Direct-Attached Storage Performance

The Thunder3 PCIe SSD was formatted in exFAT before being subject to our benchmarking routine. In order to evaluate the DAS aspect of the unit, we utilized the testbed outlined in the table below to test the performance.

AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH ATX
CPU Intel Core i5-6600K
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws 4 F4-2133C15-8GRR
32 GB ( 4x 8GB)
DDR4-2133 @ 15-15-15-35
OS Drive Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 NVMe 256 GB
SATA Devices Corsair Neutron XT SSD 480 GB
Intel SSD 730 Series 480 GB
Add-on Card None
Chassis Cooler Master HAF XB EVO
PSU Cooler Master V750 750 W
OS Windows 10 Pro x64
Thanks to Cooler Master, GIGABYTE, G.Skill and Intel for the build components

Our testing methodology for DAS units 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 other usage scenario (particularly for multimedia-editing professionals that are the target market for the Thunder3 PCIe SSD) is importing files directly off the DAS into a multimedia editing program such as Adobe Photoshop. Prior to taking a look at the real-life benchmarks, we first check what ATTO and CrystalDiskMark have to report for the Thunder3 PCIe SSD. We see numbers around 2500 MBps for sequential transfers, correlating well with AKiTiO's performance claims.

In order to tackle the first real-life 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)
AKiTiO Thunder3 PCIe SSD 1.2TB robocopy Benchmarks (MBps)
  Write Bandwidth Read Bandwidth
Photos 494.17 718.58
Videos 669.56 1444.75
Blu-ray Folder 747.16 1484.67

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.

AKiTiO Thunder3 PCIe SSD 1.2TB PCMark8 Storage Benchmarks (MBps)
  Write Bandwidth Read Bandwidth
Adobe Photoshop (Light) 1590.58 307.38
Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) 1425.8 337.42
Adobe After Effects 826.43 333.66
Adobe Illustrator 1343.64 321.70

Some context to the above numbers can be gathered from our last DAS review with the benchmark numbers presented using graphs. Given that the PCIe SSD simply leaves those USB drives in the dust, and the fact that the interface is different, we decided it would not be an apples-to-apples comparison if the numbers were to be presented / compared in the same set of graphs.

Introduction and Setup Impressions Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks
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  • samer1970 - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    they should sell the case barebone then !
  • patrickjp93 - Saturday, June 18, 2016 - link

    They sell a $280 enclosure complete with 16x PCIe slot and a TB3 cable, so get over yourself you damn wank.
  • tuxRoller - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    I know Ganesh likes doing these storage reviews but I can't help but think that they are targeting a vanishing niche.
  • Meteor2 - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    Well I find them interesting. Yeah it's $1,300 today but tomorrow it won't be.
  • casperes1996 - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    I'm looking for a similar product for TB2 for video editing. It needs to be really fast, 256GB or bigger (if cheap, 256 and I'll make a RAID, if more expensive and really fast, 512), and I'd prefer if it weren't too big and power hungry, but I'll accept big and power hungry. Does anyone have any suggestions? I'd like it to be as cheap as possible of course, but it also needs to be fast enough to handle 4k at ProRes 4:2:2 HQ with 2, maybe occasionally 3 simultaneous streams. My current SSD doesn't always play nice when I edit video. At least I'm pretty sure that's my bottleneck, although it could also be my GPU, since it is "only" a 3,5TFLOPS card.
    Anyway, suggestions on SSDs for TB2?
  • bill44 - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    As far as I know, TB3 is backward compatible with TB2 using the right adapter/cable.
    I'm ready to pull the trigger on Sonnet Fusion (this may be something you can use?), just waiting for reviews and availability.
  • crimsonson - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    You have to be careful. For video editing you will age the memory quickly. This is rated for 70GB PER DAY. I could do that in minutes, especially with DNxHR/ProRes 4K capture, not even measuring renders and peripheral file like music, photos and exports.

    You can easily use 10 - 100 times that in a day. Easily half the age of that drive.
  • casperes1996 - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    I see your point. Whilst I could also easily use 70GB in way less than a day, I do not edit on a day-to-day basis, more like twice a month, so do you think I would run into problems? if yes/maybe, what would you suggest instead?
    And another thing, I need something I can buy in Europe. As far as I can tell, this is not available in Europe, and neither does the Sonnet Fusion seem to be.
    Thanks for the advice though
  • samer1970 - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    When you buy SSD look for TBW rating

    intel 750 is bad it has ONLY 219TB writes

    intel P3700 however has 36500TB writes !!!

    for just double the price (3700) you get 166 TIMES the writes of 750 .. so it is NOT EXPENSIVE AT ALL TO GET P3700

    intel 750 is a bad choice ... for double the price you get
  • patrickjp93 - Saturday, June 18, 2016 - link

    That's the difference between enterprise-grade hardware guarantees and consumerville stuff. Mind you, that guarantee is way below the failure time. It's just to cover Intel's butt.

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