Intel SSD 545s Review

Conclusion

Intel isn’t trying to break any speed records with the new 5-Series SSDs. As a mainstream product, the 545s just needs to be good enough rather than the best. Companies will buy this product at a discount to fill notebooks and other systems based on Intel’s reliability record alone. I would only use Intel SSDs if reliability were my main concern. More informed users may opt for the Samsung 850 EVO due to its increased performance, but we are the minority compared to the millions of units that go to large corporations.

Intel prices the 545s 512GB at $179 right out of the gate. This isn’t a magic number for SSDs, but Intel didn't pull if from a hat, either. Newegg lists the Samsung 850 EVO 500GB for $179 at the time of writing. The EVO is an elusive target that has led the market unscathed for years while other SATA products took shots. Intel will have to adjust 545s pricing lower than the 850 EVO or increase performance through firmware optimizations for our readers to choose this drive over the status quo. However, lowering prices goes against Intel's core philosophy. Intel isn't known for chasing the market.

Intel’s follow-up product may be what we need to put the 850 EVO, and SATA for that matter, behind us for good. According to the leaked roadmaps that hit the web last year, an updated 600p should come to market under the 610p name. The drive should feature an updated controller and the new 64-layer NAND we saw in action today. Intel made significant performance gains with the 545s over the previous generation, especially in sustained write throughput. An updated 600p with a more powerful controller, new firmware with direct-to-die write technology, and new 64-layer NAND would certainly be compelling. Intel even reduced the price of the 545s compared to the previous generation. We wouldn’t complain if the new 610p comes to market at a lower price than the current 600p.

I think NVMe is the best upgrade path for most of our readers. SATA will remain viable for several more years; it took years to get rid of Parallel ATA ports on motherboards. SATA is still going strong in notebooks and desktops, but power users, enthusiasts and gamers flock to two extremes. The first is a very high-performance SSD for a boot device, and the second is a very high capacity drive to hold applications. The 545s sits right in the middle.

In the coming months, Intel will release the 545s in higher capacities that top out at 2TB. We hope Intel learns from the 512GB and takes a long look at pricing compared to other products on the market. Ideally, we would like to see the 545s 2TB sell for less than the 850 EVO. The 545s becomes exciting with 2TB of flash ready to hold a Steam Library, but pricing will play a large role in our enthusiasm.

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  • hannibal
    Good that other makers Are gaining Samsung! Intel will newer go price war with Samsung because it does not have to. It can always sell a Little bit slover at the same price or even higher, because Intel have very good reputation among users and exspecially corporates. But this means than Sansung does not get everything too easily anymore and other ssd makers will definitely cut down under Samsung, if They just have a chance.
    So competition is coming back to SSD Also! Also in higher level not only on very low end.
  • AgentLozen
    It's a shame that a big, well known company like Intel can't develop an SSD that beats a 2 year old competitor.

    What's important to keep in mind is that all modern SSDs are pushing against the SATA bandwidth cap. The benchmarks from this review indicate that every SSD tested performs pretty much the same in real world benchmarks.

    The most important variables right now (in SATA drives) are endurance and price. 3D flash memory should provide enough endurance for any mainstream user, but I would like to see the prices go down. I know we're in the middle of a flash shortage, but I was hoping that by 2017 we would have 1TB drives that cost $200.
  • derekullo
    The Real-World Software Performance must have been exceptionally boring to benchmark.

    Wow opened in ... omg 58 seconds again.
  • nzalog
    496490 said:
    It's a shame that a big, well known company like Intel can't develop an SSD that beats a 2 year old competitor. What's important to keep in mind is that all modern SSDs are pushing against the SATA bandwidth cap. The benchmarks from this review indicate that every SSD tested performs pretty much the same in real world benchmarks. The most important variables right now (in SATA drives) are endurance and price. 3D flash memory should provide enough endurance for any mainstream user, but I would like to see the prices go down. I know we're in the middle of a flash shortage, but I was hoping that by 2017 we would have 1TB drives that cost $200.


    I don't think anyone looking for top performance is going to get a Sata SSD and intel is doing just fine in their NVME PCIE drives. I'd still buy an intel drive over Samsung even if it performed a bit slower.
  • DerekA_C
    Ya you do that support the Intel agenda that breaks laws all over the world just like Microsucks and gets a slap on the wrist and business for them continues as usual while others struggle to make even a proper market share due to their devilish practices.
  • DerekA_C
    also if manufacturers pushed for this on motherboards sata would be more then fast enough
    SATA revision 3.2 16 Gbit/s 1.97 GB/s[e]
    SATA revision 3.0 6 Gbit/s 600 MB/s[72]
  • sillynilly
    What? Borderline incoherent.
  • derekullo
    Nothing like a japanese to english google translate bashing.
  • nzalog
    2428111 said:
    Ya you do that support the Intel agenda that breaks laws all over the world just like Microsucks and gets a slap on the wrist and business for them continues as usual while others struggle to make even a proper market share due to their devilish practices.


