Chaintech was founded in 1986 and many still associate Chaintech with their motherboard products. The reality is that Chaintech has not released a motherboard since the release of the nForce 4 chipset for AMD's 939 processor. Around 2005 Walton Advanced Engineering gained controlling interest of the company and the name was changed to Walton Chaintech. Walton took the company in a new direction focusing on products based on memory as well as graphics cards. The rest, as they say is history.
Today we are looking at Walton Chaintech's latest endeavor, solid state storage. If you frequent the pages of TweakTown you already know that this market is blowing up faster than a star hitting supernova and Chaintech is looking to cash in, as are many of the memory manufacturers.
Right off the bat you will notice that the Walton Chaintech APOGEE SSD is a great looking drive. It is a shame most of these are going to end up tucked deep inside notebooks because they truly are the best looking SSDs on the market. Aside from the aesthetic appeal, the Walton Chaintech APOGEE 64GB solid state drive is a performer, too. Let's have a look at this beautiful drive and then see just how well she performs.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
I really hate to come out of the gate with guns a'blazing, but finding information and specifications on the APOGEE SSD has been a real pain in the butt. When you click on SSD's on Chaintech's website you are presented with a single page PDF file that is about as helpful as running 3DMark Vantage on a Pentium III system. To make matters worse, our sample was a very early edition that did not come with an instruction manual.
The bar code section of the box was also all white, so it maybe a little while before we see these drives actually available for sale. I was told by a Walton Chaintech representative that the target MSRP for the 64GB drive we are reviewing today is 160 USD. The 128GB and 32GB are supposed to be introduced at 80 and 290 USD. These prices put them in direct competition with the G.Skill MLC SSD we reviewed here just recently.
One specification that we were able to see on the PDF document is the maximum read speed. The APOGEE document claims a read speed of 129MB/s. For the most part we have found that the manufacturer's numbers are based on optimal conditions and our real world results are usually slower.
The drive does come with a neat USB feature that allows you to connect the APOGEE to a USB 2.0 port. Transfer speed is reduced by a large margin since it has to downgrade to USB 2.0 speeds, but with SSDs resistance to shock it is just like having a 64GB thumb drive that is a little larger than your typical thumb drive.
The front of the APOGEE package is very nice with the gold trim and window that allows you to see the drive.
The back of the box has a "Features Snapshot", but missing is a full specifications list.
The internal packaging for the drive is sorted pretty well. The drive is enclosed in formed plastic and has a cardboard cushion area to keep the drive from being damaged in case of a fall.
The Chaintech APOGEE 64GB SSD
I will avoid going into detail of my love for piano black. As you can see, the drive is very attractive and the gold really sets this SSD apart from others on the market.
The bottom of the drive is where Chaintech placed the data label.
From the side everything is where it should be and you shouldn't have any problems installing the drive.
On the back where the SATA Data and Power plug are located we can also see the USB 2.0 port. There has been a lot of miss information about this feature. Some have claimed that this is used solely for flashing firmware to the drive. I found that you can access your data through USB with the APOGEE, but you can only access the APOGEE at USB 2.0 speeds.
Test System Setup
Processors: AMD Opteron 2356 (2.3GHz Quad-Core) x2
Motherboard: Tyan S2915-E (Supplied by Tyan)
Memory: Kingston KVR667D2S4P5/2G x4 (Supplied by Kingston)
Graphics Card: XFX 8800 GTX (Supplied by XFX USA)
Enclosure: Lian Li V2000
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12DO (Supplied by Noctua)
SATA Controller: Areca ARC-1231ML (Supplied by Areca)
SAS Controller: Areca ARC-1680i (Supplied by Areca)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate X64
Today we are comparing the APOGEE 64GB MLC SSD to several other 2.5 inch drives that are either widely used in the industry or previously reviewed here at TweakTown.
G.Skill FM-25S2-128GB: G.Skill hit the market hard with their first MLC based SSD. The drive performed nearly identical to the Patriot Warp but cost nearly 100 Dollars less.
Patriot Warp V2: The second revision of the Warp Series was a speed demon and set a new price point for 128GB SSD's to aim for.
Crucial CT32GBFAB0: The Crucial SLC SSD is one of the early technology solid state drives and will provide a great example of just how far solid state has progressed.
