Sunday, 30 August 2015

protein rich diet prevents heart disease

Sunday, 9 August 2015

PCI express vs Thunderbolt

Theoretical vs. Actual Bandwidth: PCI Express and Thunderbolt

By Nathan Edwards
Everything you need to know about modern PCI Express and Thunderbolt's bandwidth potential and limits when building your next PC.
We are in the future! It is time to continue our scintillating look at interfaces, and the bandwidth limitations thereof. This week, we cast our gazes on PCI Express and Thunderbolt. First, PCI Express: what exactly does it mean when you have a PCIe 2.0 x8 connection? And does it make a difference whether your connection is x8 or x16?
Photo credit: Flickr user abysal via Creative Commons

PCI Express

PCI Express is a little confusing. A PCIe connection consists of one or more data-transmission lanes, connected serially. Each lane consists of two pairs of wires, one for receiving and one for transmitting. You can have one, four, eight, or sixteen lanes in a single consumer PCIe slot--denoted as x1, x4, x8, or x16. Each lane is an independent connection between the PCI controller and the expansion card, and bandwidth scales linearly, so an eight-lane connection will have twice the bandwidth of a four-lane connection. This helps avoid bottlenecks between, say, the CPU and the graphics card. If you need more bandwidth, just use more lanes.
There are several different physical connections, each of which can function electrically as a slot with a lower number of lanes and can accommodate a physically smaller card as well. A physical PCIe x16 slot can accommodate a x1, x4, x8, or x16 card, and can run a x16 card at x16, x8, x4, or x1. A PCIe x4 slot can accommodate a x1 or x4 card but cannot fit a x16 card. And finally, there are several different versions of the PCIe interface, each with different bandwidth limitations, and many modern motherboards have PCIe slots of different physical sizes and also different PCIe generations. Confused yet?
This Asus Z87-Pro board has two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (in the green boxes), four PCIe 2.0 x1 slots (the short gold-colored ones in the short orange boxes) and one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot that can operate in either x1 or x4 mode (the long orange box).
Let's start with maximum theoretical bandwidth. A single PCIe 1.0 (or 1.1) lane can carry up to 2.5 Gigatransfers per second (GT/s) in each direction simultaneously. For PCIe 2.0, that increases to 5GT/s, and a single PCIe 3.0 lane can carry 8GT/s.
What's with this gigatransfers nonsense? Gigatransfers per second are the same thing (in this case) as gigabits per second, but they include the bits that are lost as a result of interface overhead. All PCI Express versions lose some of their theoretical maximum throughput to the physical overhead associated with electronic transmissions. PCIe 1.* and 2.0 use 8b/10b encoding (like SATA does), the upshot of which is that each 8 bits of data cost 10 bits to transmit, so they lose 20 percent of their theoretical bandwidth to overhead. It's just the cost of doing business.
After overhead, the maximum per-lane data rate of PCIe 1.0 is eighty percent of 2.5GT/s. That gives us two gigabits per second, or 250MB/s (remember, eight bits to a byte). The PCIe interface is bidirectional, so that's 250MB/s in each direction, per lane. PCIe 2.0 doubles the per-lane throughput to 5GT/s, which gives us 500MB/s of actual data transfer per lane.
PCIe 3.0 achieves twice the speed of PCI 2.0, despite having a per-lane throughput that's only 60 percent more than a PCIe connection.
You've probably heard that PCIe 3.0 is twice the speed of PCI 2.0, but as we've seen above, its per-lane theoretical throughput is 8GT/s, which is only 60 percent more than PCIe 2.0's 5GT/s. That's because PCIe 3.0 and above use a more efficient encoding scheme called 128b/130b (PDF link), so the overhead is much less--only 1.54 percent. That means that a single PCIe 3.0 lane, at 8GT/s, can send 985MB/s. That's not quite twice 500MB/s, but it's close enough for marketing purposes.
What that means is that a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection (3.94GB/s) should have nearly the same bandwidth as PCIe 1.1 x16, or PCIe 2.0 x8 (both 4GB/s).
Modern GPUs use a x16 PCIe 2.0 or 3.0 interface. That doesn't mean they always run at x16 speed, though. Many motherboards have multiple physical x16 slots, but a smaller number of actual of PCIe lanes available. On a Z87 (Haswell) or Z77 (Ivy Bridge) desktop, the CPU has 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes. Intel chipsets have an additional eight PCIe 2.0 lanes, but those are typically used for sound cards, RAID cards, and so forth. (AMD's 990FX chipset includes 32 PCIe 2.0 lanes, plus four on the northbridge.) In the Asus board shown above, for example, the PCIe 3.0 slots are CPU lanes, while all the rest have to share the eight chipset PCIe 2.0 lanes. Using the PCIe 2.0 x16 slot in x4 mode disables three of the PCIe 2.0 x1 slots.
Image courtesy Intel
So a single x16 graphics card will use all 16 CPU PCIe lanes, but adding a GPU to the second x16 lane will drop both graphics cards' connections down to eight lanes each. Adding a third GPU will drop the first card's connection to x8, and the second and third cards' connections down to x4 each. This is why many people who run multi-GPU setups prefer Intel's enthusiast architectures, like Sandy Bridge-E and the upcoming Ivy Bridge-E. Ivy Bridge-E CPUs will have forty PCIe 3.0 lanes. That's enough to run two cards at x16 and one at x8, one card at x16 and three cards at x8, or one at x16, two at x8, and two more at x4. That's just ridiculous.
Does it matter for performance?
Two PCIe 3.0 GPUs running at x8 each on a PCIe 3.0 motherboard should have nearly the same bandwidth as two PCIe 2.0 GPUs running at x16--the first set runs at 7.88GB/s each, while the second two run at 8GB/s. If either your motherboard or graphics card is limited to a PCIe 2.0 connection, you'll be stuck using the slower interface.
TechPowerUp did an enormous roundup of PCIe performance last May. They tested the two most powerful single-GPU cards at the time--AMD's Radeon HD 7970 and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 680--at x4, x8, and x16 using PCIe 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0, all on the same motherboard. This is by far the best apples-to-apples test I've ever seen on PCIe bandwidth scaling. The entire article is worth a read, but the performance summary page collects the relative results at a glance.
Last year's most powerful graphics cards perform just fine at PCIe 2.0 x8 or even PCIe 3.0 x4.
As you'd expect, equivalent bandwidth configurations perform around the same. Most importantly, to quote the TechPowerUp authors, "Our testing confirms that modern graphics cards work just fine at slower bus speed, yet performance degrades the slower the bus speed is. Everything down to x16 1.1 and its equivalents (x8 2.0, x4 3.0) provides sufficient gaming performance even with the latest graphics hardware, losing only 5% average in worst-case. [emphasis added] Only at even lower speeds we see drastic framerate losses, which would warrant action."
The most interesting part in these results is the finding that last year's most powerful graphics cards perform just fine at PCIe 2.0 x8 or even PCIe 3.0 x4. That means that three-way SLI or CrossFireX should be viable, even in x8/x4/x4, on Ivy Bridge or Haswell desktops. But even if you don't have PCIe 3.0, you're not missing out on much performance running at x8 on a PCIe 2.0 connection.
The doubled bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 x16, compared to PCIe 2.0, doesn't seem to make much of a difference yet. AnandTech's Ryan Smith tested two Nvidia GeForce GTX Titans, the current fastest single-GPU cards, in SLI on both PCIe 3.0 and 2.0, and found, at best, a seven percent performance improvement at 5760 x 1200.
So that's good news for people with older motherboards or graphics cards. Provided you have at least PCI Express 2.0 x8, you're hardly leaving any performance on the table, even on the fastest cards.


