$5 Showdown: Linode vs. DigitalOcean vs. Amazon Lightsail vs. Vultr - July 2017


11 min read
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Damn Josh, back at it again with the VPS comparison!

It’s been a little more than 6 months since my last comparison post and a lot of the recent feedback has been to refresh the data a bit more regularly.

The other major bit of feedback has been to include other hosting companies, specifically OVH.

I had always been reluctant because they don’t have a $5 a month plan. It’s the $5 showdown, AMIRITE?

Well I figured what the heck, I can just pivot to be the $5 OR LESS showdown. No big deal.

Except there was a big deal.

I went to spin up a box with OVH and there was no way that I saw to just create an account and get rockin’ and/or rollin’. They had a number I could call and well, between you and me, it comes off like they probably want to sell me some other stuff.

Maybe not, but I didn’t really want to talk to somebody on the phone to be able to get a new server up and running. Real talk, until they make it easy to just create an account and setup a server, I probably won’t be reviewing OVH.

With that and without further ado, that latest $5 VPS showdown!

Overview

  Linode DigitalOcean Lightsail Vultr
Location Fremont, CA San Francisco 2 us-west-2 Silicon Valley
Memory 1GB 512MB 512MB 1024MB
Processor 1 Core 1 Core 1 Core 1 Core
Storage 20GB SSD 20GB SSD 20GB SSD 25GB SSD
Transfer 1TB 1TB 1TB 10,00GB
Overage $0.02/GB $0.02/GB $0.09+/GB $0.02+/GB
Network In 40Gbps 1Gbps ??? ???
Network Out 1,000Mbps 1Gbps ??? ???
Price $5/month $5/month $5/month $5/month
  $0.0075/hour $0.007/hour $0.007/hour $0.007/hour

Wanted to switch things up and went with some west coast regions this go around. Stuck with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS x64 as it was the distro that was available for each of the companies featured in this post.

CPU Info

cat /proc/cpuinfo
  Model Name CPU MHz Cache Size BogoMips
Linode Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2680 v2 2,799.998 4,096KB 5,602.32
DigitalOcean Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2650 v4 2,199.998 30,720KB 4,399.99
Lightsail Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2676 v3 2,400.074 30,720KB 4,800.14
Vultr Virtual CPU 714389bda930 2,399.996 16,384KB 4,799.99

Linode clocks in with the fastest CPU speed, but also the smallest cache size. DigitalOcean and Lightstail come in with nearly 8x the cache size!

CPU Benchmarks

sysbench --test=cpu run
  Linode DigitalOcean Lightsail Vultr
Number of Events 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000
Total Time 13.8176s 11.7794s 11.5178s 13.0596s
Event Execution 13.7994s 11.7755s 11.5157s 13.0576s
Minimum Request 1.17ms 1.16ms 1.14ms 1.29ms
Average Request 1.38ms 1.18ms 1.15ms 1.31ms
Maximum Request 6.23ms 3.14ms 2.09ms 9.16ms
95th Percentile 1.59ms 1.20ms 1.16ms 1.33ms

Generally speaking, it’s not often that I see a single hosting provider sweep an entire category, but Amazon Lightsail did just that!

Memory Benchmarks

Memory Reads

sysbench --test=memory run
  Linode DigitalOcean Lightsail Vultr
Number of Events 104,857,600 104,857,600 104,857,600 104,857,600
Total Time 57.2181s 80.7984s 71.9762s 58.3573s
Execution Time 47.5694s 64.3537s 57.4780s 47.7048s
Minimum Request 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms
Average Request 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms
Maximum Request 14.88ms 12.10ms 0.18ms 9.38ms
95th Percentile 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms
Operations/sec 1,826,213.10 1,297,769.02 1,456,836.71 1,796,820.35
MB/sec 1,783.41 1,267.35 1,422.69 1,754.71

Aside from having the highest maximum request, Linode outperformed everybody else in regard to reading from memory.

Memory Writes

sysbench --test=memory --memory-oper=write run
  Linode DigitalOcean Lightsail Vultr
Number of Events 104,857,600 104,857,600 104,857,600 104,857,600
Total Time 54.3722s 80.8692s 72.0132s 58.2262s
Execution Time 45.0281 64.4024s 57.5341s 47.5836s
Minimum Request 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms
Average Request 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms
Maximum Request 8.10ms 5.13ms 2.65ms 3.89ms
95th Percentile 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms
Operations/sec 1,928,514.56 1,296,631.88 1,456,089.13 1,800,865.15
MB/sec 1,883.31 1,266.24 1,421.96 1,758.66

Similar to the memory reads results, Linode outperformed all comers!

