SATA III SSD Showdown: Which Solid State Drive is Fastest?

Synthetic Tests

Though each gives a rather ideal view of performance, we ran two synthetic tests to get an idea of what each drive is capable of. CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 measures average read and write speeds for 1000MB of data stored in different block sizes. The PCMark Vantage HDD Suite performs eight different storage tests based on common tasks such as video editing, importing pictures, and adding music to Windows Media Player and then assigns a score (higher is better).

Sequential Performance

Drive Seq Read (MBps) Seq Write (MBps) Average
Samsung 830 Series (256GB) 473.8 408.1 440.9
Intel SSD 510 (250GB) 448.4 328.6 388.5
OCZ Vertex 3 (240GB) 474 148.4 311.2
Patriot Wildfire (240GB) 452.6 134.1 293.4
Samsung 470 Series (256GB) 251.8 241.1 246.5
Hitach 7,200 rpm HDD 100.6 104.5 102.6
Winner: Samsung 830 Series

Samsung’s 830 series blew away the competition with an average transfer rate of 440.9 MBps for sequential transfers, a full 13 percent faster than its nearest competitor, the Intel SSD 510. The OCZ Vertex 3, however, provided equivalent reads. We can also see that even the slowest reading SATA III SSD (Intel SSD 510) has a read transfer rate 78 percent higher than the leading SATA II drive. Write speeds on the Vertex 3 and Wildfire, however, were actually slower than those on the SATA II Samsung 470 Series.

512K Performance

CrystalDiskMark writes the data in a series of 512 kilobyte blocks, which more closely simulates writing a number of small files rather than one giant, contiguous piece of data.

Drive 512K Read (MBps) 512K Write (MBps) Average
 Intel SSD 510 (250GB)  302.4  298.2  300.3
 Samsung 830 Series (256GB)  308.7  269.8  289.2
 OCZ Vertex 3 (240GB)  385 137   261
 Patriot Wildfire (256GB)  390.6 114.6  252.6 
 Samsung 470 Series (256GB)  185.7 233.9  209.8 
Hitach 7,200 rpm HDD  38.19 49.52  43.9 
Winner: Intel SSD 510

As the block sizes get smaller, performance numbers shrink below the sequential maximums. In the 512K block test, the Intel SSD 510 had the highest average transfer rate at 300.3 MBps and the fastest write speed at 298.2 MBPs. However, the Patriot Wildfire had, by far, the quickest reads at this size, returning a rate of 390.6 MBps.

4K Tests

Reading and writing in lots of small random blocks is probably the most common operation any drive performs as it does everything from opening programs to booting up, copying files, or accessing your Windows swap file. CrystalDiskMark measures 4K transfers in two ways: both with single-threaded writes and with 32 4-kilobyte transfers in the command queue at once to take advantage of the drives’ ability to perform many operations at the same time. Good results at a high-queue depth should translate into better multitasking.

Drive 4K Read (MBps) 4K Write (MBps) 4K NCQ Read (MBps) 4K NCQ Write (MBps) Average
Samsung 830 Series (256GB) 19.4 48.9 252.9 95.5 104.2
Samsung 470 Series (256GB) 10.4 41 114.5 60.5 56.5
OCZ Vertex 3 (240GB) 23.6 9.9 124.9 62.1 55.1
Patriot Wildfire (240GB) 16.6 10.5 119.7 49.7 49.1
Intel SSD 510 (250GB) 11.7 34.0 75.1 40.9 40.4
Hitachi 7,200 rpm 0.5 0.7 0.7 0.8 0.7
Winner: Samsung 830 Series

On the 4K tests, the Samsung 830 series simply dominated, with an average transfer rate of 104.2 MBps, nearly double its nearest competitor. In fact, the last-generation Samsung 470 series outpaced the three other SATA III drives. Still, even the slowest 4K performer, the Intel SSD 510, was 57 times faster than a 7,200-rpm hard drive.

PCMark Vantage HDD Suite

This benchmarking suite, developed by Futuremark, tests hardware performance by automating a variety of common real-world scenarios, such as viewing and editing photos and transcoding audio and video.

Drive PCMark Vantage Score
Samsung 830 Series (256GB) 41,203
Patriot Wildfire (240GB) 39,779
OCZ Vertex 3 (240GB) 38,472
Intel SSD 510 (250GB) 34,998
Samsung 470 Series (256GB) 25,014
Hitachi 7,200 rpm 4,282
Winner: Samsung 830 Series

The Samsung 830 series got the top score on PCMark Vantage’s suite of storage tests, edging out the Patriot Wildfire and OCZ Vertex 3 by more than 1,000 points. The Intel SSD 510 trailed the pack by about 10 percent.

SATA III SSD Showdown

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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