G.SKILL FM-25S2S-64GB MLC SSD DriveDec 24th, 2008 | By Simon
G.SKILL FM-25S2S-64GB MLC SSD Drive
: 12/24/08 – 03:11:05 AM
Page 1 : Index
G.Skill is not a new name here at Overclockers Online. We've done some in-depth testing on several of their memory kits. However, today we focus on an affordable ultra-performing 2.5′ solid state drive (SSD). Ranging in capacity from a modest 64GB to a whopping 128GB, G.Skill enters the market as a provider of cost efficient, ultra reliable and power efficient hard drives. At least that's what they are claiming.
You may be more familiar with solid state drives in the form of USB drives or flash memory. Solid state drives for your PC probably didn't get overly popular until 2006-2007. Since then, you'll find high end notebooks sporting them for an extra couple hundred bucks. G.Skill and their SSD that we'll be looking at offer a solution that is much more affordable.
Page 2 : Package Contents
The G.Skill 64GB MLC SSD arrived in a very simple package. The box is only slightly larger than the drive itself but conveys the most important pieces of information about a hard drive: physical size and capacity. In this case, we have a 2.5′ drive with 64GB of storage space. We can also read through a few key features, complete physical size, performance rates, operating temperature, acceptable vibration, shock resistance and mean time before failure on the back of the package.
The side of the package has nothing more than listing the drive width and capacity.
Opening the package up and pulling the drive out, we see that G.Skill has reinforced the drive by surrounding it in a foam case. The drive is further protected by an anti-static bag.
Also included in the package is a one page user guide outlining the specifications, installation procedure and warranty.
The drive itself is pretty basic and has the same color scheme as the packaging. The metal alloy housing will protect the internal of the disk and offer some heat dissipation.
The back sticker doesn't convey much information other than a few bar codes for scanning.
In order to gain access to the actual NAND chips, you'll need to void the warranty and remove four screws.
Like any other internal hard drive, your inputs include SATA and power. There is also a USB Micro B port. The instructions on the packaging makes no reference to a USB connection… we'll test this port out later and see what happens.
Before we get to installation, I will go through the specifications.
Page 3 : Specifications and Features
The G.Skill website looks pretty user friendly but it took more clicks than I thought would be required to get to the product page. From here, we get a print out of the specifications.
You'll notice that the drive is rated for 1.5 million hours before failure. That's 171.2 years of operation! I found an interesting blurb on Bjorn3D that I want to share with you regarding the 1.5M MBTF when they asked G.SKill:
It means the stability, not the time it can be used. The MTBF is 171.2 years, which means 1/171.2 SSD would have error per year. The SLC usually has 100000 times to write, and MLC 10000 times.
That ratio, 1/171.2 drives per year, is not nearly as good as a MTBF of 1.5M hours of operation.
You will also recall that I've referred to this drive as the 64GB MLC SSD. The MLC stands for multi-level cell and is often used in lower priced drives. It allows bit storage (typically 4) on multiple levels as opposed to the higher class SLC (single level cell) where its one bit per level. Basically, more data is stored in the same area resulting in an increased risk of corruption. This explains the second reason why SLC has 10x more times-to-write than the MLC before getting an error.
The G.Skill 64GB MLC SSD uses Samsung NANDs, we get a very clear look at them after removing the protective cover on the drive.
The model of the NAND is Samsung K9HCG08U1M PCB0 CAG809X3. Mine were made in week 40 of 2008.
Time to install!
Page 4 : Installation, Test Configuration & Power Consumption
It's a hard drive… there's really not a whole lot for us to test here. If you've got the SATA cable plugged in and you've got power connected, you're done. Boot your system and configure the drive as your primary boot disk or as a secondary drive. It's that simple.
I plugged in a USB cable to the drive and the other end into my computer and the drive shows up as an external hard drive. With the rugged aluminum body, it makes for a large, sleek and simple external drive. I found that the USB performance was limited to about 40MB/s.
I will be testing the G.Skill SATA on my test bed as both a secondary storage device and a primary drive. Here's a rundown of my system:
- CPU: Intel C2D Q6600 (G0 SLACR L731B434) @ 2.41 GHz
- MB: Asus P5E3-Dlx Wifi-AP Edition
- GPU: Sapphire HD 4850 X2 Catalyst 8.11
- RAM: Crucial 4GB Ballistix Tracer PC3-10600 Kit
- PSU: Cooler Master Real Power Pro 850W
- CPU Cooling: Thermalright HR-01 w/ 120mm Antec Tri-Cool Fan
- PWM/NB/SB Cooling: Stock/Stock/Stock
- OS: Windows Vista x64
- G.Skill FM-25S2S-64GB
- Primary HD: Seagate SATA 80 GB 8MB NCQ (ST380811AS) w/ Windows Vista
- Secondary Storage HD: Seagate 7200.11 500GB (ST3500320AS)
To test out the drive we'll be using DiskBench, Crystal DiskMark, Sisoft Sandra, HD Tune 3.10, ATTO, HDTach and Boot Timer. All benchmarks were executed 5 times and the average result was recorded. The system was reset between each benchmark.