    I'm not sure if that was directed towards me but I'm pretty sure Samsung doesn't scores much better on the ethics scale.
  • jtd871
    "2TB of flash ready to hold a Steam Library" This seems a bit overkill because 1) an Optane cache can reputedly make cheap and reliable "spinning rust" sing and 2) who keeps 2TB of games on local storage just in case they might want to play any random one of them?! (Or is that just Skyrim with all the mods? j/k)
  • Nintendork
    So the only alternative to 850 EVO is the Kingston Hyper X Savage MLC.
  • gamebrigada
    @NZALOG I wouldn't buy Intel. As someone that works in a department that has a couple thousand SSD's in service, Samsung can't be touched in reliability. I've got a bunch of dead Intel drives on my desk. I don't have any dead Samsung drives, and we have more of them in service now then any other SSD.

    Especially with the recently released endurance test... Samsungs cheapest offering, the 750 EVO's, outlived most of the midrange and prosumer level drives. Their 850 PRO wrote 9.1 Petabytes before it gave up. That's the second wave of endurance tests where Samsung is untouchable. Yet Intel's drives are still plagued by the widely documented, yet still unfixed 8mb bug.

    Intel doesn't even make the thing, for this drive, and the 540, they just made the case, and everything else was outsourced. Why are you still loyal to a company that's claim to fame was back when it rivaled OCZ with SLC nand? They've already given up on NAND, stop giving them business and letting them throw shit products at you.
  • bit_user
    Glad to see the progress over the 540. That was shockingly bad, IMO. I've bought to prior Intel SATA drives and was about to swear off them after seeing its numbers. This has regained my interest.

    Quote:
    I would only use Intel SSDs if reliability were my main concern.

    Only the ones with end-to-end error correction, IMO.

    http://ark.intel.com/Search/FeatureFilter?productType=solidstatedrives&EndToEndDataProtection=true

    Also, the 600p seriously had me questioning my loyalty to Intel SSDs. Even just as far as reliability is concerned.
  • Co BIY
    With all the Real World Performance scores within a few percent of each other I think this chart needs a Value (performance/price) graph.
  • bit_user
    330381 said:
    @NZALOG I wouldn't buy Intel. As someone that works in a department that has a couple thousand SSD's in service, Samsung can't be touched in reliability. I've got a bunch of dead Intel drives on my desk. I don't have any dead Samsung drives, and we have more of them in service now then any other SSD.

    That's interesting, but I think it's potentially a mistake to lump together all drives from a manufacturer. Intel makes high-end/professional drives, as well as mainstream and even low-end. If the low-end drives were used where they shouldn't have been, I wouldn't blame Intel for that.

    330381 said:
    Especially with the recently released endurance test... Samsungs cheapest offering, the 750 EVO's, outlived most of the midrange and prosumer level drives. Their 850 PRO wrote 9.1 Petabytes before it gave up. That's the second wave of endurance tests where Samsung is untouchable.

    SSD endurance is a moving target. I wouldn't infer anything about the 850 Pro for drives other than the 850 Pro. It's is a nice feather in their cap.

    330381 said:
    Intel doesn't even make the thing, for this drive, and the 540, they just made the case, and everything else was outsourced.

    I don't care if they didn't design the controller - no different than most drives. They do have custom firmware, no?
  • bit_user
    2428111 said:
    also if manufacturers pushed for this on motherboards sata would be more then fast enough SATA revision 3.2 16 Gbit/s 1.97 GB/s[e] SATA revision 3.0 6 Gbit/s 600 MB/s[72]

    You'd do well to look into the details, rather than just posting up the top-line numbers. That's for SATA Express, and would require two data cables per drive.

    Not, that I'd mind the option to have 1 GB/sec per drive, with only one cable. But it hasn't caught on with motherboards (besides AMD) or SSD vendors.

    I'd be nice if they updated it for PCIe 4.0 and we got 2 GB/sec with a single cable, as I do like the ability to use a greater number of larger SSDs and mount them in my case (as opposed to having only a couple M.2 drives plugged into my motherboard).
  • bit_user
    496490 said:
    It's a shame that a big, well known company like Intel can't develop an SSD that beats a 2 year old competitor.

    You need to account for price per GB, though.

    496490 said:
    What's important to keep in mind is that all modern SSDs are pushing against the SATA bandwidth cap.

    That was true years ago. Starting with the previous generation of SATA SSDs (Crucial MX300, Intel 540, etc.), they actually had lower performance than their predacessors. It's nice to see Intel's 545 regain some ground.

    2392437 said:
    intel is doing just fine in their NVME PCIE drives. I'd still buy an intel drive over Samsung even if it performed a bit slower.

