Intel SSD 730 Series SSD Review (2x480GB)

Yesterday, we posted a report that seems to have drawn amazing attention, one that spoke to Intel’s final acknowledgement that their 3rd Generation controller was manufactured by none other than LSI.  That really isn’t that big of a news scoop unless you are an SSD geek.  It does tell us a great deal about the Intel 730 Series SSD we are helping Intel introduce to the world today; an SSD that also contains Intel’s 3rd Gen controller.  The controller inside the SSD 730 we are reporting on today has been around for some time and has proven itself at the enterprise level.

We first saw it in our report of the Intel DC S3700 way back in December of 2012, followed in June of 2013 when we reported on Intel’s new SSD DC S3500 Data Center SSD.  In our opening paragraph, we eluded to the fact that the DC S3500 was going to grab the enthusiast crowd because of its performance and newly discovered low price. Both SSDs having been based on the PS29AS21CA controller, perhaps our thoughts in that report were considered by Intel as the 730 certainly appears to be the twin of the S3500, yet aimed directly at the PC enthusiast and workstation applications.

Intel SSD 730 Series 480GB x2

Looking at composition of the SSD 730, Intel has an industry proven leader in their 3rd Gen 6Gbps controller, as well as using the same 20nm NAND flash memory that was used in the S3500.  They then set out to overclock and fine tune the 730, thereby realizing a 50% increase in controller speed, as well as a 20% increase in NAND bus speed.  Add to that firmware optimization which gives the 730 a very unique Data Center DNA, and RAID performance for a dual drive configuration exceeds 1GB/s, while latency hits a low 50µs and endurance is stretched to a massive 70GB per day for 5 years.  Top this with a MSRP of $249 for the 240GB and $480GB for 480GB version and there is not an SSD out there that matches this feature set, warranty, performance and price…on paper at least.

Check Out another Intel SSD 730 Series SSD Report at Technology X.


Intel’s direction with the SSD 730 Series family is towards the digital media professional, workstations and the PC enthusiast.  It has a preliminary release date of March 18, 2014, and will be available in capacities of 240 and 480GB.  Performance for the 240GB capacity is listed at 550/270MB/s throughout with up to 85K/56K IOPS read and write while the 480GB capacity increases significantly to 550/470MB/s throughput and 89K/74K IOPS read and write. Intel’s sale of the 730, however, highlights a two drive RAID performance of over 1GB/s throughput and up to 168K IOPS.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD Exterior Front

Power consumption for the 730 is listed at 1.4W Idle and 3.8W active for the 240GB with 5.5W active for the 480GB.  The 240GB is rated at 50GB per day while the 480GB is rated at 70GB per day lifetime endurance for the length of the five-year warranty.  Read latency is 50µs at 240GB, along with 65µs for the 480GB and the form factor is that of a ultrathin 7mm 2.5″ notebook size.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD Exterior Back


We spoke of the similarities between the SSD 730 and the previously released DC S3500 and we invite you to check out our previous report for comparison.  The SSD 730 contains the Intel 3rd Gen PC29AS21CA0 6Gbps eight channel controller along with 2 modules of Micron DRAM cache memory. This controller is architected by Intel with Intel firmware. The 3rd generation Intel controller is manufactured exclusively for Intel. Intel contracts LSI for the manufacturing of this controller.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD PCB2

Although there are 16 modules of memory on the 730, and similar to what we saw in the DC S3500, Intel goes against the grain in its NAND memory configuration.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD PCB Angled

If you look closely at the memory product numbers on both sides, you will find there are 14 modules of 29F32BO8MCMF2 (32GB), a module of 29F64B08NCMF2 (64GB) and a module of 29F16B08LCMF2 (16GB) for a total of 528GB of RAW memory.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD PCB Back

The product number of the SSD730 memory is the same as the DC S3500, given exception to the marking of ‘-ES-‘ on the end of the product number.  Given the high endurance of this SSD, we might think that the memory would be HE memory, however, literature speaks to it as being ‘Compute Quality Components.

NAND Memory

Lastly, the two capacitors on the side of the PCB remain in place, as with the previous 3500 and 3700 versions, to provide UPS protection should a power failure occur.


