In the image above, we see the AIDA64 write latency test. The spikes are common with drives that rely on DRAM. Some drives give us more to worry about than others, the Samsung 840 120GB and 840 Pro 128GB are two popular product examples that we never expected to have issues with. Older SSD's based on Jmicron controllers and early Toshiba controllers had bad inconsistency issues. The Seagate 600 480GB isn't that bad and it's certainly much better than the 240GB model we published an hour ago.
At some point though, we have to ask, what is an acceptable level of inconsistency? Every SSD can get to this point and look like the graph above, but most don't get there after such a small amount of use. What it really comes down to is this, how are you going to use the drive? Seagate marketing just finished sending over the final details and the 600 Pro is a desktop / notebook replacement for mainstream users. If you just want faster boot times, faster game load times and fast data access the 600 SSD is a good choice, as long as the price is in the mainstream SSD range.
On the other side of the coin, if you edit videos you don't want the inconsistent write speeds like in the chart above. For years we've been spoiled with LSI SandForce drives built from enterprise controllers and paired with all different qualities of flash. The enterprise based architecture delivered consistent performance. Now we are moving beyond the SandForce era and some products are getting better performance, but only 50% of the time.
I've always said that maximum performance and even average performance isn't as important as minimum performance. SSD's have different states of minimum performance and different software degrades performance at different rates.
Mainstream SSD's really come down to one important category, price. At the time of writing, we don't know where the Seagate 600 SSD 120GB, 240GB or 480GB will fall on the price scale, because Seagate hasn't told us. The price is really going to seal the deal, but the mainstream SSD market is now the most populated segment in the market, and it might be a tough one for Seagate to crack, even being who they are.
Update: Newegg just gave us our first glimpse of prices for Seagate's new 600 SSD Series. All pre-order prices are well below $1 per GB, a move that surprised us. If the pre-order prices hold up, then the 600 SSD is a helluva value coming in much less than any other LAMD controlled product on the market, and much lower than Samsung's 840 Pro and OCZ's Vector.
If we would have known pricing was this low our entire outlook on the drive might have been different. When it comes to mainstream SSD's the Seagate 600 is faster than many of the Team SandForce drives costs about the same. Look for more in our Mainstream SSD Roundup coming right after Computex.