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Intel SSD 530 Review: A Revised Controller And 20 nm Flash

Results: File Copy Performance With Robocopy

Microsoft's Robocopy, a CLI directory replication command, gradually replaced the older xcopy. It's multi-threaded, has a ton of options, and generally outperforms vanilla Windows copy operations. Best of all, it's built right in to Redmond's operating system. Especially useful for network copy operations and backups, Robocopy doesn't stop to ask you one hundred questions while it copies over your music collection, either.

The reality of benchmarking file copy performance is that you need something fast to move data from and fast hardware to move it to. This is most important with SSDs. It doesn't matter if your drive can write sequentially at 500 MB/s if the source files are hosted on a USB 2.0-attached external hard drive. We're copying our test files from an Intel SSD DC S3700 to the drives in the chart below, taking source speed out of the equation (mostly). Moving to faster storage would increase the faster test disks' ultimate file copy performance. It begs the question though -- what is the point? Most users copying data from one source to another (in this case, a SSD) won't have the benefit of copying from a SSD RAID array or PCIe-based solid state storage, so relying on just one SSD as the source gives us the best case average.

There are 9065 files comprising the 16.2 GB payload. Some of the files are huge (up to 2 GB), while others are best described as tiny. On average, that's around 1.8 MB per file. The files are a mix of music, program, pictures, and random file types.

It's fair to say that this chart would look much different if we were copying from a hard drive to a SSD. Even if the disk drive's sequential throughput wasn't a bottleneck, it'd still choke on the smaller files.

The three 180 GB drives from Intel prove themselves consistent in this real-world measure of performance, all achieving 231 MB/s. SandForce's technology works well in part because it scales effectively from drives with four dies all the way up to devices with 64. Intel's SSD 525s are a perfect example of this. Look at the 30, 60, 120, 180, and 240 GB models. Each die count increase yields a substantial speed bump, particularly when it comes to write performance.

  • rolli59
    Good drive with nice idle power consumption numbers.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    I went with a 520 for the fact that Intel has some of the best reliability along with Samsung.

    As well we wont see much of a difference in performance until SATA Express (8Gb/16Gb) and even then we might not notice it.

    The main benefit is lowering the price. If it sells for $170 that's a bit lower than $1/GB which is good since Intel is always a bit pricier than others.
    Reply
  • cryan
    11835302 said:
    I went with a 520 for the fact that Intel has some of the best reliability along with Samsung.

    As well we wont see much of a difference in performance until SATA Express (8Gb/16Gb) and even then we might not notice it.

    The main benefit is lowering the price. If it sells for $170 that's a bit lower than $1/GB which is good since Intel is always a bit pricier than others.

    I can't, in good conscience, recommend anyone actually buy the 180 GB 530 -- not when the retail boxed 240 GB is only $198.

    Jay Crest (the 335) is a few bucks less, and its 240 GB edition is hovering near $180. Nice, but for just $20 more, grab the 530 240 GB box and call it a day... if for no other reason than the extra warranty coverage.


    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan

    Reply
  • RealBeast
    I got a 480GB 520 a year ago on a great sale with the typical Intel rebate. Great drive. I'm hoping to see a nice rebate again this year as I need a number of drives.
    Reply
  • diazalon
    Where i am the 840 pro is cheaper so i think i will just get that, seems to perform pretty well too
    Reply
  • ssdpro
    The compressed vs incompressible data issue is still a problem for me with LSI/SandForce controllers. I need consistent data transfer and get that with my 840 Pro and Vector drives. With so many options I boil it down to 3 considerations: 1) Is data transfer consistent across data types and as fast as possible, 2) are there reasonable tools available from the manufacturer for examining drive condition, 3) how is the warranty and support in the event of the failure. The Intel 520/530 offering fails point 1 where Samsung 840 Pro and OCZ Vector excel. Intel, Samsung, and OCZ pass point 2. OCZ wins point 3 easily. They have active support forums and mostly reasonable support staff. Intel has decent process, OCZ has decent process. Samsung has horrid and lengthy support procedures. If you visit Samsung.com to initiate a support request I bet you can't even find your Evo or Pro on the drop down menu you MUST use. You have to call and wait on hold endlessly.
    Reply
  • vertexx
    Thanks for the informative article - would have liked to see a couple different capacities tested.

