SATA performance with SSDs?

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commodorejohn
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SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby commodorejohn » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:59 am

So I'm looking at getting a new(-ish) laptop, and I thought I might finally try using an SSD, now that they're getting to a point where a reasonably large drive can be had fairly cheap. I picked up a 240GB SATA-III SSD on sale, so I've got that down, but I'm still trying to decide between a Thinkpad T430 (a nice machine, I helped my mother pick one out recently) and a Thinkpad X201 (I like smaller laptops, and it sounds like the battery life is significantly better.) In most respects that are relevant for my purposes, the two are pretty comparable, but one key difference is that the X201 only supports SATA-II. What I'm not clear on is whether this makes a meaningful difference in actual disk performance, when the SSD I bought only claims ~530 MB/s maximum read rate. Granted, that's still handily more than the maximum throughput for SATA-II, but then I assume that the quoted figure is a "lies, damn lies, and benchmarks" figure anyway. Any thoughts on whether this would lead to a significant loss in disk performance in practice? And if I'm basically comfortable with spinning-rust data rates anyway, is it likely to be a big issue?
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby Shiunbird » Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:10 pm

I use a SATA II SSD on my Power Mac G5 SATA I bus. I'm underutilizing the SSD and saturating the bus, but the most important thing is that the random read performance is so much superior than any spinning hard disk, making the system feel much faster. Applications load faster, and doing many things at the same time is much pleasanter. If the computer happens to be swapping in and out, it is a godsend.

Especially if you are already comfortable with spinning rates, there's no need to worry about maximum or minimum performance rates.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby josehill » Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:34 pm

I have a few machines handy with identical Samsung EVO drives that have specs in the same ballpark as your SanDisk SSD. The ones with SATA III interfaces typically sustain over 500 MB/s reads and 470 MB/s writes, while the ones with SATA II interfaces clock in at 265 MB/s read and 210 MB/s write. I see very similar stats with the one machine I have handy with a SanDisk SSD. In any case, as Shiunbird mentioned, SSDs can provide a remarkable speed boost over spinning drives, even on machines with lower interfaces.

Here's the conclusion of a good benchmarking article over at Tom's Hardware that compares the same drive on SATA II vs SATA III:

We can now answer the question of whether you need available SATA 6Gb/s ports to justify an SSD upgrade. Clearly, you're still going to see plenty of benefit from solid-state storage, even if you're using a 3 Gb/s connector. In the real world, a 3 Gb/s interface doesn't bottleneck common applications. It's only when you push the technology's limits using synthetic benchmarks, server/workstation-oriented workloads, or large SSD-to-SSD transfers that 6 Gb/s signaling kicks into gear.

The real key is getting an SSD into your machine. Just have a look at what happens when our 840 Pro goes up against the fastest desktop hard drive we've ever benchmarked, Western Digital's VelociRaptor. The {VelociRaptor} didn't stand a chance in any of our synthetic or real-world tests.

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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby commodorejohn » Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:47 pm

Hmm, thanks, that's good info. Though I realized I could get an X220, have SATA III, and still get the lighter computer with better battery life, but then I have to decide whether I loathe 1366x768 enough to rule that out...hmm.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby tomvos » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:43 am

I have put an SSD into my X220. It's a cheap Samsung EVO 840 with 256GB. And it turned this little bugger into a decent nimble machine.

I have SSD in my Mac Pro (SATA II) and it's a noticeable difference.

For what it's worth, I've even put SSD into my O2 (via ACARD ARS-2320S adapter). And while the O2 surely is the limiting factor, I appreciate the speed increase and heat decrease.

As others already mentioned, the faster random IO will be much more noticeable than the peak transfer rates. From a marketing perspective, peak transfer rates are great, because marketing can play it's usual number game: "Number x is y times bigger than z, so x is y times faster than z."
The real world is not as simple and huge data transfers are rather the exception that an regular use case. Most likely your OS and programs will access many small files. So random access to read a few bytes is much more common. And this is why an SSD gives you a noticeable performance benefit even if your SATA interface might be the limiting factor in the big file transfer scenario.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby Trippynet » Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:50 am

I have the X201 as my laptop - I love it as it has both the 16:10 screen, and a trackpad with proper buttons - I hate the integrated dimpled trackpad of later ThinkPads.

