OWC Premium SandForce-Based Mercury Extreme Pro 6G 240GB SSD is Blazing Fast!
This SSD evaluation is going to focus on advantages for gamers with OWC’s premium Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G as it compares to Kingston’s line-up including their consumer SSDNow V200/V300 and enthusiast HyperX SSDs. Other World Computing is primarily known for their products for Mac computers and their SSDs are quite popular with the Apple enthusiasts. The Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G promises incredible performance with Sustained Data Rates up to 559MB/s Read, 527MB/s Write! At 60,000 IOPS for Random 4K writes, the OWC SSD may prove to be the fastest SSD that ABT will have tested.
This is ABT’s sixth SSD evaluation and we are now going to continue to look at the performance differences within the Kingston SSD lineup while comparing them with the new Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD. Just as with the last SSD evaluation less than ten days ago, our test bed uses Ivy Bridge, Intel’s latest consumer and enthusiast platform, a mechanical 500GB Seagate Barracuda hard drive, two HyperX SSDs and a SSDNow V200 and V300 SSD. We are using our Intel Core i7-3770K and GTX 670 at stock settings on a EVGA Z77 FTW USB 3.0/PCIe 3.0 to once again test the differences between this Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G drive and the other drives pictured above.
Pricing and Performance
All of these drives differ from each other in price and in capabilities – you will pay approximately $200 to $400 for a 240GB Kingston HyperX drive. The 240 GB HyperX 3K SSD costs $179.99 at Amazon which we found to be quite a bargain in our evaluation and was recommended by ABT as great bang-for-buck. The 240GB HyperX SSD using 5K NAND is Kingston’s fastest SSD and it costs $408.211 at Amazon. The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G uses the premium 5K-rated NAND and it lists for $295 at OWC’s macsales.com or you can get it for $1.20 cheaper at Amazon.com.
The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD utilizes synchronous NAND instead of the less expensive asynchronous NAND for higher bandwidth potential. Synchronous NAND enables reads and writes to be synced with the SSD processor’s clock signal for maximum data throughput. Both OWC and Kingston SSDs feature an independent garbage collection function that maintains a system at optimum performance level. This is especially important for systems running on Windows XP or other OSes which doesn’t feature TRIM, and it will also help organizations extend the software cycle on their systems, delaying upgrades of operating systems and compatible applications.
Over Provisioning & Wear Management Explained
From OWC’s site:
OWC SSDs allocate some of the drive capacity for RAISE, to provide real time data redundancy, ECC Error Correction, and reserve cell space.
Example: A 240GB OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD is actually a 256GB drive with 7% of the drive’s capacity allocated for data management. This management maintains the drive’s high-performance and high reliability levels.Unlike many SSDs on the market today, the Mercury Pro family uses advanced DuraWrite™ wear-leveling and block management technologies to keep Read/Write performance at peak, while others see performance fall.
The Notebook Advantage
Two major benefits of the SSD over the mechanical HDD should be noted especially for notebooks – power savings and durability. A SSD uses significantly less battery power than a HDD and is also less prone to failure from dropping it.
OWC’s Mercury EXTREME Pro 6
From OWC’s site:
Why Own OWC SSD?
- Designed & built in the US from domestic & imported parts.
- Intelligent “recycling” for advanced free space management.
- Best in class error correction (ECC) and SandForce RAISE™ (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology provides RAID-like data protection and reliability without loss of transfer speed due to parity.
- SandForce® Processor with 7% over-provisioning maximizes read and write performance to greatly extend the endurance and overall reliability of the drive.
- Up to 100X greater data protection than what the highest rated enterprise class conventional hard disk drive (HDD) provides.
- SandForce DuraClass™ technology with Ultra-efficient Block Management & Wear Leveling offers highest endurance and performance in a SSD.
- Chip Based Data Encryption: 128-bit AES-compliantNo Risk, No Hassle 30-Day Money Back Guarantee.For complete program details and return policies, click here.
Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB Specifications:
From OWC’s site:
Warranty/support: Five-year warranty with free technical support – and note that it is assembled in the USA.
Instead of concentrating on the technical, we are going to be looking at the advantages that a PC gamer might have using a SSD over a fast mechanical hard drive. And of course, we will compare the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD with the Kingston consumer SSDNow V300 line with the (now) older V200 series and the current and more expensive HyperX 3K and premium HyperX SSDs.
Since our SSD evaluation in November, we have upgraded all of our results with Sisoft’s Sandra 2013 from the 2012 version and we have added three new benchmarks that will particularly interest gamers – (1) Crysis game level load times, (2)the time to install GeForce 306.97 drivers, and (3) the time to unpack for installation, 15.3GB of Assassin’s Creed 3’s .rar files. This may give us a practical reason for upgrading to a SSD over a HDD – or not.
Let’s open the package.
Here is the retail package that you would buy from OWC. As you can see the contents are well-packed for transport safely to your door as inside the clamshell, the precious contents are well-protected by the soft packing material with anti-static properties. SSDs are by their nature, rather tough anyway.
Here is the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD out of the packing.
Here is the SSD’s other side and we see the standard connections.
The physical look and dimensions of all SSDs are the same except for their thickness (7mm for notebook – not shown – and 9mm for desktop). All SSDs all have the standard SATA power and data connectors.
Testing the SSDs versus the HDD
Below is Thermaltake’s BlackXduet 2.0 USB and eSATA hard drive dock which proved very useful in reading data from internal drives that are now accessed as external drives. Check out the review published by Leon Hyman. We also use find the built-in USB 3.0 docks on the top of our Thermaltake Chaser MK-I and Overseer RX-I are also extremely useful for transferring data quickly and for cloning drives. We also received a very useful external USB 3.0 SSD/USB Dock from Newer Technology which we shall be evaluating for ABT readers next week. We set up Windows 7 64-bit on one of our Seagate 500GB 7200.12 Barracuda hard drives along with two or three games, favorite applications and benching tools. We put about 100GB or so of data on our HDD so that we would not have any issues cloning the HDD to our 4 SSDs, the one with the smallest capacity being 120GB.
There is no software nor any hardware supplied with the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD. We used Acronis cloning software to make a exact copy of our HDD to all five SSDs (individually, each in under 15 minutes), and we were able to then boot from any of the now identically cloned drives. However, before we get to the benching, let’s recap the SSD and what makes it unique from mechanical drives.
One mistake many enthusiasts make is to think of a SSD like a mechanical HDD. Instead, think of it as a giant flash drive with the strengths and weaknesses inherent to that kind of storage. MrK’s article on the previous series of Kingston SSDNow is extraordinarily well-written and detailed, and it would be good to review it if you are not familar with Solid-State storage. Also, here is his article on the faster but much more expensive Patriot TorqX 256 GB SSD which goes into even more detail. MrK explains the strengths and weaknesses of the SSD. Instead of repeating his information, this section will be the briefiest of recaps and we will focus instead on secure erase and performance degradation.
Because of the way data is written to and erased from a SSD, the write speeds will go down as more and more data is written to it. There is a definite need for TRIM and other garbage collection. When Windows 7 identifies the drive as a SSD, it enables the TRIM command for the drive when files are deleted from it. The TRIM command tells the SSD controller to delete the pages on the NAND flash block when the user deletes the data. The entire block containing the data is copied into the memory cache and then the block is erased. After this procedure, the data without the user-deleted part is rewritten back to the block from the memory cache. This results in longer delete times, but allows the write performance to remain nearly like-new.
Secure Erase and Performance Degradation
A secure erase restores your drive to a like-new state where each cell is effectively zeroed out. So its performance would be like-new also as if it was fresh out of the box. Simply cloning over from an HDD to SSD would not zero out the cells like a secure erase would. This is because you’re not guaranteed to be writing over the same cells. In a clone, information is just being transferred over, not like erasing a cell first and then writing to it. On a premium SSD such as OWC’s Mercury EXTREME Pro6 G , there is simply no need to secure erase periodically, but whenever you format or re-image your drive, it’s probably a good idea.
