1TB Class Performance Testing
Sequential Read Performance
We filled our charts with other lower-cost drives selling today plus the original Samsung 970 EVO (later replaced in Samsung's line-up with the 970 EVO Plus). The Helix-L is the only DRAMless model on the list, but it competes directly with the 4-bit per cell (QLC) drives from Intel and Crucial. The SX8200 and EX920 use older flagship controllers from Silicon Motion, the same also used in the Mushkin Pilot. The Pilot joins the other drives on Amazon today, but they all cost between $20 and $30 more than the Helix-L.
In the sequential read test where we scale the workload through queue depth (QD), the Helix-L trails the other drives but is very close to the Crucial and Intel QLC models it competes with directly on price.
Sequential Write Performance
The Helix-L also shows low performance in the sequential write test. DRAMless SSDs generally don't scale well with increased QD in write tests, so the results on this chart were expected. Users do get nearly 1,500 MB/s for transfers to the drive. This is nearly a 3x increase over high-quality SATA SSDs that sell for around the same price as the Helix-L 1TB.
Sustained Sequential Write Performance
The architecture uses a dynamic SLC buffer that scales depending on the amount of data you have on the drive. The system works well unless you fill the drive. We recommend keeping 20% of the drive's overall capacity free when possible.
Random Read Performance
We expected to see higher random read performance with the 1TB Helix-L. The drive matches the 1TB Samsung 970 EVO, so that's a plus. It also trails many of the other drives with the same Micron 64L flash. This is one of the areas where Micron's flash increases performance over Toshiba and Samsung with many products. In addition, the performance metric makes your computer feel fast using consumer-grade applications.
Even though the performance is on the lower-end of the scale between the drives tested, you still get nearly 12,000 random read IOPS at QD1. This is more than most SATA SSDs, and two years we would call it a performance leader for even NVMe products.
Random Write Performance
The 1TB Helix-L scales incredibly well with random data writes for a DRAMless drive. This is where the host memory buffer (HMB) technology really helps to increase performance. The performance path is nearly identical to the ADATA SX8200 from QD1 to QD8.
70% Read Sequential Performance
Mixing sequential data, reads and writes, the Helix-L outperforms the two QLC SSDs in our charts today. The Helix-L doesn't quite make it to the level of the DRAM drives with TLC memory.
70% Read Random Performance
Where the 1TB Helix-L stumbles in our synthetic tests is the random mixed workload. The drive only delivers 1/3 the performance as the next lowest drive at QD1, and the gap grows from there as you move up the list. This impacts multitasking and leads to more latency running several applications at one time.