Performance in Applications
Now let’s compare all of our disk configurations in specific applications. We compare the average results based on five runs of each application.
The two extremes of the performance range might have been expected: the single SSD is the fastest to boot the OS up whereas the conventional HDD is the slowest of all.
The hybrid configurations do not perform much faster compared to the HDD (their results almost coincide after a few runs of the test), but this can be easily explained. Many protected system files from the Windows installation on the hard disk could not be cached to the SSD and had to be read from the HDD, slowing the boot-up process down.
As for the specific results, we can see that the Smart Response configurations with 64GB cache and the Larson Creek configuration are slower than the rest of the hybrid subsystems. The former take a lot of time for the first run of the test when data is not yet cached to the SSD whereas the latter configuration also has a rather slow speed during the second and subsequent runs of the test.
The leading position of the HighPoint controller in Capacity mode with selective caching is not really unquestionable. This configuration is superior due to its fast first run of the test, but falls behind the Smart Response configuration with 64GB cache on the subsequent runs.
All in all, booting the OS up is not a strong point of the hybrid configurations. After a few reboots of the computer, the performance of the conventional HDD is almost as high as that of the hybrid subsystems.
Photoshop CS 5.1 64-bit
This application is more appropriate for hybrid disk subsystems than the OS, so we can see the performance benefits clearly.
The first run of the application is always faster on the HighPoint configurations than on the Smart Response ones. The latter take about as much time for that as the conventional HDD whereas the HighPoint-based disk subsystems spend about as much time to run Photoshop for the first time as for the subsequent runs. We expected that for the selective caching configuration but the high performance of the HighPoint controller in automatic caching mode is quite a surprise.
Another surprise is that the HighPoint with selective caching is somewhat faster than the pure SSD connected to the Intel chipset’s controller. This must be due to some measurement inaccuracies or differences in the performance of the Intel and Marvell SATA-controllers.
We must acknowledge that, apart from the HighPoint controller with selective caching, the Smart Response configurations load Photoshop faster on the subsequent runs than the HighPoint ones.
The popular text editing application proves the viability of the hybrid disk concept. The slowest of our hybrid configurations is more than three times as fast as the conventional HDD basing on the average of five runs of the test.
Like in the previous test, the HighPoint with selective caching in Capacity mode is a little bit faster than the pure SSD connected to Intel's chipset controller. It may be due to measurement inaccuracies, though.
The HighPoint controller enjoys a bigger advantage over Smart Response in this test in terms of average scores. The slowest RocketHybrid 1220-based configuration equals the fastest Smart Response one. However, like in the previous test, this is largely due to Word 2007 taking longer to load on the first run with the Smart Response configurations.
We can note that Microsoft Office applications are loaded almost instantaneously once they are in the SSD cache. The order of our tests was as follows: Word, Excel, PowerPoint. Clearly, the shared dynamic libraries loaded with Word 2007 helped load Excel and PowerPoint faster.
Of course, if you load a heavy application in between Word and Excel, the shared Microsoft Office libraries will be unloaded from the cache and the next application will take longer to load. Still, it is a more probable scenario that a user works in office applications without alternating them with something like 3D games.
The benefits of the pure SSD and the hybrid configurations are obvious but you should keep it in mind that their advantage is more impressive in the diagrams than in real life. The difference between 1 and 3 seconds to load an application is not really crucial for real-life scenarios.
Everything we’ve said above about Excel applies to PowerPoint, too. We can only note that the SSD and hybrid subsystems get even faster whereas the HDD, somewhat slower than in the previous test.
Performance in PCMark 7
The SSD and the hybrid disk subsystem prove their superiority over the conventional HDD once again. The HighPoint-based configuration with automatic caching in Capacity mode fails for unknown reasons (the other two HighPoint-based configurations are twice as fast), yet it is almost twice faster than the conventional HDD.
The rest of the hybrid configurations are about four times as fast as the HDD, the Intel 320 series SSD turning out to be slower not only than the HighPoint in two configurations but also than the Smart Response configuration with a Larson Creek SSD.
We can also note that the application takes almost the same time to load on the HighPoint controller irrespective of whether it’s a first run or not. The Smart Response configurations are overall faster when launching the application for a second, third, etc. time.