File I/O Benchmarks

sysbench --test=fileio prepare
sysbench --test=fileio --file-test-mode=rndrw run
sysbench --test=fileio cleanup
  Linode DigitalOcean Lightsail Vultr
Number of Events 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000
Total Time 11.3422s 1.6405s 4.8875s 2.1791s
Execution Time 2.5127s 0.6728s 1.8940s 1.1326s
Minimum Request 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms 0.00ms
Average Request 0.25ms 0.00ms 0.19ms 0.11ms
Maximum Request 14.26ms 5.20ms 4.02ms 5.54ms
95th Percentile 1.21ms 0.13ms 0.37ms 0.25ms
Requests/sec 881.66 6,095.54 2,046.05 4,588.95
MB/sec 13.776 95.243 31.970 71.702

DigitalOcean’s file input and output looked quite strong compared to the other guys!

MySQL Benchmarks

mysql -uroot -e "CREATE DATABASE sbtest;"
sysbench --test=oltp --oltp-table-size=1000000 --mysql-user=root prepare
sysbench --test=oltp --oltp-table-size=1000000 --mysql-user=root run
sysbench --test=oltp --oltp-table-size=1000000 --mysql-user=root cleanup
  Linode DigitalOcean Lightsail Vultr
Number of Events 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000
Total Time 89.3870s 33.7841s 41.2738s 27.6786s
Execution Time 89.2571s 33.7170s 41.2225s 27.6266s
Minimum Request 3.67ms 2.06ms 2.08ms 2.22ms
Average Request 8.93ms 3.37ms 4.12ms 2.76ms
Maximum Request 112.22ms 202.13ms 67.07ms 19.02ms
95th Percentile 19.48ms 4.68ms 9.69ms 3.03ms
Read/write Requests/sec 2,125.59 5,623.95 4,603.40 6,864.51

Even though DigitalOcean dominated file I/O and Linode dominated memory I/O, Vultr was able to swoop in and strut it’s stuff with MySQL.

Apache Benchmarks

ab -kc 1000 -n 10000 http://127.0.0.1/
  Linode DigitalOcean Lightsail Vultr
Concurrency Level 1,000 10,000 10,000 10,000
Time taken 7.005s 2.239s 1.883s 1.655s
Completed Requests 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000
Failed Requests 224 12 27 2
Requests/sec 1,427.48 4,466.64 5,310.35 6,043.04
Time per request 700.537ms 223.882ms 188.312ms 165.480ms
Transfer rate Kbyte/sec 15,850.43 50,672.15 60,153.13 68,624.37

Following up on solid MySQL benchmarks, Vultr also did well in the apache benchmarks when with having nearly half of the CPU cache as DigitalOcean and Lightsail!

Network Benchmarks

./speedtest-cli --server=7340
  Linode DigitalOcean Lightsail Vultr
Distance 2,601.28km 2,281.12km 2,768.09km 2,588.29km
Ping 72.95ms 52.679ms 78.194ms 54.614ms
Download Mbit/sec 295.42 608.12 236.376 464.770
Upload Mbit/sec 112.93 93.080 77.376 122.467

Vultr also touts their network speed but only came out ahead in the upload category, DigitalOcean dominated the rest. Part of that if probably due to the fact that DigitalOcean was closest to the server used for the speed test.

Conclusion

Like with all of my comparison posts, YMMV and you should really pick a host that is going to play to the strengths of your project.

From this set of benchmarks, if you’re looking for a server that can handle CPU intensive project, Lightsail seems right up your alley.

If you your project is memory intensive, input or output, Linode is a solid choice.

For disk intensive tasks, DigitalOcean outperformed in nearly every category.

Vultr didn’t necessarily impress in regard to the raw operations, but seemed to shine when it came to real world operations like Apache and MySQL performance.

Ready to sign up?

If this post swayed you to pull the trigger on a new server, I’d appreciate it if you used my referral links for Linode, DigitalOcean and/or Vultr.

Swole Jeff Bezos doesn’t believe in a referral program for AWS but if you’re feeling particularly altruistic you could donate to Ubuntu as that’s the Linux distro I used for this review.

What’s next?

Seems Vultr has a $2.50 plan, so expect a 512MB of RAM showdown in the very near future. Also planning to explore some other hosting companies down the road and try to get these posts refreshed a bit more regularly than every 6 months.