? Great review on these hard drives by the way. =)

MySchizoBuddy
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MySchizoBuddy

newbie question. How did you connect the 3 drives to two ports on the raid card?

Henk
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Henk

each port on the controller has 4 sata channels. Usually you would connect the two ports to the backplane of your computer case, which in turn has connectors for your disk. Alternatively you can probably pickup a splitter cable on Ebay

Ibmford
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Ibmford

Does trim function with RAID in this line? When can we expect TRIM to work in RAID configurations?

Les@TheSSDReview
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NO, TRIM does not function as the appropriate RST release has not been made public as of yet.