Author Topic: Benchmarking some CF cards for use as boot disks in IDE Macs  (Read 2825 times)

Offline n0

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Benchmarking some CF cards for use as boot disks in IDE Macs
« on: November 04, 2020, 04:00:29 PM »
After recently trying an IDE to SATA adapter for the first time, I decided to do some testing on performance of various CompactFlash cards in an IDE to CF adapter versus a Kingston SA400S37/120G SATA SSD connected with the StarTech IDE2SAT2 adapter. I know many memory cards are optimized for large bulk operations over small random writes, but I was also concerned that IDE to SATA adapters might have performance issues of their own since they must do a lot of heavy lifting to convert between protocols.

I tried to find a good Mac OS 9 app to get disk benchmarks but I couldn't find anything that gave the data I needed, so I settled for Xbench, which offers a disk benchmark very similar to CrystalDiskMark on Windows. After installing and updating Panther on the SSD so I could boot from that on the iMac to run the test, I also ended up doing most of the tests on my Mac mini with a USB to IDE adapter (and an IDE to CF adapter connected to that).

Storage DeviceTest ComputerDevice InterfaceOS XSequential 4K WriteSequential 256K WriteSequential 4K ReadSequential 256K ReadRandom 4K WriteRandom 256K WriteRandom 4K ReadRandom 256K Read
SanDisk Extreme 64GB CFiMac G3 600MHzInternal IDE10.47.71 MB/sec27.82 MB/sec7.60 MB/sec28.96 MB/sec0.94 MB/sec20.78 MB/sec5.98 MB/sec28.44 MB/sec
Kingston A400 SATA SSDiMac G3 600MHzInternal IDE10.316.05 MB/sec25.61 MB/sec8.58 MB/sec29.42 MB/sec12.61 MB/sec26.38 MB/sec8.17 MB/sec28.62 MB/sec
Verbatim 4GB CFMac mini (Intel)USB 2.0 IDE adapter10.66.43 MB/sec6.16 MB/sec5.19 MB/sec18.99 MB/sec0.01 MB/sec0.52 MB/sec4.99 MB/sec18.48 MB/sec
Verbatim 16GB Premium CFMac mini (Intel)USB 2.0 IDE adapter10.619.80 MB/sec18.41 MB/sec6.44 MB/sec30.52 MB/sec0.02 MB/sec0.79 MB/sec4.04 MB/sec29.40 MB/sec
Delkin Devices Select 8GB CFMac mini (Intel)USB 2.0 IDE adapter10.624.07 MB/sec21.74 MB/sec6.14 MB/sec31.17 MB/sec0.01 MB/sec0.49 MB/sec2.88 MB/sec29.37 MB/sec
SanDisk Ultra 16GB CFMac mini (Intel)USB 2.0 IDE adapter10.625.15 MB/sec21.92 MB/sec7.59 MB/sec32.31 MB/sec1.56 MB/sec14.34 MB/sec5.78 MB/sec31.81 MB/sec
PowerBook G3 PDQ HDDMac mini (Intel)USB 2.0 IDE adapter10.66.42 MB/sec5.85 MB/sec7.46 MB/sec7.85 MB/sec0.26 MB/sec3.92 MB/sec0.27 MB/sec5.46 MB/sec
320GB SATA HDDMac mini (Intel)Internal SATA10.671.00 MB/sec63.89 MB/sec20.92 MB/sec67.51 MB/sec1.25 MB/sec31.86 MB/sec0.47 MB/sec21.57 MB/sec

As you can see, I also benchmarked some spinning hard drives for comparison. Ultimately, I'm not sure if 4K random write actually matters in real-world use, but wow, most CF cards are absolutely terrible at it. The non-SanDisk cards didn't come close to meeting the random 4K performance of even the ancient 4GB IBM Travelstar hard drive I pulled from my PowerBook G3 PDQ.

Ultimately, I will be sticking with the SanDisk Extreme 64GB card I was already using in my iMac G3, and I'll be putting my 16GB SanDisk card in the PDQ. I wouldn't recommend buying any of the other CF cards I tested for use as boot disks, simply based on their random write performance. If I were starting from scratch on my iMac I would probably use the IDE to SATA adapter instead of a CompactFlash card, but I'm using that adapter in a different Mac and the SanDisk Extreme card is still much faster than a hard drive of the era.

In short, I highly recommend the StarTech IDE to SATA adapter. Paired with a cheap SSD it is an extremely fast option for only about $40 total including the SSD. For a laptop, I haven't tried any mSATA to IDE adapters (I expect they perform well), but a good SanDisk card will work quite well.

Offline Greystash

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Re: Benchmarking some CF cards for use as boot disks in IDE Macs
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2020, 11:27:01 PM »
Thanks for this! I did some testing a while back with the CF cards I had available for my PowerBook 1400. The CF card always under-performed compared to a 7200rpm Seagate HDD, so I decided to stick with the HDD. I got some 'SSD's from AliExpress and they actually worked quite well, but I need to collate all the tests I did..

Offline MacTron

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Re: Benchmarking some CF cards for use as boot disks in IDE Macs
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2020, 03:44:25 PM »
Thanks for sharing your work. The results are as expected but SSD against HDD which according to my test SSD usually outperformed HD. Even whith a  IDE to SATA adapter.

I tried to find a good Mac OS 9 app to get disk benchmarks but I couldn't find anything that gave the data I needed,
You should try a little harder. ;D ;D ;D ;D
Here you have:
http://macos9lives.com/smforum/index.php/topic,4486.msg32029.html#msg32029

 :P
Please don't PM about things that are not private.

Offline DieHard

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Re: Benchmarking some CF cards for use as boot disks in IDE Macs
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2020, 05:41:02 PM »
Yes, the link Mactron gave you will give you the keys to that city :)

Quote
Benchmarking (Track CPU Speed, Video Speed, Disk Speed, & Overall Performance)
The Download Folder includes: CineBench 2003, Let1KWindowsBloom, MacBench 3, Quickbench, & More

 


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