Intel 330 Series 120GB SATA 3 SSD Review – LSI SandForce Performance With Unbeatable Value


Over the last little while, we have been assisting with beta testing new benchmark software called Anvil Storage Utilities which is an absolutely amazing SSD benchmarking utility.  Not only does it have a preset SSD benchmark, but also, it has included such things as endurance testing and threaded I/O read, write and mixed tests, all of which are very simple to understand and utilize in our benchmark testing.

The key element we were looking for in Anvil testing was the IOPS which, as expected, was worlds above the listed specifications of 33,000 IOPS at 4k random aligned write disk access with a high of 74495 IOPS.


The SSD Review uses benchmark software called PCMark Vantage x64 HDD Suite to create testing scenarios that might be used in the typical user experience. There are eight tests in all and the tests performed record the speed of data movement in MB/s to which they are then given a numerical score after all of the tests are complete. The simulations are as follows:

  • Windows Defender In Use
  • Streaming Data from storage in games such as Alan Wake which allows for massive worlds and riveting non-stop action
  • Importing digital photos into Windows Photo Gallery
  • Starting the Vista Operating System
  • Home Video editing with Movie Maker which can be very time consuming
  • Media Center which can handle video recording, time shifting and streaming from Windows media center to an extender such as XBox
  • Cataloging a music library
  • Starting applications


The Intel 330 pulled out of Vantage testing with a Total Score of 65878 points and a high transfer speed of 411MB/s while testing in Media Center which was an excellent result.  In checking out it’s ranking in our SSD Hierarchy, it places just below the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 120GB SSD and just above the Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD, both being premium SSDs and in top of their class for 120GB SSDs.

blankOur Hierarchy Chart is based solely on the Total Point Score of PCMark Vantage HDD Suite Testing, the Intel 330 being highlighted with a white line.



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    try the latest version of crystaldiskinfo (4.6.1) for more SMART data. the intel ssd toolbox should display more info as well.

    also, no 120gb sandforce powered drive will pull over 300mb/s in sequential writes with incompressible data. that’s the realm of the 240gb drives. the fastest 120gb drives – the ones with 8 channels and 4-way interleaved 32nm toggle nand, like the mushkin chronos deluxe and patriot wildfire – can hit around 250mb/s. but those drives cost about 50% more than this one.

    the other ‘budget’ 120gb drive is the sandisk extreme. performance is more or less the same, with the sandisk being a couple of dollars cheaper.

    inching ever so slowly to that $1/gb mark.

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    Nice review Les!

    The SSD market is becoming very interesting these days with Intel’s 520 & 330 series, OCZ Vertex 4 and new PCIe SSDs from OWC’s, Super Talent, Muskin to help push OCZ in performance and Price.

    I look forward to see what the rest of 2012 and beyond holds for the SSD market!

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    AAM should always be greyed out for a SSD in CDI. AAM is automatic acoustic management, and is therefore unnecessary for disks which don’t have any moving parts.

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    Does Intel use broken synchronous NAND that cant run at full speed? I would say so. Or synchronous has become that cheap that asynchronous isn’t manufactured any more? Ask them Les, everybody wants to know.

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      This is an interesting conversation that I have been having behind the scenes. The idea is that although NAND has the exact same product number, there are actually different grades within where, as Intel has even stated, they hold their best for SSDs like the 520. Would it be logical to think that the NAND, of the same product number, could be of a lesser quality lot that would mandate the 3 years vice five?

      Then, if this is a possibility, can we determine this by numbers which could be lot numbers on the module itself?

      Thats why I also brought attention to the sticker saying Bin 2.

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        So, we can suppose that the 3K P/E cycles NAND is purposely set to run in async mode. Analysing further, Kingston HyperX 3K uses synchronous NAND modules with part number Intel 29F16B08CCME3, which is very similar to Intel 330 SSD’s one. Considering that, if a one manages to flash Intel 330 SSD with Intel 520 SSD firmware, we could get Intel 520 from Intel 330! Now the question, who is going to do the experimenting part?

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    love anvil storage utilities – best SSD that can produce consistent results (even on older controllers – like older JMicron, Indilinx, X25Ms, etc). you’re one of the few that actually use it but have done the most reviews (that I can find) with it. nicely done…

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    Hey, I planning on buying either the 120gb Intel 330, or the 128gb Vertex 4. The SSD I choose will be used as a boot drive and for a few games- no heavy editing programs etc.
    The 330 is £105, [I’m in the UK], whereas the Vertex 4 is £120. Thats ~ $25 difference.
    Which one should I get? Taking into account my useage requirements. Thanks.

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    Hi. I’m not familiar with SSDs so I wanted to ask if this will work with the late 2006 black Intel-based Macbook (model 2,1)?

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      My best suggestion might be to dig around the net. For the most part, there isn’t any reason why a HDD/SSD switch shouldn’t work at all but, in older systems, sometimes the bios can be a bit tricky and not recognize the drive.

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    Can i directly plug this ssd (intel 330 series 120gb sata 3) into my sony vaio vpcsb3le notebook replacing the current hitachi hdd? If not, what kind of connector/convertor should i also obtain?

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      Yes there should be no problem with that and the SATA connector is the same as the hard drives.

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        Do you advice sandisk extreme 120gb sata 3 over the captioned intel 330? It is 10 usd cheaper?!

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        Hmmm…ten bucks is ten bucks but capacity is capacity. If both SSDs are going into a SATA 2 system, it boils down to a personal choice between two great SSDs now doesn’t it? Both have great customer feedback as well.

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        After your article, i was about to buy intel one but later i recognised that sandisk has newly arrived to the store. As far as i know my system is SATA3 and both of the ssds have the same capacity of 120gb. Would “new” sandisk beat intel?! Or maybe waiting for 240gb models to get cheaper would be wiser 😉 Now the ratio is 253 usd/ 120 usd…

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        They are going to be neck in neck for the most part… My thought…stop thinking so much, buy the one that you are leaning towards and enjoy! eheh

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    Hi Sir!!

    Can I replace SSD from 20GB (original) to 120GB by using your method?

    My ultrabook model is ACER M5-481T

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    thanks you.çok t?k ederim gerkli

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