Super Talent MasterDrive SX SAM28GM25S 128GB SSDJul 21st, 2009 | By Simon
Super Talent MasterDrive SX SAM28GM25S 128GB SSD
: 07/21/09 – 03:45:46 AM
Page 1 : Introduction
: Super Talent
Solid State Disks are the latest rage in the storage industry. Everyone is trying to out do each other and steal a piece of the market place. With only a few flash memory providers, the one with the largest stock and the lowest price is going to win. The question becomes, which provider is the best bang for your buck? Most of us can't afford the Intel X25-E SLC or the X25-M MLC for that matter. THis leaves us with a variety of JMicron controllers, Indilinx and Samsung. Today we have the Super Talent 128GB MasterDrive SX SSD built on a Samsung infrastructure.
The MasterDrive SX is built on the latest Samsung controller and makes no sacrifices by offering a blistering 220MB/s read speed and 200MB/s write speed. How does this compared with other controllers on the market? Let's find out!
Page 2 : Super Talent MasterDrive SX Package & Content
I'm never looking for very sophisticated packaging when it comes to hard drives; if the drive comes in a sealed anti-static bag then I'm happy. With the Super Talent MasterDrive SX you get a nice package with a picture of the drive and specifications on the back.
The sides of the box don't relay any useful information for potential buyers. I would have been happy if it were just colored blue with Super Talent's name written across.
Opening up the box, the drive is padded on the sides by soft foam. There is a tiny bit of cushioning on the top of the drive but nothing for the bottom.
Unlike the Indilinx controller based drives that I've reviewed in the past, you will find that there is no jumper connection for firmware upgrades. The only connections available are the SATA data and power cables. The drive chassis is brushed aluminum and held in place by 4 torx screws.
Page 3 : Features & Specifications
To confirm that these SuperTalent drives are indeed based off the new Samsung controllers I voided my warranty and got my torx screwdriver to open the chassis. If I didn't know I was reviewing a Super Talent SSD, I would have figured it'd be a Samsung drive as everything is etched with Samsung's name.
We have the Samsung S3C29RBB01-YK40 N1TRPNPK ARM controller manufactured in week 29 of 2009. There's not a whole lot of information available on this controller but do a Google search and you'll see a fair number of other companies using it. The 128MB onboard cache is provided by a Samsung K4X1G323PD-8GC6 chip. Last but not least, the storage array is composed of Samsung K9HCGZ8U5M SCK0 CADD61X2 modules.
Here are the features and specifications taken directly from Super Talent's website.
Page 4 : Installation, Power Consumption & Test Configuration
There's not much to share with installation. The drive gets installed like any other and at most you may wish to obtain a 2.5′ to 3.5′ bracket for a sturdy installation. Once installed, I compared the power consumption of the Torqx to a few other SSDs and a conventional 500GB Seagate hard drive. With no surprise, the SSDs are a few watts below the conventional hard drive. It also appears that the Indilinx controller requires a few more watts than the original JMicron controller but the Torqx shows no difference between the OCZ and G.Skill Indilinx based drives.
I will be testing the Super Talent MasterDrive SX on my test bed as the primary drive with the OS installed on it. Here are my system specification:
- CPU: Intel C2D Q6600 (G0 SLACR L731B434) @ 2.71 GHz
- MB: Asus P5E3-Dlx Wifi-AP Edition
- GPU: Sapphire HD 4850 X2 Catalyst
- RAM: Aeneon 2×2GB XTune DDR3-1600 (AXH860UD20-16H) @ 1800 MHz 10-10-10-30 1T
- 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
- Super Talent 128GB MasterDrive SX (SAM28GM25S)
- Patriot Memory 64GB Torqx SSD (PFZ64GS25SSDR)
- G.Skill FM-25S2S-64GB
- Seagate Barracuda SATA 500GB 7200.11 (ST3500320AS)
To test out the drive we'll be using DiskBench, Crystal DiskMark, SiSoft Sandra, HD Tune 3.10, ATTO, HDTach, IOMeter and Boot Timer. All benchmarks were executed 5 times and the average result was recorded. The system was reset between each benchmark.
To add a little flavour to the review, I'm going to benchmark the Super Talent MasterDrive SX twice – once when the drive has only Windows Vista and the benchmarking software installed, denoted ‘New’ in the benchmarks, and once when the drive is completely full with files then deleted to make room for the benchmark test files. These results will be denoted ‘Full’. I'm doing this to see what the performance impact is once the drive is full of files.
Page 5 : ATTO, Crystal Disk Mark & Disk Benchmark Performance
ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark is probably one of the gold standards when it comes to basic drive performance. The software itself is fairly old but it works, measuring transfer rates at different transfer sizes for a file being 256MB in size.
The Super Talent 128GB MasterDrive SX falls 15MB/s slower in reading compared to the Indilinx controller drives but the slack is picked up with the write results. The Samsung architecture is a full 40MB/s faster than the Indilinx, even with the drive full, the results of the Super Talent MasterDrive SX are faster than the rest. So far, I like where this is heading.
