We installed each drive in turn as the Windows drive, with the other two drives as data drives, and ran HD Tach and PCMark05 benchmarks, as well as transferring 2GB of files between the drives.
OCZ Apex HD Tach Output
Our initial impressions of the Apex were mixed. The figures from HD Tach 3 show the average write speed - 136MB/s - is rather faster than the Intel X25-M, which is 80MB/s. This seems to be evidence of the RAID feature in action. But then its read-speed is considerably lower than the Intel's: 166.5MB/s to the X-25M's 235.1MB/s
The Apex demonstrates a burst speed that is the fractionally higher than the WD and 12 per cent lower than the Intel drive.
In the HDD element of PCMark05, the Apex achieved twice the score of the WD Caviar Black. However, it was substantially lower than the Intel X25-M.
Both HD Tach 3 and PCMark05 are synthetic benchmarks that have been written specifically for rotating magnetic media - data are stored quite differently on an SSD. Specifically, the SSD uses algorithms that level the load to ensure the memory chips are used evenly to avoid wearing them out.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that synthetic benchmarks are a waste of time with an SSD, but it does mean that you have to use caution when you refer to the test results. We'd go further than that and say that the current crop of benchmarks reflects the way that Windows XP and Vista use hard drives. We won’t get a proper picture until Microsoft finalises the SSD-friendly Windows 7.
Intel X-25M HD Tach Output
The software behemoth talked about Windows 7 Enhancements for Solid-State Drives at WinHEC 2008 and you can grab the PowerPoint here, but we warn you, it makes for dull reading.
... or just ...
use www.iometer.org with 4KB random writes.
testing random writes on SSD?
I think here you will find just the right tool (admittedly, benchmarking is not its purpose) : http://managedflash.com/downloads/index.htm . To see what I mean, download the documentation http://downloads.managedflash.com/documentation/090107_windowsinstall.pdf and jump to bottom part of page 22 (section 2.8).
Alternatively, just adopt any SQL IO performance test - they all measure random writes performance pretty well. BTW, I hope this explains why random writes latency is important.
Apologies for this folks - the figures on the graphs are correct however I managed to trip over the reams test results and make some silly mistakes in the copy which Tony has sorted out.
ref Bronek's comments: Tony and self talked about hard drive testing a while back and came to the conclusion that benchmarks are all well and good but file transfer tests are more real world.
Transferring files and timing the results should reflect any funny business such as excessive latency. If this is not the case I'd be happy to hear the flaw along with any suggestions about how we can realistically measure it.
Apologies, all. The graphs present the correct HD Tach numbers - and now so does the review text. It doesn't radically alter the outcome of the evaluation, and the Verdict and Rating stand.
SSD friendly OS
Is Mac OS X 'SSD friendly', as per the configs you can buy from Apple with SSDs?
Would be interesting to see results here.