They are fantastic devices that yield impressive computing speed boosts concerning hard drive access. I found myself in need of an SSD and decided to try something new: The Silicon Power S60 120G SSD.
Samsung SSD drives are perhaps the best I have ever used, but in the past, I have been happy with the durability and reliability of the Silicon Power A80 external drive. So, when I saw that the company also produced a line of SSD drives, I had to try one. Given the stellar reviews and low cost of this drive, it was a must-have.
The drive the S60 was replacing was an older Samsung 470. Now, there was nothing wrong with the Samsung. Time has proven its quality. In fact, I have used the Samsung 470 extensively for the past several years, and it continues to be reliable and speedy. However, the motherboard supports SATA3 but not the Samsung (it was close to a first generation SSD). So, it was time to upgrade to a SATA3 SSD.
The Samsung 470 was already fast, so how does the S60 compare? In my experience, it depended upon which operating system I used, and once again, Linux delivered superb performance without a hassle.
Packaging and Details
The Silicon Power S60 arrived in fight-for-your-life sealed plastic. You are familiar with the type — you can easily cut yourself with it. Too many products are sealed like this. I suppose the thinking is that shoplifters will at least bleed to death before leaving the store…but I digress.
It was a battle, but my superior scissors extricated the goodness from within.
Even though Linux is not mentioned anywhere on the packaging, this drive is 100% compatible with Linux without the need for any drivers or installation hassles. Simply plug and play in Linux!
The S60 is a slim 7mm 2.5″ form factor that supports SATAIII, so you will need a motherboard that supports SATAIII to truly experience the fast speeds. This is also backwards compatible with SATA and SATAII.
In addition, the S60 is so light, is barely has any substance. You could install this inside a netbook and never notice the weight.
The 7% Rule
Keep in mind that usable capacity will be about 7% less than the quoted capacity. That rule applies to the S60 also. This drive is quoted as 120G, but after formatting (regardless of which file system is chosen), the usable capacity will be 111.6G.
I used four programs for testing:
- CrystalDiskMark 4.0.3 (Windows 7)
- AS SSD Benchmark 1.8.5611 (Windows 7)
- Disks (Linux Mint 17.1)
- hdparm (Linux Mint 17.1)
Since the same programs are not available for all platforms and neither do they yield 100% identical results, I tried to give the S60 a fair chance in both Linux and Windows with multiple programs for comparison. No matter the benchmark program or platform, at some point, averaged results will begin to reveal a pattern reliable enough for comparison.
I wanted to at least approach double the existing speed of the Samsung 470, which was the drive being replaced, for both reads and writes. In AS SSD, the Samsung 460 yields about 235/181 MB/s.
CrystalDiskMark shows lower numbers for the Samsung 470.
In my experience, the CrystalDiskMark numbers are always lower than the AS SSD numbers.
My hope is that the S60 will do better than 450/400 MB/s for sequential reads and writes. Will the S60 exceed these numbers?
The Windows 7 Surprise
Before installing Linux Mint 17.1, I tested the S60 in Windows 7. After formatting it to NTFS, I ran CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD in order to compare my speeds with those printed on the box and with speeds posted in product reviews.
I was greatly disappointed.
These numbers are underwhelming for the S60 (first on the left in blue). The motherboard supports SATAIII and the Samsung 840 EVO connected to the same motherboard as the S60 yields 562/531 MB/s numbers, so the motherboard cannot be the limiting factor. Even the external MX-ES USB3 stick competes with its write speed. I was expecting faster from the S60. Checking BIOS, swapping SATA ports, and rebooting Windows 7 did not help either. Maybe CrystalDiskMark is at fault, so let’s benchmark with AS SSD to get another perspective.
For reasons I cannot fathom, the S60 read and write speeds on Windows 7 were much lower than the quoted 550/500 MB/s speeds printed on the box. In fact, the write speeds of the S60 were slightly inferior to the existing Samsung 470 in the AS SSD benchmarks.
No matter what updates I applied, no matter what tweaking I performed, and no matter how many times I rebooted Windows and restarted the SSD benchmarks, I could never exceed the 360/206 MB/s (and 342/199 MB/s) speeds of the S60. This level of performance is barely better than the Samsung 470 that the S60 was meant to replace, and it certainly does not meet my goal.
The hardware was not to blame. I was using a brand-name, top-of-the-line motherboard that supported SATA3 easy. The Samsung 840 EVO yielded speeds over 488/477 MB/s with this motherboard, so why not the S60? It made no sense. I think that, somehow, in some mysterious way, Windows 7 was to blame…or at least my Windows 7 installation.
However, the real test is with Linux. If the S60 performs as expected in Linux, then I will be pleased.
Linux Mint 17.1 Delight
I tested the S60 with Linux Mint 17.1 (running kernel 4.0.4) before and after installation, and the results were a vast improvement!
Disks can report various speeds depending upon the sample size, which I think is an accurate measurement of everyday use. The results of a 1GB sample size are most relevant to me, and they easily reached the 550/500 MB/s average speeds. This is what I wanted. (I was unable to retest the Samsung 840 EVO with Linux, so only the read speed is shown from a previous graph.) Let’s look at hdparm.
Even hdparm produced results “up to” the quoted read speeds. In Linux, the S60 competes well with the Samsung 840 EVO.
539/438 MB/s speeds are more like it. Yes! I ran the Disks benchmark and hdparm repeatedly to confirm that this was not a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Even after rebooting Linux (though unnecessary), I always, with consistency, obtained read speeds greater than 516-530 MB/s. Write speeds were slower near the 430 MB/s mark, but this is still plenty fast and MUCH faster than any test performed on Windows.
Keep in mind that these are average read and write speeds. At a number of points on the Disks graph, speeds really do reach 550/500 MB/s as quoted on the box during sequential reads and writes. Goal met. I am happy!
Linux Installation and Boot Times
SSDs are already fast compared to mechanical drives, so any differences would be nitpicking at this point.
It took about 2m38s to install Linux Mint 17.1 from a USB2 stick to the S60. Linux boots just as fast as it did with the Samsung 470. However, when it comes to measuring boot speeds like this, there is more at play than just the speed of the SSD. The operating system itself is a factor. Processes, system setup, and other load issues affect the boot time. But the main point is that Linux boots in seconds (from POST to user login) with the S60, and the SSD is not the bottleneck.
The Silicon Power S60 is one of the fastest SSDs I have ever used. Usually, when I see claims like “Up to 550 MB/s speeds,” I think, “Yeah, sure. There is a reason why they print ‘up to’ on the box.” And I am usually proven right. From my personal usage, those numbers only apply to super-human computer users and corporate marketers who never lie. My real-life system rarely meets advertisers’ claims no matter the product.
I was surprised this time. The recorded read and write speeds of the S60 truly live up to the claims on the box — or at least get very, very close…but only on Linux. Windows 7 benchmark speeds were a dismal disappointment for me. But given the success of running the S60 on Linux, I suspect an issue with Windows, not the S60.
So, for Linux, I can highly recommend the S60. It is certainly as fast as or possibly faster than the Samsung 840 EVO. Reliability? Only time will tell. I have not experienced any issues with the S60 so far, but we will see. If the S60 can continue to perform reliably and as fast as it does now once the warranty expires in three years, then I will have no trouble considering this to be as good as Samsung’s SSD offerings.
Once again, Silicon Power delivers an excellent product, and if you are using Linux, then this is a worthy SSD for your system.