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PCMark Vantage

To make this part of our test session complete, we are going to run the latest version of PCMark called Vantage. Compared with the previous versions, the benchmark has become more up-to-date and advanced in its selection of subtests as well as Windows Vista orientation. Each subtest is run ten times and the results of the ten runs are averaged.

Here is a brief description of each subtest:

  • Windows Defender is when the HDD is under multithreaded load, one thread scanning files for malicious software.
  • Gaming emulates the typical load on the disk subsystem when the user is playing a video game.
  • Photo Gallery emulates loading of images from a photo gallery.
  • Vista Start Up emulates the disk subsystem load when booting up Windows Vista.
  • Movie Maker emulates video editing load.
  • Media Center. This is the load on the hard disk when the user is running Windows Media Center.
  • Media Player emulates the loading of files into Windows Media Player.
  • Application Loading shows the drive’s speed when loading popular applications.

Basing on these subtests, the drive’s overall performance rating is calculated.

Before proceeding to the results, we want to note one curious thing. We first benchmarked the WD7501AYPS with AHCI disabled. Having found our mistake, we retested the drive with AHCI enabled. And then we compared the results and found them to be very interesting. So, we offer both results for you to see the difference.

Strangely enough, the multithreaded load is handled better by those drives that had terrible results in the multithreaded read test, i.e. by the Samsung and Seagate Barracuda ES. Third place goes to the Hitachi. Seagate’s new-generation drives are slower than their predecessors due to different firmware – their higher recording density doesn’t help here.

The WD7501AYPS produces the same result with and without AHCI.

The gamer’s choice is obvious: the speeds of the Samsung, Hitachi and Seagate 7200.11 are similar and higher than those of the other drives.

AHCI provides a performance gain of over half a megabyte per second here.

Photographers should appreciate the Samsung and the Seagate 7200.11. The Hitachi rolled back to the bottom of the diagram, giving way to the Western Digital Caviar Blue.

AHCI slows the drive down somewhat here.

The Seagate 7200.10 proved to be the best drive for booting up Windows Vista. It is ahead of its server version as well as Seagate’s new-generation drives. The latter found this test to be too hard and lose to almost every other drive.

AHCI provides a performance gain of nearly 2MBps here. This helped the drive from Western Digital overtake the Seagate ES.2.

Samsung’s second place could be expected but the top position of the Seagate ES is a surprise. The desktop Barracuda 7200.10 isn’t brilliant whereas Seagate’s new-generation drives are in last places, being inferior even to the 5400rpm RE2-GP series drives from Western Digital.

We don’t know what the developer of the benchmark means by video editing but this process needs NCQ very much: the speed grows up by a half with enabled AHCI!

Working with video seems to be a very specific load. At least we’ve got the same leaders here. The results indicate that all the action takes place in the buffer memory as neither drive can work with the platters at such a high speed. Seagate should find the piece of code that was responsible for such superb optimization and add it into the new series.

AHCI is profitable again, providing a 50% performance gain.

This test has the same leaders, which are now closely followed by the Hitachi. Seagate’s new-generation drives are slow still. Firmware optimizations are a complex thing: having improved the performance in server tests, these drives have also begun to lose in PCMark.

AHCI is advantageous, producing a considerable performance gain.

The traditional leaders – the Samsung, Hitachi and Seagate 7200.11 – regain their leadership when loading applications.

We guess this test has also proved to you that AHCI is important.

The overall scores provide a general picture of performance, although do not reveal the weak and strong points of each drive. So, the Samsung is the winner and is followed by the Seagate ES which was especially good in this test. The newer ES.2 takes last place, behind both drives from the Western Digital RE2-GP series.

AHCI didn’t improve performance in every test, but was overall profitable. The overall performance increase is 18%. We guess that’s quite enough for you to remember to turn AHCI on.

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