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Are On-Board SATA 6Gbps Ports Fast Enough?

Are On-Board SATA 6Gbps Ports Fast Enough?

Pretty much every motherboard we’ve looked at over the past six months has had at least a pair of SATA 6Gbps ports, but it was only when we finally saw a fast SATA 6Gbps SSD that we were in a position to test whether these ports were worth the plastic and wire of which they’re made.

The 256GB Crucial RealSSD C300 was the first device to break free from the SATA 3Gbps bandwidth constraints, with a read speed of 345MB/sec; SATA 3Gbps has a real-world limit of around 260MB/sec. Armed with this amazing SSD, we set about testing.

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As well as using the C300, we needed suitable software with which to thrash the SATA connection. While we might previously have used HD Tach, we wanted to have more control over the data used, so we opted for ATTO Disk Benchmark, a free application from www.attotech.com.

ATTO lets you set the size of the files that will be used – we opted for 4KB, 1MB and 4MB files to represent the small and medium-sized files that are thrown about when Windows, applications and games load.

We tested with every storage controller we could lay our hands on, including AMD’s SB850 with its native SATA 6Gbps support, Intel’s 3Gbps ICH10R (to provide comparison speeds), and the Marvell and JMicron add-on chips that Intel motherboards sport. See the Test Kit section below to see exactly which kind of PC we used for each test.

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Common Test Components

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5-750 LGA1156 processor
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7-920 LGA 1366 procesor
  • AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition Socket AM3 processor
  • 4GB/6GB Corsair 1,600MHz DDR3 memory
  • ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card
  • 256GB Crucial Real SSD C300

Boards Tested

  • ASRock P55 Extreme4 - Intel P55 - LGA1156
  • Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3R - Intel P55 - LGA1156
  • Gigabyte GA-H55-UD2H - Intel P55- LGA1156
  • Asus Crosshair IV Formula - AMD 890FX - Socket AM3
  • Gigabyte GA-890FX-UD7 - AMD 890FX - Socket AM3
  • Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H - AMD 880G - Socket AM3
  • Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R - Intel X58 - LGA1366
  • Gigabyte GA-X58-UD7 - Intel X58 - LGA1366
  • Asus P6X58D-E - Intel X58 - LGA1366
  • High Point Rocket add-in card