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Intel SSD 520 Review: Taking Back The High-End With SandForce

Test Setup And Benchmarks

Test Hardware
SystemDesktopMacBook Pro 7,1MacBook Pro 8,1
TestingRAW, Windows SATA 3Gb/s & SATA 6Gb/sMac OS X, SATA 3Gb/sMac OS X, SATA 6Gb/s
ProcessorIntel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge), 32 nm, 3.1 GHz, LGA 1155, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost EnabledIntel Core 2 Duo (Penryn), 45 nm, 2.4 GHz, 3 MB L2Intel Core i5-2430M (Sandy Bridge), 32 nm, 2.4 GHz, 3 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost Enabled
MotherboardGigabyte GA-Z68X-UD7-B3--
MemoryKingston Hyper-X 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1333 @ DDR3-1333, 1.5 VCrucial 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1066Crucial 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1333
System DriveOCZ Vertex 3 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s
Tested DrivesIntel SSD 320 300 GB SATA 3Gb/s, Firmware: 1.92
Intel SSD 320 80 GB SATA 3Gb/s, Firmware: 1.92
Samsung 830 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: CXMO
Crucial m4 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s Firmware: 0009
OCZ Vertex 3 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 2.15
OCZ Vertex 3 60 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 2.15
Intel SSD 510 250 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 1.92
Intel SSD 520 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: -
Intel SSD 520 60 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: -
GraphicsPalit GeForce GTX 460 1 GBNvidia GeForce 9400MIntel HD Graphics 3000
Power SupplySeasonic 760 W, 80 PLUS Gold--
System Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 x64 UltimateMac OS X 10.7.2
DirectXDirectX 11--
DriverGraphics: Nvidia 270.61 RST: 10.6.0.1002 Virtu: 1.1.101--

Benchmarks
Tom's Hardware Storage Bench v1.0Trace-Based
Iometer 1.1.0# Workers = 1, 4 KB Random: LBA=8 GB, varying QDs, 128 KB Sequential
PCMark 7Storage Suite

Firmware notes:

Due to time constraints, we were not able to test the Crucial m4 with 0309 firmware. This patch primarily resolves a BSOD error related to a power-on SMART counter. According to Crucial's change log, there should be no effect on performance.

  • Hmmm, maybe I missed a good excuse, but I'd like to see the Octane in these tests.
    Reply
  • phamhlam
    I love Intel SSD. 128GB for about $210 isn't bad. It is just hard to not chose something like a Corsair GT 120GB that cost $150 with rebate over this. I would always put a Intel SSD in a computer for novice since it is reliable.
    Reply
  • thessdreview
    Nice Review!
    Reply
  • jaquith
    Nice article :)

    Just need more SSD's to compare, I'd like to see similar tests done with 120GB...180GB...256GB and several more brands. Further, as I mentioned before in the other article please list the exact model numbers and OEM specs including their 4KB IOPS; otherwise folks don't understand the results and if relying on this a purchasing will have in many cases a 4 in 5 chance of selecting the wrong SSD.

    Prior article - http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/sata-6gbps-performance-sata-3gbps,3110.html
    Reply
  • theuniquegamer
    costly but i think reliability comes at a price. These ssds are best for enterprises . If the price will be little lower then the common user can afford these and get a good reliable ssd.
    Reply
  • bildo123
    "Measuring boot time is one of the best illustrations of how an SSD benefits your computing experience." Be that as it may I find it almost irrelevant seeing as I hardly ever boot my computer, perhaps 2-3 times a month if that. Getting out of standby on my HDD is a matter of seconds.
    Reply
  • danraies
    These prices are lower than I thought. $20-$40 extra (depending on the comparison) for peace-of-mind is not outrageous.
    Reply
  • acku
    carn1xHmmm, maybe I missed a good excuse, but I'd like to see the Octane in these tests.
    We didn't have the Octane on hand in the 256 GB capacity, but we'll be sure to make that side by side comparison down the road.

    phamhlamI love Intel SSD. 128GB for about $210 isn't bad. It is just hard to not chose something like a Corsair GT 120GB that cost $150 with rebate over this. I would always put a Intel SSD in a computer for novice since it is reliable.
    Excellent point. Price is always a fickle thing.

    thessdreviewNice Review!Thanks Les. :)

    jaquithNice article Just need more SSD's to compare, I'd like to see similar tests done with 120GB...180GB...256GB and several more brands. Further, as I mentioned before in the other article please list the exact model numbers and OEM specs including their 4KB IOPS; otherwise folks don't understand the results and if relying on this a purchasing will have in many cases a 4 in 5 chance of selecting the wrong SSD. Prior article - http://www.tomshardware.com/review ,3110.html
    We'll keep that mind for future reviews. However, we already list model and firmware on the test page.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    Reply
  • willard
    bildo123Getting out of standby on my HDD is a matter of seconds.And with an SSD, your computer comes out of standby faster than your monitors do. Not kidding.
    Reply
  • mrkdilkington
    Anyone else disappointed Intel isn't producing their own high end chipset? Been waiting to upgrade my X25-M for a while now (Intel 320 isn't a big upgrade) but might just go with Samsung.
    Reply