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Focus

Everyone knows what we use the hard drives for. But the variety of different types of storage is quite overwhelming nowadays, and sometimes it is hard to tell what option is best for a given application.
In this post, I will try to look at different storage solutions from the perspective of a person dealing with photography and video editing. Especially the latter is very demanding in terms of speed and capacity.

Devices used in the test

  1. NAS QNap TS-219P II, 2x2TB samsung drives, JBOD (no RAID), ethernet
  2. WD MyBook Studio, 4TB, USB3
  3. IcyRaid, RAID0, 2×5400 RPM WD Red 3TB, USB3
  4. SSD 512 GiB in external USB3 enclosure
  5. SSD 512 GiB SATA3
  6. SSD 512 GiB PCIe

Purpose

Each device can shine when used in a specific scenario and at the same time be not the best for something else. Let’s think for a second how we can categorise the storage devices:

  1. Backup
  2. Storage (finished projects, media)
  3. Heavy R/W use (working on a project)
  4. Running OS and apps

All the below tests were performed using 5 GiB file and were left running for 10-15 seconds.

NAS QNap
Test was performed through gigabit ethernet router. The read speed is comparable to the average read speed of a 7200 RPM drive connected via SATA port. It’s definitely better than external USB 2.0 disk, which is not faster than 480Mbps (60 MiB/s).
WD My Book Studio
This drive behaves more or less the same as the regular SATA drive connected directly to the motherboard. No surprise as it’s just a regular 3,5″ hard disk in a USB 3.0 enclosure.
bm_nas
bm_wd
IcyRaid
Big improvement compared to the previous 2 devices. Over two times faster than the average speed of the SATA drive, which is expected when the IcyRaid is configured in the Raid0 mode. Installing 7200 RPM drives might even increase the speed.
SSD USB3
Even better result than the Raid0 matrix. The maximum read speed is the limitation of the enclosure (USB 3.0 protocol allows transfers up to 640 MiB/s) – see next graph.
bm_icyraid
bm_external_ssd
SSD SATA3
The same SSD drive as in the previous test, but this time directly plugged into the SATA 3 port on the motherboard. We can clearly see that the drive is capable of giving us much more speed than before using USB 3 enclosure.
SSD PCI
Internal SSD connected to the PCIe in iMac is undoubtedly a winner in this test. Enormous write and read speeds compared even to SATA3 SSD drive.
bm_ssd_sata3
bm_internal_ssd

Operations on much smaller files were tested using XBench, and the results are as follows:

256K block size (MiB/s)

no device random write sequential write random read sequential read
1 QNap 40.32 192.13 64.18 218.83
2 WD MyBook Studio 50.01 113.06 30.54 115.23
3 Icy Raid 148.45 192.13 64.18 218.83
4 SSD USB3 246.05 230.81 280.05 282.71
5 SSD SATA3 252.36 241.40 317.15 400.04
6 SSD PCI 456.12 479.35 287.45 525.75

disks_256k_blocks

4K block size (MiB/s)

no device random write sequential write random read sequential read
1 QNap 8.14 8.33 7.62 8.16
2 WD MyBook Studio 2.11 139.46 0.62 28.74
3 Icy Raid 4.60 195.86 2.06 24.22
4 SSD USB3 30.78 313.31 15.32 21.24
5 SSD SATA3 102.95 270.74 16.58 38.84
6 SSD PCI 185.57 814.71 27.11 88.49

disks_4k_blocks

Summary

icyraid_pic
nas_pic
ssd_usb_pic
wd_pic

Tools used for the performance and speed tests

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