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Intel SSD 310 80 GB: Little Notebooks Get Big Storage Flexibility

Final Words

Overall, the SSD 310 exhibits many of the performance characteristics we have seen from Intel's X25-M. It does come up short in the areas we'd expect, based on the same controller and a more conservative architecture. But we find that perfectly acceptable, given the target customer. Clearly, you can't physically fit ten memory devices onto a form factor this small.

While you mull over our benchmarks, bear in mind that your biggest issue right out of the gate isn't going to be whether you should upgrade to an mSATA-based drive or not. It's going to be finding a device with the requisite slot enabled. That will remain the biggest obstacle for most folks until mSATA-specific slots start becoming much more prevalent.

We want to make it clear that mSATA is not sideways-compatible with miniPCIe, despite their similar edge connectors. You cannot simply drop a mSATA drive into a miniPCIe slot, nor can you do the reverse. Think of mSATA as another miniPCIe mutant. The difference this time is that it's about to become a standard that every notebook vendor should be willing to to follow. Previously, the mutants were more than just vendor-specific. They were model-specific.

Notebook makers do have a choice. They can implement a multiplexer so that a mSATA slot can also function as a miniPCIe slot, but this adds an additional cost to the notebook. Because mSATA drives will usually come preconfigured, dual-purpose slots are likely to be a rare occurrence.

IdeaPad Y560: Spec Sheet

I'm making a big deal about this because Lenovo still lists the Y560, Y560p, and Y460p as all having three miniPCIe slots. This is incorrect. There are two miniPCIe slots and one mSATA slot. A mSATA slot brings the SATA signal straight to the slot. It simply doesn't tie into the PCIe bus without a mux though. At the very least, I'm hoping just that other system vendors don't start confusing miniPCIe with mSATA.

Is a mSATA-based SSD something that you have to have, like a 2.5" SSD was on the desktop when Intel launched its X25-M? That depends on your application. Many decent Arrandale-based Core i5 notebooks cost in the neighborhood of $600-$800. Tacking another $100 to $200 is a hard sell, especially if you're not running the enthusiast-oriented workloads that make an SSD so attractive for your workstation at home.

On the other hand, we've seen how the performance of an SSD helps contribute to efficiency, too, making the SSD 310 a potential battery-saver. At the same time, the device was also created to address environments where the 2.5" form factor simply is not viable. In those applications, an mSATA-based SSD could prove key to enabling plentiful storage at a reasonable performance level.

  • Annisman
    Great article!

    Been rocking an SSD for about a year now, and there is no going back to mechanical drives, SSD for the laptop segment makes even more sense. I think most of us however would like to see price drops a bit faster though, my 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo cost me over 500 dollars.
    Reply
  • acku
    9509117 said:
    Great article!

    Been rocking an SSD for about a year now, and there is no going back to mechanical drives, SSD for the laptop segment makes even more sense. I think most of us however would like to see price drops a bit faster though, my 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo cost me over 500 dollars.

    I believe the last report I read mentioned close to 60% of all SSD purchases are mobile related. SSDs can really mark up a notebook's price, so I'm right there with you on prices. We need price drops, more of them, and in quicker succession.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    Reply
  • alyoshka
    It's high time they came up with the ROM or CMOS chip that has the capacity to just store the OS on it and a few other programs, that itself will make the system really very fast..... then they could go over for a change to the 6GBps SATA drives and make them work at that speed..... Really, we already have ample RAM and expandable slots for them, why not get a little more creative and just get the job done instead of going all the way round and trying this approach.
    We have fast, extremely fast drives but at prices that touch the sky, wouldn't it be better to just have loaded or embedded the OS straight onto the mobo.... cheaper until it's capable of handling the high data flow rates offered by SSD... yet not being able to saturate the SATA flow rates or capacities.....
    Reply
  • Archimag
    How about its life cycle compairing with regular hard drives?
    Reply
  • amk09
    Newegg Daily Shell Shocker has a 128GB Kingston SSD on sale for $119.99!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    History has been made. SSD's are finally starting to hit a dollar/GB. Keep those prices dropping!
    Reply
  • druids84
    Although I of course would enjoy having 120+GB SSD on my laptop or home desktop, only true photo/video professionals or gamers with ample games need that much fast storage! I am able to squeeze Win7 and several Valve games within my old 30GB OCZ Vertex SSD, and I would feel quite comfortably with having 64GB SSD just to have more breathing space. You do NOT need more than that unless you're processing a lot of photos/videos. 120+GB is only if you include movies and music. You don't need 20,000 IOPs or 250MB/s seq.reads for your movies and other sitting junk! ;) Just buy a cheap external 2.5" HDD and store all your movies/music/photos on that, and this solution is quite mobile if you drag your laptop everywhere!
    Reply
  • Travis Beane
    druids84Although I of course would enjoy having 120+GB SSD on my laptop or home desktop, only true photo/video professionals or gamers with ample games need that much fast storage! I am able to squeeze Win7 and several Valve games within my old 30GB OCZ Vertex SSD, and I would feel quite comfortably with having 64GB SSD just to have more breathing space. You do NOT need more than that unless you're processing a lot of photos/videos. 120+GB is only if you include movies and music. You don't need 20,000 IOPs or 250MB/s seq.reads for your movies and other sitting junk! Just buy a cheap external 2.5" HDD and store all your movies/music/photos on that, and this solution is quite mobile if you drag your laptop everywhere!My Steam folder alone is 437GB. I have another 100GB+ on non steam games also. Then add my OS and etc.
    I currently enjoy the faster speeds of 4x500 RAID 0 with the OS on a 1TB. I would actually be running 8x500GB RAID 0 if my case was large enough, and my graphics card weren't so large (blocks 2 slots).

    How does Toms feel about doing a showdown between $500 of modern HDD vs $500 of modern SSD? With and without a dedicated controller.
    I know for my next build I don't know whether I want 4x 3TB or a 3TB with 2-3x SSD or 3x 3TB with a single small SSD, or is it better to go with, say, 8x 1TB or 4x 3TB in either RAID 0, 10, 5, 6, 50, 60 etc. :)
    Reply
  • druids84
    Well, just as I mentioned earlier, my point still holds: you DON'T need more than 120+GB unless you're serious gamer or professional working in multimedia business. And your setup sounds a bit like "gamer with ample games" case from my argument. ;) I really can't see a way I could squeeze 4x RAID in ordinary non-gaming laptop, which is what many if not most of people use for actually doing their work.
    So, if I would have to choose between old-school 500GB HDD, overkill 256GB SSD, or just simple 60-128GB SSD + external 2.5" HDD for a laptop, I'd go with the last one.
    Reply
  • romulous75
    meh, when I added an SSD drive I did not notice much improvement. I have a raid 5 array of WD2003FYYS drives which use to be the boot drive ;)
    Reply
  • romulous75
    oh, and also I seem to be the first one loaded in COD black ops when it changes levels :)
    Reply