6. HD Tach
HD Tach is a rather old hard drive benchmarking tool dating from 2004, but it still produces good results for today’s drives. However, there are a few minor compatibility issues and the program itself needs to be run in XP compatibility mode for Windows Vista or above. Long (32MB) or Short (8MB) block tests can be chosen from the drive selection window and the results will pop up within a minute or two.
The results window shows a read performance graph across the whole drive in addition to a burst speed chart and information for CPU utilization, average access time and also the average read speed. There is a drive comparison button where you can view benchmarks for other drives but they’re mostly old scores from early 2000’s era hardware. HD Tach can be made portable if you extract the setup executable with Universal Extractor.
7. Disk Thruput Tester
DiskTT is a small and portable testing tool that uses Windows core read and write functions to write a temporary file to the specified drive. Then it’s read back sequentially and randomly to get three resulting scores. The test file can be between 10MB and nearly 100GB with a block size to test of 1KB up to 64MB.
To test a different drive to the default of C, change the path of the test file to “User defined path” and select a drive. Windows file caching settings are available as an option but it will often skew the results if they are not set correctly, so are best left alone unless you have a specific reason. To only run a random read test click the button where it says read/write.
8. Roadkil’s Disk Speed
Roadkil makes a number of small and useful utilities, Disk Speed is another one that simply does the job you expect with no frills or bloat (it’s only ~90KB). It’s a bit old dating from 2009 but the program is simple to run, just select the logical drive letter or physical drive number and press the Begin Test button.
Disk Speed only runs read tests but you will get a range of scores from 512 byte blocks up to 1MB blocks for both random reads and linear reads for each block size. The “Results in Brief” box will show the average access time, maximum read speed, cached (burst) speed and an overall score which can be compared online at Roadkil’s website with the same or similar model drives.
9. HD Speed
HD Speed is small and portable at around 90KB, but has more configuration options to suit different storage devices. It also has Read+Write and Read+Write+Verify modes, but be aware the data on any device you want to write test WILL BE DESTROYED. Make sure to right click and run this program as Administrator, even if you are an Administrator. If you don’t, all the drives won’t show up and there will a several second delay while starting the program.
Something useful not found on other testing tools is the option to test a specific position on the drive, 0% for the faster outer part of a mechanical hard drive, 100% for the slower inner. To run a benchmark and get the average speed on the graph, choose the drive, enter the time to run it in the box and press Start. Block size can be left at Auto or changed from 1KB up to 16MB, a log file can also be created to review the results.
DiskMark is a nice tool to run because it displays plenty of information about average, minimum, maximum and last read and write scores. All the data is laid out in both raw number format and a live graph. The one slight problem with the program is actually configuring the test to perform.
You can obviously leave it at the default of 64KB chunks, in an 8MB test file which runs 320 times. To get another score such as using 1MB or maybe 4KB blocks, you have to enter the Chunk Size, then enter the IOs (number of blocks to make up the test file), and finally choose the number of times the test file is read and written to. Incorrect setup will either produce a very short inaccurate test or a test which takes far too long. Separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available.
Benchmark Notes: For less experienced users, a lot of the numbers thrown up by any benchmarking tool can look a bit confusing because you might not know what you’re supposed to take notice of. A few simple things to look for are:
Sequential (also seq or linear) – This is the speed at which a drive can read or write continuous data in the form of large files. It’s better for data storage drives or games partitions to have a higher sequential speed where most files will be at least a Megabyte in size. Sequential tests will show the maximum possible read and write speeds a drive can achieve.
4K – The 4K results produced by benchmark tools show how fast a drive is at accessing small files, and are more important for a Windows boot drive. Most notably random 4K read and write speeds show how quickly the files are accessed when scattered across a partition. Higher 4K results will also produce a better and smoother Windows during multitasking. When looking at buying an SSD drive to install Windows and applications, compare the 4K scores first and not the headline grabbing sequential speeds.