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The first test we did was to add each drive to our test rig as an unformatted spare. We then ran the hard drive testing tool, HDTune. This program is quite simply marvellous at testing and displaying the raw performance of any given drive. It performs a complete read and write test from the start of the drive right to the end and also tests random access speeds as well. At the end it spews out a clear and easy to read graph. Run this test and it pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the performance of a hard drive.
Of course, while these numbers are all very useful, the real story of SSDs is the way they feel to use everyday. It's that aforementioned snappiness that really makes them a pleasure to use. So, to test this we created a hard drive image containing an installation of Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit with all the drivers for the hardware, PCMark Vantage, and Crysis installed. We then loaded this onto each of the drives and tested how quickly each drive took to boot/shutdown/restart Windows and run through a benchmark of Crysis, then we ran the HDD portion of PCMark Vantage.
PCMark's HDD test suite runs a total of eight tests including a simulated Vista startup, importing music into Windows Media Player, loading applications, and loading games. At the end of the tests PCMark gives the drive an overall score, which provides an easy single reference, but also lists the detailed scores for each section of the testing. We've reproduced the whole lot in our graphs at the end of the review.
Starting with the HDTune results, it's immediately obvious the OCZ SSD is by far and away the fastest drive in every aspect. The average transfer rate is above any other drive and unlike all the hard drive's the transfer rate doesn't start high and drop off towards the end. On top of this, the access time is also orders of magnitude faster than the other drives. All in all, this OCZ turned in a very impressive performance.
It's the same story when we look at the PCMark scores - the SSD simply trounces the competition - and our own more subjective tests also backed this up. Quite simply, this is the fastest drive we've ever tested, and by a long way. It'll be interesting to see how Western Digital's new VelociRaptor compares as it looks like this is the only hard drive that stands a chance of competing with this (and no doubt many upcoming) SSD. Even considering the cost, this is a tempting proposition.
The OCZ 64GB SATA II SSD is undoubtedly very expensive and won't even be worth considering for most. However, if you do have deep pockets and want the ultimate performance from your desktop or notebook, then this drive is the way to go.
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