There is nothing like installing the right solid state drive into your system, when it comes to price vs performance. There are a lot of things you can do to a computer to speed things up with, but very few that have such an effect, without spending hundreds of dollars and buying multiple products.
With an SSD, you simply replace a single HDD and you can typically find 2-5 times the performance you had before. Not only that, but they require about 50% or less power, produce less heat and have the potential of lasting a long time due to the lack of moving parts. Of course it all depends on system you are working with, and what it supports when it comes to SATA or PCIe traffic.
We took some time out to test one of OWC’s Mercury Pro 6G SSDs (1TB in size) to see what it can accomplish. We took a recently built i7 test system with minimal RAM installed and no external graphics card (yet), and quickly cloned the C drive to the SSD so that we could compare the performance between the two. The original hard drive is a Seagate 2TB internal HDD.
The initial boot times were drastically different. Keep in mind, this is a freshly built system, thus it already had a pretty quick boot to it. With the HDD, our average boot time into Windows was around 18-22 seconds, including pre-OS, login, and a finished desktop load (including the few apps running in the background). With the OWC SSD, we felt rushed to enter the login password because we felt like the slow variable holding it back. Boot time was decreased to around 8-10 seconds, depending on how fast we could enter the password.
It was harder to figure out application launch speeds since operating systems cache so well now when it comes to frequently opened items. We came to a final conclusion that we were seeing around 15-25% faster speeds when opening files and applications. Not a game changer persay, but seems to be the average expectation for an SSD.
The OS reads the 1TB as 894.25GB. It was a bit less than we were expecting (we were shooting for around 930GB based on our math). There seems to be around 35GB+ of space unaccounted for. This can sometime happen as there always seems to be a small margin of error between the true 1024b/kb/mb/gb/tb math and what you really get in the end (although 35GB can be a bit high).
Some of the slowest write speeds we saw with this drive came from when we used the drive in an external dock via USB 3.0. Our average speed was around 175-182MB/s transferring single large files to the drive. Our average low for transferring larger numbers of files all at once fell around 128MB/s (same method). We saw slightly better numbers when installed internally or using an external Thunderbolt 2.0 (and 3.0–similar to USB 3.1 type-C, but faster) solution. This drive performs quite well, on the level of something like the Seagate 600 SSD, which has been one of our favorites in the past).
However, I pointed out at the start of the story that it also depends on your system and what it supports. For an example of this we dug through some of our old equipment and pulled out a 2009 Gateway FX laptop. A fine laptop in its time and still good today with the mods we’ve done on it over the time. We cloned the laptop’s C drive (originally a Western Digital 320GB HDD) to the SSD and installed it. The average boot time was debatable, maybe saving us just a few seconds. There was little to no difference in file transfer between the WD HDD and the OWC SSD. The reason for this is that the SATA bus in the laptop is of poor quality and only supports SATA 2 (or so it claims). The end result was an average HDD performance either way (this means this laptop was born at its peak and can’t improve any further drive-wise. Too bad, as it could use a boost from an SSD like this one.
The price tag is a little high, at $399, as the average competition has fallen to around $259-$299. 1TB SSD solutions (or higher in capacity) are still pretty expensive. Typically, you usually have a pretty good reason to buy one of these if you are. Thankfully, they do come in multiple capacities, going as low as 240GB. The 240GB model falls around $149, which is also a little pricey, but you are paying a little more for what one hopes to be more of a prosumer model.
You find that you hit the SATA speed ceiling with drives like this. It doesn’t get much better until you venture over to PCIe M.2 solutions, where your MB per second transfer speeds reach into the thousands (of course, sometimes the price for these drives do too).
A great contender in the world of SSD. A little pricier than we would expect them to be, and there seems to be a little more GB’s in unaccounted space than we would expect to find. However, the drive is extremely quick, providing you with a lot of upgrade potential depending on how you install it. We got the most of out it installing it internally with a motherboard that supports the latest in SATA (3.0) specs, or using an external Thunderbolt 3.0 solution. The drive would be great for specialty users, such as serious gamers, graphic editing, and video rendering (or anyone else looking for a lot of speed).
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
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