Solid state storage is the most important performance component found in a modern system today. Without it, you do not even have a performance system.
For those enthusiasts out there contemplating biting the bullet and purchasing a drive like the DC P3700, let's talk for a minute about how the DC P3700 operates as an OS volume. I installed Windows 8.1 on my DC P3700 with a GPT partition and BIOS set to boot UEFI only. This resulted in a problem-free installation. The first time I tried it, it just worked.
My system boots very fast with the DC P3700, although not quite as fast as with a SATA array. There is no annoying BIOS startup routine like you typically get from PCIe drives and RAID cards. Overall, I would say the responsiveness of my system felt the same in comparison to a RAID array. The only issue I had was trying to use RST 11.2 RAID driver for secondary arrays. Installing that driver rendered my system unbootable. The default RAID driver worked without issue and I could create secondary arrays. RST 12.9 driver also worked for creating secondary RAID volumes. Intel's DC P3700 makes an awesome boot volume, provided that your motherboard is compatible.
The main consideration of course is going to be the price of the DC P3700. While it is a downright bargain in the enterprise sector, it is akin to purchasing a Ferrari in the consumer sector. The drive we tested today will cost you around $2800 for 800GB (745 GiB - usable space in Windows). If you go out and purchase six 730 480GB drives, it will cost you around $2400 for 2880GB (2682 GiB - usable space in Windows). You get more than three times the capacity by going SATA RAID, and for $400 less. So from a capacity standpoint, there is really no comparison SATA RAID is a much better value in the client space.
From a purely performance perspective where money is no object, I'm going to call this showdown a draw. Technically in a steady state heavy usage model (PCMark 8 Extended testing), our 3-6 drive arrays delivered higher performance than the DC P3700 800GB, but the DC P3700 was able to outperform our arrays in enough of our other testing to leave me with no clear winner.
I want to emphasize once again that the DC P3700 is not intended for the client space and it is tuned for enterprise workloads. However, enthusiasts want the latest and greatest, and if money is no option, then a drive like the DC P3700 is an enthusiast's dream come true.
What I take away from this showdown of the fastest SSD vs. the fastest SATA array, are two things. NVMe is vastly superior to AHCI and the power of SATA RAID 0 should not be underestimated. If you are not running RAID 0, I have to ask; what are you waiting for?
RAIDing two or more drives together provides you with storage that takes performance to the next level and is something I recommend you try. Think of it as the SLI of storage. Once you go RAID, there's no going back!
PRICING: You can find both test subjects for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The Intel DC P3700 (800GB) retails for $2841.00 at Amazon.
United States: The Intel 730 (480GB) retails for $395.99 at Amazon.
- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [Specifications, Test System Setup, Drive Properties, Pricing and Availability]
- Page 3 [Synthetic Benchmarks - ATTO, Anvil Storage Utilities, CrystalDiskMark & AS SSD]
- Page 4 [Benchmarks (Trace Based OS Volume) - PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 & PCMark 8]
- Page 5 [Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - Disk Response & Transfer Rates]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - PCMark 8 Extended]
- Page 7 [Final Thoughts]
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