This is perhaps the most detailed yet simplified step-by-step way to secure erase your SSD – something you must do (for safety) if you ever sell it. Be aware that your SSD’s BIOS may have some sort of mechanism that prevents the secure erase tool from detecting the SSD for secure erase.
Let’s check out our test bed.
Test Configuration – Hardware
- Intel Core i7-3770K (reference 3.5GHz, HyperThreading and Turbo boost are on), supplied by Intel.
- EVGA Z77 FTW motherboard (Intel Z77 chipset, shipping and latest Beta BIOS 107 July 26, 2012; USB/PCIe 3.0 Specification; CrossFireX and Quad-SLI using PLX chip for extended PCIe bandwidth)
- ECS Z77H2-A2X motherboard (Intel z77 chipset, shipping BIOS, USB/PCIe 3.0 specification; CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x)
- Gigabyte GA-Z77MX-DH3 Series 7 mATX motherboard (shipping BIOS, USB 3.0, PCIe 3.0 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x)
- 8 GB Kingston DDR3 PC 1866 Kingston RAM (2×2, 3×2 and 4×2 GB, dual- and tri-channel at 1833MHz; supplied by Kingston)
- GeForce GTX 670, 2 GB (reference clocks), supplied by Nvidia
- 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 hard drives
- OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD on loan from Other World Computing (OWC)
- Kingston VNow 300 SSD, 120 GB, retail desktop upgrade drive, supplied by Kington
- Kingston HyperX SSD 240 GB, retail desktop upgrade kit, supplied by Kingston
- Kingston HyperX 3K SSD, 240GB, retail desktop upgrade kit, supplied by Kingston
- Kingston Vnow 200 SSD, 128 GB, standalone drive, supplied by Kington
- Thermaltake ToughPower 775 W power supply unit supplied by Thermaltake
- Thermaltake Overseer RX-I supplied by Thermaltake
- Thermaltake Water2.0 Pro watercooler supplied by Thermaltake
- Philips DVD SATA writer/Sony DVD SATA writer
- HP LP3065 2560×1600 thirty inch LCD
- ASUS VG278 1920×1080 120Hz 3D Vision 2 ready 27″ display supplied by ASUS/Nvidia
Test Configuration – Software
- GeForce WHQL 306.97 drivers
- Latest drivers for Series 7 motherboards.
- Windows 7 64-bit; very latest updates
- Latest DirectX
- All games are patched to their latest versions.
- VSync is off in the control panel.
- Varying AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied if possible; 16xAF forced in control panel for Crysis.
- All results show average rates as noted.
- Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
- Windows 7 64, all DX9 titles were run under DX9 render paths, DX10 titles were run under DX10 render paths and DX11 titles under DX11 render paths.
The Game benchmarks
- Heaven 3.0
- Super Pi
- Fritz Chess Bench
- Custom PC Benchmark
- x264 HD
- Crystal Disk Mark
- AS SSD
- Crysis 2 folder copy
- HD Tach 3.0.4
- HD Tune 2.55
- Windows startup & shutdown
Synthetic Benching Suites
- SiSoft Sandra 2013
- PC Mark Vantage – HDD tests
- PC Mark 7
Synthetic Gaming Benchmarks
- Crysis Game Level Load time
- Install GeForce 306.97 video drivers time
- Unpack 15.3GB Assassin’s Creed III .rar files for installation
We have got an interesting project going. First we look at synthetic and real world benches before we head for gaming results.
Crystal DiskMark version 3.0 is an excellent way to test your motherboard/HD’s performance. CrystalDiskMark is primarily a HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to measure sequential data and random read/write speeds in 4k blocks and 512k blocks.
