Storage Real-World Performance: NVMe vs. SATA vs. HDD

By Steve ยท 23 replies
Nov 30, 2016
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  1. To test and visualize how storage performance impacts the user experience in real world scenarios we have recorded how quickly our Core i7-6700K test system completes various tasks using Samsung’s new 960 Evo 500GB SSD. Those findings will be compared with results from the Crucial MX300, an affordable TLC-based SATA SSD as well as a WD Red Pro 4TB mechanical hard drive.

    We are putting away synthetic benchmarks such as CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD Benchmark in favor of real world scenarios. This is not meant to be an in-depth analysis (for that we recommend reading our full written reviews) but we have picked a few general use case scenarios that showcase the tangible difference in performance, for example: measuring Windows 10 boot time, how long it takes to load a game (Call of Duty, Civilization 6) and then continue to measure the time until you are in-game with the first mission or level loaded, file compression and decompression, and so on.

    Results are pretty interesting and in this case, are enhanced by not just looking at them in a graph. Hope you enjoy the video Steve has put together for you.

  2. Unearthed

    Unearthed TS Enthusiast Posts: 36   +11

    Why didn't the editor test a Samsung 850 instead of the Crucial MX 300?
    Sum Guy and OutlawCecil like this.
  3. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    The 850 Evo is no longer relevant since the MX300 delivers similar performance at a much lower price.
    gamoniac and Evernessince like this.
  4. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    The spinning HDD is certainly bleeding edge stuff, I must look into investing in one soon, my punch cards are starting to look a bit tatty. ;)
    gamoniac, Humza, lripplinger and 2 others like this.
  5. fps4ever

    fps4ever TS Addict Posts: 102   +74

    Nice video and glad to see actual visual loading of programs to give you a better sense of the time savings. You'd think a better Samsung 850 Pro SATA SSD drive could shave a few seconds off of the MX300 times as well.

    After quickly checking Newegg prices it looks like the 960 500GB is a no brain'er compared to the Pro after all. IF you have an M.2 slot. Pricey but not to bad.

    850 EVO $165
    850 Pro $214
    960 EVO $250
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  6. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 812   +371

    If the Crucial MX 300 was tested, could one not say "Why didn't the editor test a Crucial MX 300 instead of the Samsung 850?
  7. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 718   +236

    What if you consider price for price and used 2 or 3 MX 300's in a stripe array vs the 960 m.2 ?

    Does trim still work in stripe? I know I read something long ago that intel has trim support for raid arrays.
  8. jonny888

    jonny888 TS Booster Posts: 37   +35

    This video, or at least the results of the video, are actually a LOT more useful than any of the synthetic benchmark graphs we usually see in storage drive reviews, and I'd actually really like for there to be more of this type of testing in the future.

    That being said, I still think a few graphs/tables/charts/etc in the article would have been nice to be able to see the results at a glance. Especially useful when you're looking through articles on your phone or at work and you can't always put it on speaker to hear what's being said.
  9. Unearthed

    Unearthed TS Enthusiast Posts: 36   +11

    That's a good point. It's just that the Samsung line of SSDs typically offer the best performance, and they are the most popular line of SSDs. Most benchmarks show the Samsung 850 and 850 Pro beating the other manufacturer drives.

    It was an excellent article though. I really liked how you preformed real world tests with games and applications.

    Thank you and well done!!
  10. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    If you have a desktop for gaming, the best thing to do is load the games to a 1TB (or higher) SSD and all your low bandwidth files like videos, music and documents to a standard HDD - which is really cheap at current for large capacity.

    I recently replaced my old Core2Duo HDD with a Crucial MX300 SSD and I upgraded my gaming/production computer to a 4TB Samsung - which although was quite expensive - is completely necessary when editing 4K video if you want high speed editing without crashes. It actually payed for itself after just one delivery to a single client.

    I have a My Cloud Mirror 12TB to store my long-term files and a My Cloud 2TB for my short-term storage.

    Frankly: price and overall capacity are my largest concerns. All the SSDs made now work fast enough for me to consider any of them.

    My largest 4K video edits have only been 80GB so I'm comfortable using a $70 Crucial if necessary (270GB)
  11. Dasa2

    Dasa2 TS Rookie

    Nice review
    It would be interesting to see Intel 600p in the mix
    It would also be interesting to see a comparison to a faster cpu\ram with 600p vs the 960 as some programs load time is restricted by cpu\caching performance as the files are decompressed

    I tried load civ vi on my 6700k@4.7ghz 3866c6 sandisk ultra ii 960g dx11\12 reaches the menu in ~17sec just a second behind the 960 evo and ~5sec ahead of the mx300
    Although im not sure how you created the shortcut so this may have an effect mind sharing? Thanks
    It took 30sec to load the graphics bench for 47sec total the other bench loaded quicker

    COH2 MP is another that seems to load quicker based on cpu\ram speed
    Steve likes this.
  12. gamoniac

    gamoniac TS Guru Posts: 306   +73

    Nice review. Found myself skipping forward a lot instead waiting for the slow, silent and agonizing HDD tests to complete. Would prefer those to be cut out but I am nitpicking. Good stuff, and thank you, Steve.
    Steve likes this.
  13. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    You are welcome and yes I tend to agree, the HDD times will just be reported in the future and not shown.
  14. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 387   +659

