Product review: High price makes high-speed Imation SSDs a tough sell
Though resilient, dazzling performers, Imation's Pro 7000 solid-state drives can't compete with Western Digital's VelociRaptor SATA drive for overall valueFollow @infoworld
In the end, to ensure I had more control over the chip sets and software I'd be using, I decided to build my own machine. I had to go through several motherboards before finally finding one that could squeeze all the performance from my SSD drives. I finally got the expected performance using the ASUS M2N-E, which mounts the Nividia nForce 570 Ultra chip set and six 3Gbps SATA ports.
I added an AMD Athlon dual-core CPU and, to make sure that paging would not be a problem, 4GB of memory. I completed the prep work with a clean install of Windows XP plus SP2 and all the updates on a separate drive.
I also installed Office 2003, Iometer, and other applications, but I will share more on that later. To simplify testing, I ran performance tests on all my drives in raw mode, in essence without a files system built on them.
Running Iometer produced some interesting and revealing results. The two SSDs from Imation produced virtually identical performance with results very close to what Imation declares for the Pro 7000 line. The 64GB drive hit 45,400 IOps for sequential writes and 144 for random. For sequential reads, it hit 77,899 IOps; for random, 16,508. Meanwhile, the 16GB drive achieved 45,226 IOps for sequential writes; 119 for random; 79,916 for sequential read and 17,793 for random.
Not surprisingly, even a fast-spinning drive such as the VelociRaptor doesn't compare well with them: 23,165 for write sequential; 511 for write random; 19,926 for read sequential; and 486 for read random. (You can view my results in table form.)
However, it's also interesting to note that, although SSD demonstrated better results for all read scripts, the VelociRaptor random writes were noticeably faster.
I ran another set of tests to measure sheer transfer rate on each drive. The results were consistent, with the two SSDs noticeably fast on reads; the 64GB drive performed at a transfer rate of105MBps, and the 16GB drive reached 115. The VelociRaptor made a 92MBps transfer rate for reads.
Again, the VelociRaptor has to concede defeat on read transfer rate -- albeit not by much. Instead, it took its revenge on writes, hitting 100MBps, compared to 81MBps for the Pro 7000 64GB and 79MBps for the 16GB variant.
However dramatic the difference in those results may be, it was only after I made each of them on my boot drive that I had a better sense of how the drives' performances differ in a real-world condition.
Faster to boot?
To ensure that the drives were identical in content, I cloned the OS and every application from the original boot drive using Apricorn EZ Upgrade, a $49 package that includes all the software and the hardware to move your Windows OS from one drive to another without too much hassle.
I used Microsoft Bootvis to measure how fast my machines would boot with all three drives. A full boot took 78 seconds with the Pro 7000s and less than half second longer with the VelociRaptor -- nothing to get too excited about. Bootvis also recorded nearly identical times when resuming from Standby and Hibernate for the two drives.