G.Skill FS-25S2-64GB: This SLC drive from G.Skill is a rebadged Samsung drive that G.Skill was able to price much lower than Samsung's drive. The FS-25S2-64GB is the SLC drive others aspire to be.
Hitachi 7K100: The 7K100 is a 100GB notebook hard drive that was used by several notebook manufacturers. This is the drive that came with my Lenovo T60.
Hitachi 7K500: The 7K500 is the first 500GB notebook drive to hit the market. Unfortunately the drive is 12 millimeters tall and can only be used in a small number of notebooks. A standard notebook drive is only 9.5mm tall.
Western Digital Scorpio Black: The WD Scorpio Black is a past award winner here at TweakTown and we found it to be one of the best platter based notebook drives available. At the time of review the 320GB version was the fastest platter based 2.5 inch notebook drive on the market.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 3.00
Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com/>
HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:
- Benchmark: measures the performance
- Info: shows detailed information
- Health: checks the health status by using SMART
- Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
- Temperature display
HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.
In the Read test we find that the APOGEE MLC drive runs just a hair slower than the Warp V2 and is running right with the G.Skill MLC drive.
SLC drives still have a solid hold on strong steady write performance, but MLC is quickly catching up. The MLC G.Skill drive is trailing the Warp V2 by a small amount again, but its average speed is a little higher than the SLC drive from G.Skill.
Benchmarks - Everest Random Access Time
Everest Random Access Time
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.60
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/ >
Everest Ultimate and Corporate Edition offer several different benchmarks for testing and optimizing your system or network. The Random Access test is one of very few if not only that will measure hard drives random access times in hundredths of milliseconds as oppose to tens of milliseconds.
Access time is a where solid state drives excel and here we see all of our SSDs performing at the same level, which is much faster than the platter based drives.
The SSDs once again show the platter drives who's boss. The APOGEE holds its own against the other SSDs in the test group.
Let's see how all of these synthetic benchmarks relate to real world applications.
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests
PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage//
Buy It Here
PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
FutureMark has developed a good set of hard disk tests for their PCMark Vantage Suite. These tests are based on real world applications that many of us use daily.
HDD1 - Windows Defender
HDD2 - Gaming
HDD3 - Windows Photo Gallery
HDD4 - Vista Startup
HDD5 - Windows Movie Maker
HDD6 - Windows Media Center
HDD7 - Windows Media Player
HDD8 - Application Loading
In PC Mark Vantage we see that the APOGEE runs equal to the other MLC drives that we have tested recently. The APOGEE is much faster than the platter based drives in nearly every test.
Benchmarks - Passmark
Passmark Advanced Multi-User Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 6.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.passmark.com/
Test Homepage: http://www.passmark.com/ >
Many users complain that I/O Meter is too complicated of a benchmark to replicate results so my quest to find an alternative was started. Passmark has added several multi-user tests that measure a hard drives ability to operate in a multi-user environment.
The tests use different settings to mimic basic multi-user operations as they would play out on your server. Variances is read / write percentage as well as random / sequential reads are common in certain applications, Web Servers read nearly 100% of the time while Database Servers write a small amount of data.
The Workstation test is the only single user environment and will be similar to how you use your system at home.
In Passmarks real world advanced disk tests we see the APOGEE fall a little to the other MLC drives. I suspect this is due to the way the controller interacts with the reduced volume of memory.
The speed in which solid state is evolving is incredible. The best thing for consumers is that so many companies are quickly beefing up their product lines which will result in even lower prices as this market becomes saturated with products all vying for your Dollar.
the Walton Chaintech APOGEE 64 GB SSD is a good choice for users that are able to live with the capacity. Personally it is difficult to recommend anything less than 128GB of storage space for enthusiasts to use with their notebooks. The APOGEE 64GB would make a great scratch drive in a desktop or even a decent boot drive where other, larger storage drives are available. Notebook users generally don't have the option to use two or more drives, so primary storage capacity becomes essential.
The MSRP of the APOGEE seems to fall in line with other products in its class. The market will determine how much under or over the actual price will be set at. Hopefully Chaintech is able to get these drives to the market before too long so that early adopters can have a chance at them.
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