PC storage has advanced in exciting new directions in recent years. PC users now have a wide range of options from standard SATA SSDs and hybrid drives to the latest PCIe 4.0 NVMe storage devices and new technologies like Intel's Optane

Unfortunately, many of the tools for measuring storage performance were developed when HDDs were the most common type of drive. And results from synthetic benchmarks can be hard to relate to real-world performance. 

PCMark 10 introduces a set of four storage benchmarks that use relevant real-world traces from popular applications and common tasks to fully test the performance of the latest modern drives.

PCMark 10 Storage benchmarkPurpose
Full System Drive BenchmarkA wide-ranging test for modern drives
Quick System Drive BenchmarkA shorter test with lighter workloads for smaller drives
Data Drive BenchmarkA test for data drives and external storage devices.
Drive Performance Consistency TestAn extremely demanding test for expert users

These benchmarks are for professional users in the media and industry looking for superior tools to test and compare the performance of the latest internal and external storage devices for desktop and laptop PCs. 


Definition of terms used in this guide:

  • An I/O or operation is the smallest piece of benchmark execution. It can be a read, write, create, close or flush. 
  • A trace consists of many operations. Trace defines all the operations, their order and timing. 
  • A pass is a series of traces, executed one at a time. 
  • A phase is a series of passes, run one at a time. 
  • A complete benchmark run is a series of phases, one or more. 

Effect on device lifetime

The number of bytes written to the drive during testing depends on the test. With default settings, we have measured the following: 

BenchmarkApprox. bytes written to the drive
Full System Drive benchmark204 GB
Quick System Drive benchmark23 GB
Data Drive benchmark15 GB
Drive Performance Consistency Test23 TB plus up to 3 times the drive capacity

The expected useful life of some storage devices is based on the number of write-erase cycles they perform. Running storage benchmarks repeatedly may shorten the life time of some drives. This is especially true of the long-running and extremely demanding PCMark 10 Drive Performance Consistency Test.