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The Intel SSD 510 Series 120GB, Crucial m4, Kingston HyperX, Crucial RealSSD C300 and others feature SATA 6Gb/s connectivity, requiring us to test using the Sandy Bridge (LGA1155) platform at the time, so we've done the same here. All 3Gb/s drives were tested on our older LGA1366 platform, but this shouldn't affect the results. A few select SATA 3Gb/s drives were tested on our LGA1155 system to check for accuracy, both synthetic and real-world performance were much the same.
In addition to our featured flash devices, the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM hard drive has been included for comparison's sake. Our testing suite consists of four synthetic benchmark programs and our own file copying and load time tests.
As you likely know, while manufacturers claim impressive peak I/O performance out of the box, this performance can diminish over time. Unlike a conventional hard drive, any write operation made to an SSD is a two-step process: a data block must be erased and then written to. Obviously if the drive is new and unused there's nothing to erase, so the first step can be bypassed. But this only happens once unless the drive is trimmed.
Considering this, we'll test how much performance you can expect to lose over time. We'll examine all drives in their clean, unused state, and then run the HD Tach full benchmark several times to fill the entire drive. This simulates heavy usage and gives a clearer indication of how performance will be affected after normal long-term use. All the drives in this roundup support the Windows 7 TRIM function, which is meant to counteract these negative effects.
Test System Specs
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