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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

FirmTek SeriTek/6G eSATA ExpressCard

Originally posted Fri, May 13th, 2011, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

One reason I always buy the 17" MacBook Pro is because it has an ExpressCard slot. That slot opens up a whole world of I/O options. With the advent of the 6Gb/s Solid State Drive (SSD), I've been craving an ExpressCard that can take the heat. FirmTek has a new dual port 6Gb/s eSATA ExpressCard, the SeriTek/6G. Now that sounds like something that I can sink my teeth into. First the performance data and then I will analyze.

The first two graphs show the results for the DiglloydTools DiskTester Sequential test (2G test size, 5 iterations). It's a great simulator for large sustained transfers like those performed by professional video and audio creators. Graph shows the average for 5 iterations. Longest bar (RED) means FASTEST.

The next two graphs show the results from AJA's Kona System Test. We used the Disk Read/Write test with 4GB file size, 1920x1080 10-bit RGB Video Frame Size, and File System Cache Disabled. Graph shows the avverage for 516 frames. Longest bar (RED) means FASTEST.

Finally we ran QuickBench from the Speed Tools Test Suite using the Standard Small Random Test (4K to 1M test size). The graph shows the average of 5 cycles. Longest bar (RED) means FASTEST.

Dual SSD6g SeriTek = Dual OCZ Vertex 6G 240G SSDs in RAID 0 mode connected to the SeriTek/6G
Dual SSD6g Tempo = Dual OCZ Vertex 6G 240G SSDs in RAID 0 mode connected to the Tempo Pro
Dual HDD SeriTek = Dual Seagate Constellation.2 6G 1TB HDDs in RAID 0 mode connected to SeriTek/6G
Solo SSD6g SeriTek = Single OCZ Vertex 6G 240G SSD connected to the SeriTek/6G
Solo SSD6g Tempo = Single OCZ Vertex 6G 240G SSD connected to the Tempo Pro
Solo SSD6g internal = Single OCZ Vertex 6G 240G SSD installed inside the 2011 MacBook Pro
Solo SSD3g factory = Single Apple/Toshiba factory 3G 256G SSD installed inside the 2011 MacBook Pro
Solo HDD SeriTek = Single Seagate Constellation.2 6G 1TB HDD connected to SeriTek/6G

Up until now, the fastest eSATA ExpressCard topped out at 200MB/s sequential read speed. The FirmTek SeriTek/6G ExpressCard sets a new high water mark at 386MB/s. Though this ExpressCard is compatible with older MacBook Pros with the slot, only the 2011 MacBook Pro can attain those large sequential read speeds.

However, the 131MB/s large sequential write speed is a disappointment when you consider I achieved 187MB/s write speed with the Sonnet Tempo 3G eSATA card. FirmTek assured me they are cooking up some "ooga booga" get the write speed higher. I stumbled upon some "ooga booga" of my own that got the write speed up to 178MB/s. At least that gives me hope that there is more write speed to be had by the SeriTek/6G.

As for small random writes, they doubled when I performed my "ooga booga."

I used 6G SSDs to push the SeriTek/6G and the MBP's ExpressCard slot to the limit but notice I included results for the Seagate Constellation.2 enterprise HDD. One of the biggest advantages of an SSD is the quickness by which it services random transfer requests and the speed by which it makes those transfers. Take another look at the last two graphs above to get a sense of that. On the other hand, Constellation.2 provides four times the storage capacity of the 6G SSD 240G for half the price.

One of my favorite features of the SeriTek/6G is the ability to boot OS X. I already found it useful when testing various third party SSDs inside the MacBook Pro. I was able to pull the factory SSD and connect it to the SeriTek/6G ExpressCard. Booted OS X like a charm -- and much faster than booting from the FireWire 800 port.

Other features of the SeriTek/6G card include support for S.M.A.R.T., NCQ, and Port Multiplication (up to 10 drives). See all the features and specs on the product page.

Though the FirmTek SeriTek/6G ExpressCard works with any eSATA enclosure, we had the opportunity to preview the FirmTek "miniSwap," a new dual bay notebook drive enclosure soon to be released. It has some really great features but more on that later.

Once Thundebolt storage products become readily available, they have the potential to go even faster. The SeriTek/6G gives you an immediate and fast external storage solution for the 2011 MacBook Pro. And even with Thunderbolt, it's nice to have Y.A.S.O. (Yet another storage option)

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Order direct from FirmTek or Other World Computing.


Other World Computing has the Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD in 120G, 240G, and 480G capacities.

Trans International has various sizes of the OCZ Vertex 3.

MaxUpgrades has the OCZ Vertex 3 (240G and 120G) which you can order with their optical bay kit.

Amazon has the OCZ Vertex 3 in various capacities.

Newegg.com has the OCZ Vertex 3 in various capacities.

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copyright 2011 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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