Another piece of hardware to play with today – two Super Talent MasterDrive OX 64GB SSDs off eBay.
Strangely, the box is packaged bigger than the OCZ Apex, even though its an SSD.
Before I show the pictures of the benchmarks, there’s something that I want to highlight. What’s interesting about this SSD is the firmware that is available for update (in March 2009) from the Super Talent website, and the effects it has. Here’s a HDTune screenshot of one of the SSDs before flashing the new firmware:
After flashing the firmware, a few features are disabled – 48-bit addressing, write caching, secure erase command and NCQ commands. Logically, removing write caching makes sense since this SSD is based on the JMicron controller, but removing secure erase and 48-bit addressing is a little bit strange. NCQ would most likely not matter since it doesn’t use any moving parts internally, so it is not the point of attention here.
Also, even though the firmware is updated, the firmware version string isn’t updated at all, which I’m not sure if the engineers at Super Talent forgotten about it, or it is not possible to change the firmware version string on the SSDs.
The other SSD, even though its the same model, appears to be different from the other one. Does Super Talent tweak the device ID string and firmware features on shipped SSDs of different batches? Also, why is the capacity different, albeit its only about 500MBs of difference? In all possibility, we would never know.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the linear read & write performance of one SSD before and after flashing firmware.
While conducting the test with the drive “out of the box” (i.e. the drive was not updated to the latest firmware), there was a temporary pause of the system whereby I have to wait for a few agonizing seconds before I can see anything updated on screen, or use the keyboard/mouse. This “stuttering” occurred only “out of the box”, and it went away once the latest firmware was update.
For the results, not much of a change for read performance, but the updated firmware seems to be better at writing by a smidgen. Now for the killer test – random read & write performance.
Doesn’t look like there’s much improvement in the random read benchmarks, but what about random write?
Well, the numbers may seem to be almost unchanged, there is a difference – the samples obtained have changed from wildly swinging between a slow 900ms and almost unnoticeable (perhaps 0.02ms?) and a more “acceptable” 450ms to about 200ms, with quite a few samples near 0ms.
After the HDTune benchmarks, its now time for the IOMeter benchmark, and here are the results – almost similar to the OCZ Apex results, but only faster in certain results.
Seems quite consistant as the OCZ Apex for the CPU utilization.
Amazingly, ext2 runs faster on this drive than the OCZ Apex?!
Again, ext2 outperforms all other filesystems on the MasterDrive OX, as compared to the OCZ Apex.
NOTE: In my haste to complete this article, I have forgotten to conduct the CrystalDiskMark test for this drive. I apologize for the lapse.
In conclusion, it seems that the good things about the MasterDrive OX is that the probability of faster access times are higher than the OCZ Apex, and if the ext2 file system is used, the speed will definitely be faster than the OCZ Apex. Additionally, it is firmware upgradable as well, so any “old” MasterDrive OX SSD can be updated to the latest firmware.