PCMark 10 Storage Benchmarks

At the end of 2019, UL released a major update to their popular PCMark 10 benchmark suite, adding storage performance tests that had been conspicuously absent for over two years. These new storage benchmarks are similar to our AnandTech Storage Bench (ATSB) tests in that they are composed of traces of real-world IO patterns that are replayed onto the drive under test. We're incorporating these into our new SSD test suite, and including our first batch of results here.

PCMark 10 provides four different storage benchmarks. The Full System Drive, Quick System Drive and Data Drive benchmarks cover similar territory to our ATSB Heavy and Light tests, and all three together take about as long to run as the ATSB Heavy and Light tests combined. The Drive Performance Consistency Test is clearly meant to one-up The Destroyer and also measure the worst-case performance of a drive that is completely full. Due to time constraints, we are not yet attempting to add the Drive Performance Consistency Test to our usual test suite.

PCMark 10 Storage Tests
Test Name Data Written
Data Drive 15 GB
Quick System Drive 23 GB
Full System Drive 204 GB
Drive Performance Consistency 23 TB + 3x drive capacity

The primary subscores for the PCMark 10 Storage benchmarks are average bandwidth and average latency for read and write IOs. These are combined into an overall score by computing the geometric mean of the bandwidth score and the reciprocal of the latency score. PCMark 10 also records more detailed statistics, but we'll dig into those in a later review. These PCMark 10 Storage test runs were conducted on our Coffee Lake testbed:

AnandTech Coffee Lake SSD Testbed
CPU Intel Core i7-8700K
Motherboard Gigabyte Aorus H370 Gaming 3 WiFi
Chipset Intel H370
Memory 2x 8GB Kingston DDR4-2666
Case In Win C583
Power Supply Cooler Master G550M
OS Windows 10 64-bit, version 2004

 

Data Drive Benchmark

The Data Drive Benchmark is intended to represent usage a secondary or portable drive may be subject to. This test simulates copying around files, but does not simulate the IO associated with launching and running applications from a drive.

PCMark 10 Storage - Data
Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency

Starting off, the 8TB Sabrent Rocket Q leads the field thanks to its massive and fast SLC cache; it clearly outperforms even the decently high-end 2TB TLC-based HP EX920. The several capacities of the Samsung 870 QVO all performa about the same: less than half the speed of the faster NVMe drives, and slower than the slowest entry-level NVMe drives. The enterprise SATA drive with no SLC caching comes in last place.

Quick System Drive Benchmark

The Quick System Drive Benchmark is a subset of the Full System Drive Benchmark, running only 6 out of the 23 sub-tests from the Full test.

PCMark 10 Storage - Quick
Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency

Moving on to the Quick test, the Sabrent Rocket Q no longer stands out ahead of the other NVMe drives, but still offers decent performance. The performance gap between the NVMe drives and the Samsung 870 QVO drives has narrowed slightly, but is still almost a factor of two.

Full System Drive Benchmark

The Full System Drive Benchmark covers a broad range of everyday tasks: booting Windows and starting applications and games, using Office and Adobe applications, and file management. The "Full" in the name does not mean that each drive is filled or that the entire capacity of the drive is tested. Rather, it only indicates that all of the PCMark 10 Storage sub-tests are included in this test.

PCMark 10 Storage - Full
Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency

The Full test starts to bring the downsides of QLC NAND into focus. The Sabrent Rocket Q is now the slowest of the NVMe drives, only moderately faster than the 8TB Samsung 870 QVO. The 1TB 870 QVO is also falling behind the larger and faster models. However, the QLC-based Intel 660p manages to hold on to decent performance, possibly a result of the class-leading SLC cache performance we usually see from Silicon Motion NVMe controllers paired with Intel/Micron flash.

AnandTech Storage Bench Random I/O Performance
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  • shabby - Friday, December 4, 2020 - link

    Go home qlc ssd manufacturers, you're drunk! Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, December 4, 2020 - link

    The market doesn't care what we want. It's driven by the manufacturers. That's the way most of tech is because of duopoly, triopoly power and the high cost of owning fabs. They get to dictate to us which is not the way consumerist capitalism is supposed to work. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, December 4, 2020 - link

    There is also consumer ignorance. Go to a site that pushes product, like slickdeals, and you won't find the type of NAND listed in the listing for their SSD "deals". Everything is just an "SSD". Manufacturers are counting on consumer ignorance. Reply
  • Zim - Saturday, December 5, 2020 - link

    Not true. Every one of those deals has people saying no to QLC. People still buy it because it's cheap. Reply
  • SirDragonClaw - Saturday, December 5, 2020 - link

    Not true. 99.9% of people wouldn't even know what QLC means. Reply
  • ahtoh - Sunday, December 6, 2020 - link

    Not true. I'd say 50% at least. People who buy SSDs (or parts in general) are more educated and probably know what they're doing. Reply
  • s.yu - Sunday, December 6, 2020 - link

    "Parts"
    Ah that actually makes it sound pretty sophisticated :)
    Reply
  • at_clucks - Monday, December 7, 2020 - link

    50% of people know what QLC means? Is that a joke? 50% of ATers don't understand what that means. Most consumers who even heard of the term think it's just another type of LC, the more LCs the better right? No, almost no consumer knows what that means, it's a tech spec, they may know it's not the best out there but that's it But if the price is good they won't care.

    Product listings are marketing fluff and BS sprinkled with plenty of concepts no regular user will even understand because they sound fancy (like TWD and ECC), they will list stuff that the average consumer can understand and relate to - capacity, speed (lots of megabytes per second, thousands of them, eye catchy), and maybe the interface because they have to (again, in an eye catching way like "SATA 6.0 Gb/s"). Even if there is a Q in the product model almost nobody cares about that.

    Search for QVO on Amazon and you'll see stuff like "RELIABLE AND SUSTAINABLE: The capacity of the 8TB 870 QVO increases reliability up to 2,880 TBW using a refined ECC algorithm for stable performance".
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, December 7, 2020 - link

    Market these "Q"LC drives to Trump supporters and watch them fly off the shelves. Reply
  • peevee - Wednesday, December 9, 2020 - link

    Oh, you gamer kidding are so smart and sophisticated, you even know the sacred secret of what QLC means! Do you know what 2+2 is? Then you deserve the Fields medal!

    We, engineers with decades of experience engineering this world, who thought that exactly 0 consumer applications and not more than 1% of enterprise applications require sustained write speeds over 300MB/s, bow before you!

    Don't forget to ask for extra tip next time you serve me coffee.
    Reply

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