Here are two key features of “CrystalDiskMark”:
· Sequential reads/writes
· Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes
And now we put the sequential read/write information into a comparison chart:
All of the SSDs leave the HDD far behind in this benchmark. The SSDNow V200 is slower in this test than the HyperX enthusiast SSDs overall whereas the SSDNow V300 is the very fastest in Read speeds but slower than V200 in Writes. The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD matches the fastest Kingston SSDs in Read speeds but takes a real lead in the Write speeds.
The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD once again leads in this synthetic benchmark.
HD Tune 2.55
There is absolutely no comparison in these synthetic tests. All SSDs are much faster than the mechanical HDD but the performance of the Kingston HyperX drive simply blow away the SSDNow V200’s transfer rate performance in this test. In contrast, the SSDNow V300’s rate is quite respectable even compared to the much more expensive Hyper-X drives. The OWC is the second-fastest SSD in this test, but only by about 0.10%
ASSD is designed primarily for Solid-State Drives. There are four synthetic and three practice tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD and are carried out without use of the operating system caches. In Seq-test the program measures how long it takes to read and write a 1 GB file respectively. In the 4K test the read and write performance for random 4K blocks is determined. The 4K-64-thrd test corresponds to the 4K procedure except that the read and write operations on 64 threads are distributed as with the usual start of a program.
In the copying test following folders are created: ISO (two large files), programs (typical program folder with many small files) and games (folder of a game with small and large files). These three folders are copied with a simple copy command of the operating system. The cache is turned on for this test. The practice tests show the performance of the SSD with simultaneous read and write operations.
Here is the chart comparing the scores:
As in most of our tests, the SSDs leaves the HDD trailing far behind in this benchmark and the OWC SSD is fastest; and together with the HyperX SSDs, are significantly faster than the SSDNow V200 and V300.
The ATTO Disk Benchmark is an aging performance measurement tool which measures storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize the performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Here is the SSDNow V300 SSD’s results:We are way ahead of Kingston’s published conservative figures of 450MB/s for Read and Write!
Here are the results of the HDD benchmark.
Here is the results of the ATTO Disk benchmark results for our 128GB VNow 200 SSD: V200 is quite a bit slower than the V3oo
Here is the Hyper3K SSD Here are the HyperX SSD results:
It doesn’t really prove anything (yet), but synthetic benchmarks are definitely faster on the SSD vs the HDD. We also note the continuing trend of performance differences between the consumer and the enthusiast-grade SSDs until the SSDNow V300 series where the consumer-grade SSD comes close to the HyperX enthusiast SSDs in performance. In some areas, one is faster than the other, but we want to know practically if one is faster. Perhaps PCMark Vantage may provide a clue.
PCMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed for Windows Vista and 7 that offers one-click simplicity for casual users and detailed, professional grade testing for industry, press and enthusiasts. A PCMark Vantage score is a rough measure of your computer’s performance across a variety of common tasks. The measurement for the PCMark Vantage hard drive suite is the total score with the scoring for each test further broken down. There are a total of eight hard drive tests within PCMark Vantage and all eight are run to measure the relative performance of the SSD vs the HDD we tested.
The HDD Test suite in PCMark Vantage consists of the following 8 tests and we are going to be paying particular attention to the disk drive tests:
- HDD 1- Windows Defender
- HDD 2- Game HDD
- HDD 3- Importing pictures
- HDD 4- Windows Vista start-up
- HDD 5- Video editing
- HDD 6- Media Center
- HDD 7- Adding music to Windows Media Player
- HDD 8- Application loading
Now we run the same benchmark suite with our OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD but we pay particular attention to the drive scores. If you want to compare these detailed scores with the HDD and with other Kingston SSDs, check out our last evaluation which uses exactly the same test bed and conditions. Here are the overall scores as expressed in a chart:
In all cases, the SSDs are faster with PCMark Vantage than with the mechanical hard disk drives and the HyperX drives are faster for some applications than the older SSD VNow 200 series but not the new SSDNow V300. The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD scores second best in this benching suite.
We also see from the chart above that the kind of drive used in the benchmarking will affect the final score of most benchmark suites but we have to look at the actual drive test to see the differences between SSD performance.
