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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

Fastest Mac Pro SATA Boot Drives

Posted February 26th, 2009, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Since we tested the 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, two developments occurred that caused us to replace that article with this one:
1. We now have a sample of the new Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7K SATA drive.
2. We now have a sample of the Hitachi E7K1000 with high density platters.

We added those two drives along with a dual WD Velociraptor RAID 0 set (orange bar) since a single Velociraptor is not sufficient in capacity (in our opinion) to be a serious boot drive for the Mac Pro.

RED bar is fastest single drive
Dual Veloci = Two WD Velociraptor SATA drives in a RAID 0 set (10K RPM, 300GB, 16MB cache, 3Gb/s, model WD3000BLFS "bare")
Barracuda 1T = Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 (7K RPM, 1000GB, 32MB cache, 3Gb/s, model ST31000528AS)
Deskstar 1TB = Hitachi Deskstar E7K1000 (7K RPM, 1000GB, 32MB cache, 3Gb/s, model HDE721010SLA330)
Spinpoint 1T = Samsung Spinpoint F1 SATA drive (7K RPM, 1000GB, 32MB cache, 3Gb/s, model HD103UJ)
Black 640G = WD Caviar Black (7K RPM, 640GB, 32MB cache 3Gb/s, model WD6401AALS)
Blue 640G = WD Caviar Blue (7K RPM, 640GB, 16MB cache, 3Gb/s, model WD6400AAKS)
Veloci 300G = WD Velociraptor SATA drive (10K RPM, 300GB, 16MB cache, 3Gb/s, model WD3000BLFS "bare")

We're impressed by the large sustained transfer speed of the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 which beat a single 10K WD Velociraptor. However, if you are looking for the fastest OS X boot drive, it's more relevant to look at small random performance (graphs 3, 4, 5, and 6). In that light, the 10K Velociraptor is fastest in 3 out of 4 random tests. And two of them in a RAID 0 set also registered the fastest large sustained transfers.

Of the various brands 7200rpm SATA hard drives, the Western Digital Caviar Black had the best combined small random performance.

There is much interest in using Solid State Drives (SSDs) for boot drives. With the exception of the Intel X25-E, the write speed of SSDs is unimpressive. Also the price needs to come down and the capacity go up for SSDs to be practical as OS X boot drives.

On the other hand, for Professional photographers who use Adobe Photoshop edit RAW photos with lots of layers, a pair of 32GB X25-Es in a RAID 0 set as a dedicated scratch volume is very attractive, producing up to 500MB/s read and 340MB/s write. If you need more capacity, Intel is supposed to start shipping a 64GB version by March 1st, 2009.

The future looks bright for SSD. SanDisk has announced the 240GB G3 SSD with 200MB/s sustained READ and 140MB/s sustained WRITE. The random performance should be off the charts based on our tests with the Intel X25-M. A pair of G3s would make for an impressive boot volume.

Apple Online Store

Check with the following Mac friendly vendors for good pricing and support:
Trans International
Other World Computing
Silverado Systems

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copyright 2009 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"