Mine has a Samsung Evo 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, and to be honest it flies along. Really no problems at all with performance, Windows boots and runs very quickly indeed. Probably not quite as fast as newer laptops, but then as you rightly say you have to balance the faster performance against the crap displays and rubbish trackpads of the later ThinkPads.

Overall, I'm more than happy with the speed of it, and the better display and trackpad make it worth it in my opinion.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby japes » Tue Nov 01, 2016 11:57 am

Unless you hate the chicklet style keyboards, the x230 is what I have, I think the key layout is a little better, but I've only used a x220 briefly helping a friend.

X230 has a backlit keyboard. At least my laptop one does. I have the tablet version I picked up cheap at a recycler and it does not.

Maybe you can do this in the x220, but i bought the x230 new and installed a msata ssd and kept the hard drive. The x230 uses a thin drive and now I'd consider replacing it with a ssd as the prices have fallen and Black Friday deals are around the corner. The msata port however is sata 2 vs sata 3 for the main hd position.

Point being you can have a small laptop with two drives. I like my x230 and probably use it as much or more than any other portable I've owned.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby commodorejohn » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:25 pm

I loathe the chiclet keyboards. It's like typing on a Tupperware lid. That and the fetish for 16:9 displays are the main reasons I'm looking at an older model.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby uunix » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:10 pm

My main pc is a tiny shuttle DS61 i3 (3.5GHz) 120GB SSD and it drives two monitors and it is super fast !!!

Don't have a lot installed on it, which helps, Win 10, Office 2016, VS2013, SQL Manager and SOPHOS AV. I also do not play games on it.

It is also extremely quiet as well. :D
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby Jack Luminous » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:50 am

japes wrote:Unless you hate the chicklet style keyboards, the x230 is what I have, I think the key layout is a little better, but I've only used a x220 briefly helping a friend.

X230 has a backlit keyboard. At least my laptop one does. I have the tablet version I picked up cheap at a recycler and it does not.

Maybe you can do this in the x220, but i bought the x230 new and installed a msata ssd and kept the hard drive. The x230 uses a thin drive and now I'd consider replacing it with a ssd as the prices have fallen and Black Friday deals are around the corner. The msata port however is sata 2 vs sata 3 for the main hd position.

Point being you can have a small laptop with two drives. I like my x230 and probably use it as much or more than any other portable I've owned.



I was gonna suggest the X230 also. I bought one for my daughter last year. $300 used with the SSD already installed and the docking station with DVD reader. Great machine, very solid, light and highly usable. I have an old W520 and am somewhat jealous LOL.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby Jack Luminous » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:52 am

commodorejohn wrote:I loathe the chiclet keyboards. It's like typing on a Tupperware lid. That and the fetish for 16:9 displays are the main reasons I'm looking at an older model.


OK so X220 in this case. Normal keyboard and trackpad. Maybe 16:9 though.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby commodorejohn » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:09 am

Yeah, I ruled out the X220 due to the fact that it's only available in 16:9. Still trying to decide between the T420 and the X201, at this point it's just down to battery life and screen size.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby Dodoid » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:33 am

I have an X220, honestly 16:9 isn't that bad.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby commodorejohn » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:40 am

No, it's that bad. I can live with 16:10, begrudginly, but I despise 16:9. The murder of non-widescreen displays is the worst thing to happen to laptops since buttonless trackpads.
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Re: SATA performance with SSDs?

Unread postby Trippynet » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:01 am

Dodoid wrote:I have an X220, honestly 16:9 isn't that bad.


I've used both X201s and X220s at work, and the screen on the X201 is far superior when compared side by side. The X220's screen feels a lot more cramped in comparison and the added fatness of the bezel at the top and bottom just looks silly (and reminds you how much screen they've replaced with plastic to cut costs). It also has one of the worst trackpads I've ever used. Integrated buttons, and that "dimpled" texture they applied to it makes my skin crawl when I use one.

I'm with commodorejohn here. I despise 16:9 screens, and I also despise "integrated" trackpads as well.
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