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HP Portable SSD P800 Review

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HP Portable SSD P800 Review

By David Ramsey

Manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard
Product Name: Portable SSD P800 1TB
Part Number: 3SS21AA#ABC
UPC: 0192545069335
Price As Tested: $449.99 (Newegg | Amazon)

Full Disclosure: Hewlett-Packard Co. provided the product sample used in this article.

USB-powered external hard drives remain the mechanism of choice for most laptop users who need to back up their systems or transfer large files. While their price is low, so is their performance, and the increasing availability of Thunderbolt 3 ports on newer laptops presents an opportunity for vendors to target high-end users who are willing to pay for the best possible data transfer rates. The Hewlett-Packard Portable SSD P800 leverages its Thunderbolt interface to provide performance that’s exceptional for any storage device, not just an external one, and today Benchmark Reviews will put this high-end new drive through its paces.

Specifications

Capacity 1TB
Interface Thunderbolt 3
Form Factor Custom, 2.85″ x 5.55″ x 0.73″
Power 0.5W idle, 6.5W maximum
Max transfer speed 2.4GB/s read, 1.2GB/s write
MTBF 2,000,000 hours

Solid State vs Hard Disk

No matter how fast your processor, memory, or video card is, your computer will still be limited by its slowest component: the hard disk. While hard disk speed has improved tremendously since the “early days”, with large caches and 10,000RPM spindle speeds, even the fastest hard disk’s performance is glacial compared to the rest of the computer. The situation only gets worse with modern pre-emptive multitasking operating systems, where dozens of threads are running simultaneously and competing for your disk’s limited response time and bandwidth.

Consider: the average time to move a high-performance hard disk’s read/write head to a new track will be less than 10ms, which seems pretty fast. But your CPU is galloping along at billions of cycles per second, and will spend a significant amount of its time just waiting for the hard disk to fulfill its last request. Hard disk performance has plateaued in the last few years, running up against the physical limitations of spindle speeds, magnetic media density, and head servomotor performance. At the end of the day, disks are limited by the fact that they’re comprised of physical, moving parts.

With no moving parts, Solid State Drive technology removes this bottleneck. The difference an SSD makes to operational response times and program speeds is dramatic: while a faster video card makes your games faster, and a faster processor makes compute-bound tasks faster, Solid State Drive technology makes your entire system faster, improving initial response times by more than 450x (45,000%) for applications and Operating System software, when compared to their mechanical HDD counterparts. The biggest mistake PC hardware enthusiasts make with regard to SSD technology is grading them based on bandwidth speed alone. File transfer speeds are important, but only so long as the operational I/O performance can sustain that bandwidth under load.

Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance

As we’ve explained in our SSD Benchmark Tests: SATA IDE vs AHCI Mode guide, Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance I/O per second (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one may be more important than the other. Consider this analogy: bandwidth determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and operational IOPS performance is how fast that ship moves. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.

For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer into Windows than if the SSD offered a higher IOPS performance.


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1 comment

  1. spikey27

    While clean, or reformatted drives certainly show their stuff WRT transfer speeds, etc, it is interesting that throughout the article you stressed real-world results will likely be worse and degrade over time with usage. It’s too bad there isn’t a test for those conditions, or is there?

    I contend that factor alone virtually nullifies the clean drive performance figures because nobody continues to use their drive (regardless of type) in just-formatted condition.It would be terrific if they could, but it doesn’t happen.

    I don’t know the answer to this dilemma, nevertheless the performance of SSDs will undoubtedly make them the fastest gun in town, unless and until something better comes along.

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