by May 1, 2010 0 comments

Here’s a quick recap of characteristics and benefits of
Solid State Drives (SSDs) vs traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). As the name
suggests, Solid State Drives are made of solid-state memory constituting either
of flash based memory cells or DRAM. Since they are based on flash memory, they
deliver higher data transfer rates over standard HDDs. Unlike HDDs, the SSDs do
not have any movable parts, which ensures that they generate no noise and are
not susceptible to mechanical failures that could result from vibration, shock,
heat, etc. Lastly, SSDs have exceptionally fast response times, almost
instantaneous, while even the best hard disk drive appears sluggish when
compared to an SSD. (For detailed advantages and disadvantages of SSDs, please
refer to the article in the April ’10 issue of PCQuest at

Most solid state drives are now available in standard
compact dimensions of 2.5” hard drives, and also comply to have thickness of 9.5
mm. Plus they come with SATA interface, thus making them a good upgrade option
for users who want high performance notebooks. Apart from notebooks, SSDs can be
used in desktops and even in enterprise servers for their faster data transfer
rates. This time we received four SSDs for review having capacities ranging from
64GB and going upto a whopping 512 GB. Though we did the regular performance
tests, we also tested whether SSDs increase the battery life of the notebooks or
not, as SSDs are considered to consume lesser power than traditional HDDs. Here
are their reviews and performance results.

Performance Results: SSDs vs HDDs

Storage drive HD Tune Pro Average Transfer Rate (MB/sec) Battery Mark Hr:Min Windows 7 rating for primary hard disk Price per GB (In INR)
Kingston 512 GB SSD 179 3:19 7.1 145
WD 256 GB SSD 181 3:11 7 228
Transcend 64 GB SSD 123 3:11 6.7 281
7200 RPM 500 GB HDD 86 3:20 5.9 14
5400 RPM 320 GB HDD 64 3:05 5.3 13


Kingston SSDNow V+
Series 512 GB

Those who cribbed about SSDs having limited capacities,
Kingston has launched their SSDNow V+ Series solid state drive having a whopping
capacity of 512 GB and in a 2.5” mobile form factor. This sleek SSD comes with
an upgrade kit package, so that it can either be installed in a notebook,
desktop or even used as an external USB drive, since an external casing is also
a part of the kit. Like its HDD counterparts, this SSD also has support for
S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) that helps
maintain a healthy drive and also tells the user when the drive is about to
fail. The drive also supports TRIM, a feature in operating systems like Windows
7 that helps restore the SSD performance by cutting down on the amount of data
to be deleted, thus, increasing the SSD’s lifespan and allowing it to delete
garbage data in advance. For power consumption, this SSD is rated to use far
lower; just 2.6W while being active and 0.15 W when idle. With this humungous
capacity and the ability to withstand shocks, silent operation and no heat
generation, the drive is ideal high-end notebooks and enterprise servers, where
price isn’t a concern but performance delivery and robustness is.

Quick Specs

Price: Rs 74,000 (3 yr warranty)
Meant For: Enterprise users
Key Specs: 512 GB capacity, SATA-II interface, NAND Flash chip,
supports SMART, 1500G Shock Resistance
Contact: Kingston Technology, Mumbai.
Tel: 26592963

SMS Buy 130521 to 56677

If you purely consider the 74K price tag, you’re likely to
get shocked. But if price per GB is calculated, then this drive has the lowest
price per GB cost as compared to other SSDs reviewed. This is mainly because of
the 512 GB capacity that it offers.

Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue 256GB

Solid state drives have been generating a lot of interest
in the storage market space, and major hard drive manufacturers have been
watching the market closely. The launch of SiliconEdge Blue range of SSDs by
Western Digital marks the entry of a major hard drive manufacturer entering this
domain. The drive is designed for technology enthusiasts who want faster speed
from their notebooks and desktops. Since the drive also supports enterprise
features like being hot swappability, it can be deployed in rack servers or

Also owing to the fact that SSDs deliver faster read
speeds, it can be used for applications that are read-intensive to deliver high

Quick Specs

Price: Rs 58,250 (3 yr warranty)
Meant For: Notebooks and desktop PCs
Key Specs: 256 GB capacity, SATA 3 Gb/s interface, NAND Flash chip,
TRIM support, RoHS Compliant
Contact: Western Digital, Mumbai.
Email: amarjeet.
SMS Buy 130522 to 56677

Like Kingston, this drive also supports Windows 7 TRIM
command to maintain the SSDs performance throughout the lifespan. The drive also
has advanced wear leveling features that lincrease  life and preserves speed
with wear leveling algorithms to overcome performance degradation that occurs as
a result of continual heavy use.

The drive has peak power consumption of 2 watts during read
operations and 3.5 watts during write operations. When idle it consumes 0.6

Any computer, be it desktop or notebook, when equipped with
SSD is more responsive, boots-up faster, and launches software applications in a
fraction of the time required when compared with a standard hard drive. This
holds true for Transcend 120 GB Ultra Series solid state drives as well, but
what adds to this fast performance is a built-in 64 MB DRAM cache buffer. This
2.5” SATA II interface SSD equipped with 64-MB of built-in DRAM cache delivers
extraordinary transfer speeds, and that is evident from the performance test
results. Even Windows 7, which is tuned to work efficiently with new generation
of SSDs gave the best Windows Experience Index rating of 7.3 for primary hard
drive component rating amongst all four SSDs that we reviewed.