PC Mark 7
PCMark 7 is Futuremark’s updated verion of our last benchmark suite but for Windows 7. Just as the overall score is affected by the drive used in Vantage, the same applies to PCMark 7. The standard version of the suite does not give a breakdown score for the SSD/HDD tests. Here is the overall chart.
As in all synthetic suites, the overall score depend a great deal on the drive used. However, there is not a lot of difference in the scores between a mechanical Hard Disk Drive, a consumer SSD, and a high-performance enthusiast SSD running the entire benchmark suite although the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD scores highest in Futuremark’s most modern PC benching suite.
SANDRA, short for the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant is an information and diagnostic utility. It provides a tremendous amount of information about every hardware and software component in your PC. It also provides various benchmarks including for measuring and reporting disk performance.
Although we used the last verson of 2012 in our November SSD evaluation, SANDRA 2013 came out last month and we are using our updated SSD benchmarks for this current evaluation. Sandra 2012’s overall benchmark score is generally higher than the overall Sandra 2013 score. We find Sandra 2013 is an incredibly useful suite which we use regularly as a diagnostic utility.
Here is a summary chart of SANDRA 2013’s benchmarks:
As usual, all SSDs are significantly faster than the HDD for synthetic benchmarking when benching physical disks and file systems; very little else is affected. We do see huge differences between the HDD and the SSDs and although the HyperX SSDs are faster than the VNow 200 series the performance gap is nearly closed by the new Kingston VNow 300 series.
Overall, the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD is proving to be the fastest and it leads in most of the important benches that are affected by drive performance. Let’s head for real world testing.
CustomPC benchmark use widely available open-source applications to carry out the tasks that most of us perform on a regular basis. There are three tests, each of which measure different aspects of a PC’s performance. These tests themselves are not synthetic benchmarks but instead they use real world image, video and multi-tasking tasks to test the performance of your computer. We are looking to see if tasks are faster on the SSD than the HDD and which SSD is fastest overall.
The tests are:
- GIMP Image Editing
- H.264 Video Encoding
All of the SSDs are a few seconds faster than the HDD in each task, the biggesst difference being in multi-tasking; and there is really only slight variation overall between the SSDs.
No difference really. Please continue on to Fritz Chess Bench.
Fritz Chess Bench
Fritz Chess Benchmark is found within the game’s program files and basically it crunches numbers to test your processor’s speed. Deep Fritz takes advantage of massive calculations and multi-threaded performance to work any CPU fully. It loads all threads 100%.
The HDD makes no practical difference.
CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s professional 3D content creation suite, CINEMA 4D. This latest 11.5 version of CINEBENCH can test up to 64 processor threads accurately and automatically.
Of course, there is no practical difference in the CPU test and only slight variations in the OpenGL test.
Basically this test encodes a HD video clip into a x264 video file. The first pass is very quick and the second one is much slower and much more demanding of a task as it does the actual encoding. This benchmark is heavily multi-threaded.
The end user can feel free to use his HDD for x264. Generally a lot of storage is needed anyway and there is not a lot of difference in performace.
3DMark 11 and Vantage are useful tests to track changes within the same system and they are often used to give a rough comparison between platforms.
There is no performance difference running a SSD or a HDD for Vantage. For the record, the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro6G 240GB SSD scores the highest; 401 points higher out of nearly 31,000 points.
Now let’s look at 3D Mark 11.
3D Mark 11
There is no difference running a HDD or a SSD. Let’s look at Heaven Benchmark and Crysis to see if there is any difference in frame rates between SSD and HDD.
Heaven 3.0 & Crysis framerates
No difference outside of benchmarking “noise”. We do not find the o.35 fps varience in the frame rates in Heaven to be significant. The Crysis result is certainly less than 3% difference but it bears further investigation as the OWC SSD is slightly faster than the pack. This week, ABT is looking at frame times and frame rate comparisons and we will again attempt to determine if there is any difference in gaming performance by using a faster SSD over a slower one or a HDD.