  1. blank

    The first SSD which performs better random read in RAID than running alone I’ve ever seen! Good job Intel and thanks so much for the review! 😀

  2. blank

    why are there no other SSDs in the comparison pool for any of the tests? other sites show this SSD as much slower than others, yet comparisons are avoided here.

    • blank

      The best thing about multiple site reviews is that we all have our own way of either comparing or not comparing. Comparisons are not avoided at all, but rather, we have provided report consistent to that we have provided for several years. Thanks for checking our report out!

  3. blank

    I noticed that this SSD requires 12v and 5v inputs whereas other SSDs only require 3.3v. Is this just because of the controller being used?

  4. blank

    Les, I always wonder when I see RAID0 results worse than single-SSD. My suggestion for you : try to compare SW RAID0 with HW RAID0 using proper controller, like the new LSI or Adaptec7/8series you liked so much. They have definitely shown some phenomenal muscles.

    I guess several readers would be interested in software VS hardware raid0 performance numbers…

  5. blank

    is the corsair neutron gtx not faster than this ssd

    • blank

      The Neutron GTX has a rocket controller that has never got the true visibility it should. The same controller is used in the Seagate. Looking at numbers alone, you are absolutey correct but the 730 offers something just a bit more impressive that might lure in so many walking on the fence, proven reliability which has seen enterprise, as well as endurance.

  6. blank

    I’m waiting for the X99 series to come out with 10 native Sata 3 ports and then I’ll probably throw 5 of them in raid 0. My 2×520’s could do for some replacing and the raid Caviar Blacks sitting next to them are starting to feel obsolete.

  7. blank

    It’s me again. Decided to install 2 of these bad boys in Raid 0 to replace my 520 array. My numbers are substantially better than SSD Review’s:

    Compared to my 520’s these things are pretty much 2x as fast and chew through incompressible like nothing (here’s the benchmarks I took on the 520’s right before installing the 730’s):

    My setup is a 3770k @ 4.9 Ghz, ASRock Z77 OC Formula, 32GB DDR3 @ 2133 Mhz.

    • blank

      Nice results although I don’t see substantial difference and yours is a bit lower in the RAID CDM I think.

      • blank

        ATTO was pretty big difference in the smaller chunk sizes where your results don’t seem to ever catch up to mine until 32KB where the drive is pretty much at its max (300 vs 50k @ .5 for example).

        Also with AS SSD where my overall score is 25% higher than yours, with a pretty big 50% difference in 4K-64 results. I saw results similar to yours (50% decrease) when I didn’t have Write Back something or other Enabled in Intel RST.

        CMD I chalked up to being “close enough” with the variation maybe being explained by me not using totally empty partitions / a clean environment.

        The only eyebrow raiser was my access times for read were .06msec vs. your .03msec and my write was .01 vs your .03.

      • blank

        Ran some benchmarks with Write Back Cache disabled in Intel RST and my 4K + ATTO results start to look closer to yours (and even my Write Acc. Time matches yours now instead of being 3x faster):

  8. blank

    Hello — Intel gamed you, us. The final product in the retail market as opposed to the Engineering Sample does not contain the 2 capacitors and power loss protection circuitry, and this is confirmed by Intel. Can you please revise the review, and possibly compare against the actual retail product that consumers will actually use? I bought it based on the power loss protection, but it doesn’t exist.

    Confirmation by Intel: “We have confirmed the SSD 730 series does not
    come with the 2 capacitors needed to support the power loss data

  9. blank

    Someone should research whether or not the review sample provided has features that are different from the retail version.


      • blank

        Benjamin Hojnik-

        Thanks for the link. It adds an additional confusion factor, though, rather than clear it up.

        Anybody who reviewed one of the “engineering samples” should contact Intel and clear this up.


      • blank

        Frankly, it doesn’t matter. Intel never advertised those features (namely power loss protection), so it doesnt matter if drive has powerloss hardware or not. if reviewers marked this as a feature (even though intel nevel publicised or advertised it) its not intels fault, if drive ends up not having it.

        Besides, present hardware doesnt mean present features. Powerloss protection could be easily disabled whithin firmware (for segmentation reasons or something else, doesnt matter) and its nothing you can do, since it was not an indended feature to begin with.

        It was the same deal with mx100, which ended not having full power protection.

