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HD Tune — Transfer rates
HD Tune lets us look at transfer rates in a couple of different ways. We use the benchmark's "full test" setting, which tracks performance across the entire drive and lets us create the fancy line graphs you see below. This test was run with its default 64KB block size.

As you can see, we've painted our results in a rainbow of colors to make the graphs easier to interpret. In the bar graphs, drives are colored by manufacturer, with the Vertex 3 highlighted in golden yellow. The line graphs follow a similar color scheme with an additional shade of blue to differentiate between the Intel drives.

The Vertex 3 may not hit its rated peak in HD Tune's sequential read speed test, but it's the only drive to break 400MB/s. Intel's latest falls 25MB/s short on average, and the C300 trails by a much bigger margin. With the Vertex 3 nearly 70% faster than the Agility 2, it's clear that that SandForce has made substantial gains in sequential read throughput.

That's one funky looking line graph. The Vertex 3's read speed spikes modestly at pretty regular intervals, but its write speed climbs by over 150MB/s in a series of short spurts across the drive's total capacity. We've seen this before from SandForce-based drives with 7% overprovisioning, so it's not a terribly surprising result. This time around, the spikes are more widely spaced than with SandForce's last-gen controller.

Most of the time, the Vertex 3 writes at a little more than 250MB/s. The peaks pull up the overall average, but not by enough to catch Intel's new 510 Series, whose write speed is considerably more consistent overall. Barring the first few moments of the test, which seem to trouble all SandForce-powered SSDs, the Vertex 3 offers higher sequential write speeds than the rest of the pack.

HD Tune's burst speed tests are meant to isolate a drive's cache memory. How will they run on the cacheless Vertex 3?

Pretty quickly. The newest Vertex trumps the 510 Series with reads and ties it with writes. 6Gbps connectivity clearly helps those drives, but it's not the only factor. Despite its 6Gbps SATA link, the RealSSD C300 is only a smidgen faster than the 3Gbps drives.