Now we will look at three new very practical tests for gamers.
4 Practical Benchmarks for Gamers
Besides updating to Sandra 2013, we recently added three benchmarks that regularly affect every gamer in a practical way.
File Copy: Crysis 2
In this test, we are using MrK’s method of installing the Crysis Warhead game to the drive being benchmarked. The game folder is copied to another folder on the same drive using Microsoft’s Robocopy GUI and the time used is noted. This real world benchmark tests both the read and the write speeds of the drive at the same time. This time we choose Crysis 2 for this purpose as this game has 10GB of files of various sizes. This should test the hard disk transfer speeds across vast sizes of files and is indeed a real world scenario.
The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD is the very fastest of our drives, beating the second-fastest SSD time by 5 seconds. The SSDNow V200 took 2 minutes and 6 seconds on average to copy nearly 10GB. The HyperX 240GB SSDs only averaged 1 minute and 35 seconds and the new SSDNow V300 only took ten seconds longer; a significant improvement over the older series. And the HDD took 5 minute and 32 seconds.
Need we say more? Here we see a practical difference demonstrating the advantages of SSD and even the advantages of the faster premium SSD over the slower consumer grade SSDs.
We have already seen very slight improvements in video editing and multi-tasking when the drives are accessed and huge gains in copying big files over using a mechanical drive.
Game Level Load Times
Solid-state drives evidently won’t increase game framerates but they can certainly reduce game startup times and save/load times. This means less time waiting for the game to load and more time playing the game. There is also the issue of “immersion”. If it takes a long time to load a level or an autosave, it may cause irritation, and getting back quickly into the game after your character dies is important for staying immersed in any game.
There is an incredible variation in game loading times between the HDD and SSDs, depending on the game engine used. Some games bring you almost instantly back into the game, with very little difference between HDD and SSD. The ones that take longer, tend to favor the SSD and load noticeably more quickly. The differences between the two HyperX SSDs is imperceptable and the SSDNow V300 has got faster than the SSDNow V200 drives.
If you are into saving time, the SSD is definitely faster in loading PC levels and autosaves. The SSD will not improve your framerates – or your aim – but it may improve immersion by getting you back into the game a bit more quickly.
Installing Video Drivers
It takes nearly twice as long to install video card drivers from a HDD than it does from an SSDs.
Installing a game from downloaded compressed files.
As the world moves to digital downloads as the preferred method for installing games, the importance of a fast drive in saving time becomes more important. We recently downloaded Assassin’s Creed III and installed it to our drive which reminded us to make it a new benchmark. After you download all 15.3GB in .rar files, they must be uncompressed to install the game.
Let’s see how long it takes to uncompress over 15GB of files. There is no contest as the slower Kingston consumer-grade SSD is more than twice faster than the HDD. And the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD is significantly faster than Kingston’s SandForced-based SSD SSDNow V300. Again we ask, how do you value your time?
Benchmarking and testing overclocks
One thing that a reviewer or overclocker will note is while pushing hardware to its limits, it will often cause a display driver to stop responding or the operating system to crash. Using a HDD takes quite a while to recover and return to testing compared to benching with a SSD. This editor estimates that using a SSD over benching with a HDD for a major CPU or video card evaluation, saves twenty percent of his time!
Windows Startup and Shutdown
Now we come to what is arguably one of the most frustrating part of Windows – waiting for it to start-up or shutdown. For some of us, it is not important as we rarely start-up or shutdown our PCs. For others, it is a painful process to watch – while others of us do something else while our programs start-up or shut down.
The average shutdown time represents an “average range” for the test PC as there are so many variables when you shutdown your PC (installing updates will prolong the process). From the chart, basically you are saving nearly half the time, on average, with a SSD over a HDD.
Startup on an SSD offers even more time-saving – you will spend one third of your time waiting for an SSD to load Win 7 compared to using a HDD. Since we are keeping score, the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD is the fastest drive.
