Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Setting The Stage For Scrappier Pricing

Intel SSD 335 240 GB Review: Driving Down Prices With 20 nm NAND
By

There are only so many ways to say the same thing, and I hope we're done with SSD reviews for a while until I can come up with a new way of telling you that, when it comes to crushing storage bottlenecks, nothing matters more than getting an SSD into your system. Although we rave about Samsung's 840 Pro being the fastest drive we've tested, you'll notice we continue to recommend Crucial's m4 in our Best SSDs For The Money column as a proven solution, even though it wound up toward the bottom of today's charts. At the right price, there are a number of drives we're comfortable suggesting. We don't insist on the fastest one.

Intel's SSD 335 launch, which, remember, is limited to a 240 GB model, is all about helping the company bring down what it costs to manufacture a solid-state drive worthy of wearing Intel's brand name. The result is a lower price tag. In fact, the 240 GB SSD 335 is Intel's first launching for less than $1/GB.

It doesn't set out to knock our socks off with speed. After all, it employs the same controller technology from SandForce that debuted nearly two years ago. As a matter of fact, as a refreshed product, the SSD 335 doesn't really offer any additional performance at all. We do measure lower power consumption, but the only real reason we can see for the incremented model number is to make it perfectly clear that this drive features 20 nm NAND flash. More information is always preferable to less in our books, so we appreciate Intel's specificity.

Of course, that takes us to the question of: would we buy an SSD 335? Intel says its manufacturer-recommended pricing should be $184 for 240 GB of space. However, as of this writing, Newegg lists the drive for $210. In contrast, the 240 GB SSD 330, composed of 25 nm NAND, sells for $190. Of course, then there's a 240 GB Muskin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe, which centers on the same SandForce controller, but offers better performance. Our only caveat would be the reason many enthusiasts are willing to pay $20 more for a slightly slower Intel drive: perceived quality.

If you're loyal to Intel's hardware and sensitive to cost, a 120 or 180 GB SSD 330 is your entry-level sweet spot. Even if you're willing to spend a little extra on 240 GB, the SSD 330 is still less expensive. But we have to imagine that, one, prices on the SSD 335 will slide down faster than the SSD 330 moving forward and, two, the 335 can be expected to replace the 330 over time. To that end, we're not so much excited about the SSD 335 as a product as we are appreciative that Intel is beginning its adoption of NAND flash manufactured at 20 nm and letting us all know what's happening.

Breaking Down The Competition: Fastest To Slowest
Same Cell = Equivalent Performance
NAND
Market Price
Price Per GB
Warranty
Intel SSD 520: 240 GB
Intel SSD 520: 180 GB
OCZ Vertex 3: 240 GB
Synchronous$240
$200
$190
$1.00
$1.11
$0.80
Five Years (SSD 520)
Three Years (Vertex 3)
Intel SSD 335: 240 GB
Intel SSD 330: 240 GB
Intel SSD 330: 180 GB
Synchronous$210
$190
$150
$0.88
$0.79
$0.83
Three Years
OCZ Agility 3: 240 GB
OCZ Agility 3: 180 GB
Asynchronous$170
$130
$0.71
$0.71
Three Years
Intel SSD 520: 120 GB
OCZ Vertex 3: 120 GB
Synchronous$140
$105
$1.67
$0.88
Five Years
Three Years
Intel SSD 330: 120 GBSynchronous$100$0.83
Three Years
OCZ Agility 3: 120 GBAsynchronous$95$0.79
Three Years
Intel SSD 520: 60 GB
Synchronous$110$1.83
Five Years
OCZ Vertex 3: 60 GB
Intel SSD 330: 60 GB
Synchronous$70
$70
$1.17
$1.17
Three Years
OCZ Agility 3: 60 GBAsynchronous$65$1.08
Three Years


Intel has never been a company to play pricing games. Rather, it banks on a reputation for reliability to justify a bit more expense. With that notoriety in mind, do we worry about the idea of lower write endurance, per our media wear indicator-based analysis? 

Not until we discover a reason to, which we have not. Intel knows what the components in its drive can do, and by creating a 240 GB version of the SSD 335, it reduces the likelihood that you'd ever see the end of its write endurance. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to see a 180 GB version of the SSD 335 soon. We're far more interested how a drive like Samsung's 64 GB 840 Pro, which doesn't employ compression to minimize write amplification, but does utilize the latest 21 nm memory, will behave over the long-term. 

At the end of the day, Intel's SSD 335 becomes more than the sum of its parts, matching the speed of an SSD 330, more attractive power consumption, and the same three-year warranty. But, armed with 20 nm NAND flash, it's also better-equipped to contend with aggressively-priced competition. We can't recommend it when the 240 GB SSD 330 still sells for less, undermining the entire point of this exercise, but we'll keep an eye out each month in our Best SSDs For The Money column and make it a point to mention when the SSD 335 passes its predecessor with regard to value.

Display all 14 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 29, 2012 4:07 PM
    Read only the conclusion. Most of these SSD's are "me-too" clones using SF2281 controller. Most have similar performance wins and pitfalls.

    I was super excited about Samsung 840. But these are meh.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 29, 2012 4:07 PM
    Read only the conclusion. Most of these SSD's are "me-too" clones using SF2281 controller. Most have similar performance wins and pitfalls.

    I was super excited about Samsung 840. But these are meh.
  • 3 Hide
    christophermarti , October 29, 2012 5:12 PM
    I would say that your estimates about P/E cycles are incorrect. You also do not mention (on purpose) two modes SSD's (99%) operate in: performance mode (not filled to 90%) and storage mode (filled 90% and more). You also lack to mention that in "middle of" P/E cycle exhaustion SSD's will slow down their speed due to preserve P/E cycles and "survive" to meet warranty agreements.

