Obtaining accurate loading times is always difficult, especially when it comes to testing the Operating System. As you start getting into measuring tenths of seconds it is possible to introduce too many variables if timing solely from the power-on to the desktop, as the BIOS and similar things can vary too wildly to enable accurate timing.
To reduce this the system was set up as follows. Both the Kingston SSDNow V+ and the Samsung Spinpoint were freshly formatted and had a new version of Windows 7 64 installed. Identical drivers, Windows updates and the two games on test were installed so that the system was fully operational whilst having the minimum of extraneous programs. Each test was run 5 times with the slowest and fastest runs discounted and the average of the remaining three taken. The PC was rebooted between each run to ensure that any speed increase wasn't due to data caching in the memory.
Windows 7 Boot time
For testing the Windows 7 boot time the system was configured as a dual boot. This ensured that an accurate time could be taken between selecting either the SSD or the HDD, and awaiting the displaying of a text document that had been placed in the start menu. The Kingston SSDNow V+ was just under twice as fast as the standard drive. The fastest time seen was 20.1 seconds, which is very impressive. Having run the SSD tests first the HDD took an age. The time shown on the stopwatch felt wrong because it was just SO slow. As a reviewer who has to reboot a lot to obtain standardised test results this was a boon, but even when I was just using the PC normally, having the desktop appear so quickly was a delight.
Company of Heroes Tales of Valor
Company of Heroes makes an excellent testbed for all sorts of PC components. By utilising some very large maps, high detail large textures and an array of small files to load for each map it is especially good at testing storage devices. For this test we maximised the settings as high as they would go, set up a Skirmish on the largest map available with the default game, Route 13, which is an 8 player map. Both sides consisted of two British, two American, two Wermacht and two Panzer Elite, to further stress the loading needed. Timings were taken from pressing the proceed button, to the game showing the begin button.
Initially I was surprised with the small gain to be had. An average of a nine second improvement isn't to be sniffed at, but I expected slightly more. However if you extrapolate these gains across a more sensible map selection and perhaps an afternoons gaming, they quickly add up to quite a significant amount of time not spent twiddling thumbs.
Worthy of note was the extra smoothness the gameplay itself had. We're all familiar with large-scale maps or worlds in which the initial stages of gameplay are a little jerky as each texture and model gets loaded into the cache. Not so here. On the Kingston SSDNow V+ is was smooth as silk from the first Pioneer to the last burning Sherman.
Need For Speed SHIFT
EAs venerable franchise keeps rolling on. Shift marked a big departure from the pimping up of standard cars to race on rainy night-time streets, to a more adult measured approach reminiscent of Forza or GRiD. In this reviewers opinion it's much the better for it too.
In a similar way to Company of Heroes, the game was set to maximum details and the very large Nordschleife was chosen for a quick race with 15 level 3 cars. All cars were set to be "same" and a high-polygon Works Nissan GTR R35 Vspec was chosen. Timings were taken from the pressing of the accept button to the track appearing. The results nicely mirror those of Company of Heroes. Where that saved about 9 seconds over a minute load, this saved on average 4.6 seconds over a half-minute load. Two very different games, two similar results.
The gains one might expect to see in a game that takes an hour to play such as CoH, would naturally be exponentially larger in a title such as Shift in which races are short and being loaded on a regular basis.
Time to wrap this up and provide some thoughts on the Kingston SSDNow V+.