Thunderbolt is a data transfer interface that can pass through both PCI Express and DisplayPort signals, depending on what it is plugged into. A Thunderbolt controller consists of two bidirectional data channels, with each channel containing an input and an output lane. The Thunderbolt chips on each end of the cable take in both DisplayPort 1.1a and a four-lane PCIe 2.0 bus. Each channel is independent, and can either carry DisplayPort or PCIe, but not both. Each direction in each channel has a theoretical maximum throughput of 10Gbps--the same as two PCIe 2.0 lanes. As discussed above, due to 8b/10b encoding, 20 percent of the theoretical limit of PCI Express 2.0 is devoted to signal overhead, so the maximum theoretical throughput of a single Thunderbolt channel is 1GB/s in each direction. In first-gen Thunderbolt, that's as fast as you're going to get, since each device can only access one of the two channels, and you can't combine them. It's still pretty damn fast, since you can send high-def video to a DisplayPort monitor at 10Gbps down one channel while reading 1GB/s from an SSD RAID with the other, at the same time.
Image courtesy Intel
So how much performance can you actually wring out of a Thunderbolt connection?
Gordon Ung at Maximum PC saw peak read transfer speeds of 931MB/s when reading from a RAID 0 of four 240GB SandForce SF-2281 SSDs in a Pegasus R4 chassis.
AnandTech actually got an SSD RAID in a Pegasus chassis right up to 1002MB/s at its very peak, which seems to be right up at the practical limit of a single Thunderbolt channel, but that was using a RAID 0 of four 128GB 6Gbps SATA SSDs, running sustained 2MB reads at a queue depth of 10.
A four-way RAID 0 of SSDs is going to be too fast for a first-gen Thunderbolt connection. A two-drive RAID 0 can approach twice the speed of its individual drives. As we discussed in Part One, a good 6Gbps SATA SSD can hit 515MB/s. A RAID 0 of two 6Gbps SSDs can easily saturate the 10Gbps connection available in first-gen Thunderbolt. A four-way RAID 0 can go far faster, but not while attached via Thunderbolt.
A very brief note on PCIe SSD performance (compared to Thunderbolt)
Despite the limitations of first-gen Thunderbolt, it's still a far better external storage interface than USB 3.0.
The OCZ RevoDrive 3 x2, a PCIe-attached SSD, can hit 1.5GB/s peak in some sequential read tests on a PCIe 2.0 x4 connection. That drive uses a SAS-to-PCIe controller, rather than a SATA controller to a RAID card to a PCIe connection, but surely that can't explain the entire speed difference. After all, Thunderbolt is a PCIe 2.0 x4 connection too, right? Sort of. Each Thunderbolt storage drive is limited to one channel with a maximum bandwidth of 1GB/s. The RevoDrive 3 x2 can use the entire PCIe x4 connection, with its peak (post-overhead) bandwidth of nearly 2GB/s.
The Next Thunderbolt
The next version of Thunderbolt, cleverly named Thunderbolt 2, will let you combine both channels into one, with a theoretical maximum of 20Gbps (2GB/s, post-encoding), allowing devices to take advantage all four PCIe 2.0 lanes in the Thunderbolt connection. It also brings increased bandwidth to the display side of things; you'll be able to stream 4K video to that fancy 4K monitor you've got lying around. So far Thunderbolt 2 is only available on a couple of motherboards from Asus but it'll ship on the new Mac Pro as well, if and when that beautiful, weird-ass cylinder ever emerges from One Infinite Loop.
Despite the limitations of first-gen Thunderbolt, it's still a far better external storage interface than USB 3.0, which at best is only half the speed of a first-gen Thunderbolt connection (5Gbps maximum) and in real life, as we saw last time, doesn't hit anywhere close to its maximum theoretical throughput.

HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz OC to 2400MHz

HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz Memory Review

June 5th, 2014 Mike Leave a comment Go to comments


Back in February both James and I attended a press event in London held by Kingston. This event was held to announce that Kingston and HyperX were no longer focusing on the same market and that HyperX would be solely aimed at Gamers (about time too �� ). It also gave us our first look at the awesome HyperX Cloud Headset and a replacement for the highly successful HyperX Blu range, the brand new HyperX Fury. The range is available in single or dual channel kits, available in 4GB, 8GB or 16GB; 1333MHz, 1600MHz or 1866MHz and in blue, black, white and red. So quite an impressive line-up. HyperX have sent us a HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz (HX318C10FRK2/8) to try out. Rather nicely the entire range has a black PCB and our ssample is red to match our Test Rig. So fingers crossed they perform as good as they look.

HyperX - Logo Get in the game with HyperX® FURY!
‘Even newbies get up to speed fast, since FURY automatically recognises its host platform and automatically overclocks to the highest frequency published – up to 1866MHz – providing plenty of power for your next deathmatch. FURY’s asymmetric heat spreader design lets you stand out from the “square” crowd. It’s available in black, blue, red and– for the first time in the HyperX line –white, with a black PCB. So your rig can reflect your style and you can show it off with pride – without spending a lot, since FURY is affordably priced. It’s 100 per cent tested and LAN-ready, plus it’s backed by a lifetime
warranty and free technical support.’

HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit (2x4Gb) - Boxed

The HyperX Fury kit arrived in a typical clear plastic wallet, sealed with a Kingston branded sticker (Despite now being HyperX). Usually the part number (for this kit HX318C10FRK2/8) would tell you the specifications (check out this link), but if going by this code the memory MHz would be 3100? Or perhaps HyperX are doing things a little differently…

HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit (2x4Gb) - Unboxing

The packaging is held together by the same specifications sticker, so to get to the Fury inside a delicate operation is required (a little brute force and some tearing, it’s a very sticky sticker!).

HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit (2x4Gb) - Contents

Once out of the wallet and no longer obscured by the labelling, we can easily see how good the HyperX Fury looks.
Also included inside the plastic wallet is a warranty & installation guide. This small leaflet outlines the Kingston Lifetime Warranty and shows a simple guide of how to install memory.
At the time of writing the HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz Memory kit is retailing for approximately £60.29 on Amazon or Overclockers UK for £64.99 and comes with a Lifetime Warranty.


courtesy of Kingston
CAS Latency: 10-10-10-28 2N
Capacity 8GB (4GBx2)
Speed: DDR3-1866 (PC3-14900)
Test Voltage: 1.50-1.65V
Registered/Unbuffered: Unbuffered
Error Checking: Non-ECC
Type: 240-pin DIMM
Warranty: Lifetime

Black PCB
* Additional details available here

First Impressions

HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit (2x4Gb) - Angled

Undeniably the metallic red HyperX Fury, with its black PCB look good from any angle, in fact I’d even go as far to say perhaps the best looking ram sticks I’ve come across (of course once installed, you’ll only see the edge!).

HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit (2x4Gb) - Front HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit (2x4Gb) - Back

The HyperX Fury features a newly designed heat-spreader, which unlike most isn’t symmetrical. The front of the heat-spreader has the new model name printed in white on the left, whilst on the right the HyperX brand logo is moulded on with a textured finish.
The back of the Fury is more or less the same, except instead of the model and branding, there’s a warranty and model details sticker.

HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit (2x4Gb) - HyperX Top HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit (2x4Gb) - HyperX

From the top (the bit you’ll see when installed), we get to see the asymmetrical heat-spreader with the HyperX brand name to the far right.
Looking at the connection side of the Fury allows us to see the all black PCB and the textured detailing of the HyperX logo.
Something else that is clearly noticeable is the height of the heat-spreader. Whilst not classed as low-profile RAM, the HyperX Fury heat-spreader is not much higher than the PCB itself, this should mean that regardless of your CPU cooler, it should fit easily without any compatibility issues.

Hardware Installation

HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit (2x4Gb) - Installed

Installation of the HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit into our Test Rig was simple enough. The RAM sticks aren’t tall enough to cause any compatibility issues with our test cooler the Raijintek Themis, which should mean no issues with other coolers either.

  • Test Rig Setup
Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply Corsair AX760i
Motherboard MSI Z87-G45 GAMING CPU Intel Core i5-4670K
CPU Cooler Raijintek Themis RAM HyperX Fury 1866MHz 8Gb DDR3 Kit
Graphics Card MSI AMD Radeon R9 290 Gaming 4G SSD (mSATA – on-board port) Kingston 60GB mSATA (SMS200S3/60G)

The Test Rig booted first time and with the MSI Z87 G45 motherboard left on Auto settings the HyperX Fury DDR3 automatically set its frequency to 1866MHz, with timings of 10-10-10-28 at 1.5 volts. Impressive as there’s no eXtreme Memory Profile (XMP) setting for the Fury, it just works! :-)
However with a little playing around with the timings using Intel XTU, the HyperX Fury can easily be overclocked from 1866MHz to not only 2133MHz, but 2400MHz as well! Which for a set of sticks rated at 1866MHz and with an SRRP of £60 is pretty stunning. See AIDA64 Benchmark Results below for full details of timings etc.

Testing Methodology/Setup

The HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz RAM Kit was tested as part of our normal Test Rig, using Windows 7 64Bit (Service Pack 1) with all relevant Drivers installed. Prime95 (Blend) was used to test stability, whilst Intel XTU for overclocking and the following benchmarks were also used.

Hardware Performance

1866MHz (10-10-10-30)
1866MHz (10-10-10-28)
2133MHz (10-10-10-28)
2133MHz (12-13-12-35)
1866MHz (10-10-10-28)
2400MHz (13-15-13-39)

  • AIDA64 Benchmark Results (1866MHz)
  • Memory Read Write Copy Latency
    Kingston HyperX Beast 8GB 2400MHz @ 11-13-13-30 35815 37514 34726 46.8 ns
    Avexir Blitz 1.1 Original 8GB 2400MHz @ 10-12-12-31 34247 35303 31127 46.7 ns
    HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz @ 10-10-10-28 26870 27494 24500 55.8 ns
    Avexir Core 8GB 1600MHz @ 9-9-9-24 23134 23751 21781 58.9 ns

    The image above from AIDA64 shows that the throughput and the latency of the HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz memory is more or less in the correct range for its price range, which is good. The real magic in the Fury modules is when you overclock them.

  • AIDA64 Benchmark Results (Overclocking Results)
  • Memory Read Write Copy Latency
    HyperX Fury 8GB 2400MHz @ 13-15-13-39 33282 34812 29518 53.4 ns
    HyperX Fury 8GB 2133MHz @ 12-13-12-35 30325 31169 27566 55.1 ns
    HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz @ 10-10-10-28 26870 27494 24500 55.8 ns

    After adjusting the HyperX Fury timings (as seen above), you can get a huge performance gain. Admittedly the timings are a lot looser than I’d have liked, but the figures speak for themselves.

  • Gaming Related Benchmarks

  • To give us some idea of the effect the increase in memory speed has on Gaming, the benchmarks below have been run at 1866MHz, 2133MHz and 2400MHz using the HyperX Fury modules. We actually changed the benchmarks a little in an attempt to look a little deeper into the topic of whether an increase in Memory speed does truly affect FPS to any real degree. Let’s see shall we…

    TEST SYSTEM: MSI Z87 G45/ Intel Core i5-4670K/ MSI R9 290 Gaming 4G (1107MHz Core/5000MHz Memory)
    Memory 3DMark (FireStrike) Batman Arkham Origins Tomb Raider Metro Last Light
    HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz @ 10-10-10-28 8948 146 81.00 73.00
    HyperX Fury 8GB 2133MHz @ 12-13-12-35 8972 145 79.30 74.00
    HyperX Fury 8GB 2400MHz @ 13-15-13-39 8996 146 79.40 74.00

    As you can see faster memory does make a small difference within the FireStrike test, but for all else it’s not far off the same. The reason for this? Perhaps the timings are too slack on the overclocks to give any real benefit or perhaps the advantage of high speed memory (in terms of Gaming performance) is somewhat pointless! ��

    Final Thoughts

    The HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz RAM kit is a great start for the HyperX range. They arrived solidly packed in a clear plastic wallet. Look good in the wallet, but in hand feel well made and look even better.
    With a wide choice of colours available (red, blue, black or white), means they will suit any rig out there, whilst the low height of the heat-spreader means you’ll be unlikely to have any compatibility issues with even the biggest CPU cooler!
    The HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz perform well at their native speed, but slacken those timings and the RAM happily runs at 2400MHz (with a little help from Intel XTU) without even having to change the voltag! Of course even at this speed it doesn’t perform quite as well as dedicated 2400MHz rated RAM modules, but the fact it comes close is amazing!
    I’ll admit I like the HyperX Fury, they look good, offer good performance and at approximately £60 are priced well, but what really gets me excited about them isn’t even the product itself! It’s the promise of the now flying solo HyperX brand giving us an even better product in the guise of a new Genesis or Predator range!

