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


To say the Intel Series 520 release has been a much anticipated event would be a huge understatement.  As much as we might believe that having a policy where a product will not be spoken of until release could be very detrimental to companies sales, Intel has truly pulled it off.  In fact, considering the attention 520 has garnished over the last year, maybe Intel has had a stroke of genius in this case.  Money could not have bought this much attention, coverage of which easily trumps that of any other SSD that we know of to date.


The OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS SSD has been the reigning champion of PCMark Vantage HDD Suite Testing since May 15, 2011, at least until today.  Other SSDs have come close to that top spot but, at least up until our testing of the Intel Series 520 240GB SSD in this report, none has taken that top position.  The 520 went further though by beating the competition out by a clear 2000 points whereas prior, less than 400 points separated the top four.  This performance is also confirmed through, not only very high results when testing highly compressible data in ATTO Disk Benchmark, but also, when testing incompressible data in Crystal DiskMark and AS SSD where high sequential write performance is not common for many SandForce drives.


The MSRP pricing of the Intel 520 may seem a bit high but we need to realize that this is ‘manufacturers suggested’ and the trend has long been price points below that of MSRP.  We will, of course, see retailers initially asking more than MSRP as is evident with Amazon who just released their 520’s at an average premium of $20 above MSRP, this being the result of product demand and availability.  Similarly, others have broken their sales agreement with Intel in the past week allowing sales well above MSRP, before this mornings official release.


Appeasing the consumer with other than standard capacities has become the trend as of late and the Intel Series 520 is no different.  Just as we had seen in our review of the Kingston SSDNow V+200 SSD a few days ago where they had the ‘not so common’ available capacity of 90GB, the Intel 520 is available in the common configurations of 60, 120, 240 and 480GB, but also, an ‘odd duck’ configuration of 180GB is also available.

We label these as odd configurations because, normally, SSD capacities fall in line with the capacities of NAND flash memory.  For instances, memory chips commonly used today are in capacities of 8, 16, 32 or 64GB and most SSDs will contain configurations of 8 or 16 chips simply because the SF-2281 processor is an eight channel processor and best performance is achieved through eight or more chips.  In the case of the 520, we have 16 chips of 16GB memory for 256GB where one chip is used for firmware needs as we discussed previously, ergo we get the 240GB capacity.


Just as we have seen in every SSD release before this, the Intel reputation alone will do wonders for sales of the 520, although their last minute delay in it’s release at Christmas for further validation will also play well in the minds of potential customers.  Add to this the fact that the 520 is now the ‘King of Performance’, has an industry high five year warranty, is available in an array of capacities and it’s pricing will be such that the consumer will latch on to them regardless and Intel is guaranteed a winner with this SSD.

Did you enjoy the read?  Check out Round Two where we throw three Intel 520’s on the Highpoint RAID Card for some amazing results here!


See Intel 520 Prices at Amazon!

Thoughts or questions?  Join the discussion in our Forums!

Or… Check out the other reviews by clicking on the:

Intel 520 Series SSD Review Round Up

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    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.

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    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.

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

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

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

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    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?

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    would be interested to see a review of the sandisk extreme ssd. it’s by far the cheapest sandforce powered ssd with toggle nand – 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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