File Copy Test
Since we've tested theoretical transfer rates, it's only fitting that we follow up with a look at how each drive handles a more realistic set of sequential transfers. File Copy Test is a pseudo-real-world benchmark that times how long it takes to create, read, and copy files in various test patterns. We've converted those completion times to MB/s to make the results easier to interpret.
Windows 7's intelligent caching schemes make obtaining consistent and repeatable performance results rather difficult with FC-Test. To get reliable results, we had to drop back to an older 0.3 revision of the application and create our own custom test patterns. During our initial testing, we noticed that larger test patterns tended to generate more consistent file creation, read, and copy times. That makes sense, because with 4GB of system memory, our test rig has plenty of free RAM available to be filled by Windows 7's caching and pre-fetching mojo.
For our tests, we created custom MP3, video, and program files test patterns weighing in at roughly 10GB each. The MP3 test pattern was created from a chunk of my own archive of ultra-high-quality MP3s, while the video test pattern was built from a mix of video files ranging from 360MB to 1.4GB in size. The program files test pattern was derived from, you guessed it, the contents of our test system's Program Files directory.
Even with these changes, we noticed obviously erroneous results pop up every so often. Additional test runs were performed to replace those scores.
According to SandForce, the SF-1200's poor file creation performance in FC-Test is due to the application's failure to take advantage of command queuing. That's a fair point to make, but given the far superior performances of the other SSDs here, one could also argue that the SF-1200 is too reliant on command queuing to accelerate writes. Based on the results of some previous testing, our use of Microsoft's standard Windows 7 AHCI drivers also appears to be holding back the SandForce drives; they perform better with Intel's own AHCI drivers.
Unfortunately, the F120 doesn't solve any of those problems. In fact, the drive's file creation speeds are even slower than those of the other SF-1200-based SSDs, relegating this latest Force to the back of the pack.
The SF-1200's dependence on command queuing doesn't seem to hamper the F120's read performance. All of the SandForce drives are much more competitive when reading the very same files they had so much trouble creating. Unlike some of the other SSDs, whose read speeds drop precipitously with the MP3 and program file sets, the SandForce drives offer solid performance across all three file sets.
Overprovisioning doesn't appear to have much impact here. The F120 is about as fast as the F100, whose performance matches OCZ's SandForce-based SSDs.
The SF-1200's slow file creation speeds tank the F120's chances in the copy tests. With write performance the likely bottleneck for the SandForce drives, it's no surprise to see the F120 lagging behind the F100, Agility, and Vertex once more.
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