    AMD processors cannot support 1866Mhz DDR3

    DDR3 Memory Frequency Guide

    Article Number: CPU-DDR3
    ​​ Issue
    Motherboard BIOS and Windows® based memory testing tools report that the installed DDR3 memory is running at a lower speed than expected.
    In the following guide, we will discuss what determines your systems standard memory speed and how to explore what the maximum speed of each memory component is.
    Memory speed overview
    By default, your computer system will use the safest speed settings that it can automatically detect from within the memory components. This speed will be limited by your slowest component.  Please note that some Windows based tools will report your memory speed to be half of the speed in a DDR memory configuration, e.g. Tool reports memory speed of 667MHz which equates to a DDR memory speed of 1333MHz.
    The memory components consist of
    Memory Controller
    1. The memory controller
      1. The memory controller is integrated into the AMD processor. The maximum speed supported varies by processor family and is also limited by the amount of memory slots used.  

    Depending on your selected motherboard and memory, the published speeds and configurations above may be exceeded, which will result in running your AMD processor outside of AMD published specifications. See note.  For details, please see the guidance below and contact your motherboard manufacture or memory supplier. 
     Back to top

    Memory Modules
    1. Factors determining memory speed​
      1. When installing modules of memory of differing speed grades or brand, the memory will always run at the speed of the slowest module installed.
      2. Some memory modules have two speed grades, a tested maximum speed and a standard speed. In automatic selection mode, the standard speed will always be used.
      3. The amount of populated memory slots can affect the achievable final memory running speed.
      4. Memory design in Single or Dual rank can effect memory speed
        1. Most memory should be clearly identified if it is dual rank memory and if not identified, it is usually single rank memory.
        2. Dual rank memory will run slower than a Single Rank memory of equal quality, as it requires an extra step when addressing memory locations.  
    Identifying your memory modules and their specifications
     Check the labels on the memory to identify the make and model number of your memory - 

    The two pictures above show a single piece of memory, this is also referred to as a DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module) and the second picture shows a close up of the memory DIMM label.
    The label shows details such as the memory manufacturer and the part number which usually incorporates some of the memory specifications. On our example here, the memory part number is KHX2133C9AD3X2K2/4GX.
    Once you have the memory part number, you can download specifications from the memory manufactures website.  In the description of our example memory we can see that this memory has a tested and published speed of 2133. The standard speed which the BIOS will detect from reading the memory module is 1333. In the example below,  the Serial Presence Detect (SPD) programmed speed is 1333.

    In automatic selection mode the BIOS would therefore run our example memory at 1333. In order to achieve the tested speed of 2133, you would need to manually adjust the memory speed settings. However, this will also need to be supported by the motherboard.
     Back to top

    Motherboard & BIOS​​
    Motherboard manufactures determine their own limitations for their motherboard design which may exceed the AMD memory controller specifications.  These will require manual set-up. The required settings and limitations are usually published in the form of a Qualified Vendor List (QVL), and are available from the motherboard manufacturer website.  If the settings and limitations are not published,  contact the motherboard  manufacturer directly. 
     Back to top
    How to determine the maximum achievable memory speed based on the motherboard manufactures published Qualified Vendor List.
    In order to achieve your memory modules rated speed, you will have to ensure they are included on the motherboard QVL list. The QVL should detail the required timing, voltage and maximum amount of supported modules for the desired speed.
    Example QVL list below for 1866 speed memory on an Asus Crosshair V Formula motherboard
    If we take the OCZ3G1866LV4GK as an example, we will need to set the memory timings to 10-10-10 and the memory voltage to 1.65 and we will be limited to a maximum of 2 x modules e.g. 8GB.  Using more modules may require us to reduce the speed.
    If data is missing or the details provide by the motherboard manufactures do not contain voltage, timing settings and number of memory slots supported, you will have to contact the motherboard manufacturer for more details. 
    Please Note:
    AMD processors are intended to be operated only within their associated specifications and factory settings. Operating your AMD processor outside of specification or in excess of factory settings, including but not limited to overclocking, may damage your processor and/or lead to other problems, including but not limited to, damage to your system components (including your motherboard and components thereon (e.g. memory)), system instabilities (e.g. data loss and corrupted images), shortened processor, system component and/or system life, and in extreme cases, total system failure. AMD does not provide support or service for issues or damages related to use of an AMD processor outside of processor specifications or in excess of factory settings. You may also not receive support or service from your system manufacturer.

    Tuesday, 4 August 2015

    Comprehensive Notebook Hard Disk Benchmarks by Jens Wrede

    Test: 14 Notebook HDDs

    Created: by
    Jens Wrede

    palit-680-logoIf you are in the process of deciding for a particular notebook HDD you will have noticed that the variety of models is in the way of making a quick selection. Criteria like amount of storage space, speed of data transfer, purchase price or the height of the HDD are joined by the feature of hybrid (sshd) drives. To get a good overview of the current market situation, we compared a total of 14 2.5" test subjects in different variants. Among them are various models of the big four manufacturers (HGST, Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital). The storage space ranges from 500 gigabytes to 2 terabytes, with HDDs' and SSHDs' heights varying from slim 7 to massive 15 mm. The following pages will feature technical details and of course a performance check.

    Back when we tested the 3.5" models, we focussed on storage space as a listing criterium; this approach seemed unsuitable for the notebook segment. The amount of storage space offered is only a minor criterion. Rather, we focussed on classification by noise level, power consumption and heat generation. We have deliberately created a large which compares all subjects, notwithstanding that some comparisons can be a bad fit, or that the manufacturers intended them for different operating scenarios.

    All test subjects with their respective technical data:
    Manufacturer HGST HGST HGST Seagate
    Model Travelstar 5K1500 Travelstar 7K1000 Travelstar Z7K500 Laptop SSHD
    Model Name HTS541515A9E630 HTS721010A9E630 HTS725050A7E630 ST1000LM014
    Serial number 0J28001 0J22423 0J26005 W3805FRS
    Source Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer
    Street Price from 93 EUR (7 ct / GiB) from 75 EUR (8 ct / GiB) from 50 EUR (10 ct / GiB) from 92 EUR (10 ct / GiB)

    Firmware A500 A3B0 A3A0 SM11
    Form Factor 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5" (7mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm)
    Weight 118 g 115 g 95 g 100 g
    Capacity (according to Manufacturer) 1500 GB (3 discs) 1000 GB (2 discs) 500 GB (1 disc) 1000 GB (2 discs)
    Capacity (formatted) 1396 GiB 931 GiB 465 GiB 931 GiB
    Interface SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s
    Sector size 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e)
    Cache 32 MB 32 MB 32 MB 64 MB
    Rotation speed 5400 U / m 7200 U / m 7200 U / m 5400 U / m

