Benchmarking solid state drives is a highly exciting venture as it is always unpredictable and prone to produce heaps of new information. With hard disk drives, dramatic innovations occur but rarely and you often can foretell how the particular model is going to perform in general whereas each new SSD is a real mystery as yet. They vary in performance so wildly due to the current variation in controllers and firmware that the specifications can give you not a vaguest idea of whether the given model is going to challenge the best in its product category or join the outsiders. Besides, we have not yet actually found an ideal SSD. Some of them are better under random-address loads and others boast record-breaking speeds of sequential operations. There are SSDs that present a kind of compromise between the two mentioned extremities, and there are also SSDs whose main advantage is in their relatively low price.
The price factor is indeed important, especially if it’s not a wealthy corporation that wants to improve the disk subsystems of its servers but an ordinary user who is the buyer. This user wants maximum performance and high storage capacity – and both at an affordable price. But as nothing comes for free in this world, the user finds himself having to compromise anyway.
As a matter of fact, there is some solid foundation for making predictions about SSDs, too. If you know what controller is installed in the given SSD, you can predict its performance to some degree of probability. For example, our previous tests have shown that SSDs with Intel’s controllers are better than others at random-address writing. Samsung’s controller delivers high sequential speeds. The Indilinx tries to be a compromise solution, and the JMicron is downright slow at writing (and no record-breaker at reading, either). But as the manufacturers keep on improving their products, a new version of firmware can change an SSD’s performance dramatically as we’ve seen with Indilinx controllers, for example. Moreover, we have so far tested only one version of each manufacturer’s controller (Intel’s transition to a new SSD generation was accompanied with but minor changes in the controller, so we don’t count this in) but there are going to be more and more different controllers in the future. To make things even more complicated, most manufacturers do not tell us explicitly what controller the particular SSD is based on. You can only find this information on the Web, but you can’t be 100% sure about it.
Now, let’s see what new products we’ve got for our today’s tests.