Storage Review Intel Testing Platform

The StorageReview Intel Test Rig is our current-generation testing platform, specifically created to work with newer SATA 6.0Gb/s hard drives and SSDs. Based around an Intel Core i5-2300 processor with an ASUS P8P67 Deluxe Rev 3.0 motherboard, this test rig allows us to reliably benchmark consumer hardware, while obtaining results similar to that which most users would see in a common off-the-shelf desktop. To fill both of these goals, we built a test rig that would hold up to constantly switching around drives and storage equipment on a regular basis, but still give reproducible benchmark results time and time again.

Storage Review Intel Test Rig Specifications:

  • Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-Bit
  • ASUS P8P67 Deluxe Rev 3.0 Motherboard
  • Intel Core i5-2300 Processor (6M Cache, 2.8 GHz)
  • Corsair Hydro Series H50 CPU Cooler
  • 8.0GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 System Memory (2 x 4GB)
  • ASUS NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB Graphics Card
  • Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (Boot Drive)
  • Corsair Professional Series Gold AX750 Power Supply
  • Corsair Obsidian Series 800D Full-Tower Case
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 Deluxe (Rev. 3.0)
This Intel P67-based motherboard is arguably the most important components inside this consumer testing platform. Picked for its fast onboard Intel SATA 6.0Gb/s interface, which sets the standard for most testing platforms, this motherboard sees constant benchmarking on new drives we are reviewing.
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Processor: Intel Core 2.8GHz i5-2300
When designing our Intel Testing Platform, one of our goals was to build a testing platform that wasn't greatly surpassing what most of our readers would have in their own home or office. Benchmarking results need to be consistent but also relevant for our readers, which is why we opted for a midrange processor instead of the fastest one we could get our hands on.

CPU Cooler: Corsair H50
Cooling is extremely important to any modern computer, especially systems running 24/7 in a testing environment. The Corsair H50 is a smart choice for several reasons. For starters it features a copper base; copper is one of the best materials for conducting heat. The H50 is a closed-loop water-cooling system with an integrated pump which eliminates points of failure that could cause trouble down the road. Heat is extracted from the water using a 120mm fan and radiator and ejected from the top of our Corsair 800D case.
 
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (4GB x 2) DDR3 Dual-Channel
The Corsair Vengeance series memory uses high-quality chips and features aluminum heat spreaders to cope with the extra heat from overclocking - which is something this memory kit is designed to do.
 
Graphics Card: ASUS Nvidia GTX 460 1GB
The GTX 460 is able to handle nearly all modern games on high settings thanks to its 336 stream processors and 1GB of dedicated video RAM. We're not using it for testing games, but the point is having a powerful graphics card eliminates the possibility of this becoming a performance bottleneck.
 
Boot Drive: Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB
The Crucial RealSSD C300 has proven itself to be a reliable and fast performing SSD through testing over the last year. For those two reasons it earned a spot in our Intel Test Rig.
 
Power Supply: Corsair Professional Series AX750 (750 Watt)
The power supply is the second most important component of any computer below the motherboard; it has to regulate power and cope with constantly changing power demands. For this again we turned to Corsair and its excellent line of power supplies. The AX750 features a modular design so there's not a mess of cables hanging off the back. The AX750 is one of the most efficient power supplies on the market, delivering 90%+ efficiency at 50% power draw.
 
Case: Corsair Obsidian 800D Full-Tower
We opted for one of the largest desktop towers we could get our hands on. The Corsair 800D features a steel structure and measures 24" x 24" x 9". There are three isolated cooling zones with three large 140mm fans; it supports up to three more 120mm fans. One of the most important features for us was the four 3.5-inch hot-swappable storage bays. The case includes a total of five 5.25-inch expansion bays, two hidden 3.5-inch hard drive bays, and plenty of space to swap storage components around in on a daily basis.
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Backup Drive: Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 6 RAID6 Mapped Share
With site content on the line, having a backup drive is a must for storing testing results on a daily basis. To plan for and cope with hardware failures if and when they arrive, we combine Acronis True Image Home and a RAID6 mapped network share to perform nightly full-image backups of our testing platforms. If a drive were to fail, simply cloning from our most recent backup would get us up and running with minimal downtime.
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Storage Bay Upgrade: Icy Dock MB994SP-4S
This device holds up to four 2.5" hard drives or SSDs and occupies a 5.25" slot in our desktop. It has an all-metal construction with slide-out drives. We use these storage bays when working with SSD RAID arrays.
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RAID Card: LSI 9260-8i
We use the LSI MegaRAID 9260-8i for all of our RAID testing. It has a fast onboard PowerPC processor and lots of cache with hardware RAID support as well as eight SAS/SATA III 6.0Gb/s connections.
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Monitor: Lenovo L220X 22-inch LCD
The monitor doesn't affect performance, of course, but it a required compoment of any computer. The L220X places function over form. It has an anti-glare screen surface and a high resolution of 1920x1200 pixels, which is even higher than the 1080p monitors being sold today (only 1920x1080 pixels).
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Backup Power Unit: APC Back-UPS Pro 700
Our desktop obviously does not have an internal battery; instead we hooked it up to this backup power supply unit, which has sufficient power from its internal 12V SLA battery to keep our desktop running in the event of a power failure. It kicks in immediately if the power goes out to help us safely save our project files and shutdown the system.
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Overall our Intel Test Rig is designed with two goals in mind: reliability and performance. Reliability comes first; since we are performing product testing on this platform, we need to have predictable and reliable performance each and every time we run a test. As configured, our test computer allows us to do exactly that.