Crystal Disk Mark
Crystal Disk Mark is another disk benchmark software commonly used, unlike ATTO Disk Benchmark, Crystal Disk Mark is our first look at sequential transfer rates as well as 4KB and 512KB random transfer rates.
The sequential tests are significantly faster with Super Talent than with the Patriot Memory Torqx. The only time the numbers are close is with the 4KB random read where Super Talent is a few MB/s slower.
Nodesoft Disk Benchmark
There's nothing fancy to DiskBench; I commonly use it to see how long it takes to copy a file from one source to another. Seeing as this is a hard drive review, I'm going to use the ‘Create File’ feature and determine the speed at which the hard drive is able to create a 200MB file consisting of 100 2MB blocks.
Super Talent goes toe to toe with the rest of the drives; the original JMicron G.Skill drive is miles behind the rest but everyone else finishes within a few MB/s of each other.
Page 6 : Sisoft Sandra, HD Tune, HD Tach Performance
Sisoft Sandra – File System
Another common benchmarking program, we have SiSoft Sandra File System Benchmark. The File System Benchmark gives us a quick glance at the overall performance and whether we have a new or full drive, the performance is both consistent and miles ahead of the JMicron SSD or conventional platter hard drives.
We can see that the difference between a brand new drive's performance and one that has been filled is very small. The only exception is with the random write results where the Super Talent MasterDrive SX has a 55MB/s gap between new and full. We don't see this large of a difference in any other benchmark. The random access time is also one of the lowest ever recorded. The MasterDrive SX's transfer rates are all slightly higher than the Patriot Memory Indilinx based Torqx SSD and clearly beat out the G.Skill JMicron SSD and my Seagate mechanical drive.
SiSoft Sandra – Physical Disk
The Physical Disk Benchmark benchmarks the hard disks and not the file system, meaning the graph below compares the performance of the physical disk to the storage adapter, unlike the SiSoft Sandra File System benchmarks which shows performance between the file system itself and the adapter.
The access time skyrockets to areas generally not seen by hard drives, I'm unsure why this was the case. Regardless, the MasterDrive SX's index is still ahead of the rest.
HD Tune is another hard disk utility to determine the performance of your drive. HD Tune runs a few tests to provide a transfer rate (minimum, maximum and average). It also trends the performance through the entire disk and gives you the access time, burst rate and CPU usage.
For the first time we see a big drop between in performance between a new and full drive. It's about 30MB/s across the entire drive but even at the lower end of the numbers the MasterDrive SX performs very well against its Indilinx competition.
HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read and writes. The performance numbers are quite similar to HD Tune.
Same story as above, a 40MB/s drop across the drive but it is a very consistent performance unlike the ups and downs noted in the Torqx.
Page 7 : IOMeter & Boot Time
IOMeter is the latest addition to my hard drive benchmarking suite. The software is highly customizable and what I'm doing only scratches the surface of its capability. I added IOMeter because of flaws in the original solid state drives on the market. After completing all the benchmarks on my first JMicron SSD, I popped into my laptop and made it my day-to-day drive. I found overtime the performance to become really sluggish. At first, MSN messages would take longer to appear and videos would stutter. After some digging on the net, it turned out to be a problem with the random write performance. More information on the issue at hand can be found at AnandTech.
With IOMeter, I set the program up to pepper the drive with a 1GB file with 4KB record sizes, 100% random (as opposed to 100% sequential), 50% read and 50% write for 5 minutes. I generated results for average read and write access times and average read and write transfer rates.
This is best in class performance by the MasterDrive SX; the read and write speeds are at the top and we have the lowest latency numbers compared to the other drives.
As you can predict after seeing the IOMeter results, the Super Talent MasterDrive SX has the quickest boot time in the class. A sizeable difference of almost 10 seconds too. This is clearly a result of the faster access times and random read and write.
Page 8 : Conclusion
When you say the name Super Talent, the first thing that comes to my mind is the DRAM manufacturer. Super Talent is a company in the business to manufacture DDR, DDR2 and DDR3 memory modules. They were also quick to jump on the flash storage bandwagon with an extensive variety of USB drives. It was a logical and easy move for them to start selling solid state drives.
The MasterDrive SX is one of the latest offerings by Super Talent. Using a Samsung controller, Super Talent is relying on proven technology to bring the best to your PC. The 128MB of DRAM cache offers some of the fastest random access rates and transfer times I've seen. The sequential speeds are in the 200MB/s range and show little difference whether the drive is brand new or completely full. If I had to nitpick the drive and find a flaw, it would be the short 1 year warranty Super Talent is offering where other manufacturers are up in the 10 year mark. Despite that, Super Talent has a winner on their hands.
- Very fast all round performance
- Proven infrastructure with Samsung technology
- Short 1 year warranty
I'd like to thank Super Talent for making this review possible.