    Manufacturer Warranty 3 years 3 years 2 years 3 years

    Manufacturer Seagate Seagate Toshiba Toshiba
    Model Laptop Thin SSHD Momentus XT MQ01ABB200 MQ01ABFxxx
    Model Name ST500LM000 ST750LX003 MQ01ABB200 MQ01ABF050
    Serial number W3701093 W200MF4J 43SOP2INT 334FP04XT
    Source Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer
    Street Price from 63 EUR (13 ct / GiB) from 212 EUR (30 ct / GiB) from 160 EUR (9 ct / GiB) from 45 EUR (9 ct / GiB)

    Firmware SM11 SM12 0U 1A
    Form Factor 2.5" (7mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5 inches (15mm) 2.5" (7mm)
    Weight 100 g 100 g 180 g 92 g
    Capacity (according to Manufacturer) 500 GB (1 disc) 750 GB (2 discs) 2000 GB (4 discs) 500 GB (1 discs)
    Capacity (formatted) 465 GiB 697 GiB 1862 GiB 465 GiB
    Interface SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 3 Gbit/s SATA 6 Gb/s
    Sector size 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e)
    Cache 64 MB 32 MB 8 MB 8 MB
    Rotation speed 5400 U / m 7200 U / m 5400 U / m 5400 U / m

    Manufacturer Warranty 3 years 3 years 2 years 3 years

    Manufacturer Toshiba Western Digital Western Digital Western Digital
    Model MQ01ABFxxxH Black Blue Blue Slim
    Model Name MQ01ABF050H WD7500BPKX WD10JPVX WD10SPCX
    Serial number 63LBW05WT WX31A73L2274 WXC1A5304680 WXA1A2307903
    Source Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer
    Street Price from 72 EUR (15 ct / GiB) from 66 EUR (9 ct / GiB) from 67 EUR (7 ct / GiB) from 67 EUR (7 ct / GiB)

    Firmware 2A A01 A01 A01
    Form Factor 2.5" (7mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5" (7mm)
    Weight 92 g 115 g 120 g 90 g
    Capacity (according to Manufacturer) 500 GB (1 disc) 750 GB (2 discs) 1000 GB (2 discs) 1000 GB (2 discs)
    Capacity (formatted) 465 GiB 697 GiB 931 GiB 931 GiB
    Interface SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s
    Sector size 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e)
    Cache 32 MB 16 MB 8 MB 16 MB
    Rotation speed 5400 U / m 7200 U / m 5400 U / m 5400 U / m

    Manufacturer Warranty 3 years 5 years 2 years 2 years

    Manufacturer Western Digital Western Digital
    Model Green Red
    Model Name WD20NPVT WD10JFCX
    Serial number WX41A43H7914 WXA1E63DLSD5
    Source Manufacturer Manufacturer
    Street Price from 146 EUR (7 ct / GiB) from 64 EUR (6 ct / GiB)

    Firmware A01 A01
    Form Factor 2.5 inches (15mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm)
    Weight 180 g 115 g
    Capacity (according to Manufacturer) 2000 GB (4 discs) 1000 GB (2 discs)
    Capacity (formatted) 1862 GiB 931 GiB
    Interface SATA 3 Gbit/s SATA 6 Gb/s
    Sector size 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e)
    Cache 8 MB 16 MB
    Rotation speed 5400 U / m 5400 U / m

    Manufacturer Warranty 2 years 3 years
    On the following pages, each of the drives will be presented with its features and characteristics. We will be anticipating benchmarks with a short statement on the performance.

    The beginning of the roundup makes the HTS541515A9E630 from the series "Travelstar 5K1500" by HGST. It features a capacity of 1.5 Terabytes in the traditional 2.5" format at 9.5mm height. Inside we find three magnetic disks that rotate at 5400 revolutions per minute. Traditionally, HGST publish their mobile hard drives in the "Travel Star" series, with the name already mentioning rotation speed (5K/7K) and capacity.
    {jphoto image=46195}
    The transfer interface is as usual SATA 6Gb/s, the drive has a cache of 32 megabytes. In addition to the above "standard type" there are two further models: one with Bulk Data Encryption and onc with "Enhanced Matte" certification (= 24x7). The physical sector size is 4096 bytes (4K), but is on emulated by the controller to be 512 (512e). The HTS541515A9E630 comprises a three-year warranty.
    The performance of the Travelstar is at a level comparable with the MQ01ABB200 drive from Toshiba and the Western Digital WD20NPVT. The 5K1500 is very apt at running the PCMark benchmarks, but then looses compared to the MQ01ABB200 in terms of the data transfer rate and access time.

    Another represantative of HGSTs Travelstar series is the 7K1000, represented here by the HTS721010A9E630. As the name suggests, it's a specimen with a capacity of one terabyte. The HDD has two magnetic disks operating at a rotational speed of 7200 rpm. For the notebook sector, the faster rotating models are more likely to be exotic, as their increased performance will lead to higher power consumption and noise. The internal cache is 32 MB. No differences regarding speed of the SATA interface and the physical/emulated sector size. Buyers of HTS721010A9E630 receive a three-year warranty.
    {jphoto image=46196}
    Thanks to the high rotational speed of the HTS721010A9E630, it is able to secure first place in the Random Access benchmark. In the sequential read and write rates makes for a head-to-head race with the WD7500BPKX. In the other benchmarks, the two 7200-rpm drives are quite similar. Thanks to lower values in power consumption, temperature, and noise, the HGSTs 7K1000 is somwhat ahead.

    The third tes subject by HGST is the HTS725050A7E630 from the extra-thin Z-series Z7K500. Models of this series have normal dimensions in length and width, but a reduced height of only 7 mm. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the 500 GB of storage are provided by a single disc. Combined with the rotation speed of 7200 rpm, this HDD is therefore likely to belong to the higher performing models.
    {jphoto image=46197}
    The SATA interface is as usual 6Gb/s, the drive's internal cache amounts to 32 MB. HTS725050A7E630 uses 4k sectors internally that are automatically emulated as 512. As with the normal Travelstar series, there are additional models with Bulk Data Encryption and Enhanced Availability. The warranty period for HTS725050A7E630 is two years.
    Contrary to our expectations, the Z7K500 is only minimally above the performance levels of the remaining 5400 rpm HDDs. But it is significantly slower than the 7200 rpm drives. Although it is meant for mobile purposes (e.g. ultra-thin external disk), we would have expected more from the Z7K500 due to the 1 disc design and high rotation speed.