It's often believed that solid state drives consume less power than your standard hard drive, and it's true. Using the P3 Kill-A-Watt, my test machine with the 80GB Seagate installed required 208W to idle. With the G.Skill SSD, the consumption dropped to 200W. While executing ATTO Disk benchmark, I watched the Seagate based machine consume as much as 222W whereas the G.Skill SSD only required 215W. The difference in both situations is about 15W. Any reduction is a good reduction in my books.
Page 5 : Primary Drive Performance Results
If you buy a solid state drive, chances are you'll make the drive your primary and load the O/S to it. You will definitely notice a decrease in your boot time. With Vista SP1, Boot Timer recorded a difference of 20 seconds, the solid state drive cut the boot time down in half. Needless to say, that's mighty impressive and the G.Skill FM-25S2S-64GB is off to a very strong start.
I used DiskBench to create a 200MB file in 2MB blocks and the write time was ridiculously fast for both the Seagate SATA hard drive and the G.Skill SSD. I suspect some of this performance is cached and not actually the write speed.
Crystal Disk Mark
Here we have our first detailed look at the read and write speed of the two drives. Crystal DiskMark does a 100MB Read and Write using 4K and 512K blocks. It also tests sequential read and write. We hit the 155MB/s read speed and 90MB/s write speed listed on the G.Skill product page but since this is Vista, we actually fall short of the expected maximum speed.
The Sisoft Sandra benchmarks give our first look at the Random Access time and it's as low as Sisoft Sandra can report, 1ms. Drive speed sits well past your standard SATA drive.
HD Tune 3.10 Read
Similar story as above, the Random Access Time is 0.2ms as outlined in the specifications and the read transfer rate has a burst rate of 156MB/s. The average is 133.1 MB/s which is double what my Seagate drive does.
Here's a sample output from HDTune showing the read speed from start to finish. Apart from the one bump along the way, the performance cycles between 115MB/s and 148.7MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO has always been a staple for reviewers evaluating storage devices; unfortunately it only works with test files no bigger than 32MB. We can see the clear advantage a solid state disk drive has over a SATA but for the first time, we see the write performance fall well below the expected. I was actually disappointed and confused and after running the benchmark almost twenty times, the results were the same. We'll see on the next page that the drive has no problems hitting 100MB/s write speed when used as a storage device. I suspect there is some conflict with the drivers/operating system that is causing this issue.
Nothing out of the ordinary here, 0.2ms random access time, almost 0% CPU utilization, 175MB/s burst speed with 115MB/s average read.
Here's a sample output from HDTach showing the read speed from start to finish.
There are a couple bumps along the way, but for the most part it hovers at the 115MB/s line.
Page 6 : Secondary Drive Performance Results
For this second set of tests, I used the G.Skill SSD drive as a simple storage disk with Windows Vista. I will be comparing the performance to my Seagate 7200.11 500GB SATA drive. Starting with DiskBench, I created files on the drive, copied to the drive and copied from the drive to my desktop. Here are the results:
I'm surprised to see the Seagate 7200.11 overtake the G.Skill SSD on the file copy from desktop to the secondary storage drive. The Seagate has a faster write speed than the G.Skill MLC SSD by 15MB/s, it's not a huge amount but enough to be noteworthy. On the copy from storage drive to desktop, the read speed, the G.Skill MLC SSD got the win.
Crystal Disk Mark
Once again, we see the G.Skill easily beat the Seagate during the read tests but fall slightly behind during the write performance.
G.Skill once again takes the win against the Seagate drive when it comes down to random access time and overall drive performance.
HD Tune 3.10 Read
The same story as before, the G.Skill SATA drive gets the win. One noteworthy point is how the CPU utilization is 8% less than the Seagate 7200.11. The G.Skill SSD drive averages roughly 40MB/s more than the Seagate on all tests.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
The same story as all the other benchmarks, the G.Skill SSD destroys the Seagate 7200.11 in the read rates but falls slightly behind on the write.
Nothing new to report here, the G.Skill takes the cake on all parts of HDTach's read benchmark.
Page 7 : Conclusion
Solid state drives used to be something far too expensive for the average enthusiast. It wasn't too long ago when double digit dollar figures per gigabyte were common but times have changed. Prices are down to a few dollars per gigabyte, far from the pennies per gigabyte in traditional hard drives but at a point where it's possible to join the SSD bandwagon.
I've put the G.Skill 64GB MLC SSD through its paces and am pleased with its overall performance. It's absolutely quiet, it draws less power than your regular hard drive, my boot times have dropped by ridiculous amounts and overall performance keeps up with some of today's newest platter hard drives available. It's definitely not the fastest hard drive out there, but the future is definitely bright for G.Skill's SSD family.
- Great performance
- No noise
- Little power consumption
- Ready for external use out of the box
- SSDs are still rather expensive
- Relatively short hard drive warranty
Overclockers Online would like to thank G.Skill for making this review possible.