    Good job on the review. Real-world performance testing needs to become standard for the bulk of the review and synthetics just tacked on the end, not the other way around. It would also be nice to see a few "revisits" for popular drives at a later date for two reasons:-

    1. Confirm that the new TLC drives don't suffer voltage-drift related slowdown issues beyond 3 months (unlike some previous drives that went unreported), and

    2. Firmware updates can render "Day One" reviews obsolete. Eg, the MX300 new M0CR040 firmware shows some sizeable improvements (eg, 20.5s vs 24.0s and 58.5s vs 71.8s) over the old M0CR011 firmware, and so far is the only one that's bothered to update their earlier reviews:-

    Yes it may mean a little more effort, but it's stuff like this that makes one tech site stand out vs the others, and become the "Go To" bookmarked site for future reviews.
  15. TameU

    TameU TS Rookie

    Assuming that the test bench Windows and programs installation is fresh, this review does not take an important factor into account when comparing flash-based storage with HDDs. The flash-based storage won't suffer from fragmentation as the HDD would. So unless it will be very aggressively defragged, the HHD will show even worse performance over time.
  16. Technosense

    Technosense TS Member Posts: 42   +25

    It's all fun and games until you start doing 3 camera shoots in 4k :). 3x 50-100mbs Bitrates made my 850Pro cry...had to go nvme 950 which is 3-4x faster (now 960 would be best) but it gets it done especially on W10 which doesn't support Rapid storage for your cache drives.
  17. fktech

    fktech TS Addict Posts: 223   +60

    Prefer written reviews vice video reviews. I can read faster than this video can deliver leaving my mind to wander...
  18. Ascaris

    Ascaris TS Addict Posts: 113   +72

    Isn't that overstating it a bit to say it's no longer relevant?

    In 4k reads/writes with QD 1, the Crucial gets about 70% of the score reported by the 850 Evo in the benchmarks I've seen (and performed myself), and it typically costs about ~75% as much as the 850 Evo. For most users, this performance metric is more important than the others, and in it, the Samsung slightly outperforms its price premium, or at least holds its own (hard to state definitively, as prices bounce around so much).

    The Samsung also has 2 more years of warranty (unless you exceed the lower TBW ceiling on the Samsung, which for most people is pretty unlikely) and has far better software. The Crucial Storage Executive can't do as much and requires Java to work, and has to use a browser for its UI. It takes an agonizingly long time to load even on a fast machine, while Samsung Magician is instant.

    Even so, I came to the same conclusion you did, and I went with the Crucial for my laptop. Unfortunately, it just did not work with my laptop's ATA password function, no matter what I tried. Crucial support told me that the ATA password has nothing to do with the SED function, which directly contradicts what their own web site says, and he brushed off my attempts to make it work. A volunteer on their official forum was more helpful than the Crucial agent, but still the system refused to work with the ATA password set on the drive. It would not prompt for it at boot time; it would just hang up and then give an error message about the drive. I had to remove the password to get it to boot (even from a USB drive).

    I returned it and bought the 850 Evo (which ended up being on sale for Black Friday for less than the Crucial), and it works perfectly fine with the ATA password, and the Magician software confirms that it is in encryption mode when so equipped. I know the weaknesses of this approach, but it's pretty good for protecting the data at rest.

    Still, I imagine that most people won't even use the SED ability of either SSD, and even if they do, they still may not encounter this issue. If they are using OPAL or Microsoft eDrive to manage the SSD, the ATA password is irrelevant; it's not used. Even if it is used, it may work on other systems.

    The Crucial is a good product, but not so good as to render the Samsung irrelevant.
  19. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    Crucial MX300 525GB = $125 (23c per gigabyte)
    Samsung 850 Evo 500GB = $160 (32c per gigabyte)

    The MX300 isn't anywhere near 75% slower in real world scenarios, in fact it is 8% faster than the 850 Evo in our '38.12GB File Extraction' test.

    1% slower in our Game Installation test and it is faster in both the read and write CrystalDiskMark random 4K tests.

    At the same price I would probably get the Samsung drive but at roughly 40% more per gigabyte, no thanks.
  20. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,473   +126

    WDC Red SATA III are more used in NAS tend to run slower. I am still using WDC Blue SATA III 7200 RPM - 64MB Buffer-Cache with 32GB of DDR3 XD-RAM load times on APU-A8 on Windows 10 Update-A quick to me. Interesting review test though good to see where they're going with tech on it.
  21. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    FYI we used the Red Pro drives, they are by no means slow for a HDD. These are 7200-RPM drives!
  22. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,473   +126

    Those are suppose to be used in NAS device. Sure they're 7200 RPM but still last time I heard performance wise. I guess you use those more in your systems. To bad you couldn't test WDC Blue with my specs and see what you would have end up with. Was that drive de-frag by chance? Still I like these type of reviews we all can share our own experiences.
  23. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    It doesn't matter if they are intended to be hung from a Christmas tree, they still represent the very best of consumer grade hard drive performance. The Red Pro and Black drives are on par in terms of performance, both are much faster than the budget orientated Blue and Green series.
  24. fluffydroid

    fluffydroid TS Rookie

    Agreed, I have not found these types of real world tests elsewhere, only synthetics. My overall impression is that the average user will not see a big difference between older and newer SSD's. This is for normal operations like startup, shutdown, game loads, etc. So if you are still using a mechanical hard disk, get your OS onto an SSD for a big speed boost.

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