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It's Expensive, It Uses A Lot Of Power, But It's Fast

The SSD 730 Series Review: Intel Is Back With Its Own Controller
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Word on the streets is that no self-respecting 11-year-old boy can resist computer hardware with a skull on it. It's probably a shame, then, that there aren't many 11-year-olds in the prosumer category, sporting wallets fat enough to drop twice as much money per gigabyte of capacity than competing SSDs. 

With a load of benchmark data under our belts, we can make more enlightened recommendations, though. Intel's SSD 730 Series is fast, no doubt. It's an SSD DC S3500 at heart, and that's a very well-respected piece of solid-state storage technology. Better, the client-oriented version is optimized in all of the right ways for desktop and workstation use.

There's nothing wrong with enterprise roots. We're more demanding of our storage these days, and in some cases, features outweigh straight dollar-per-gigabyte calculations. In fact, we like that the SSD 730 isn't an entirely new platform. Jackson Ridge, the 730's code name, has an established track record already. Part of its good reputation does come from subtle nods to reliability, such as trapping the last four commands issued in the event of a drive failure, helping Intel diagnose the source of trouble. Ostensibly, that should lead to a better ownership experience over the product's life. A drive like this, modified for the varied workloads found in desktop environments, and you have a winner on paper (particularly when you get to keep the enterprise-class QoS).

Power consumption does suffer for the extra speed you're offered. In a high-end desktop or workstation, that's not a problem. But you won't want to use the SSD 730 Series in a notebook, even if it's a high-end one. After all, more power creates more heat, and that can be detrimental to performance. Ignore the mobile space altogether and you're able to do wonderful things like running a controller 200 MHz faster and speeding up the NAND interface.

There will be those who see the SSD 730 as a discounted SSD DC S3500 with better performance specs and love what it represents. Others will look to the large market of exceptionally fast client drives and balk at pricing in excess of $1/GB. It's a funny thing, though. We remember not too long ago when $1/GB was an exciting milestone. Truly, pricing is a relative yardstick. But with so many other very fast SSDs selling for so much less, it's difficult to specifically recommend paying more for this drive's benefits.

You already know that performance is what gets us excited. We're also hounds for value, though. And it's hard not to notice that for what you'd spend on two 480 GB SSD 730s, you could also get a pair of 960 GB Crucial M500s (and have $80 left over). Comparisons like that are powerful, and what the M500 might lack in speed or consistency, it makes up for with hardware acceleration of TCG Opal 2.0/eDrive. It even sports a power-loss protection mechanism of its own. Undoubtedly, the SSD 730 has the edge in rated endurance. But even that isn't the victory it appears to be on paper. 

It's clear that many smart individuals have determined how to best extract enthusiast-class performance out of what was already a rock-solid enterprise-oriented SSD platform. What we end up with is useful speed, rather than inflated marketing numbers. There will always be a market for the Core i7-4960X CPUs and GeForce GTX Titan Black graphics cards. Intel's SSD 730 falls into that same category of prohibitively-priced, but ultra-high-end hardware. If this is the drive for you, then you already know it from our description of its features and compelling benchmark numbers. Otherwise, we'd be inclined to point you in the direction of the Core i7-4930Ks and GeForce GTX 780s of the world, which are still smoking fast, but a little friendlier to your wallet.

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  • 0 Hide
    Sean76 , February 27, 2014 4:38 PM
    Love my 520 series Cherryville, will be picking one of these up soon as I can get my hands on one.
  • 8 Hide
    g-unit1111 , February 27, 2014 6:15 PM
    $1/GB???? I'll stick with my 840 Evo for the time being, thanks.
  • 2 Hide
    blackmagnum , February 27, 2014 6:22 PM
    That skull on an Intel SSD means this product is the Big Kahuna. Samsung just cannot crush this competition.
  • -2 Hide
    Amdlova , February 27, 2014 7:53 PM
    that 480 drain more than a 5400rpm HDD. Samsung or sandisk for laptops. Please next SSD
  • 5 Hide
    jdwii , February 27, 2014 11:35 PM
    Nice to see the 840 Pro doing good
  • -1 Hide
    rokit , February 28, 2014 2:29 AM
    Never expected Intel to fail like that. Samsung still offers the best performance/power consumption/$
    I guess that skull did the job, power of signs )

    p.s. this site has [removed] level editing in non-forum mode(the one you see and use by default)

