Mtron MSD-S25032

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Mtron MSD-S25032

An early 16GB SATA solid-state drive from Mtron wowed us, but that was just the beginning. The company’s 32GB version of the drive slays all other contenders for the speed crown.

How fast is this bad boy? We put it up against a desktop Western Digital 150GB 10,000rpm Raptor for reference, and the 32GB Mtron MSD-S25032 flat-out smoked it. In fact, the only reason the MSD-S25032 isn’t the fastest hard drive we’ve ever tested is because it’s not a hard drive—it’s a solid-state drive.

So it goes without saying that the other two drives reviewed here, the Seagate Momentus and the Western Digital Scorpio, had no chance of touching the Mtron’s benchmark scores. You can read the scores for yourself and weep for disk-based storage. Average read speeds of 138MB/s—equivalent to those of a striped RAID—and a .1-second access time put hard drives to shame.

The access time is no surprise, as this drive stores data in nonvolatile flash RAM instead of the magnetic platters of a hard drive. This greatly improves reliability since there are no moving parts to crash, no bearings to wear out, and no delay while waiting for the head to seek. To test the drive’s durability, we repeatedly pounded it on a lab bench while we ran our benchmarks. That treatment would kill most hard drives, but the Mtron shrugged it off without even a performance dip.

In HD Tach, the Mtron’s average read speeds of 138MB/s blazed past the 48MB/s achieved by the fastest notebook drive we’ve tested, Seagate’s Momentus 7200.2. Even the desktop 10,000rpm Raptor (reviewed March 2006) can achieve only 92MB/s average read speeds. The MSD-S25032 produced similar results with HD Tune, achieving read speeds of 121MB/s.

We also used PCMark05’s hard-drive suite to judge real-world workloads. PCMark05 uses trace patterns to simulate the read and write loads that a drive goes through when booting Windows XP or starting Microsoft Word, the Mozilla browser, Acrobat Reader 5, or virus scan workloads. The MSD-S25032 crushed all other hard drives in these tests. We saw a healthy boost in our Photoshop CS2 test, as well, but no major gains in hibernation time or XP boot times. Perhaps the bottleneck is the OS?

Unless our benchmarks are lying to us, the MSD-S25032 is the fastest notebook drive available, achieving near RAID 0 performance with a single drive.

Despite the amazing performance, there’s an obvious shortcoming. Let’s face it, 32GB isn’t much capacity today. And the speed comes at an exorbitant price. The MSD-S25032 costs a whopping $2,000. (We’re told by the U.S. distributor of the drive, DVNation.com, that it should be in the $1,000 range very soon.)

Still, for those who need amazing durability and speed, the MSD-S25032 is a winner. Despite the sticker shock, with this kind of performance, we have no choice but to award Mtron’s MSD-S25032 high honors.

Rocky Erickson

By far, the best performance in a notebook drive; nothing to break.

Rocky Road

Room for only the OS and one Blu-ray rip.

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(click for full-sized chart)
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