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testing ssd read speeds

How to test hard drive read speeds in Gnome

Earlier today, I decided to clean up my office and dispose of older equipment that is no longer fast enough to be useful. After I analyzed the test results, I was supersized to learn that the Transcend USB sticks performed better then the Samsung ones.

The chart below shows the devices and a graph of the drive read speeds. To measure, I used Gnome’s Discs utility which has a benchmark disk option. To access it, highlight (select) a disk on the left column and then click the three dots in the menu. From the drop-down, chose “Benchmark Disk” and follow the prompts.

  1. All computers run Fedora Workstation 36 as the only operating system.
  2. The Gnome Disks benchmark was performed with the default settings.
testing ssd read speeds
Drive test read speed chart

Asus Zephyrus G15

My newest toy is an Asus Zephyrus G15 Gaming laptop which I use for game design and programming. It’s the 2021 model and comes with a fast 1Tb Hynix SSD.
Gnome Disks clocked the maximum read speed at 3.1 GB/s.

Dell Inspiron 5680

My main graphics design workstation is a Dell Inspiron 5680 which I bought four or five years ago at Best Buy. A few years ago, I have replaced the original 256 GB Hynix SSD with a Samsung EVO 500 and today’s test result is for the upgraded drive.
The Insprion 5680 reached a read time of 3.1 GB/s.

Dell Precision 3440

My favorite PC is a small form factor Dell Precision 3440. It also had the original spinning hard drive replaced with an SSD stick that I bought from Amazon. To make data backups faster, I added a second internal SSD drive which is connected via the slower SATA interface.
Gnome Disks measured an average drive read speed of 3.1 GB/s for the NVME drive.
The second SSD drive reached 559 MB/s.

External SSDs

I was also curious how my Samsung external SSD would perform so I connected the USB C cable and run the test. The portable SSD was almost as fast as the internal SSD.
The test score for the Samsung SSD was 544 MB/s.

USB Flash Drives

And now to the surprise that I did not expect. If you are like me then you have favorite devices which get used more often because they are newer, faster and better. A few months ago, I bought a Samsung USB flash drive which had a USB C connector. Because of that, I thought that it was fast. Wrong.

My several-years old Transcend 16 GB flash drives all reached ~150 MB/s while the expensive Samsung drive barely broke above 100 MB/s. The same was true for a Seagate USB drive which I bought several years ago. I remember that it was expensive and maybe because of that, I preferred it over the other USB sticks. As of today, that won’t happen again.

The slowest performer

Three years ago, I bought a 3D printer from China which included a one GB USB 2 flash drive. The little pretty-looking blue drive with a red light at the end reached ~10 MB/s. Since the function of this device is transferring small files from CURA to the 3D printer, it’s more than fine.

If you want to plot your results, then feel free to use this template which I created to generate the above graph.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
drive = ['Seagate 64', 'Transcend USB', 'Samsung int SSD',' Samsung ext SSD',' Precison 3440',' Inspiron 5680',' Zephyrus G15']
speed = [98,143,559,544,3100,3400,3100]
plt.style.use('fivethirtyeight')
plt.figure(figsize=(9, 5))
plt.barh(drive,speed)
plt.title('Drive Read Speed Chart')
plt.xlabel('Megabytes per second')
plt.tight_layout()
plt.show()

Final thoughts

I hope that these numbers inspired some of you to test your drive read speeds too. I am glad that I did because next time I see a Transcend USB drive on sale, I’ll buy it instead of a Samsung one. If I have time tomorrow, then I will shuffle some data around to free up the external Samsung SSD so that it can serve as the backup drive for the Zephyrus laptop. Please leave comment below if you have questions or suggestions and as always, thank you for your time.

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