Installation and Test Methodology
A lot of users will be new to PCIe-based storage, but it's as easy to work with as most conventional drives.
Installing the RevoDrive X2 in our test rig was as simple as plugging it in, powering on and installing the drivers. The RevoDrive can be used as your boot disk - simply install the drivers during the Windows install process - and, if you really want to make things interesting, you can enter the RAID bios and alter the out-the-box RAID 0 array. The drive is pre-configured for optimum performance, but if you want to split the four drives into multiple RAID arrays there's nothing stopping you.
It's worth noting, however, that the RevoDrive X2 does require a PCIe x4 slot. Though the drive will function via PCIe x1, the performance on offer will be limited, so don't forget to ensure your motherboard has the required number of lanes. If your PCIe slots are occupied by a multi-GPU configuration, there's always IBIS, but that's another story...
Turning our attention to performance, we're comparing the 240GB RevoDrive X2 against eight other SSD configurations and two HDD configurations. It's important to know how much of an improvement the X2 is over the original RevoDrive, so we've also benchmarked a 120GB variant of the latter for inclusion in our results.
It's a mammoth line up, but the 240GB RevoDrive X2 will need to live up to expectations as it's the most expensive option we've ever tested.
Here's a brief overview of all the drives tested and a description of our benchmarks:
|Capacity||Drive type||Firmware||Connection||Controller||RAID mode||TRIM||Cost*||Cost per GB|
|G.Skill Phoenix Pro||40GB||SSD||2.1||SATA 3Gbps, AHCI||Intel ICH10R||-||Yes||£80||£2|
|Crucial Real SSD C300||64GB||SSD||002||SATA 3Gbps, AHCI||Intel ICH10R||-||Yes||£95||£1.5|
|Crucial Real SSD C300||64GB||SSD||002||SATA 6Gbps, AHCI||Marvell PCIe||-||Yes||£95||£1.5|
|Corsair Force Series F80||80GB||SSD||1.1||SATA 3Gbps, AHCI||Intel ICH10R||-||Yes||£145||£1.8|
|G.Skill Phoenix Pro (x2)||80GB||SSD||2.1||SATA 3Gbps, AHCI||Intel ICH10R||RAID 0||Yes||£160||£2|
|OCZ Vertex 2||120GB||SSD||1.11||SATA 3Gbps, AHCI||Intel ICH10R||-||Yes||£175||£1.5|
|Patriot Inferno||120GB||SSD||320A13F0||SATA 3Gbps, AHCI||Intel ICH10R||-||Yes||£170||£1.4|
|OCZ RevoDrive||120GB||SSD||1.20||PCIe x4||Intel X58 IOH||RAID 0 (internal)||No||£245||£2.0|
|Corsair Force Series F80 (x2)||160GB||SSD||1.1||SATA 3Gbps, AHCI||Intel ICH10R||RAID 0||Yes||£290||£1.8|
|OCZ RevoDrive X2||240GB||SSD||1.20||PCIe x4||Intel X58 IOH||RAID 0 (internal)||No||£495||£2.1|
|Samsung HD103SJ||1TB||HDD||1AJ100E4||SATA 3Gbps, AHCI||Intel ICH10R||-||N/A||£40||£0.04|
|Samsung HD103SJ (x2)||2TB||HDD||1AJ100E4||SATA 3Gbps, AHCI||Intel ICH10R||RAID 0||N/A||£80||£0.04|
|*Approximate price, correct at time of writing|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition (3.20GHz, 8MB L3 cache, quad-core, LGA1366 - Turbo Boost enabled)|
|Motherboard||ASUS P6X58D Premium|
|Memory||6GB Corsair DDR3|
|Host hard drive||Corsair Nova V128 SSD|
|Storage controllers||Intel ICH10R controller (SATA 3Gbps) and Marvell PCIe controller (SATA 6Gbps)|
|Graphics Card||Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB / AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Ultimate, 64-bit|
|ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.46||The freeware ATTO benchmark provides basic sequential speed results for both read and write operations. Using the default queue depth of four, we record read and write speeds during 1MB transfers.|
|CrystalDiskMark v3.0||CrystalDiskMark provides various storage benchmarks, but we're interested in the returned 32-thread 4K performance numbers to see how well the drives fare when tasked with numerous small transfers.|
|AS SSD v1.5.3x||
Another freeware benchmark, AS SSD is designed primarily for testing solid-state storage. We run the benchmark and record the drive's overall read and write scores. The final numbers take into account sequential speeds, input/output performance and access time.
|Iometer v2008.06.18-RC2||Iometer is an I/O subsystem measurement tool originally developed by Intel. To measure a drive's I/O performance, we set the benchmark to utilise 4KB transfers in a random spread. Read and write distribution is set to 50 per cent, and queue depth at 32. The test is run for two minutes and we record the total I/Os per second.|
|PCMark Vantage v184.108.40.206||Emulating real-world use, PCMark Vantage spits out a bunch of data on the relative speed of the drives when undertaking common tasks. We record Windows startup, application load time and gaming performance.|