BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE

BAPCo's SYSmark 2014 SE is an application-based benchmark that uses real-world applications to replay usage patterns of business users in the areas of office productivity, media creation and data/financial analysis. In addition, it also addresses the responsiveness aspect which deals with user experience as related to application and file launches, multi-tasking etc. Scores are calibrated against a reference system that is defined to score 1000 in each of the scenarios. A score of, say, 2000, would imply that the system under test is twice as fast as the reference system.

SYSmark scores are based on total application response time as seen by the user, including not only storage latency but time spent by the processor. This means there's a limit to how much a storage improvement could possibly increase scores, because the SSD is only in use for a small fraction of the total test duration. This is a significant difference from our ATSB tests where only the storage portion of the workload is replicated and disk idle times are cut short to a maximum of 25ms.

For this review, SYSmark has been used on two different machines: a relatively high-end system with a six-core Intel Core i7-8700K processor and 16GB of RAM, and a more limited system with a quad-core Intel Core i5-7400 processor and just 4GB of RAM. The low-end system spends a lot of time swapping thanks to its small amount of RAM, and this adds greatly to the storage workload.

AnandTech SYSmark 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 1709


AnandTech SYSmark SSD Low-End Testbed
CPU Intel Core i5-7400
Motherboard ASUS PRIME Z270-A
Chipset Intel Z270
Memory 1x 4GB Corsair DDR4-2666
Case In Win C583
Power Supply Cooler Master G550M
OS Windows 10 64-bit, version 1709

None of the Optane Memory modules are large enough to serve as a Windows boot drive alone as well as storing all the applications used for SYSmark, so this section only tests the Optane Memory and Optane SSD 800P as cache drives. (The 118GB Optane SSD 800P is pretty much the smallest drive that can could run SYSmark, but it doesn't leave much room for user data.)

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Data / Financial Analysis BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Media Creation

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Office Productivity

The Data/Financial Analysis, Media Creation, and Office Productivity sub-tests are all relatively insensitive to storage performance, and they are shown in order of decreasing sensitivity to the CPU and RAM differences between the two test systems. These results show that a mechanical hard drive can hold back application performance, but almost any solid state storage system—including Optane Memory caching—is sufficient to shift the bottlenecks over to compute and memory.

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Responsiveness

The Responsiveness test is less focused on overall computational throughput and more on those annoying delays that make a computer feel slow: application launching, opening and saving files, and a variety of multitasking scenarios. Here, moving off a mechanical hard drive is by far the best upgrade that can be made to improve system performance. Going beyond a mainstream SATA SSD provides diminishing returns, but there is a measurable difference between the SATA SSD and the fastest Optane SSD.

Energy Usage

The SYSmark energy usage scores measure total system power consumption, excluding the display. Our SYSmark test system idles at around 26 W and peaks at over 60 W measured at the wall during the benchmark run. SATA SSDs seldom exceed 5 W and idle at a fraction of a watt, and the SSDs spend most of the test idle. This means the energy usage scores will inevitably be very close. A typical notebook system will tend to be better optimized for power efficiency than this desktop system, so the SSD would account for a much larger portion of the total and the score difference between SSDs would be more noticeable.

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Total System Power

The Intel Optane SSD 900P is quite power-hungry by SSD standards, but running a hard drive is even worse. The Optane Memory M10 and 118GB 800P further add to power consumption when used as cache devices, but they speed up the test enough that total energy usage is not significantly affected. The 32GB Optane Memory doesn't offer as much of a performance boost, and it lacks the power management capabilities of the more recent Optane M.2 drives.

Test Procedures AnandTech Storage Bench - Heavy
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  • evernessince - Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - link

    No reason to buy with an AMD motherboard though, as AMD is handing out StoreMI for free with X470 boards. StoreMI is superior as well.
  • Klimax - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    Interesting lack of evidence...
  • Dr. Swag - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    Still don't see why a user should choose a 64gb optane drive over, say, a 500gb mx500, which you could use 64gb for caching using RST. The performance difference between optane and an mx500 won't be noticeable when doing normal stuff like booting up and launch apps.
  • WithoutWeakness - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    There are a lot of folks who use their computers for more than just running Chrome and a few games. Many people with professional workflows have storage drives in the 4-8+ TB range but only need to work with ~50-100GB of data at a time. In these scenarios the active data will be automatically cached on the Optane drive and their workflows can be greatly accelerated without the need to copy it to a separate SSD scratch drive before working on it. If you have so little data that you can just run off of a 500GB SATA SSD then obviously just buy the MX500.
  • iwod - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    Surely the same can be done for SSD Boot Drive, this is more of a software advantage then a hardware advantage.
  • CheapSushi - Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - link

    You can use Optane drives like any SSD though. Even if these are being marketed as a caching only thing, you can still use it however you like. Want to pay less to try out software caching? Get the cheaper one then and try it out.
  • TrackSmart - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    People seem to be talking around each other in these threads, without actually reading the substance of each person's reply.

    Dr. Swag didn't mention ONLY using a 500GB SSD. Just the opposite. He/she was suggesting that you could use a 500GB SSD for both a boot drive AND a 64GB cache drive. So you end up with ~440GB of normal SSD space (enough for most programs) AND a ~60GB cache drive to speed up your HDD accesses. All for the same price as adding a 64GB optane drive.

    Addressing Dr. Swag's actual comment: I partially agree. One downside to the arrangement you suggested is that most affordable SSDs have lower write endurance than cache drives. They are also likely to be slower than an optane drive (but still fast compared to HDDs). And if your SSD boot/cache all-in-one drive dies, you might lose data on both the SSD and the HDD.

    Regarding WithoutWeakness: Your comment makes sense if you are accessing the same subset of data over-and-over again. But if you are accessing a block of data ONCE to run an analysis and then moving onto a new block of data, then you will experience HDD speeds. Same goes for the first access to the data in cases where you will be using it multiple times. Slow the first time, faster in future times. So the downsides of a small cache will remain in a number of scenarios.

    I personally think that Intel missed the boat with Optane. These solutions would have been a lot more convincing when SSD storage was a lot more expensive (i.e. 5+ years ago) and before other caching options existed for making use of 'normal' SSDs.
  • ಬುಲ್ವಿಂಕಲ್ ಜೆ ಮೂಸ್ - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    Power loss protection ?

    From what I know so far, the MX500 (500GB) cache contains unique data that has not yet been written to normal nand and Crucial does not recommend using an SLC cache unless you have battery backup protection

    An Optane cache drive is a "copy" of data already on the hard drive (or SSD) and I don't see a problem with power loss resulting in data loss once you clear the cache
  • SkipPpe - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    Something like an Intel 3510 would be a better drive to use for this.
  • ಬುಲ್ವಿಂಕಲ್ ಜೆ ಮೂಸ್ - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link


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