    Watch the language. - G
  • 6 Hide
    Tanquen , February 28, 2014 9:16 AM
    GiB me a break. A GB is 1024MB not 1000.
  • 0 Hide
    mamasan2000 , February 28, 2014 10:17 PM
    I don't see why the Intel SSD is any good. It's midpack at best at everything. Even my cheap Sandisk is better and it was the cheapest SSD I could get around here (besides Kingston).
  • 0 Hide
    unityole , March 2, 2014 4:08 AM
    how is samsung the best? http://www.tweaktown.com/blogs/Chris_Ramseyer/58/real-world-ssd-performance-why-time-matters-when-testing/index.htmlsandisk and toshiba SSD, look at the chart and see the performance for yourself. Evo doing well, but thats only cause of the SLC flash helping it.
  • -1 Hide
    eriko , March 2, 2014 11:57 PM
    All this Samsung love here... I have two brand new 840 Evo 250GB drives, and they are garbage.In fact they are so poor, I had to separate all my files, and break the RAID,and have two individual volumes, so as to have Trim enabled, and also Magician running, otherwise, terrible read and write (especially) performance resulted. I did verify they were genuine drives too. As soon as you begin to fill up these 250GB Evos, performance falls off a cliff.I'm now not a believer in TLC, and wish I had waited to get the Pro's (not available in this part of the world), as I hear much better things about them.But I've had my fill of reading reviews on consumer drives, I'm going to California in a week or so, and so I will either get 2 x 400GB S3700's, or a single 800GB S3700 (and to hell with RAID). Enterprise drives are the bomb, and don't forget that. Lost way too much time and data now with 'consumer' drives...By the way, X25E 64GB still going strong without so much as a hiccup. Not even a burp... If they made a 640GB X25E, I think I'd suck their, ok, I won't say that but you get the idea.
  • 0 Hide
    zzzaac , March 3, 2014 4:48 PM
    Just curious, this speed, would you be able to tell that it is faster, or is it just though benchmarks?.This ssd is quite expensive at my local parts shop
  • 0 Hide
    unityole , March 5, 2014 1:30 AM
    the numbers in benchmark is a joke, especially rapid mode. its a completely useless thing to show off to consumer to grab more market share. overclock the controller to make it look faster and with SLC 4k looks fast. but overall its sh*t, sorry to say but its the truth, this is how samsung works LOL.
  • 0 Hide
    eriko , March 5, 2014 1:32 AM
    Quote:
    All this Samsung love here... I have two brand new 840 Evo 250GB drives, and they are garbage.In fact they are so poor, I had to separate all my files, and break the RAID,and have two individual volumes, so as to have Trim enabled, and also Magician running, otherwise, terrible read and write (especially) performance resulted. I did verify they were genuine drives too. As soon as you begin to fill up these 250GB Evos, performance falls off a cliff.I'm now not a believer in TLC, and wish I had waited to get the Pro's (not available in this part of the world), as I hear much better things about them.But I've had my fill of reading reviews on consumer drives, I'm going to California in a week or so, and so I will either get 2 x 400GB S3700's, or a single 800GB S3700 (and to hell with RAID). Enterprise drives are the bomb, and don't forget that. Lost way too much time and data now with 'consumer' drives...By the way, X25E 64GB still going strong without so much as a hiccup. Not even a burp... If they made a 640GB X25E, I think I'd suck their, ok, I won't say that but you get the idea.
    EDIT: To the sad *ucker who thumbed-down my scathing opinion of the 840 Evo's, try this one for size:Quote from SSDenduarancetest.com:I would strongly advice against using the Samsung 840 EVO in any RAID setup with DURABLE WRITE PERFORMANCE IS MIND.TRIM is necessary to keep this SSD in good shape. This rules out most RAID setups, which prevents the use of TRIM. The test average write speed is very indicative. It will most likely settle at just above 20MB/s. Please remember that these numbers are for high load steady state. Initially this drive performed well over 200MB/s, this will most likely be the typical speed when kept in good shape using TRIM. Burst speeds will be higher. So you see? They are sh1te. 19MB/s write performance from 840 Evo's is not what somebody intends to pay for.... And don't forget these drives easily slow down, as you fill them up.Since I only just bought them, I will secure-erase, repackage, and give them away as gifts when I return to Europe...TLC isn't worth a dime.
  • 0 Hide
    emv , March 5, 2014 1:27 PM
    I don't see where this SSD is faster than other SSDs? it might be more consistent based on its enterprise design (how is it much different than 3500?) but it is average on the tests. is it even noticeably much faster than 530? what are we missing?
  • 0 Hide
    Sean76 , March 7, 2014 4:00 PM
    Because Intel has the BEST reliability record for the last 8 years out of all the other SSD vendors.....and the competition isn't even close to Intel's reliability rate......That's why people spend a extra $100 for Intel, they never fail, they use the best binned processors, memory etc. As long as your seeing above 500mb read speeds, that's all that matters with SSD's. I bet my Cherryville 520 Series 240gb will out-live me!
    Also maybe you didn't hear, but no other SSD vendor was able to get the sandforce controller to work without Bsods.....except for Intel that is-
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5508/intel-ssd-520-review-cherryville-brings-reliability-to-sandforce
  • 0 Hide
    dusty13 , March 19, 2014 9:51 AM
    i am really sorry intel did not do better. i like them and was looking forward to an at least halfway competitive drive ... not what we got here.higher pricetag ok, that i expected, but double the price of other drives that are faster, more energy-efficient and cooler (in temperature and styling - whats with the ridiculous skull?!) ... that actually is kind of offensive to a fan like me who loved tha old x25