Intel SSD 330 Review: 60, 120, And 180 GB Models Benchmarked

Benchmark Results: 4 KB Random Performance

Random Read Performance (background info)

Examples include antivirus scans and typing in Word

We've spent time with a great many SandForce-based SSDs, and we know that two drives that share the same NAND interface also share the same performance characteristics, regardless of the brand on the label.

Our goal here is to dig into the SSD 330's performance. However, presenting lots of throughput data on a graph ends up with too many products falling too close together, resulting in a ton of clutter. So, we're simply using Intel's SSD 520 and and OCZ's Agility 3 to represent SandForce-based SSDs with synchronous and asynchronous memory. We're also using a 120 GB Vertex 3 because we're missing the SSD 520 at that capacity point. 

Incidentally, the SandForce-based SSDs deliver comparable maximum random read performance, regardless of NAND type. In the chart above, the SSD 520, Vertex 3, and Agility 3 all top-out around 360 MB/s. The SSD 330 is an exception, and it "only" achieves roughly 330 MB/s. This places Intel's newest model ahead of Samsung's 830, but behind Crucial's m4.

With only one outstanding I/O command, the SSD 520, Vertex 3, m4, and 830 all deliver about 75-90 MB/s, while the SSD 320, SSD 330, and Agility 3 start out at roughly 66-68 MB/s.

Random Write Performance

Examples include email, file compression, and Web browsing

At a queue depth of one, the SSD 330s deliver ~70-80 MB/s, nudging Intel out in front of OCZ's Agility 3, which does ~60 MB/s. Yet, the SSD 330 is still slower than the SSD 520, Vertex 3, m4, and 830, all which push between 80-90 MB/s.

Higher queue depths paint the SSD 330 in a more favorable light. While the SSD 520, Vertex 3, and Agility 3 all do very well, the SSD 330 only trails by ~10-20 MB/s, showing that even Intel's lower-end drives aren't quantifiably penalized in random write performance.

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  • Au_equus
    I bought this samsung 830 256gb ssd for $390 five-six months ago
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147164
    now its $275 or $1.074/GB. Better price/stability/performance than those listed above.
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  • phamhlam
    au_equusI bought this samsung 830 256gb ssd for $390 five-six months agohttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820147164now its $275 or $1.074/GB. Better price/stability/performance than those listed above.


    Crucial m4 128GB from Newegg and Amazon @ 124.99. That is less than $1/GB.
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  • Anonymous
    One question, which didn't explained: what Intel SSD is better for SATA 3Gb/sec 320 or 330 series?
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  • blazorthon
    Intel should have used non-SandForce controllers. The Vertex 4 (with the new firmware) shows what Sandforce alternatives are capable of, I hope that Intel's next flagship series does something similarly spectacular without Sandforce. I think that Intel could have used the 330s as a stepping stone to get a controller (such as a Marvell controller) up to Vertex 4-like performance (or better) in more universal workloads than Sandforce for their next flagship series.

    On that note, why weren't the Vertex 4s included in this review with the other drives?
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  • blazorthon
    EoveinOne question, which didn't explained: what Intel SSD is better for SATA 3Gb/sec 320 or 330 series?


    I don't think that it makes much difference at SATA 3Gb/s, but the 330s are faster drives, so they might be marginally better.
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  • chimera201
    When will the price of SSD come down to HDD level? That would be news.
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  • blazorthon
    chimera201When will the price of SSD come down to HDD level? That would be news.


    Probably at least not until a cheaper memory than Flash is used in SSDs, so maybe ten to twenty years, if we're lucky.
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  • EDVINASM
    Am not a mad scientist or anything so I have missed something but to me Intel SSD is as good as any others on the market. I wouldn't see any difference in real world scenario between 330 and 520 or Samsung 830 or even M4. Who cares? I don't anyway. Just get the drive that you trust and that has reasonable warranty (3 years +) and good support. Done.
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  • blazorthon
    edvinasmAm not a mad scientist or anything so I have missed something but to me Intel SSD is as good as any others on the market. I wouldn't see any difference in real world scenario between 330 and 520 or Samsung 830 or even M4. Who cares? I don't anyway. Just get the drive that you trust and that has reasonable warranty (3 years +) and good support. Done.


