There has been a lot of debate among enthusiasts over which is better: the Indilinx-based OCZ Vertex (see my review) or the just launched Intel X25-m Gen 2 drives that use shiny new 34nm flash memory. It has been generally accepted that the new X25-m drives are very efficient all-round due to the advanced flash memory and Intel’s spec sheets which clearly show that it should use just 150mW under load. I’ve actually got both drives on-hand right now and am out to finally answer everybody’s question: which of these two drives uses less power and can Intel’s grandiose claims be verified?
The test setup for taking the relevant measurements was extremely simple: I put a relatively high-end Fluke 179 multimeter in series with the +5V rail of the PC power supply and the drive to be measured. To accomplish this, I cut up a male SATA power cable and set up the circuit such that the Fluke sat right in front of the 5V input of the drive. It’s also important to note that the only power supplied to the drives was from this 5 volt line which is fine because 2.5″ disks don’t use any other power. In order to get accurate power readings, it is also important to know the actual input voltage and so input voltage (the +5V rail) was measured using the same multimeter after the benchmarks had been run. Voltage must be measured because because power in Watts is Voltage * Amperes.
All readings were taken on the 10A current input on the multimeter. Measurements represent the maximum observed readings which is the same rating that hard drive manufacturers typically use. In most cases with SSDs however, average power is normally very close to peak power.
The specific drives used were the intel x25-m Gen 2 and the original OCZ Vertex flashed all the way up to firmware revision 1.30. For the purposes of comparison and just general interest, I’ve thrown in the results of a 2.5″ 80GB 5400 RPM Hitachi disk model HTS543280L9A300.
Now that everything’s all cleared up and out of the way, onto the results portion of the test!
I don’t know about you, but I think these results are pretty conclusive: Intel’s new drive is most certainly not using 150mW under load! In fact the drive is idling at 600mW while the highest reading I saw showed it using up to 2.4W while writing – 44% more than the Indilinx based OCZ Vertex under the same conditions! Moreover, the OCZ Vertex pretty much trashed the X25-m Gen2 under every condition we measured it under. The data speaks for itself and the results are plain and simple: the X25-m Gen2 is not the miracle drive that Intel claims it is when it comes to power consumption.
To help illustrate what this data means, lets make use of a couple of bar graphs to help visualize the actual differences:
Once again, the data really speaks for itself: the Intel drive uses more power than the older OCZ using the Indilinx controller. I’m not sure if this trend holds true with other Indilinx drives, but I
have a sneaking suspicion they will all perform similarly. While certainly an interesting result, it may very well be disappointing to many who were expecting the Intel drive to be vastly superior to other models.
We’ve also been able to show without any shadow of a doubt that either of these drives will have benefits with regards to power consumption when compared to your typical 5400 RPM laptop drives as expected. Now finally I should mention that this isn’t to say the Intel X25m Gen2 is a bad drive – in fact the opposite is true; it just so happens that it isn’t the drive to buy if you want to save as much power as possible.