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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 01 August 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD
Closer Look: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G
Features and Specifications
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
PCMark Vantage HDD Tests
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G 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 64 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: ASUS P8P67 EVO (Intel P67 Sandy Bridge Platform, B3 Stepping)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4 GHz Quad-Core CPU
  • System Memory: 4GB Dual-Channel DDR3 1600MHz CL6-6-6-18
  • SATA 6Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 10.1.0.1008
  • SATA 3Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 10.1.0.1008
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-Bit with Service Pack 1

Storage 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 1.6.4067.34354: Multi-purpose speed and operational performance test
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46: Spot-tests static file size chunks for basic I/O bandwidth
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1a by Crystal Dew World: Sequential speed benchmark spot-tests various file size chunks
  • Iometer 1.1.0 (built 08-Nov-2010) 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
  • Futuremark PCMark Vantage 1.02: HDD Benchmark Suite tests real-world drive performance

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 

 
# suggestionmanup85 2011-08-01 23:49
now im confuse if is better to buy this one or ocz vertex 3! any suggestion?
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# RE: suggestionOlin Coles 2011-08-02 08:01
Compare the prices and warranty between these two models, as everything else is nearly the same.
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# HG3fresc0 2011-08-09 01:01
What happened to HG3 drives?
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# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-09 21:46
I'm disappointed by several things in this review.
First, the comparison of a OWC 120GB drive to OCZ's 240GB drives.
In this class 240GB drives are always faster.

Second, by not testing (or mentioning) the OWC extreme6, you completely missed that it now uses a different Sandforce controller! It uses the 2282, and is (as of now) the only drive to do so.
From your SandForce SF-2000 Series SSD Processor Overview:
"High-IO consumer systems will be well suited for the flagship consumer SSD processor: SF-2282. The SandForce SD-2282 is virtually an eight-channel/sixteen lane enterprise drive with MLC NAND, and won't be produced in the same quantities as other controllers."

What a shame to miss such a useful and helpful opportunity.
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# RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6GOlin Coles 2011-08-09 21:51
Explain to me how I am to compare other products OWC chooses not to send us, and compare against capacities that aren't offered to us? You seem to know how this should be done better than we do, so please explain how to overcome these obstacles.

Had OWC offer other products or capacities, we'd use them. Besides, the difference would be less than 5% max.
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# RE: RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-10 04:53
Wow, I wasn't attacking, just explaining my disappointment as I have both drives.

As OWC seems to be a very customer friendly small shop, maybe you could just ask your contact?
This is a potential major difference in hardware, as your site had highlighted in your SandForce Processor Overview.
Kudos on even having that bye the way.
Hadn't seen that elsewhere, even the SandForce site.

I'm like many, who need experts to help find the differences.
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# RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-09 22:02
Opps...

I refer to the OWC 240GB and 480GB extreme6 drives with a "-T" part number as using the 2282 controller.

The OWC 120GB extreme6 drives with a "T" part number suffix still use the 2281, as you state in the review.

I should also mention that I have both a OCZ 120GB max IOPS, a OWC 120GB extreme6, and a pair of OWC 240 extreme6 drives.

I cloned my old HD (with Intel RST 10.6) onto all four drives and ran AS SSD benches, which I'll post later.
In brief OCZ 120 max IOPS was slowest, OWC 120GB extreme6 was quite a bit faster, and a OWC 240 extreme6 flat blew the others away.
Mind, this was just a quick test of just my drive set-up, but every thing was at least equal.
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# RE: RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6GOlin Coles 2011-08-09 22:07
Come on now. If you read any number of SSD review you should know that we ensure these drives are as apples-to-apples as possible, and that to test fairly each SSD must have NAND in the exact same condition (normally clean/SE) and benchmarked as secondary drives. A cursory test won't tell you very much on SSDs because the NAND condition changes performance so dramatically.
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# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-10 05:11
I never intended to infer that you didn't test fairly or well.
I just took the SSDs as shipped, cloned a HD and ran a canned test.

My results were:
OCZ 120GB Vertex 3 MI Overall = 356

OWC 120GB Mercury Extreme6 Overall = 373

OWC 240GB Mercury Extreme6 Overall = 489

Is that much of a difference that I might notice in doing video transcoding?
Thanks
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# RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6GOlin Coles 2011-08-10 07:16
Video transcoding is a very BAD test to compare storage devices. It depends primarily on CPU/RAM/GPU, and have almost no relative need for storage performance. If you want to run a test, try ATTO Disk Benchmark. It's free, and very easy to understand. You can even match to our test settings in a few clicks.
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