Thus far, all of our tests have been conducted with the SSDs connected as secondary storage. This next batch uses them as system drives. As we mentioned on the first page, we updated the firmware of our ASUS Z97-Pro motherboard, changing the boot characteristics of the system. Therefore, we have an abbreviated set of results from drives we re-tested for this review. This time around, we used Intel's latest firmware for the 750 series, specifically crafted to improve its rather pokey boot times.
We'll start with boot times measured two ways. The bare test depicts the time between hitting the power button and reaching the Windows desktop, while the loaded test adds the time needed to load four applications—Avidemux, LibreOffice, GIMP, and Visual Studio Express—automatically from the startup folder. Our old boot tests focused on the time required to load the OS, but these new ones cover the entire process, including drive initialization.
Intel's new firmware does seem to have helped the 750 along, but it still boots quite a bit slower than its contemporaries. The 950 Pro boots promptly, as fast as any run-of-the-mill SATA drive. NVMe may not make your computer boot any faster, but the 950 Pro is proof that it doesn't have to slow you down, either.
Next, we'll tackle load times with two sets of tests. The first group focuses on the time required to load larger files in a collection of desktop applications. We open a 790MB 4K video in Avidemux, a 30MB spreadsheet in LibreOffice, and a 523MB image file in GIMP. In the Visual Studio Express test, we open a 159MB project containing source code for the LLVM toolchain. Thanks to Rui Figueira for providing the project code.
I'm running out of ways to say that modern SSDs all perform mostly the same in real-world load time tests, even when their scores in synthetics vastly differ. The 950 Pro does a fine job loading our productivity programs. Let's move on.
Similarly, level load times are all within a few percentage points of each other. The 950 Pro is as good an SSD for gaming as any other.
Ordinarily, we'd devote some space here to discuss power consumption, but unfortunately we don't have a process in place to measure the draw of PCIe-based storage yet. The method we use for SATA drives doesn't carry over. As a result, that's it for performance testing—read on for a breakdown of our hardware and test methods.
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