    From Seagate's new "Laptop SSHD" series we received the ST1000LM014. The acronym SSHD was formerly known as hybrid drives HDDs with additional flash memory. In the past, Seagate offered their Momentus XT, which we added to this comparison (more on this later). The aim of this SSHD synthesis is to unite the best of both worlds: a high capacity by magnetic writing and the fast access times of an SSD.
    The core of Seagate SSHD is the "Adaptive Memory Technology". It is an algorithm that analyzes the data usage and frequently used information stored on the SSD area. A similar method has been applied in the Momentus XT; however, it was only possible to use the flash memory when reading. The new laptop and laptop thin SSHDs can now write directly on the NAND area. An unusual feature is the large DRAM cache of the ST1000ML014, which amounts to 64 MB. The SSHD has a capacity of one terabyte, provided by two disks. In addition, an SSD area was implemented based on MLC chips with a total capacity of 8 GB. The rotational speed of the magnetic disks is 5400 rpm, using 4k sectors. Seagate grants a warranty period of three years.
    {jphoto image=46198}
    The promised SSD-like performance of the ST1000LM014: the Random Access Time was 19.8 ms in the first run, in subsequent tests it went down to 0.3 ms. Similar jumps were also measurable in PCMark Vantage, from 5866 points in the first run to 14825 points in the second and eventually up to 17318 points in the third round. PCMark 7 however is unruly against SSHDs, no significant increase was seen between the individual runs.

    With the ST500LM000 we present the second Seagate test subject, this time from the series "Thin Laptop SSHD". As the naming suggests, it is a very flat model. The height of the series has been reduced to 7 mm, the capacity was also reduced: to 500 GB. Only one magnetic disk is used, which leads to less heat and noise. The flash area is identical in size: 8 GB, provided by MLC chips. In terms of technical equipment, there are no differences between laptop and laptop thin versions, and we do not need to repeat the data. As with the laptop SSHD, Seagate grants a 3 year warranty.
    {jphoto image=46199}
    Comparing ST1000LM014 and ST500LM000 in their benchmark results, most of the results are in favor of the ST1000LM014. It must be said however that the differences are really marginal. Only during the boot process there was a distinct advantage of the ST1000LM014 by almost six seconds, but the ST500LM000 was better by almost seven MB/s at the minimum read rate. Although the ST500LM000 has one magnetic disk less, the reduced height provides for increased heating, it gets 2°C warmer than the ST1000LM014.

    The third Seagate representative is the former SSHD Momentus XT series. Drives of this series have already been available for some time, but for completeness' sake we decided to go for the ST750LX003. Contrary to the new generation of SSHDs, the Momentus XT is still operating with 8GB SLC chips and the disks rotate at 7200 rpm. The recognition of which data goes into the flash area is completely automated and runs in the background, no driver or user intervention required. The capacity of 750 GB is provided by the ST750LX003 on two disks. The internal buffer amounts to 32 MB. Seagate grants a warranty period of 3 years, and the drive has reliability values (Load / Unload cycles of 600,000, non-recoverable read error rate of 1 per 10 ^ 14 bits) known from desktop HDDs.
    {jphoto image=46200}
    A direct performance comparison of the Momentus XT drives with the successor of the new laptop SSHD series shows that Seagate has made significant improvements in the Adaptive Memory process (recognition algorithm for performance control). Between first and second run of PCMark Vantage, the Momentus XT only showed an increase of about 3700 points, whereas the two new laptop SSHDs achieved 9000 points more. In the Overall and Secondary Storage Evaluation of PCMark 7, the Momentus was able to gain a narrow lead.

    Now that we have looked at the subjects from HGST and Seagate, we come to the third manufacturer: Toshiba. The PR agency provided us three drives in varying versions, and we will start with the MQ01ABB200. The mobile 2.5" disk has a capacity of 2 terabytes, which of course is reflected in the increased height. Instead of the 9-mm standard format, the MQ01ABB200 is a whopping 15 mm high. Four magnetic disks rotate at 5400 revolutions per minute. It is amazing that the HDD has a comparatively tiny cache of only 8 megabytes. This is for us the first indication that the drive is designed almost exclusively for use in external data sources, where sequential read/write is more important and a bigger cache is not that crucial. The SATA interface 3Gb/s is also not quite up-to-date. The MQ01ABB200 has a special feature: a shock sensor. Factory Toshiba offers a warranty period of two years.
    {jphoto image=46203}
    The lower rotational speed of the MQ01ABB200 is reflected in the measured Random Access Time: 17 to 18 ms. No quantum jumps were to be expected concerning the transfer rate: 56 to 91.6 MB/s (read) and 54 to 88 MB/s (write). This places the drive in the midfield, just like in the PCMark Suites. The results match the design, the focus is clearly on capacity and not on performance. As a data dump the MQ01ABB200 is an outstanding device, as a system drive or storage location for game files it is unsuitable.

    The next model from Toshiba is the MQ01ABF050 from the MQ01ABFxxx series. Equipped with one disc, the HDD provides the buyer with a storage capacity of 500 GB. The rotation speed of 5400 revolutions per minute will not lead to quantum leaps in terms of performance, the cache of 8 megabytes is somewhat small. In line with the low capacity and the use of one disc, Toshiba was able to limit the height of the MQ01ABF050 to 7 mm. The physical sector size is 4K, which can be emulated as 512 bytes. The SATA interface operates at state-of-the-art 6 Gbit/s. The warranty period is two years.
    {jphoto image=46201}
    The MQ01ABF050 is a solid drive, which delivers an average performance considering the technical data. The results are in the lower midfield, often only just behind the competition. In PCMark 7 and Vantage it occupied the last place, while it fared slightly better in the HDTune tests. With its low height, the HDD is suitable mainly for very flat external drives  or ultra-compact sub/netbooks.

    The third drive from Toshiba is the MQ01ABF050H from the MQ01ABFxxxH series. The capacity amounts to 500 GB (on a single magnetic disk), 8 GB of NAND Flash used by the SSHD automatically for fast data retrieval. Since only one magnetic disk is used, the Toshiba was easily able to reduce the overall height to 7 mm. The rotation speed is moderate 5400 rpm and the cache amounts to 32 MB. The interface is SATA (6Gb/s). The warranty period of the MQ01ABF050H is three years, as for all * ABFH models.
    {jphoto image=46202}
    In the individual test disciplines, the MQ01ABF050H showed good results. It remains to note that the quality of the detection algorithms for flash use varies significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer: while the two Seagate SSHDs in Vantage first run were able to score significantly more points (Seagate: 5866/5657, Toshiba: 3397), the second run went to Seagate, too (Seagate: 14825/14494, Toshiba: 8715). However, after the third round, all three subjects were almost on a level (Seagate: 17318/17295, Toshiba: 17877). Concerning the IOPS in HDTune, the MQ01ABF050H was clearly ahead, just like in the total value and individual events in PCMark 7.

