Intel 520 240GB SSD Review (Round One) – Intel Releases Amazing SATA 3 SandForce Driven SSD

ANVIL STORAGE UTILITIES PROFESSIONAL

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 Intel 520 is showing excellent access speeds (Resp. Time) as well as just under 75,000 IOPS at 4K QD 16.  As Anvil relies primarily on highly compressible data for testing much the same way ATTO and Crystal DiskMark (0Fill) do, the transfer speeds of 506MB/s read and 482MB/s write, although being a bit low, fall right in line.

PCMARK VANTAGE X64 HDD SUITE

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

If you are new to testing and considering benchmark software, this is the best you can get because the program goes well beyond the results of simulated testing as we have already done. In comparing SATA 2.0 SSDs, we have reached the bandwidth limit and the performance of most new SATA 2 SSDs is as high as it can get with typical high sequential access speeds in the area of 280MB/s read and 270MB/s write.

We needed a way to differentiate these drives and to find a method that can actually put one drive above another and this is exactly what Vantage testing does. Its tests combined can provide an accurate comparison between drives and its tests individually can assist a smart shopper in finding the best SSD for their needs. Next to actual true to life testing which can take an insurmountable length of time, PCMark Vantage is the only program that can compare any SSD, side by side, regardless of SATA interface or controller in use.

INTEL SERIES 520 240GB SSD PCMARK VANTAGE RESULTS

The Intel 520 pulled through PCMark Vantage HDD Suite Testing with a Total Point Score of 72659 and a transfer speed high of 419MB/s while testing in Windows Media Player.  To say that this is an excellent score is a bit of an understatement as Intel easily unseated the long standing Vantage champion OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS SSD by over 2000 points which borders on incredible. This Vantage result will display the individual test speeds a bit more clearly:

I was so shocked that I repeated our Vantage tests three times and then even went a step further by re-testing the Vertex 3 MaxIOPS, Kingston HyperX and Corsair Performance Pro SSDs to ensure their scores remained as tested originally which they did.  After all, these SSDs are the best of the best in PCMark Vantage testing to date:

8 comments

  1. Nice, was wondering when Intel will show their Sandforce SSDs. The prices on the others drop drastically and some have already reach $1/GB after rebate.

  2. If Intel is using the Sandforce 2281 then I dont understand why OCZ bought Indilinx. Obviously Intel had a choice. They are as big as you can get and if they chose Sandforce over the controllers that are in the Samsung SSDs they must be extremely reliable. JMHO.

  3. Can’t wait to see how these babies do in Raid0!

  4. This is an excellent article! Great work Les 🙂 no pressure for me on the followup lol 😉

  5. Fabulous article – I like the detail especially about the 16GBs being used by the firmware.

  6. I’ve read that the 520s do not have capacitors, so if there is a power shut down (happened to me two nights ago) that the information on the hard drive is gone. Is this true?

  7. would be interested to see a review of the sandisk extreme ssd. it’s by far the cheapest sandforce powered ssd with toggle nand – buy.com has the 120gb for about $160 and 240gb for about $320. that’s a steal. storagereview reviewed it and were very impressed.

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