The SSD Review uses benchmark software called PCMark Vantage x64 HDD Suite to create testing scenarios that might be used in the typical user experience. 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
As coincidence may have it, our with holding the review until receipt of a drive with updated firmware played out very well. A few reviews back, we started to see solid state drives breaking free of the PCMark Vantage HDD Suite high median of 34000 points which started with the Samsung 470 series SSD reaching the 40000 point mark. What has followed since is rather unexpected as we have seen similar scoring from the Mach Extreme SSD, SuperTalent FT2, Memoright FTM-25, followed by the new Renice K3VLAR PCIE 64GB.
We were fortunate to get the Super Talent FT2 as this drive is built on the SF-1500 footprint and quiet word around the industry is that the latest SandForce firmware is lifting the SF-1200 performance to that of the SF-1500. Is it more than coincidence that the Renice, Memoright and Mach Extreme all contain newer firmware and either equal or surpass that of the SF-1500?
Lets go one step further. The OWC Mercury Pro Extreme has surpassed all of these drives, contains the latest SandForce firmware also contains the SF-1200 series processor. Here is the result that the OWC displayed on Vantage x64:
SCORE TO RIGHT OF SPECIFIC HDD TEST PORTRAYED IN MB/S
We thought it appropriate that we also create a chart which displayed all of the solid state drives that have surpassed the PCMark Vantage HDD Suite 40000 point plateau. We see a definite pattern.
Having just played out our conspiracy theory regarding this new firmware, we have to elaborate by stating that there isn’t a manufacturer out there that will openly admit that new SandForce firmware is matching that of the SF-1500. In fact, I have put this question to SandForce representatives in just about every form available, each being followed by a fashionable silence in response.
To take it one step further, since there is absolutely no difference in the hardware makeup between the SF-1200 and the SF-1500, it would only make sense that they not make such an announcement because it truly appears that this new firmware is now turning your SF-1200 into a SF-1500 processor without the official stamp. Unfortunately, these results are only being seen in the f/w of updated SSD lines or newer drives as we have shown here. We don’t have knowledge of its release as an update to presently owned SSDs.
One might see a change in the wind coming soon, however, as Corsair has just released two new capacity drives with the SF-1200 and are advertising significantly higher IOPS limit which, coincidentally, matches that of the SF-1500.
Admittedly, we got a bit side tracked in our discussion of SandForce firmware but without this, who would have believed that a 40GB solid state drive could be one of the best on the market?
Its amazing to see how far we have come in only a few short years when we can now buy the fastest SSD available for under $100. The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro has topped our performance charts and it’s available from OWC right now for $99.
Some may think the shortfall of this SSD is the limited capacity but we have seen the ingenuity of so many who have realized that there is no need to have their entire collections of video, music and photos on their main storage drive. Although desktop systems can add on for storage, laptops present a bit more of a challenge and we are seeing many swap out their DVDs for the original hard drive while the SSD is installed as the boot disk. Others are discovering the beauty of external drives as well as cards and USBs that are now reaching greater capacities.
At the end of the day for those who want the best, price will still play a significant factor in the size of the SSD being purchased and if you are looking for the absolute fastest available for under a hundred bucks, look no further. The Mercury Extreme Pro 40GB SSD is an amazing SSD.
Pg2 – Testing and Protocol
Pg3 – Benchmarks