OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 and Plugable TBT3-NVME2TB Portable SSDs Reviewby Ganesh T S on November 12, 2019 9:00 AM EST
Real-World Benchmarks and Performance Consistency
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)
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.
Workloads that go beyond the SLC cache size for the WD SN750 tend to even out things a bit across the three different devices in the comparison set. Different drives come out on top in different workloads, though, overall, the DIY configuration seems to have the edge, followed by the Plugable TBT3-NVME2TB. The OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 performs almost as good as the Plugable drive across the board.
Yet another interesting aspect of these types of units is performance consistency. Aspects that may influence this include thermal throttling and firmware caps on access rates to avoid overheating or other similar scenarios. This aspect is an important one, as the last thing that users want to see when copying over, say, 100 GB of data to the flash drive, is the transfer rate going to USB 2.0 speeds. In order to identify whether the drive under test suffers from this problem, we instrumented our robocopy DAS benchmark suite to record the flash drive's read and write transfer rates while the robocopy process took place in the background. For supported drives, we also recorded the internal temperature of the drive during the process. The graphs below show the speeds observed during our real-world DAS suite processing. The first three sets of writes and reads correspond to the photos suite. A small gap (for the transfer of the videos suite from the primary drive to the RAM drive) is followed by three sets for the next data set. Another small RAM-drive transfer gap is followed by three sets for the Blu-ray folder.
An important point to note here is that each of the first three blue and green areas correspond to 15.6 GB of writes and reads respectively. Throttling, if any, is apparent within the processing of the photos suite itself. None of the three drives being considered today show signs of thermal throttling. Performance consistency is maintained across the 240GB+ of continuous reads and writes.
|Performance Consistency and Thermal Characteristics|
The temperature profiles across the three drives in the above graphs show that the Plugable drive is the quickest of the lot to cool down. It is likely that the OWC drive's bumper has some detrimental effect on the cooling prowess, but the drive is still kept well within thermal limits for reasonable use-cases such as the above consistency test.