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Performance in PCMark Vantage

Compared with the previous versions, the Vantage version of PCMark is more up-to-date and advanced in its selection of subtests as well as Windows Vista orientation. Each subtest runs 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.

Well, this is the test that reminds us of the special feature of the Momentus XT. It is up to three times as fast as its opponents here. Why? Because, as we wrote in the description of this test, “each subtest runs ten times and the results of the ten runs are averaged”. This HDD just put most of the test data into its flash memory during the first run and produced them from there during the next runs. Let’s check out what we had during each run of PCMark Vantage:


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As you can see, the results improve considerably between the first and second run of the benchmark, the overall score growing almost twofold. Then, they grow somewhat more during the third and fourth runs and then stabilize. The Media Player subtest is the only one in which the Momentus XT doesn’t improve its performance because the performance is already higher than the speed of reading from the platters. That is, this subtest is processed in the HDD’s cache memory. Photo Gallery and Movie Maker are two more subtests in which the HDD’s performance doesn’t improve much. That’s because most of the load in these subtests consists of write rather than read requests.

By the way, this raises the question whether these results should be considered correct or not? On one hand, we stick to our methodology, but on the other hand, you don’t often read the same data over and over again on your computer. Thus, it is the results of the first run of the benchmark that are closer to real-life applications. And these results suggest that the Momentus XT is as good as the Hitachi 7K500 but not exceptional.

In fact, everything will depend on your usage scenarios. If you come home each day and launch the same programs, why shouldn’t the hard disk put them into its cache?

By the way, how does the Momentus XT react to system reboots? Does it clean up its cache? Yes, flash memory is nonvolatile, but we should check this out. So, we repeated the ten runs of PCMark Vantage, but rebooted the system before each run.


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So, data remains in the flash memory when we turn the computer off but you can see that the results have become lower. Why?

Well, each reboot means reading OS data. For the hard disk, there is no difference what data are read from it and it puts every data into its flash memory. 4 gigabytes of flash memory is not so much for today’s applications and OSes and new data replace old ones in that cache.

It is easy to check this out. Let’s run the benchmark ten times more, rebooting the system and inserting a full cycle of reading in our FC-Test before each run.


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The results have become lower because a large part of the 4GB flash memory is taken by the data we read during FC-Test. So, if a user starts his computer up each evening and then, besides loading the same set of applications, performs such activities as listening to music, watching movies or using the hard disk actively in some other way, the situation is going to be the same as in this test, the HDD’s flash memory having to load new data all the time.

You can also note that the Media Player results are now much lower. It looks like our experiments affect not only the flash memory caching but also other caching mechanisms.

Finally, we do the same test but use FC-Test to read the Programs pattern and to write the MP3 pattern.


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There are but minor changes compared to the previous test variant. Writing seems to be done without using the flash memory.

Now that we’ve found out the peculiarities of the Momentus XT, we can proceed with our traditional tests.

 
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