Quick Specs

SpPrice: Rs. 32,000 (2 yr
Meant For: High-end server and storage systems
Key Specs: 120 GB capacity, SATA-II interface, NAND Flash memory
chipset, 64 MB DRAM cache
Contact: Supertron Electronics, Delhi
Tel: 9810038796

SMS Buy 130511 to 56677

The drive’s advanced Error Correction Code (ECC) and global
wear—leveling algorithms ensure reliable data transfer. The Transcend 120 GB
drive is also meaner on power consumption, as it consumes just 0.98 watts at
peak read operations and 2.67 watts during peak write operations. When idle it
consumes 0.44 watts. This Transcend SSD provides fast read and write
performance, and also as it has higher shock resistance and operates silently,
it can be used in high-end systems such as servers and storage systems, and can
also be used in gaming systems.

Transcend 64 GB 2.5”

Those who desire higher performances from their notebooks
and can do with a not so high storage capacity, this Transcend 64GB SSD provides
a gain in performance. Like Transcend 120 GB Ultra series SSD, this Transcend 64
GB SSD also has built-in ECC (Error Correction Code) functionality that ensures
highly reliable data transfer and increases the system’s overall integrity,
while built-in wear leveling technology also ensures ultra-long lifespan and
data-retention durability for prolonged use. If you look at the performance test
results, this drive doesn’t match up with other SSDs, but is far ahead of
traditional HDDs and hence can be considered for notebook and desktop upgrade by
performance hungry power users.

Quick Specs

Price: Rs 18,000 (2 yr warranty)
Meant For: Mobile users
Key Specs: 64 GB capacity, SATA-II interface, Flash memory chip,
built-in ECC
Contact: Supertron Electronics, Delhi. Tel: 9810038796

SMS Buy 130512 to 56677

This Transcend 64 GB drive isn’t that much optimized like
its 120 GB counterpart on power consumption; at peak read operations it consume
2.1 watts while at peak write operations it needs 2.4 watts and at idle state it
consumes 0.7 watts. This drive is also the lightest in weight at just 66 grams,
while Kingston weighed 84 grams and Transcend 120 GB weighed 91 grams. A lighter
drive contributes towards making the notebook’s weight lighter, and that’s what
mobile users who travel frequently demand as they do not want to carry bulkier
notebooks or netbooks with them.

Performance results
To perform the tests and compare the performance of various drives, both for
transfer rates and for impact on battery life, we chose a standard notebook to
carry tests on all four SSDs. We used Dell Studio 1855 notebook having Intel
Core 2 Duo T6500 2.1GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4570 graphics chipset
and 6-cell Li-ion battery.

First we ran the HD Tune Pro benchmark to evaluate
performance. Transcend 120 GB SSD with 64 MB built-in DRAM cache outperformed
the other three SSDs by giving an astounding average transfer rate of 187.4
MB/sec. Western Digital 256 GB SSD stood second and Kingston 512 GB SSD came
third in average transfer rate, while Transcend 64 GB drive came last with just
123.4 MB/sec speed to transfer data. These results confirm that SSDs deliver
faster transfer rates, but there is a concern that SSDs tend to be slow for data
transfer involving small files. To emphasize this, we ran the ATTO HDD

ATTO HDD benchmark allows you to test the performance of a
storage media by measuring the time that is taken to read or write a file of
size 256 MB. The ATTO benchmark reads and writes data in different size chunks
ranging from 0.5 KB and going upto 8192 KB. In our test we used 4 KB to 4096 KB
setting. The smaller file transfer sizes are applicable for operating system
operations like page file actions or files like .inf, .ini or .dll files. Though
larger files, say greater than 100Mbs are generally transferred in much larger

What ATTO benchmark test result revealed was that SSDs at
smaller size transfers give a very low transfer speed, but as the size of
transfer chunk increases, the SSDs attain their higher data transfer rates (as
seen in the ATTO benchmark graphs). This difference in transfer speed is evident
when you transfer a folder containing thousands of small sized files amounting
to 700MB onto the SSD, the time taken for this transfer to take place will be
considerably more than if you had transferred a single movie file of 700 MB.
Therefore, the transfer rates of SSDs for smaller files is comparatively lower
than their average transfer rates, but as the chunk size to be transferred gets
bigger the transfer rate tends to stabilize and becomes constant. In ATTO tests
too, the Transcend 120 GB drive excelled.

Do SSDs increase battery Life?
We employed the Battery Mark test to check power consumption and found that
while traditional hard drive of 7200 RPM completely drained a fully charged
notebook in 3 hrs and 20 mins, the same notebook when fitted with different SSDs,
gave a backup time that hovered around 3 hours. The maximum backup time of 3 hrs
29 mins was given by Transcend 120 GB SSD, while Kingston 512 GB drive gave a
backup of 3 hrs 19 mins. The Transcend 64 GB and Western Digital 256 GB SSDs
gave identical backup times of 3 hrs 11 mins each, quite lower than that given
by a 7200 RPM HDD.

This indicates that power consumption of SSDs on battery
life is fairly similar to that of HDDs, quite contrary to what SSD manufacturers
claim. This can be attributed to the fact that most modern hard drives
incorporate better power management capabilities so that they are economical on
power consumption. The modern HDDs have different modes for power consumption,
the maximum power is drained during disk startup at around 5.5W, while during
seek operation it would hover around 2W and for read write operations it could
be 1.8W and for standby mode it will be 0.2W. Contrary to this, SSDs usually
have two modes for power consumption; active 2.6W and idle 0.15W. Therefore, in
real-life scenario the average power consumption for a SSD comes to be somewhat
equal to that of an HDD, unless you power on your notebook multiple times when
it’s on battery.

Bottomline: Looking at performance results, the
Transcend 120GB SSD is the best and Western Digital 256 GB SSD comes second. But
looking at enterprise features that WD 256GB SSD has, it is well-suited for
high-end server application usage. If high storage capacity is the demand, than
Kingston 512 GB drive is quite handy as it also has the lowest price per GB

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