Storage Benchmarks

Synthetic Benchmarks - ATTO and Crystal DiskMark

SanDisk claims read/write speeds of 245 MBps/190 MBps and 260 MBps/240 MBps respectively for the Extreme and Extreme PRO. These are backed up by the ATTO benchmarks provided below. Unfortunately, these access traces are not very common in real-life scenarios.

CrystalDiskMark, despite being a canned benchmark, provides a better estimate of the performance range with a selected set of numbers. As evident from the screenshot below, the performance can dip to as low as 8.7 MBps for 4K read accesses at QD32. However, these types of accesses are not common for the large size file transfers that form the primary use-case for the Extreme and Extreme PRO.

Real-Life Benchmarks - robocopy and PCMark 8 Storage Bench

Our testing methodology for DAS units also takes into consideration the usual use-case for such devices. The most common usage scenario is transfer of large amounts of photos and videos to and from the unit. The minor usage scenario is importing files directly off the DAS into a multimedia editing program such as Adobe Photoshop.

In order to tackle the first use-case, we created three test folders with the following characteristics:

  • Photos: 15.6 GB collection of 4320 photos (RAW as well as JPEGs) in 61 sub-folders
  • Videos: 16.1 GB collection of 244 videos (MP4 as well as MOVs) in 6 sub-folders
  • BR: 10.7 GB Blu-ray folder structure of the IDT Benchmark Blu-ray (the same that we use in our robocopy tests for NAS systems)

robocopy - Photos Read

robocopy - Photos Write

robocopy - Videos Read

robocopy - Videos Write

robocopy - Blu-ray Folder Read

robocopy - Blu-ray Folder Write

The general trend we observed was that the SanDisk Extreme was better at read benchmarks (though the Extreme PRO was quite close). When it came to the writes, the Extreme PRO pulled ahead (sometimes by as much as 25 MBps for lots of small files).

For the second use-case, we take advantage of PC Mark 8's storage bench. The storage workload involves games as well as multimedia editing applications. The command line version allows us to cherry-pick storage traces to run on a target drive. We chose the following traces.

  • Adobe Photoshop (Light)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Heavy)
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Adobe Illustrator

Usually, PC Mark 8 reports time to complete the trace, but the detailed log report has the read and write bandwidth figures which we present in our performance graphs. Note that the bandwidth number reported in the results don't involve idle time compression. Results might appear low, but that is part of the workload characteristic. Note that the same testbed is being used for all DAS units. Therefore, comparing the numbers for each trace should be possible across different DAS units.

robocopy - Photoshop Light Read

robocopy - Photoshop Light Write

robocopy - Photoshop Heavy Read

robocopy - Photoshop Heavy Write

robocopy - After Effects Read

robocopy - After Effects Write

robocopy - Illustrator Read

robocopy - Illustrator Write

The workload traces from PCMark 8's storage bench are meant to evaluate SSDs (which is the reason the drives based on SSD controllers give great results). The firmwares in the SanDisk units being evaluated today are not optimized for these types of accesses. We wouldn't read much into the standings of the SanDisk units in the above graphs, except for the fact that one shouldn't try editing multimedia files directly off them.

Introduction and Testing Methodology Performance Consistency and Concluding Remarks
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  • Beany2013 - Thursday, November 27, 2014 - link

    I've been using a Sandisk Extrem 32gb for a while now, and it's a perfectly usable USB drive that performs perfectly well (anything over 100MB/sec is fine for most portable storage needs IMHO), is nicely made, a good size so it doesn't bulk up your pocket, and I thought it was a good price when I bought it for about £35 ($50 or thereabouts?).

    The fact that the 64gb one is now $28 (probably £28 here...) these days pleases me - there's really nowt wrong with them if you're shuffling around file collections large enough to justify a fast USB drive, but not so much as to justify a portable HDD/SSD.

    Best USB drive I've owned in over ten years, I'd say. And a bargain for the price.
  • basroil - Thursday, November 27, 2014 - link

    The regular Extreme (not pro) really is a steal, especially for software development, where you might have tens of thousands of tiny files.
  • hughlle - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    Have to agree. I can't recall what I paid, must have been about the same price as you, i'm too cheap to go higher for a usb stick, but i have to say i am overwhelmingly impressed. Although granted, any drive i've used before this was over usb 2.0. Connected to my surface, it's absurdly fast, I have absolutely no complaints with it and would highly recommend to others.
  • mkozakewich - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    Okay, so turns out it's a $110 drive. I don't know if there's some kind of Black Friday sale or they're on clearance, but you shouldn't act like this price somehow reflects the state of flash technology today. Do these kinds of sales usually last more than a few days? Or can I expect that product to disappear before something else near $100 comes out?
  • RussianSensation - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    Right, so if you need a fast flash drive today, why would you wait until the sale ends instead of buying now? If you don't need a flash drive today, then something faster and larger capacity will come out in the next 1-2 years for a similar price. That's how flash technology generally works.
  • thudo - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    Where is the mention of a PNY 128GB Turbo 3.0 USB Flash Drive P-FD128TBOP-GE in the testing? I just bought TWO for $87 CDN all in and owned a couple of these in the last year and they are VERY rock solid and incredibly cheap and FAST!!

    You are a fool to buy high-end USB 3.0 when 3.1 is gonna revolutionize the interface in less than a few months.
  • DanNeely - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    When very few current generation USB flash drives can max out a USB3 link; I don't expect any major near term gain from 3.1.

    As for the PNY drive; convince PNY to send anandtech one for testing.
  • Lezmaka - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    So Anandtech seriously only reviews something if the manufacturer sends it to them?
  • deontologist - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    What do you expect? AT lost all journalistic integrity after Anand bailed with his golden parachute.
  • DanNeely - Saturday, November 29, 2014 - link

    Review samples have been largely limited to what vendors have sent for years. The only exceptions being things the editors bought for personal use and then reviewed. The banner ads don't generate enough money for an extra $50-100k/year of hardware purchases on top of running the servers and paying everyone.

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