Another good real world test for any hard drive is to install an operating system to it. Used as a system drive with its paging file, hard drive access speed becomes paramount in determining overall system performance. For this test I'm using an entry level system with fairly low-end specs on purpose, as a high-end rig can mask the true impact the hard drive has on how responsive the system feels. The system specs are:
Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 @ 2.0Ghz
Intel G31 Express chipset with ICH7 SB
2x1Gb PC2-5300 667Mhz 5-5-5-15
Windows Vista Ultimate 32bit
Windows Vista took only 13 minutes to install from DVD, starting at the point when all user information is entered and the automated install takes over and finishing with the final reboot and loading of the desktop. Once the user customization was complete, subsequent reboots take only 14 seconds to load Windows, starting from the disappearance of the BIOS splash screen and ending when the desktop is fully loaded. By fully loaded I mean all desktop and taskbar icons as well as the sidebar have finished loading and CPU utilization drops to 0%. The Windows Experience Index rates the OCZ Solid SSD with the maximum 5.9 score, the highest component in the system. And the built-in disk read test reports a sustained speed of 100MB/s with burst up to 151MB/s. Again, this figure closely matches OCZ's claimed read speed of up to 155MB/s.
On the OCZ Solid Series SSD product page there is a link to the OCZ Technology Forums, where a thread suggests certain registry and services tweaks for more performance from Vista 32 and 64bit operating systems. I completed the tweaks suggested in the guide however all subsequent reboots now took 23 seconds to load, an increase of almost 10 seconds. There was no noticeable improvement in system performance and the disk read test scored identical as before. It seems Microsoft may know best here how to keep Vista operating at peak efficiency, although I would agree when using an SSD it is probably best to disable services such as the Indexing and automatic Defrag.
Let's wrap up with some final thoughts and conclusion.