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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  • Flunk - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    For $144 you can get a 256GB M.2 SSD, big enough to use as a boot drive. Even as a cache for a slow hard-drive (which means you also need to buy a hard drive, possibly bumping the cost up to 512GB SSD prices) means this product doesn't make any sense at all. Maybe it made sense when they started development, but it doesn't now.
  • binary visions - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    I'm not sure I understand your comment.

    This product isn't designed for people whose data fits on a boot drive. It's designed to accelerate disk speeds for people who require large data drives.

    E.g. my photos do not even remotely fit on an affordable SSD. I have a 6tb drive I work off of, but I'm frequently working in sets of photos that are <100gb. I suspect an Optane drive would significantly improve my workflow (I don't have a compatible system, but it's something I'm looking into in the future).

    Copying photos back and forth between an SSD for working on them, and back to the spinning platters for storage, is an ugly process at best.
  • qlum - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    However at this point a conventional ssd of a larger size could also be used gor caching and may require less swaoping to the slower hdd.
  • lmcd - Thursday, May 17, 2018 - link

    No. The idea of caching means that the device used as the cache will almost always be close to capacity. Nearly-full MLC and TLC SSD devices perform very poorly compared to their empty numbers. MLC and TLC devices would have 1/2 and 1/3 the size they're listed at when used as caches, which makes the comparison much less favorable.
  • frenchy_2001 - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    I have used SSD caching for HDD for longer than intel has offered it.
    I bought a OCZ Synapse and I've used it for years. It was a 64GB SSD, with 32GB usable
    (overprovisionning allowed better performances while full), supplied with a custom caching software.
    The software did not work great, but I transitioned to intel SMART response SSD caching when I upgraded from an AMD system to a Z68 (and beyond) and this has helped a lot.
    It is fully transparent and I hardly realize it's there, but the few time I had to remove it (I changed to a bigger SSD as cache, maxed to 80GB, or changed the HDD and had to redo the cache system), how slow the HDD alone was surprised me.
    Boot time is less than a minute, game load times are short enough... Basically, even with with caching alone, it gave me most of the benefits of SSD for everyday tasks.

    I fully expects this product to behave similarly, benefits increasing with size.

    This is not really for people building a new computer, this is for people that want to speed up a current one with a big HDD.
  • Lolimaster - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    Maybe optimize your workflow, you would be better buying a 500GB SSD and MOVING your frequent data to that drive. It's the same thing, for the same price and 10x more storage.
  • GTVic - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    He just said that transferring photos to an SSD is not feasible.
  • joenathan - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    His plan still doesn't make sense, what he's just gonna have to hope the Intel software magically knows which of the 6TB of photos he is going to use today? If it's can't cache everything then it's just a gamble. It would be better for him to get a larger SSD and modify his work flow so that it would be feasible to transfer the photos.
  • nevcairiel - Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - link

    Initial access will still be slower as the cache is being populated, that is true - but you would have the same initial cost if you manually move files to your "work drive", nevermind all the hassle that comes with that.
  • Arnulf - Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - link

    Can't stop laughing at those read/write speeds ... downright pathetic compared to low end NVMe drives ... and to think Optane was touted to perform as a class of its own between flash and DRAM.

    As for your photo predicament - where is the bottleneck of your 100 GB photo editing process? I doubt it's random access. If it is sequential access (throughput) for batch processing all those photos then you will be limited by the HDD in either case (with or without Optane). Besides those horrible sequential transfer rates ... just can't stop laughing :-D

    Just get a large enough NVMe SSD.

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