TEST BENCH AND PROTOCOL
In testing, our main objective is to obtain results as pure and as accurate as possible and we want to ensure that no anomalies slip through. Simply put, we want to provide you with the absolute best results the tested hardware can provide. Repetition in testing is standard and, if necessary, we may conduct specific tests in Windows 7 ‘safe mode’ to ensure the OS has little to no influence on the end result.
In order to validate and confirm our findings, testing is supported by industry accepted benchmark programs. All results are displayed through capture of the actual benchmark for better understanding of the testing process by the reader.
The software we will be using for today’s analysis is typical of many of our reviews and consists of ATTO Disk Benchmark, Crystal DiskMark, AS SSD, Anvil Storage Utilities and PCMark Vantage. We rely on these as they each have a way of supporting one another yet, at the same time, adding a new performance benchmark to the total picture. Much of the software is free and can be downloaded simply by clicking on the linked title.
SSD COMPRESSION AND TESTING FLUCTUATIONS
All SSDs are not created equal and many new SSD enthusiasts realize that when they test their new drive to confirm specifications and ensure all is in order. SandForce controlled SSDs, as in the Strontium Hawk we are testing today, use compression techniques in storage whereas many others do not. This creates a bit of confusion when enthusiasts test the drive with random data through benchmarking programs such as AS SSD and Crystal DiskMark. The results seem to be lower than the listed specifications.
The results actually present a false portrayal of the drives ability when compared to other drives such as Samsung, Crucial or Intel. It is for this reason that all of our comparison testing is done through PCMark Vantage. PCMark Vantage HDD Suite simply provides evaluation results based on transfer speeds reached through typical user patterns. Vantage provides a better testing medium, in that, it sees through the typical synthetic benchmarks and provides us with ‘true to life’ results of the drive.
Crystal Disk Info provides some excellent information about the SSD itself to include its health, product information, ‘power on’ information as well as the characteristics of the SSD. We can see that the SSD is capable of TRIM as it is not greyed out as with AAM.
Our testing of the Strontium Hawk was actually conducted with the original firmware, as shown here, and their newest release which is the SF 5.04 update. There were no observed performance differences between the two, however, the newest version of SandForces firmware ensure TRIM functions at full capability. Strontium has confirmed that all SSDs will be shipped with the latest FW release.