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Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

App Drive: Intel X25-M 160GB SSD

www.intel.com
$599
By: Ed Tittel

Everybody knows that solid state disks run blazing-fast, and that among the fastest in this crowd are the X25-M drives from Intel (see Patrick Schmid’s and Achim Roos’s in-depth review for all of the gory details). Suffice it to say here that Intel’s 10-channel drive controller provides outstanding access and load balancing for the device (limiting overuse of individual memory locations, and speeding up read/write access using an intelligent controller design) with some truly awe-inspiring sequential read/write and I/O numbers.

Average access time is a mind-boggling 0.1 ms, with a staggering 3,500 I/O operations per second for typical database workloads (IOMeter 2003.05.10 at shorter queue depths of up to 16 or so). The file server I/O operations per second stay consistently above 4,000 per second for the same version of IOMeter at all queue depths (normal drives clock under 200 by comparison). The X25-M also outperforms lots of other SSDs, most notably the Samsung SLC-based models. Read/write speeds are equally impressive: just under 200 MB/sec for average read, and about 74 MB/sec for average write speeds (here, the Intel unit more than doubles the Samsung’s read performance, but falls about 15 MB/sec below its write performance, as expected from MLC technology).

You’ll still pay about $600 for the 160GB X25-M drive (half that amount for an 80 GB model). That’s a lot of money for storage, and even an SSD , but what you get in return includes lots of tangible benefits for system users. On all PCs, of course, the X25-M delivers blazing read/write speeds, and outstanding I/O performance overall. That translates into faster boot-up and shutdown (under 30 seconds for either is typical on many XP, Vista, and Windows 7 installations), and also into faster drive operation overall. For real speed freaks, swapping a conventional hard disk, even a WD Raptor or VelociRaptor, will result in noticeably quicker operations, particularly for the system drive. On notebook PCs, users obtain the same speed benefits, but also gain a boost in battery life: average power requirements are anywhere from half to two-thirds that of conventional notebook hard disks while they’re working, and do even better at idle.

It’s hard to think of any single system component that can deliver a more substantial performance boost for an existing system. If you’ve got a speed demon in your household, or want to give your own PC a real leg up, you could do a lot worse than to acquire an Intel X25-M SSD. It’s a real winner.

  • the_silent_one
    Anytime you mention eyefinity, be sure to mention that ONE MONITOR MUST EITHER BE ON DISPLAYPORT OR ON AN ACTIVE DISPLAYPORT ADAPTER (not just any displayport adapter, but one that uses supplemental power). If people don't know this. They are in for a rude surprise. Also, if using a displayport to hdmi or dvi active adapter for eyefinity, make it the middle monitor.
    Reply
  • Bluescreendeath
    She would make a far better Christmas present than hardware components... ;)
    Reply
  • dhowie
    I think she should be on the gift guide, I can certainly bet most of us would rather have her then anything on here :)
    Reply
  • 1898
    Does she come with the retail version of the i7?
    Reply
  • 1898
    Obviously I meant to say i5 but seriously, why isn't there an edit button?
    Reply
  • nanotiberium
    I would like she to bring me the gift! :)
    Reply
  • FoShizzleDizzle
    Bet shes likes a good overcocking.
    Reply
  • FoShizzleDizzle
    overclocking*
    Reply
  • gtvr
    FoShizzle gets the Freudian slip of the day award
    Reply
  • kencolestud69
    Sarah, you make christmas better for us(tech geeks) each year.
    :P
    Reply