|Intel SSD 520 Series Solid State Drive|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 06 February 2012|
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Intel SSD 520 Series 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.
Intel seldom receives the praise it deserves for innovating technology for everyone else in the industry, especially the solid state storage market. Intel's 25nm NAND Flash components are used inside Intel SSDs first and foremost, but then they quickly find their way into the vast majority of competing storage products. Thanks to Intel, consumers win either way regardless of brand and build. In the case of a shrinking NAND Flash construction process, a denser die means lower material costs and higher per-unit storage capacity. More for less is the best way to win consumer support, and it's obvious Intel's formula has been working to its favor.
Our performance rating considers how effective the Intel SSD 520 Series solid state drive performs in file transfer operations against competing storage solutions. For reference, 160-420GB models of the Intel SSD 520 Series are specified to produce 550 MB/s read speeds and 520 MB/s writes. In our storage benchmark tests, the 240GB Intel SSD 520 Series solid state drive (model SSDSC2CW240A3) performed at or above this speed, surpassing nearly every other SATA-based SSD we've benchmarked. Our test results demonstrated the Intel SSD 520 Series was good for delivering 559/528 MB/s peak read and writes speeds using ATTO Disk Benchmark SSD speed tests. Linear file transfers with Everest Disk Benchmark produced 489/497 MB/s, which exceeds performance of the OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS Edition SSD.
The Intel SSD 520 Series SSD sent to us for testing is advertised to deliver 80,000 maximum combined IOPS, although it's unclear which tools and configuration settings were used to produce this particular figure. Using Iometer operational performance tests configured to a queue depth of 32 outstanding I/O's per target, our benchmarks produced 83,117 combined IOPS performance and delivered the best SATA performance results to date. Iometer proved that the Intel SSD 520 Series could outperform every other SATA-based storage product currently on the market, including the premium OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS Edition SSD based on the SandForce SF2281 processor. In the 4K 32QD tests with AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark, the Intel SSD 520 Series SSD again dominated the field, besting every 3.5" consumer drive ever made.
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. Anything above and beyond a simple metal shell is already more than what's expected in terms of the appearance. Intel uses a textured metal finish on the SSD 520 Series, with a branding label on the top for identification. As solid state storage controllers become faster and more advanced, heat dissipation through the enclosure walls may demand that chassis designs become more beneficial than they previously needed to be. This isn't the case yet, and a smooth metal chassis suits modern SSDs nicely.
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 by nature immune to most abuses, but add to this a hard metal shell and you have to wonder what it would take to make this drive fail. If any Intel 520 Series SSD product fails during the limited 5-year warranty period, end-users can 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 06 February 2012, the Intel SSD 520 Series launches with the following models and suggested prices:
In conclusion, Intel's SSD 520 Series sets a new standard for future solid state drive storage devices to strive for. It's the fastest SATA-based SSD we've ever tested, and Intel's specifications were either met or exceeded in our benchmarks. Intel's 25nm NAND Flash was easily capable of producing more than 83K IOPS and nearly 560 MB/s transfers, leaving us to imagine what they have in store for us when the switch to 20nm is soon made. Additionally, an upcoming release of Intel's Rapid Storage Technology software is expected to finally translate TRIM garbage collection commands to solid state drive assembled in RAID arrays. So if you're shopping for a solid state drive with SATA 6.0 GB/s performance and the industry's best MLC NAND flash components, I urge you to consider the Intel SSD 520 Series solid state drive. Transfer speeds and operational performance surpass competing storage products, yet pricing still closely matches those same products at the same capacity. Add Intel's five-year warranty to the drives phenomenal performance, and there's a good chance the Intel SSD 520 Series could easily please users for the lifetime of the computer system its installed into.
+ Fastest SATA storage device ever tested
- Expensive enthusiast-level product
Final Score: 9.15 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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