    If you look at the number of models and form-factors available for the 530, I'd say this product line is primarily about one thing: Distribution.

    The price points for the 240-256GB capacity drives have come down enough where they're probably ready for the mainstream. You see this with Samsung's aggressive (and cheesy) marketing of it's EVO line to the mass consumer market, and this is Intel's attempt to achieve maximum penetration into that market.

    About two months ago, I refreshed my 2-year-old primary work laptop with the Intel 335 240GB. It was on a special at Newegg for $50 off at $170. Now that same drive lists for $180. For a work PC, I was waiting for SSD affordability in the 240-256GB range before pulling the trigger, as anything less would lead to too much hassle moving files around between drives. So, I upgraded from a single 500GB HDD that was getting slower by the day to a 240GB SSD for my primary and a new 750GB secondary HDD running in a caddy in the ODD bay. With this upgrade, I believe I'm set for the next couple of years with this laptop, given the lower pace of development for core CPU tech.

    Overall I'd say that the 530 performance numbers in this article are disappointing, although low power consumption certainly is valuable for the laptop market. Still, I think the market expects performance improvement along with power efficiency improvement, even though reality is you probably wouldn't notice the difference in everyday use.

    It would have been good to see the performance numbers for the 240GB drive, as that really is the minimum point where you could reasonably get away with running a SSD as your sole system drive. With the prices coming down at that capacity, there certainly is a point in marketing SSD affordability in the mainstream segment.

    The other main selling point for me was reliability. Samsung leads the pack here with Intel not far behind. I passed over the Sandisk Ultra Plus 256GB recommended in Tom's "Best SSD's for the $$" due to a high percentage of 1-star ratings on Newegg and only 2-year warranty. It came down to the 335 and the 840 Evo, with the Evo having slightly better performance and the 335 at that point being about $30 cheaper with the Newegg Promo. I went with the lower price and the rest is history.

    For those contemplating upgrading to a consumer grade SSD, don't sweat the minor performance differences. Go with a good brand and a line with good reliability ratings. Do the hard work of re-installing a fresh copy of Windows (instead of using a migration utility), and your system will be flying. I couldn't be happier with this upgrade.
    Reply
  • npyrhone
    I think this is the least exciting SSD release this year. I really challenge you to find a major SSD release this year that showed less. 530 is relatively expensive and on the slow side. It excels in nothing.

    Intel's post x-25 SSDs' only claim for fame is "reliability" which is nothing but a mantra. Intel's SSD are no more or less reliable than any other manufacturer's. They do give a five-year warranty, true, but it means nothing. They break down just as often as others do, and because of this, Intel pays a bit more by sending replacement drives. This is small potatoes, a minute cost to pay to be considered "more reliable" by those less informed. Especially since the warranty does not cover all the hassle and expenses that come from actually replacing the broken drive (you must stop working, start waiting, install the new drive, move all the data, etc). Of course its nice to live in the beautiful illusion that by buying an Intel SSD I am more safe from all this.

    I would never buy this over a Samsung-product that is less expensive, has greater performance and equal reliability. I can't understand why this article concludes like it does. It should say: "There is nothing wrong with 530, but you can get better for cheaper, so stay away from 530."
    Reply
  • cryan
    The 530 and the newly announced 1500 Pro are both about filling out the gaps in client computing. Both are nearly identical, with wide varieties of form factors and capacity points.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    Reply
  • npyrhone
    Cristopher: Is there a single metric that would support the decision for anyone to fill that gap with an Intel 530 product, rather than with a Sandisk Ultra Plus product, or Samsung 830 840 (EVO) product?
    Reply