    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?271063-SSD-Write-Endurance-25nm-Vs-34nm/page211

    From test exposed in this forum You can draw conclusion how good MLC used in X-25v 40GB SSD were (more than 35000 P/E). Also that longest "standing" SSD is Samsung 830 256GB, which also do not (as an exception) slow down considerably when it passes 1PB Host Writes mark.

    Although I strongly do agree that seing writes above 10GB per day is rather rare. I'm myself using 80GB X25-M for 4 years and only 4,09 TB and i is possible that it will hold up to 1400 - 3400 TB of writes! That's amazing. What's more, I have it in Dell E6400 on Vista (no Trim, just Intel toolbox).
  • -3 Hide
    christophermarti , October 29, 2012 5:19 PM
    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?271063-SSD-Write-Endurance-25nm-Vs-34nm&p=5148307&viewfull=1#post5148307 - 1000 P/E cycles (not even close to 35100 of 50nm old V40 GB).
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , October 29, 2012 5:59 PM
    christophermartihttp://www.xtremesystems.org/forum [...] ost5148307 - 1000 P/E cycles (not even close to 35100 of 50nm old V40 GB).


    keep in mind that is still 240000 gb of data at minimum
  • 2 Hide
    abbadon_34 , October 29, 2012 8:35 PM
    so if it's firmware crippled, can we just flash a the firmware and get a better drive? someone needs to do some testing....
  • 1 Hide
    acku , October 29, 2012 11:42 PM
    christophermartiI would say that your estimates about P/E cycles are incorrect. You also do not mention (on purpose) two modes SSD's (99%) operate in: performance mode (not filled to 90%) and storage mode (filled 90% and more). You also lack to mention that in "middle of" P/E cycle exhaustion SSD's will slow down their speed due to preserve P/E cycles and "survive" to meet warranty agreements. http://www.xtremesystems.org/forum [...] nm/page211From test exposed in this forum You can draw conclusion how good MLC used in X-25v 40GB SSD were (more than 35000 P/E). Also that longest "standing" SSD is Samsung 830 256GB, which also do not (as an exception) slow down considerably when it passes 1PB Host Writes mark.Although I strongly do agree that seing writes above 10GB per day is rather rare. I'm myself using 80GB X25-M for 4 years and only 4,09 TB and i is possible that it will hold up to 1400 - 3400 TB of writes! That's amazing. What's more, I have it in Dell E6400 on Vista (no Trim, just Intel toolbox).


    Our calculations and endurance protocol are not effected by any speed slow down, and in every test, we've confirmed our methodology applies a WA~1%. Thus, are estimates are correct and apply to the NAND itself.

    Second, the speed of a drive has no inherent bearing on endurance. It only affects how fast you can get there. Second, you're referring to a throttling effect, which is a different topic completely. Our analysis was specific to the NAND itself.

    As further verification, another one of my peers (at another site) independently came to results for the SSD 335 similar to ours.
  • 0 Hide
    cumi2k4 , October 30, 2012 2:01 AM
    how come vertex 4 did not get tested? didn't ocz offer 5 years for their vertex 4, and i believe they're offering them at cut-throat pricing?
  • 0 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 30, 2012 2:20 AM
    One thing i notice is that with an Antivirus program(Kaspersky Internet security) running in the background, which 95% of Toms readers would have, the AV program reads and writes data almost continuously. In a typical day, the AV program can write 5-6GB of data.
  • 1 Hide
    jabliese , October 30, 2012 1:28 PM
    Power consumption made me laugh. 1 watt difference between the best and worst. Time for another 1 line standard SSD review comment, "Power usage on SSD's matters little between the best and worst."

    And please keep reiterating the most important thing about an SSD is getting one. Ran into SSD resistance on another forum just a couple weeks back, which, at today's price points, blew me away.
  • 0 Hide
    acku , October 30, 2012 4:05 PM
    cumi2k4how come vertex 4 did not get tested? didn't ocz offer 5 years for their vertex 4, and i believe they're offering them at cut-throat pricing?


    Look again. It is included in our benchmarks.
  • 0 Hide
    acku , October 30, 2012 4:06 PM
    mayankleoboy1One thing i notice is that with an Antivirus program(Kaspersky Internet security) running in the background, which 95% of Toms readers would have, the AV program reads and writes data almost continuously. In a typical day, the AV program can write 5-6GB of data.


    By default, Anti-virus programs (like norton) now implement "smart scanning." One something is scanned, it's not scanned again unless the file signature has changed. Dramatically speeds up a scan and reduces the amount of IO traffic over the course of a day.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 1, 2012 5:02 PM
    please provide a link with the OCZ drives that you used casue they are having multiple products with the same name but the speed vary.
  • 0 Hide
    mynith , November 13, 2012 8:16 PM
    I reckon 10 GB per day is perfectly possible. Possibly much more. You fail to take into account things like having swap drives, which may or may not see high throughput. Also, if a laptop is setup to not only suspend to RAM but also to disk upon hibernation (Macbooks suspend to both at the same time by default, and my Kubuntu-installation does as well if the battery runs a bit low), which happens many a time per day, you'd get there quite quickly, I presume. 7 GB per day is a very conservative estimate in my view.
  • 0 Hide
    myardor , December 15, 2012 8:24 PM
    Got one for $139.99 with no taxes and free shipping at egg head. So about 58.4 cents/gb