SanDisk Ultra 500G 3D SSD and Linux

📅 June 9, 2018
Does the SanDisk Ultra 500G SSD work with Linux?

After all, it touts a whopping (up to) 560/530 MB/s on the box and a 5-year warranty. That’s pretty fast for SATA-III, so will this SSD meet these numbers?

Needing a higher-capacity SSD for a Linux system, this drive was purchased mainly for its low price. Given that it was also on sale at the time of purchase, it was a bargain. However, I was not expecting this bargain-priced SSD to perform as well as it did in both Linux Mint 18.3 and Windows 7.

The SSD Itself

Behold! The SanDisk Ultra 500G 3D SSD. This is a top-performing SSD at a reasonable price that is 100% compatible with Linux. (Tested in Linux Mint 18.3.)

SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD Box Front. This is a 500GB SATA-III SSD that claims it can read up to 560 MB/s and write up to 530 MB/s. Oh, reeeeally? I have read claims like that before, hence the tiny asterisks adjacent to the numbers, so we shall see.

The SSD itself. The front label is plain and simple.

At 7mm thick, the SSD is thin and lightweight.

Benchmarks

Before connecting to a Linux system permanently, the first thing to do was to connect it to a Windows 7 system in order to perform benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark. CrystalDiskMark is now at version 6.0, so that will be used. The SSD was formatted as NTFS in Windows.

Windows 7 properites for the 500G SanDisk SSD. Note that the available space after formatting is 465GB, not 500GB as printed on the box. This is normal since any hard drive will lose about 7% of its box-quoted capacity after formatting. The drive was empty.

CrystalDiskMark 6.0 (SATA-III)

Connected directly to the motherboard using SATA-III.

5 x 1GB test performed. Wow! This drive really does meet the claims so far (rounding off). This is better than expected.

CrystalDiskMark 5.1.2 (SATA-III)

Maybe version 6.0 changed its algorithm to bolster benchmark numbers, so let’s try the older CrystalDiskMark 5.1.2 for comparison. Let’s try a 5x100MB test for variety.

560/530 MB/s are consistent here too. Impressive.

Based upon these two tests in Windows 7, this is probably the first SSD I have tried that meets the claims on the box. Of course, we are looking at sequential read and write speeds, but the other numbers are more than satisfactory.

CrystalDiskMark 6.0 (USB3 to SATA-III Adapter)

Curious to try another connection technique, I disconnected the SSD from the motherboard’s SATA port and connected it the the Windows 7 computer using the StarTech SATA-III to USB3.1 adapter. Would the drive perform as fast as a direct SATA port?

 

Read/write speeds were okay for sequential tests, but the other numbers capped out. Not certain why. Of course, this was just for testing. In real life, the drive will be connected to a SATA-III port.

Linux fdisk

Enough Windows. Let’s use Linux! The SanDisk SSD was connected to a Linux Mint 18.3 system via the SATA port on the motherboard and formatted as ext4. fdisk showed 465GB of available space after setting the reserved blocks to zero (sudo tune2fs -m 0 /dev/sda1).

The SanDisk 500G runs perfectly in Linux Mint 18.3. No driver installation or kernel updates necessary. (Using kernel 4.14.8.)

Linux Mint 18.3 properties for the SSD show 492GB of free space instead of 465GB. However, 465GB is usually the limit. Properties sometimes reports incorrect total capacity results.

Disks (5x1000M)

To compare with CrystalDiskMark’s 5x1G test, the Disks benchmark was used with a 5x1000M read/write test.

Disks 5x1000M. At 557.2MB/s (reads) and 497.9MB/s (writes) this is very good.

Disks always reports numbers lower than CrystalDiskMark, so this outcome was expected. They are two different benchmarking programs, after all, so their numbers will rarely be identical. However, it was very surprising to see the ~557MB/s read speed. That is very, very close to the advertised read speed, and it is rare that Disks would even approach that number since Disks is usually lower.

Disks (100x10M)

How about smaller file sizes? The read and write samples have now been changed to 100x10M.

Again, good speeds even if lower at ~540/413 MB/s. Apparently, file sizes will affect performance.

Real Life File Copy

How will this perform during everyday file copies? It took about 8 minutes to transfer ~220GB of data from an existing SSD to the SanDisk Ultra SSD.

Nemo in Linux Mint 18.3 copying ~220GB of files. Note that this is reading from an older SSD and writing to the SanDisk Ultra SSD. Files are small in size.

Conclusion

For such a bargain, this drive has outperformed any expectations and lives up to the claims on the box. Given how Samsung is considered one of the current top SSD brands on the market, the SanDisk has outperformed every Samsung SATA SSD that I have tested so far and at a lower price. This is a welcome surprise.

With 100% plug and play compatibility with Linux Mint, ease of use (no special software required), and speedy performance, the SanDisk Ultra SSD is a superb upgrade.

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