    Western Digital also provided us with a few notebook hard drives. Let's start with the performance-oriented WD7500BPKX from the Black series of the manufacturer. Our model has been equipped with the fastest SATA interface with 6 Gbit/s, older specimens with the BPKT name only provide 3 Gb/s. The rotation speed of the two magnetic disks in all HDDs of the Black Series is 7200 rpm, the cache at 16 MB is rather meager. Western Digital grants purchasers a very long warranty period of five years.
    {jphoto image=46204}
    The performance promises from Western Digital were easily met by the WD7500BPKX; in benchmarks it is clearly ahead of the rest of the drives (with the exception of the SSHD) and has to share top ranking only in a few benchmarks with HGST's Travelstar. However, it is also the leader in power consumption (under load), and in noise level: during the benchmark runs, a significantly perceptible operating noise was consistently audible. However, the temperature remained stable at a low level, other drives got much warmer.

    The second WD drive is the WD10JPVX, the first representative of the Blue Series. Analogous to the Black model there are various versions that provide information about the used SATA Interface: the CX/VX-identifiers have 6 Gbit/s, the VT-versions only 3 Gb/s. The cache of all specimens amounts to 8 MB, except for the WD10SPCX and the WD7500LPCX, which have 16 MB. The rotational speed of the drives the same in all versions, 5400 revolutions per minute. Western Digital grants a two-year guarantee for models of the Blue series.
    {jphoto image=46205}
    The WD10JPVX is an all-rounder that does not excel in any discipline. The results are average, no positive or negative accents. This is a good HDD for various applications at a fair price, no more and no less. However, the low cache makes it ideal for use in external enclosures, since as soon as many data requests go to the HDD, it will be full, and performance will definately suffer.

    The second representative of the Blue Series is the WD10SPCX. This is the "thin" version, the height is only 7 mm. There is also the "Ultra Thin" version WD5000MPCK with 5 mm, which features a SFF-8784 connector Edge and is not intended for the end user. Despite the reduced height, our WD10SPCX provides  a capacity of one terabyte in two disks. Rotation speed is 5400 rpm and cache amounts to 16 MB. Regarding the performance of the WD10SPCX, is is therefore likely to be end up in the midfield.
    {jphoto image=46207}
    Our performance comparison confirms the assumption that this is a solid 2.5'' drive. In all disciplines, the HDD delivers average results that do not stand out, neither positively or negatively. It can easily be used in notebooks, consumption and noise measurements did not show negative results, and with the 16-MB cache it will easily be able to cope with everyday use.

    The fourth WD drive we received is WD20NPVT of the capacity-oriented Green series. In its massive height of 15 mm, Western Digital implemented 4 drives, the buyer gets two terabytes of disk space. With this design, the WD20NPVT of course will not fit into notebooks, but considering the primary purpose of use in external data sources, this is quite irrelevant. The NPVT is equipped with SATA 3 Gb/s, the slightly larger brother NPVX has SATA 6 Gbit/s. With a cache size of only 8 MB, it is becoming increasingly clear that WD did not have a high performance in mind. The rotation speed amounts to 5400 rpm and the warranty period to two years.
    {jphoto image=46210}
    Looking at the all-benchmarks, the WD20NPVT has a performance which places it at the bottom of the ranking. In the sequential transfer tests under HDTune, it was able to show better transfer rates, which confirms its destination as a data dump. Anyone looking for an average 2.5" drive with this high capacity has come to the right place. It is more expensive than the Toshiba MQ01ABB200, though.

    The fifth WD drive, and at the same time last test subject for this roundup, is from the brand new Red series, which WD have now extended to include 2.5" drives. The Red is not available in capacities of 750 GB and 1000, we got the 1 TB version WD10JFCX. Exactly like the bigger brothers and sisters of the 3.5" segment, the notebook versions are equipped with WD's NASware 2.0. The cache is 16 MB and the two disks inside the drives rotate at 5400 rpm. Western Digital grants a warranty period of three years starting from the date of purchase.
    {jphoto image=46211}
    Western Digital WD10JFCX has positioned itself stubbornly at the top, both in synthetic benchmarks as well as in the more application-oriented PCMark suites. This good performance is very commendable in view of the rather low power consumption and moderate noise level. Heat creation however is a little higher than most. Given the focus of WD's Red series for a NAS environment, we can certify unrestricted applicability of the WD10JFCX for such a scenario. The extended warranty period of three years provides the purchaser with a further argument regarding drive reliability.

    Software / drivers
    • Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
    • Intel Rapid Storage Driver
    • NVIDIA GeForce 320.49
    • HDTach 3.0.10 ( Download )
    • HDTune Pro 5:50 ( Download )
    • PCMark 7 ( Download )
    • PCMark Vantage ( Download )
    Other Settings and Notes
    Unless stated otherwise, all drives will be tested on a SATA 6 Gb/s port on the P67 chipset, with the results of each benchmark smoothed over several runs in order to get an average value. This way, single variations to not affect the overall result.
    We measured power consumption of the hard drives via an external power meter in combination with a USB docking station. The docking station behaves in a neutral way without inserted HDD and has no consumption. Any applicable "operating overhead" is therefore identical for all drives. The measured values are not representative for each operating scenario, but only show the measured consumption. The measurement is only there to provide a relative consumption hierarchy of the drives.
    The measurement of the noise levels of the individual hard drives was also carried out using the USB docking station. The sound level meter "3222 Data Logger" by Voltcraft was placed at 10 cm distance, we measured both the sound pressure during a sequential write access, as well as in Active Idle state. Analogous to measuring power, please remember that this is a relative assessment of noise level.

    The measured Random Access Time under HDTach was clearly won by the hybrid SSHDs by Seagate and Toshiba. Only in the first run they showed values raning from 15-18 ms. In all subsequent runs, the access time immediately fell to 0.3 ms. Among normal HDDs, the HGSTs Travelstar 7K1000 achieved nearly 15 ms, placing it at the top. The last position goes to the 5K1500.
    Benchmark HDTach
    Using HDTune we determined the read and write transfer rate throughput:
    Benchmark HDTune
    Benchmark HDTune
    Benchmark HDTune
    In the HDTune 5.5 read benchmarks, the Travel Star 7K1000/Z7K500 and WD7500BPKX were able to set themselves apart from the competition. The three benefit from their high rotation speed and the cache, which the competition lacks. Due to the lack of learnable patterns and available flash capacity, the SSHDs were beaten, and are entirely dependent on the performance of their HDD part. And since they rotate at a speed of 5400 rpm, they were not able to prevail in this test.
    After the reading results, we now look at the results when writing:
    Benchmark HDTune
    Benchmark HDTune
    Benchmark HDTune
    The write benchmarks show a similar picture as in the reading benchmark. The three 7200-rpm drives from Western Digital and HGST are at the top, followed by the remaining participants.
    The random read test in HDTune provides a rough calculation of how many operations can be completed when reading and writing simultaneously. Of course, the results can not compete with SSDs, which achieved over 30,000 IOPS.
    Benchmark HDTune
    Benchmark HDTune
    Interestingly, the evaluation of the IOPS results shows the differences between the learning algorithms and the controllers of modern SSHD drives. All three Seagate drives are more than clearly beaten by the Toshiba MQ01ABF050H. In a direct comparison between the Momentus XT and laptop SSHDs you can see that Seagate was able to increase the quality of recognition algorithms by a factor of almost 5 to 10. The remaining HDDs stagnate at the usual ranges from 50-60 IOPS (read) and 120-160 (write).

