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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage
Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 11 February 2013
Table of Contents: Page Index
Intel 525 SSD mSATA Solid State Drive
Closer Look: Intel SSD 525
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
PCMark Vantage HDD Tests
Intel SSD 525 Conclusion

Intel SSD 525 Conclusion

IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.

SandForce has made an enormous impact on the storage market, and as a result Benchmark Reviews has tested plenty of products based on their technology over the past few years. 2012 was filled with countless reviews of SF2281-based SSDs; most sharing performance results nearly identical to one another. It was surprising to find a SandForce SF-2281VB1-SDC inside the Intel SSD 525 Series solid state drive, but it makes perfect sense because this wildly popular SATA 6 GB/s controller has a track record of solid performance and reliability.

Our performance rating considers how effective the Intel SSD 525 Series mSATA solid state drive performs in operations against directly competing SATA-based storage solutions. For reference, SandForce specifies the SF-2281 controller capable of 500 MB/s maximum read/write speeds, which Intel tweaks to 550/520 MB/s sequential read/write. In our storage benchmark tests, the Intel SSD 525 Series solid state drive (model SSDMCEAC240B301) performed at or above this speed, and competed with the fastest SATA-based products previously tested. Our test results proved the Intel SSD 525 Series was good for delivering 557/534 MBps peak read/writes speeds using ATTO Disk Benchmark, which matches performance with the Intel SSD 335 Series as well as the fastest SandForce-based SSDs we've tested. Linear testing with Everest Disk Benchmark produced 470/477 MB/s, placing the Intel SSD 525 Series among the very top results.

The 240GB OEM kit sent us for testing advertises 4 KB random I/O reads reaching 50,000, and up to 80,000 write IOPS for 130,000 combined IOPS. Using a SandForce-provided configuration for our own Iometer operational performance tests, we used a queue depth of 32 outstanding I/O's per target that measured 75,980 combined IOPS performance. In this test, the Intel SSD 525 Series performed well and positioned itself among the highest-I/O products, and measured better than nearly all other SandForce SF-2281 SSDs. In the 4K 32QD tests with AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark, the Intel SSD 525 Series outperformed enthusiast storage solutions like the OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS Edition.

Intel-525-SSD-mSATA-Solid-State-Drive.jpg

Solid State Drives are low-visibility products: you see them just long enough to install and then they're forgotten. Like their Hard Disk Drive counterparts, Solid State Drives are meant to place function before fashion. Since the Intel 525 SSD is a mSATA-based solid state drive, there's not much room to build up appearances. To this extent, the product fulfills its purpose while maintaining some visual appeal.

Construction is probably the strongest feature credited to the entire SSD product segment, and Intel products have never offered any exception. Solid State Drives are immune to most abuses by nature of their durable technology, but if any Intel SSD 525 Series product fails during the limited 5-year warranty period end-users may contact Intel's customer support. I've personally used Intel's warranty service, and found their customer support to be among the very best on the Planet.

As of February 2013 the Intel SSD 525 Series mSATA solid state drive was available in several capacities from online retailers:

  • 30GB Model SSDMCEAC030B301: $48.99 (Newegg / Amazon)
  • 60GB Model SSDMCEAC060B301: $109.99
  • 120GB Model SSDMCEAC120B301: $162.99 (Newegg / Amazon)
  • 180GB Model SSDMCEAC180B301: $229.99 (Newegg / Amazon)
  • 240GB Model SSDMCEAC240B301: $299.99 (Newegg / Amazon)

The second-generation SandForce SF-2281 controller included on Intel's SSD 525 Series mSATA solid state drive achieved performance levels eclipsing the fastest SATA-based storage solutions we've tested, while matching performance with the 6 GB/s Intel SSD 335. It's clear by Intel's specifications that SSD 525 is designed to deliver exceptional transfer speeds with emphasis on improved I/O performance. 25nm IMFT NAND Flash components ensure the Intel SSD 525 Series delivers top-end performance for a decade or longer of continuous use, while Intel's five-year product warranty delivers industry-leading protection, Intel's high level of after-sales customer support is far and beyond anything the competition can offer. In consideration of its compact mSATA form factor, top-level performance, and reasonable price, the Intel SSD 525 Series solid state drive series earns our Golden Tachometer Award for excellence.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Outstanding 557/534 MBps read/write speed with ATTO
+ Produced 85,980 combined 4K IOPS
+ Compete with the fastest SATA-based SSDs available
+ TCG OPAL security with 256-bit AES encryption
+ Uses 25nm NAND flash components
+ SandForce SF-2281 processor supports TRIM, SMART, and RAISE
+ DuraWrite technology extends NAND lifetime
+ Enthusiast-level operational I/O performance
+ 5-Year Intel product warranty support
+ Lightweight compact storage solution
+ Resistant to extreme shock impact
+ Intel SSD Toolbox, SSD Optimizer, and Data Migration Software
+ Delivers 6 GB/s mSATA bandwidth

Cons:

- Expensive enthusiast-level product

Ratings:

  • Performance: 10.0
  • Appearance: 7.00
  • Construction: 9.75
  • Functionality: 9.75
  • Value: 8.50

Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

COMMENT QUESTION: Which of your devices offer the mSATA interface?


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