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Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 01 June 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100
Features and Specifications
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD
SandForce SF-1200 SSD Controller
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
SSD vs Hard Disk Drive
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE Conclusion

SSD Testing Methodology

Solid State Drives have traveled a long winding course to finally get where they are today. Up to this point in technology, there have been several key differences separating Solid State Drives from magnetic rotational Hard Disk Drives. While the DRAM-based buffer size on desktop HDDs has recently reached 32 MB and is ever-increasing, there is still a hefty delay in the initial response time. This is one key area in which flash-based Solid State Drives continually dominates because they lack moving parts to "get up to speed".

However the benefits inherent to SSDs have traditionally fallen off once the throughput begins, even though data reads or writes are executed at a high constant rate whereas the HDD tapers off in performance. This makes the average transaction speed of a SSD comparable to the data burst rate mentioned in HDD tests, albeit usually lower than the HDD's speed.

Comparing a Solid State Disk to a standard Hard Disk Drives is always relative; even if you're comparing the fastest rotational spindle speeds. One is going to be many times faster in response (SSDs), while the other is usually going to have higher throughput bandwidth (HDDs). Additionally, there are certain factors which can affect the results of a test which we do our best to avoid.

SSD Testing Disclaimer

Early on in our SSD coverage, Benchmark Reviews published an article which detailed Solid State Drive Benchmark Performance Testing. The research and discussion that went into producing that article changed the way we now test SSD products. Our previous perceptions of this technology were lost on one particular difference: the wear leveling algorithm that makes data a moving target. Without conclusive linear bandwidth testing or some other method of total-capacity testing, our previous performance results were rough estimates at best.

Our test results were obtained after each SSD had been prepared using DISKPART or Sanitary Erase tools. As a word of caution, applications such as these offer immediate but temporary restoration of original 'pristine' performance levels. In our tests, we discovered that the maximum performance results (charted) would decay as subsequent tests were performed. SSDs attached to TRIM enabled Operating Systems will benefit from continuously refreshed performance, whereas older O/S's will require a garbage collection (GC) tool to avoid 'dirty NAND' performance degradation.

It's critically important to understand that no software for the Microsoft Windows platform can accurately measure SSD performance in a comparable fashion. Synthetic benchmark tools such as HD Tach and PCMark are helpful indicators, but should not be considered the ultimate determining factor. That factor should be measured in actual user experience of real-world applications. Benchmark Reviews includes both bandwidth benchmarks and application speed tests to present a conclusive measurement of product performance.

Test System

  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 (Intel X58-Express)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-920 BX80601920 @ 2.667 GHz
  • System Memory: 6GB Triple-Channel DDR3 1600MHz CL6-6-6-18
  • SATA 3Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel ICH10R Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 9.6.0.1014
  • SATA 6Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Marvell SE9128 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Marvell Magni Driver Marvell Magni Driver 1.0.0.1036
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-Bit

Drive Hardware Tested

The following storage hardware has been used in our benchmark performance testing, and may be included in portions of this article:

Test Tools

  • AS SSD Benchmark 1.4.3704.27281: Multi-purpose speed and operational performance test
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.34: Spot-tests static file size chunks for basic I/O bandwidth
  • Iometer 2008.06.28 by Intel Corporation: Tests IOPS performance and I/O response time
  • Lavalys EVEREST Ultimate Edition 5.50: Disk Benchmark component tests linear read and write bandwidth speeds
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0.0b by Crystal Dew World: Sequential speed benchmark spot-tests various file size chunks

Test Results Disclaimer

This article utilizes benchmark software tools to produce operational IOPS performance and bandwidth speed results. Each test was conducted in a specific fashion, and repeated for all products. These test results are not comparable to any other benchmark application, neither on this website or another, regardless of similar IOPS or MB/s terminology in the scores. The test results in this project are only intended to be compared to the other test results conducted in identical fashion for this article.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100David Ramsey 2010-06-01 20:31
It's true that OWC has supported the Mac for many years; and it's also true that the very latest Snow Leopard operating system does not support TRIM. This is especially annoying when you consider that Apple was one of the first (if not the first) company to ship an SSD in their computer-- the original MacBook Air.
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# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100v_lestat 2010-06-02 02:57
not sure how you can say its one of the most affordable when clearly it is not.
the agility 2, Vertex 2 and, i might be wrong, but the corsair are all cheaper.

the mistake here being that it is sold on a MAC website, which, instantly means you will pay more for it, because it is pushed as a MAC product.

she's fast, or dear is she fast, but its not the cheaper of the SF-1200 controllers.
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# Apples and orangesJohn 2011-01-01 14:12
You are comparing to lower end drives. If you want a price comparison, you should compare to the Vertex 2 pro which is closer is specs, etc... If you compare to drives meeting similar specs you will find this is fairly attractive for entry level enterprise. The drives are you are comparing to will not last for high-abuse data server systems. Drop the RE from the product and you will get a lower cost model that closer compares.
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# ChiefGlitchJames Yafchak 2010-07-07 14:18
I?m exceedingly satisfied with my 60GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD drive. It replaced my 250GB MacBook HHD.

Boot up time is more then twice as fast as before. Prior boot up average 52.6 seconds. Boot up average now 22.1 seconds. Applications even faster !


AS of 7/05/10 23.79gb Used 35.89gb Free Total 59.68gb.
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# Grobius MalverannoGosmond 2010-07-19 13:39
I second that -- just installed the 60GB OWC Mercury Pro Extreme SSD in my Mac Mini 3,1 (late 2009), and am impressed with the overall improvement in real-world performance.

Boot time reduced by about 40 to 50%.
At start up, the 7 or 8 apps I have set to auto-launch ALL open together within one or two bounces. I never used auto-launch at login before because it used to be so slow.
Even apps like OpenOffice 3.2 and Filemaker Pro 11 launch within 1 or 2 dock bounces. Mail launches and is usable within .5 second of clicking on it. Paging through large PDFs in preview is smooth and almost seamless, as is Coverflow or iPhoto preview of large groups of photos or PDFs.

Best upgrade I've made to any computer I can ever recall owning; been using them since the Timex Sinclair 1000 in 1980.
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# Wrong PerceptionRebert 2011-09-21 02:58
through the years, What I know memory ram and cpu are the most important to open fast and load the windows...now i know it's the SSD !! Geez hw many years wasting time for memory and cpu ideology!
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