    PCMark Vantage consists essentially of two parts: the actual speed of the system is determined by performing "real" actions such as image and text editing, video playback and much more. It is often difficult or even impossible to tell the difference between different drives, because these types of benchmarks is often thwarted by the rest of the system (CPU, RAM, graphics card). The HDD test of PCMark however is more synthetic in nature since only so-called Traces are being played back (recorded requests when working with different programs). Assuming the rest of the system would not limit an SSD, the performance of a system would correlate with the results of the HDD tests - if the same or at least similar programs are being used as in the original recording of traces.
    Unfortunately, the results of the gaming and music benchmarks have a relatively high fluctuation. In both tests, a clear statement is therefore only possible when there is at least 10% difference in results. The results of the other tests are much more reproducible (mean error rate no higher than 3%).
    Benchmark PCMark Vantage
    PCMark 7 is the direct successor to the older Vantage version, and as the name suggests it is optimized for use with Windows 7. The single benchmarks were divided into different categories; all tests (except for the storage benchmark) again are meant to determine the real performance of the system by including - in addition to the SSD (or the HDD) - all other components of the system (CPU, memory, graphics card) into the tests. Anyone interested in a more detailed description can refer to the comprehensive PCMark 7 Whitepaper (PDF).
    Fortunately, reproducibility of results compared to the previous version has increased enormously: the resulting scores' variation between passes is almost always less than 0.5 percent. This makes it easier to identify performance differences between SSDs, without measurement fluctuations interfering in the comparison.
    Benchmark PCMark 7
    Benchmark PCMark 7
    Benchmark PCMark 7
    Benchmark PCMark 7
    Benchmark PCMark 7
    Benchmark PCMark 7
    Benchmark PCMark 7
    Benchmark PCMark 7
    In both PCMark benchmark suites, the new SSHDs drives from Seagate and Toshiba were able to show their full potential. Without exception, the four drives were able to set themselves apart from the competition, and then some. Due to PCMark Vantage being slightly dated, differences to the rest of participants are of course much higher. However, these benchmarks still show the enormous potential of the learning algorithms when dealing with "learnable" tasks. They are no cure-all, but provide a good compromise between "expensive" SSDs and "slow" HDDs. Especially when it comes to flash equipment of modern HDDs we still see room for improvement, even though SSHDs will never outrun the "real" SSDs in raw performance.

    To obtain information about the suitability of the disks as a potential system drive, we cloned the original Windows 7 test system to the tested drives, then restarting the system several times in a row. We measured the time from turning on the PC up to the moment the login screen of Windows 7 was displayed; accordingly, the entire boot-up process of the BIOS is included in the measurements:
    Benchmark Windows 7 Startzeit
    As expected, the three drives with high rotational speed provided for the fastest boot-up behavior. The Momentus XT was way on top, though the Adaptive Memory algorithms are likely to have contributed their part in it. The performance of the other SSHDs drives from Seagate and Toshiba was far from good in this test. With almost 63 seconds, the MQ01ABF050H even set a new negative record.
    In order to determine the maximum operating temperature of the hard drives under load, each drive has been completely overwritten after completion of the respective benchmarks using the Erase function of HDTune. This allowed us to make sure that the drives are exposed to a constant high load and release a great deal of heat because of permanent write operations. The temperatures of the disks was recorded by reading the corresponding SMART value immediately after the erase operation, and adjusted to the ambient temperature at the time of measurement in order to ensure comparability.
    Benchmark Temperatur
    The measurements for heat generation in high load writing operations put the two Momentus XT, MQ01ABF050H and WD10JPVX at the (negative) top, whereas the Travelstar 7K1000 and Z7K500 did quite well, just as Toshiba's MQ01ABF050 and the WD10SPCX from Western Digital.
    We have also taken a look at the power consumption of hard drives, in standby mode (idle) and under load:
    Benchmark Stromverbrauch
    Benchmark Stromverbrauch
    As expected, at the top of the power consumption scale we find the WD7500BPKX by WD, since its performance has to be payed up with an appropriate ammount of energy. Due to its four-disk design, the WD20NPVT's consumption is also quite high, both when idle as well as under load. Then again, Toshiba's MQ01ABF050 was quite frugal.
    We also compared the development of the operating noise, in standby mode (idle) and during the seek phase of accesses:
    Benchmark Lautstärke
    Benchmark Lautstärke
    Needless to say, the drives rotating at 7200 rpm are particularly loud: HGST's Travelstar 7K100, Seagate's Momentus XT and Western Digital's Black are at the top of this test. The two SSHD series from Seagate and Toshiba turned out to be quite sneaky. These three drives show the lowest overall values in this category.

    Of the tested 14 hard disks with different technical data, it will of course prove difficult to provide an overall 'winner', since the requirements of the respective application areas are much too varied. Some people mainly want a drive that operates quietly. Others require brute power, in which case the price won't play such a big role. Our final evaluation will therefore focus exclusively on the areas of "performance" and "value for money". In addition, we recommend an "all-round" drive.
    If you care for performance and fast data access, or if you want to use the drives for performance-oriented purposes, we recommend first and foremost one of the shown hybrid drives (Seagate SSHD or laptop Toshiba MQ01AFxxxH). The drive by Seagate is a bit better than Toshiba's bolide. If you only want to rely on the tried and true disk technology without flash, we recommend either the Western Digital Black (WD7500BPKX) or the Travelstar 7K1000 of HGST. These models offer a first-class performance and can be easily installed in laptops or external data cases. Price, power consumption and heat generation are of course somewhat higher.

    In the category with a good price-performance ratio we have three drives (based on their ct/GiB ratio). Specifically, HGST's 5K1500, Toshiba's MQ01ABB200 and Western Digital's WD10JPVX. All three drives cost an affordable 7 cents per usable GB. The low price is indeed due to the slightly lower performance, but when used as data dump, this is not really an issue. We chose Toshiba's MQ01ABB200 because it provides the buyer with the most total usable storage space at nevertheless acceptable transfer rates.

    For everyday use without excessive performance ambitions, the Travelstar 5K1500 by HGST is a very good all-round drive. This is a very solid drive, placed in midfield in all benchmarks and consumption/heat/noise measurements. With a capacity of 1.5 TB, it also offers plenty of space for application data or multimedia files. The HTS541515A9E630 is not overly expensive, and is also part of our value-for-money recommendations.