    Whether or not a part that is faster for your workloads than others and is faster enough to make a difference depends on what you are doing. If I was doing a lot of storage heavy stuff, like constantly downloading and decompressing large archives, then an SSD that can deal with in-compressible data very well would provide very noticeable gains over any SandForce drive or any lower end non-Sandforce drives.
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  • EDVINASM
    blazorthonWhether or not a part that is faster for your workloads than others and is faster enough to make a difference depends on what you are doing. If I was doing a lot of storage heavy stuff, like constantly downloading and decompressing large archives, then an SSD that can deal with in-compressible data very well would provide very noticeable gains over any SandForce drive or any lower end non-Sandforce drives.


    Fair point. Mind you, if you do that much and it's that important hardly any of standard (consumer grade) SSDs would interest you. Unless you are talking of downloading software and games from questionable sites, then yes - cheap and fast is cheerful.
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  • blazorthon
    edvinasmFair point. Mind you, if you do that much and it's that important hardly any of standard (consumer grade) SSDs would interest you. Unless you are talking of downloading software and games from questionable sites, then yes - cheap and fast is cheerful.


    Well, I think that Steam would be a perfectly legal example for this. I also happen to play around with many OSs in VMs, so I'm often downloading each new version of many different Linux distributions and other operating systems (such as React OS and Haiku). I also download and test out a lot of freeware and some of them can get pretty big.
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  • EDVINASM
    blazorthonWell, I think that Steam would be a perfectly legal example for this. I also happen to play around with many OSs in VMs, so I'm often downloading each new version of many different Linux distributions and other operating systems (such as React OS and Haiku). I also download and test out a lot of freeware and some of them can get pretty big.


    Good point. What SSD do you use if you don't mind me asking? And how long have you been using it? Any issues? I had Intel 320 80GB but that was just for few months. Getting SSD 330 120GB now, not sure how it will perform but anything that is faster than RAID 0 HDD and is quiet would be better in my book. Never mind the storage amount.
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  • blazorthon
    edvinasmGood point. What SSD do you use if you don't mind me asking? And how long have you been using it? Any issues? I had Intel 320 80GB but that was just for few months. Getting SSD 330 120GB now, not sure how it will perform but anything that is faster than RAID 0 HDD and is quiet would be better in my book. Never mind the storage amount.


    I have little money to throw around right now. I don't have an SSD yet, by I think I'll grab a Vertex 4 if I can get around to it. For now, RAID 0 hard drives has been the best that I could get. It's not great at all, but it's what I could afford and it could be worse.
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  • dgingeri
    What's with all the "raw" benchmarks? We don't use these things "raw". We use them with file systems. These things perform differently with file systems installed.
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  • nekromobo
    On amazon crucial m4 was 199$ for atleast 1 weekend.. even at 240$ its a steal. been a happy user for 8 months now and about to get my 2nd M4 :)
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  • beavermml
    i currently own 320s for my boot drive just for casual stuff and i notice tremendous performance compared with normal HDD.. if i upgraded to 330s do i get more performance? how many seconds can i shaved more from booting? since using SSD i do not standby my pc anymore..
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  • bartholomew
    chimera201When will the price of SSD come down to HDD level? That would be news.


    One could only wish. I'm waiting for HDD prices to come down to HDD level!.
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  • blazorthon
    beavermmli currently own 320s for my boot drive just for casual stuff and i notice tremendous performance compared with normal HDD.. if i upgraded to 330s do i get more performance? how many seconds can i shaved more from booting? since using SSD i do not standby my pc anymore..


    It won't be nearly as distinct of a difference. Unless you do work that makes fairly small differences in storage performance very obvious, you probably won't notice any difference. The 330s are considerably faster than the 320s, but even the 320s are orders of magnitude faster than HDDs for random accesses and a few times faster than HDDs for sequential throughput. The difference between the 320s and HDDs is far greater than the difference between the 320s and 330s.
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  • Chainzsaw
    IMO Intel's SSD's are overpriced for what they are.
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  • phump
    Literally every value analysis on Tom's is invalidated by their neglect of real world prices. Newegg has the 330s well under $1/gb. How could I ever care who a false price is aimed at attracting?
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