      • blank

        Of course it matters. The prospective purchaser should be able to identify features before purchase. Reviews should be accurate and published specifications should be accurate. If either one is not accurate, it should be corrected. The basic credibility of the reviewer and the manufacturer is involved.


      • blank

        > Reviews should be accurate and published specifications should be accurate.

        Published specs WERE/ARE accurate. Its the reviewers that are at fault here, for assuming there is powerloss protection.

      • blank

        Benjamin Hojnik-

        I am not ready to blame the reviewers, or anyone else for that matter, at this point. Many questions still remain.


  10. blank

    Hey Guys — I got in touch with another review site who’s looking into this, but the last official word from Intel was this: “My apologies for the misunderstanding.

    What I was trying to let
    you know is that the link we found for the review, the third party link,
    where it shows the drive with the capacitors is fake.

    confirmed it is fake as my engineering department double check about it
    and the SSD 730 was never built with the capacitor for the power loss
    data protection.

    This means, the SSD does not have the capacitors at all, therefore the Intel’s website has the correct information of the drive.
    Let me know if you need anything else.”

    So, either the person in support at Intel doesn’t know what they are talking about, or all the review sites I sent him, including this one, has been faked. I saw that linked Ben posted before, which confirms that the retail version has caps, but as suggested here, and in the link and elsewhere, it doesn’t mean that the physical hardware that implements power loss protection has been implemented. I do disagree with Ben about segmentation and that it’s not important. It is. I bought this instead of an EVO because of this feature based on all the reviews before I made my purchase of two of these drives in desktops where I don’t have a UPS, so power failure protection is important, as they consume a lot of power, where it’s really not meant to be used in a laptop (but you can of course) but if that was the case, I would’ve bought the EVO 850, which is cheaper, faster and also has a 5 year warranty. Did the Intel rep who gave the sample for review mention it has this, or was this speculation based on what was visible on the PCB?

    • blank


      Very interesting, and all germaine, but it seems that the truth is not known at this point.

      It is hard to believe that a review website, let alone multiple review websites, would fake it.


      • blank

        Hi Jim,

        IMHO, I completely agree, and to be clear, sorry if i was ambiguous on that statement, as I didn’t mean to suggest that the review sites were faked, or that all the reviewers colluded together to fake it to get some free samples — that would be absurd, which is what I think of the reply that Intel sent me back. There’s no way all these review sites could come to the same conclusions about it have power loss protection, without an Intel rep suggesting that it does. If the final product released to retail has this disabled, then I would really suggest that review sites stop accepting engineering samples and only use final retail products to review, as the reviewers would have no idea whats been added or removed in the final product. I’m not blaming the reviewers, I’m just saying that in order for review sites to be beneficial to users who rely on their reviews for decision buying, they should be testing the same items people will buy off-the-shelf, not samples that are subject to change in the final product. Please, don’t interpret this as mean, snarky or anything like that, we all want learn about new products, what features they offer and compare them against others, and so we need review sites, and I really appreciate the service and utility they provide — the only point I’m stressing here since I discovered this is that I think unless any company that provides an “engineer sample” for review should state in writing that the features present on this sample sent to you for review will have the same components (not bait-and-switch cheaper brand caps, if you gave nippon chemi-con caps in the ES, then we should expect nippon chemi-con caps in retail) and features in retail — we are giving you as ES instead of retail due to whatever reasons (no warranty, no resales, etc….) Anyways, I’ll follow-up shortly.

      • blank


        You have been perfectly clear in your previous comments and in this one, and I have been in complete agreement with you throughout.


      • blank

        This isn’t so easy of a thought because of the inherent differences between enterprise and consumer SSDs, the most obvious being that enterprise SSDs meet industry standards approval and have a set BOM (bill of materials). Consumer SSDs dont have this and it is almost common for something to change for value sake, whether it be RAM, cache, or any other part.

      • blank

        I figured that, the feature set remaining the same, while the parts could change, as long as they still meet the specs of the features keeping product pricing relatively stable — with EE, the parts are explicit, so the pricing could vary depending on the costs of parts at production from the supplier. As an update, it looks like the Intel support rep was inaccurate and that the 730 series *may* support Flush-in-Flight power loss protection — I’ll reply back with the details once I get solid confirmation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *