Workstation Storage: Modeling, CAD, Programming, And Virtualization

We use a mixture of real-world and synthetic benchmarks to quantify storage performance in our reviews. But how do you know our methodology is sound? We decided to test several workstation-oriented apps in order to generate real-world performance data.

Although storage benchmarks often show that many SSDs offer raw throughput many times better than hard drives, real-world testing isn't always as decisive. Many applications simply cannot take advantage of an SSD's benefits to the same degree as a synthetic metric designed to extract every bit of performance from a storage device.

In general, SSDs post the best results when they're presented to high queue depths. If you check out our Intel SSD 520 review for a better idea of how we're testing solid-state storage in real-world environments, though, you'll notice that desktop-class apps simply do not push the high queue depths needed to most significantly differentiate storage technologies. So, the question becomes: do the tasks you run from an SSD require all, some, or none of the drive's strengths? In some cases, the answer is surprising. Take a virus scan as an example. You'd think that piling up files to check would increase queue depth. But that's simply not the case, according to our office productivity investigation

Over the past several months, as we've tweaked and optimized our benchmarking suite, we've also broken down the storage performance of many different applications and broken them into a handful of real-world analysis stories unlike anything else available. They include Office Productivity, Entertainment and Content Creation, and two different explorations of gaming behavior.

Today, we round out our evaluation of real-world SSD performance by looking at workstation-oriented tasks. Specifically, we're looking at 3D modeling, CAD, programming, and operating system virtualization.

Test Hardware
Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge), 32 nm, 3.3 GHz, LGA 1155, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost Enabled
ASRock Z68 Extreme4, BIOS v1.4
Kingston HyperX 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1333 @ DDR3-1333, 1.5 V
System Drive
OCZ Vertex 3 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 2.15
Palit GeForce GTX 460 1 GB
Capture Card
Black Magic Intensity Pro
Hauppauge Colossus
Power Supply
Seasonic 760 W, 80 PLUS
System Software and Drivers
Operating System
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX 11
DriverGraphics: 285.62
Virtu: 1.1.101
Visual Studio
Create a new thread in the UK Article comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • Dr_M0rph3us
    Excellent article, I was looking forward for such a comparison, especially in the virtualization area, where we're facing some problems running VMs on some older HDDs. Of course, a newer HDD will bring some improvements, but SSD are the way to go for this kind of tasks.
  • LLL
    for those who run a model for days, better put ur files on magnetic drives rather than ssd. In my case, 3 days FEMM model and window7 32bit slowed down using crucial c300 128G. Fine when did another model run on seagate 160G old hard drive.