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Test notes
We'll be comparing the performance of the X25-M with that of a slew of direct and indirect competitors, including solid-state drives from Samsung and Super Talent, a handful of 2.5” mobile drives from Seagate and Western Digital, and a collection of the fastest 3.5” desktop drives on the market. These drives can differ when it comes to external transfer rates, capacities, cache sizes, and (for the mechanical ones) spindle speeds, and platter densities, all of which can have an impact on performance. Keep in mind the following differences as we move through our benchmarks:

Max external transfer rate Spindle speed Cache size Platter size Capacity Form factor
Barracuda 7200.11 300MB/s 7,200-RPM 32MB 250GB 1TB 3.5"
Caviar Black 300MB/s 7,200-RPM 32MB 334GB 1TB 3.5"
Caviar SE16 (640GB) 300MB/s 7,200-RPM 16MB 320GB 640GB 3.5"
Deskstar 7K1000 300MB/s 7,200-RPM 32MB 200GB 1TB 3.5"
FlashSSD 300MB/s NA NA NA 64GB 2.5"
MasterDrive MX 300MB/s NA NA NA 60GB 2.5"
Momentus 7200.3 300MB/s 7,200-RPM 16MB 160GB 320GB 2.5"
Scorpio Black 300MB/s 7,200-RPM 16MB 160GB 320GB 2.5"
Scorpio Blue 300MB/s 5,400-RPM 16MB 160GB 320GB 2.5"
SpinPoint F1 300MB/s 7,200-RPM 32MB 334GB 1TB 3.5"
VelociRaptor VR150 300MB/s 10,000-RPM 16MB 150GB 300GB 3.5"
X25-M 300MB/s NA NA NA 80GB 2.5"

On the solid-state front, the X25-M is joined by Samsung's FlashSSD and Super Talent's MasterDrive MX. The FlashSSD is an SLC-based drive rated for 100MB/s sustained reads and 80MB/s writes. The MasterDrive uses Super Talent's original firmware and is rated for 120MB/s reads and 40MB/s writes. Pay particular attention to how these three drives stack up against each other.

To give the X25-M some additional 2.5" competition, we've included the latest 7,200-RPM mobile drives from Seagate and Western Digital. Western Digital's 5,400-RPM Scorpio Blue is also in the mix to illustrate how the SSDs look against a slower spindle speed.

Our 3.5" drives can't squeeze into systems that can easily accommodate the 2.5" X25-M, but we've included a collection of the latest desktop models because Intel is eager to push solid-state drives for servers, workstations, and high-end desktops. It will be interesting to see how the X25-M fares against the VelociRaptor, which is the fastest mechanical SATA drive on the market.

Performance data from such a daunting collection of drives can make our bar graphs a little hard to read, so we've colored the bars by manufacturer, with the X25-M appearing in bright blue.

Our testing methods
All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged, using the following test system.

Processor Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz
System bus 800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard Asus P5WD2 Premium
Bios revision 0422
North bridge Intel 955X MCH
South bridge Intel ICH7R
Chipset drivers Chipset 7.2.1.1003
AHCI/RAID 5.1.0.1022
Memory size 1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Micron DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz
CAS latency (CL) 3
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 3
RAS precharge (tRP) 3
Cycle time (tRAS) 8
Audio codec ALC882D
Graphics Radeon X700 Pro 256MB with CATALYST 5.7 drivers
Hard drives Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB SATA
Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB SATA
Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB SATA
Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB SATA
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA
Samsung FlashSSD 64GB SATA
Super Talent MasterDrive MX SATA 60GB
Intel X25-M SATA 80GB
Western Digital Scorpio Black 320GB SATA
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 320GB SATA
Seagate Momentus 7200.3 320GB SATA
OS Windows XP Professional
OS updates Service Pack 2

Thanks to NCIX for getting us the Deskstar 7K1000 and Spinpoint F1.

Our test system was powered by OCZ PowerStream power supply units.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.