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HD Tune
We'll kick things off with HD Tune, which replaces HD Tach as our synthetic benchmark of choice. Although not necessarily representative of real-world workloads, HD Tune's targeted tests give us a glimpse of each drive's raw capabilities. From there, we can explore which drives live up to their potential.

Intel may say that the X25-V can only read at 170MB/s, but the drive does a little better than that here. The X25-V averages out to an impressive 185MB/s, which puts it right behind the SiliconEdge Blue and the SSDNow V+.

Of course, that's just running as a single drive. Combine two X25-Vs in RAID, and you're looking at sustained read speeds of well over 300MB/s. The RAID config's read rate does oscillate quite a bit, between 325 and 375MB/s, but that's a very good place to be considering the X25-M only manages 216MB/s in this test.

The X25-V exceeds Intel's conservative performance ratings in HD Tune's write speed test, as well. Still, with an average write speed of only 39MB/s, Intel's value SSD is easily the slowest of the lot.

Adding a second drive in RAID does improve write speeds by nearly a factor of two, but that's still not enough to catch the X25-M, let alone the rest of the field. As you can see by the X25-M's place in the standings, Intel SSDs have comparatively weak write performance, at least in synthetic tests such as this one.

Next up: some burst-rate tests that should test the cache speed of each drive.

This test should measure cache speed, at least—except for when Intel's RAID driver secures a slice of system memory for use as cache. Obviously, the RAID results aren't directly comparable to the others here. On its own, the X25-V's burst speed isn't terribly impressive. The drive only manages to hit 115MB/s, which is 11MB/s shy of the X25-M, but still slower than everything else.

Our HD Tune tests conclude with a look at random access times, which the app separates into 512-byte, 4KB, 64KB, and 1MB transfer sizes.

All of the SSDs have freakishly low read access times with smaller transfer sizes, and the X25-V is among the best of the bunch. However, Intel's value SSD starts to falter as we hit the 64KB and 1MB transfer sizes. RAID helps much more with the latter than it does with the former.

The X25-V finds itself at the front of the pack through our first two random-write transfer sizes. Again, though, the X25-V starts to have problems when we step up to larger transfer sizes. The drive stumbles first with the 64KB transfer size before being completely tripped up by the 1MB test, in which its writes times are even slower than the 7,200-RPM mechanical drive.

Our RAID config cuts write access times by roughly half, at least for transfer sizes that take more than a tenth of a millisecond. Striping the X25-V also leads to quicker access times with smaller transfer sizes, but the differences are much smaller.