The charts speak for themselves again and power users will love this feature as no one wants to go make a cup of coffee while Windows sets up. Windows 8 mitiages this issue somewhat for HDD holdouts as it boots much faster than Windows 7. Let’s head for our conclusion.
As we concluded last year, SSD technology is still one of the most rapidly improving while their price is dropping. With more and more motherboard manufacturers offering SATA 3 6Gb/s ports, the ceiling for maximum transfer speeds for disk drives has been nearly doubled from the SATA 2 3Gb/s standard. We have seen the SSD develop improved new controllers that bring faster speeds and now we have found the fastest one that we have tested so far – the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G.
We have watched SSD technology get slowly cheaper over time and it is much more accessible to the regular consumer and not just for enthusiasts. Since last year’s Thailand floods which crippled HDD production, many consumer-grade SSDs have dipped below the $1-per-gigabyte MSRP pricing regularly and sales frequently go well below this pricing once considered breakthrough. The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G series offers a solid bang-for-buck value for consumers who will not accept any compromise with performance. At $295 the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G is faster than Kingston’s premium $400+ HyperX 240GB SSD.
It is absolutely not “mandatory” to have a SSD if you use your PC only for gaming. A hardcore gamer would more likely save his money by buying a large fast mechanical drive and upgrading his graphics instead. A 1TB drive can again be had for $50 on sale. Mechanical HDDs have got quite fast for gaming and their only disadvantage compared to the SSD is waiting a second or two longer for your autosave to load; or longer for an entire level to load. However, if a gamer is impatient and wants to get right back into the game, then the SSD will definitely improve immersion and decrease frustration.
With a low-capicity drive SSD , gamers will constantly be installing new games and uninstalling them after playing them to make room for even newer games. At 240GB, many gamers will be satisfied with the amount of storage and it is a good compromise size for a performance conscious gamer with $300 to spend on a premium SSD.
- The SSD is of a magnitude faster than the mechanical hard drive in almost every way. Windows startup is blazing fast and shutdown is noticeably quicker!
- OWC’s Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G is simply the overall fastest SSD that we have tested!
- At $295 the OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD price is more than $100 less than the Kingston 240GB HyperX drive although the OWC is the faster SSD.
- TRIM support and garbage collection keeps your drive “like new”. OWC SSDs offer advanced wear-leveling technology, S.M.A.R.T. tools and DuraClass Technology.
- 240GB is sufficient for most gamers who can juggle their game library between their storage HDD and the SSD; perhaps keeping up to ten of their favorite/current games on the SSD.
- Designed and assembled in America!
- 5-year warranty is far beyond the industry usual three-years, and superb OWC support stand it out from the “SSD crowd”. Evidently OWC is a must have for Mac computing.
- Price per GB is still high compared to mechanical hard drives.
- Limited storage compared to HDDs
The 240GB OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G deserves the ABT Editor’s Choice award. It is a superb drive for the enthusiast who demands a blazing-fast SSD without compromise and doesn’t mind its limited capacity. At $295 it is also very good value, outperforming the much more expensive premium $400 240GB Kingston HyperX SSD. This OWC SSD is also highly recommended as a time and frustration saver in starting up and shutting down Windows and for anything to do with file access, copying, or loading game levels.
Our 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 drives continue to perform admirably and demonstrate improvements in every way over our older 7200.10 drives. We even filled our drives to capacity as we tested over 80 games for our original 3D Vision evaluation, and they still perform as they did over a year ago when they were less than half-filled! They are awesome for storage and we will upgrade them to 1TB drives as we are already feeling capacity constrained by our 28-game benchmark suite.
It pays in every way to keep up with ABT. Expect a Newer Tech HDD/SSD dock, a Genius PC speaker review, and Mario will have a new Thermaltake Level 10 mouse evaluation coming shortly.
You can even join us as we conduct experimental benching using frame times and a high speed digital camera to determine gaming “smoothness” on ABT forum. And we shall revisit gaming performance using OWC’s Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD to see if there is any difference in gaming performance by using hard drives and comparing multiple SSDs.
ABT Senior Editor
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