    I wouldn't touch Intel's 600p. Go checkout the review & follow-up articles, if you haven't seen them.
  • nzalog
    328798 said:
    2392437 said:
    intel is doing just fine in their NVME PCIE drives. I'd still buy an intel drive over Samsung even if it performed a bit slower.
    I wouldn't touch Intel's 600p. Go checkout the review & follow-up articles, if you haven't seen them.

    I actually have a 250GB 600p and yeah it's not the best drive. Part of the issue was how quickly the controller gets saturated with heat and the other part was excremental write speeds. That said, I made a nice home for it in my FreeNAS box as a L2ARC (kind of like read cache). Since for that purpose the writes trickle in slowly while read are most intensive. I also slapped a nice heatsink on it and so far so good.

    Either way I'd still take that NVME drive over a sata drive. It's pretty decent for one of the slower NVME drives.
  • darth_adversor
    Nice review, but the author makes me feel like a piece of crap for still running SATA drives. My desktop is an aging, Z68-based machine that doesn't support NVMe (at least not officially). I've got a 250GB 850 EVO paired with a 1TB WD Black, and I'm pleased with its performance. Battlefront load times are a little longer than I'd prefer (off the mechanical drive), but still twice as fast as a stock PS4's. Windows flies on the SSD, I can't imagine needing anything faster.

    Same story with the laptop my wife recently surprised me with. It shipped with a Sandisk X400 128GB. I didn't feel like reinstalling Windows, so I decided to keep the Sandisk installed, and added my 500GB 850 EVO as the secondary storage drive. I'm super pleased with its performance.

    If you can afford a 960 Pro, more power to you, but in my opinion, you can still be an "enthusiast" and run SATA drives.
  • derekullo
    659338 said:
    Nice review, but the author makes me feel like a piece of crap for still running SATA drives. My desktop is an aging, Z68-based machine that doesn't support NVMe (at least not officially). I've got a 250GB 850 EVO paired with a 1TB WD Black, and I'm pleased with its performance. Battlefront load times are a little longer than I'd prefer (off the mechanical drive), but still twice as fast as a stock PS4's. Windows flies on the SSD, I can't imagine needing anything faster. Same story with the laptop my wife recently surprised me with. It shipped with a Sandisk X400 128GB. I didn't feel like reinstalling Windows, so I decided to keep the Sandisk installed, and added my 500GB 850 EVO as the secondary storage drive. I'm super pleased with its performance. If you can afford a 960 Pro, more power to you, but in my opinion, you can still be an "enthusiast" and run SATA drives.


    Your message reminded me of:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpMvS1Q1sos
    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/weirdalyankovic/itsallaboutthepentiums.html

    On a separate note the highest capacity the Samsung 960 Pro comes in is 2 terabytes meaning that with 3 M.2 ports the most capacity your computer could have would be 6 terabytes in a raid 0, with close to 10 gigabytes a second of theoretical read throughput which is ... impressive.

    Edit: I believe 3 M.2 is the highest I have seen on any motherboard so far, correct me if I'm wrong.

    On the other hand the size of the 850 Evos go up to 4 terabytes and you aren't limited to 3.

    So SATA does have at least one advantage over NVME/M.2 if you were trying to store more than 6 terabytes of data.
  • daglesj
    Nothing wrong with running SATA SSD. I switched over to a NVMe PM961 about 10 days ago. I can't tell the difference. You are not missing ANYTHING. Especially the two hours of farting around it took to get it working properly. How in this day and age stuff still needs a high level of configuration baffles me.
  • daglesj
    Oh yeah and I was running a Sandisk Extreme Pro SATA SSD before the switch.
  • jimmysmitty
    496490 said:
    It's a shame that a big, well known company like Intel can't develop an SSD that beats a 2 year old competitor. What's important to keep in mind is that all modern SSDs are pushing against the SATA bandwidth cap. The benchmarks from this review indicate that every SSD tested performs pretty much the same in real world benchmarks. The most important variables right now (in SATA drives) are endurance and price. 3D flash memory should provide enough endurance for any mainstream user, but I would like to see the prices go down. I know we're in the middle of a flash shortage, but I was hoping that by 2017 we would have 1TB drives that cost $200.


    If what matters is endurance then Intel is one of the best, especially since their 3D NAND is no longer going to the smaller nm which causes endurance loss compared to previous versions.
    Price is relative but also a factor.

    The biggest problem for NVMe right now is density and slot availability. Once there are at least 2 slots and the density per drive increases to HDD levels we can start to push SATA to the background.
  • bit_user
    149725 said:
    If what matters is endurance then Intel is one of the best, especially since their 3D NAND is no longer going to the smaller nm which causes endurance loss compared to previous versions.

    Why are you talking in generalities?

    The spec is 144 TBW, for this drive (not sure why the article says 288, currently).

    http://ark.intel.com/products/125019/Intel-SSD-545s-Series-512GB-2_5in-SATA-6Gbs-3D2-TLC

    Endurance is also a function of over-provisioning, block size, amount of embedded DRAM & SLC for write buffering, and how conservative they choose to be, when estimating the typical workload.