Test SetupSince theIntel 525 Series use a very familiar design, we are going to keep this review focused on the Intel lineup itself, focusing mostly on the performance difference between different capacities. We’ll be including theIntel 525’s big brother, the Intel 520 Series, as well as its budget-friendly cousin, Intel 335 Series. If you want to see how these particular drives compare to others (and can therefore extrapolate it to theIntel 525 Series) check out some of our recent reviews, such as the OCZ Vector 256GB published last week.
There are a few motherboards out there with mSATA adapters integrated, such as the Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H. However, that board routes the connector to a 3 Gbps port rather than a 6 Gbps port, and would limit the potential performance of the drive. Instead, we’ll be using this simple mSATA > SATA adapter supplied to us by Intel.
Also a note on power consumption – the mSATA spec calls for 3.3V power, rather than the 5V supplied through the standard SATA power connection. This adapter’s PWM converts the voltage for us, but will make any power consumption testing unreliable. Therefore, we’ll be leaving it out for this review.
|Intel SSD 335 Series 240GB||Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB||Intel 525 Series 240GB||Intel 525 Series 180GB||Intel 525 Series 120GB||Intel 525 Series 60GB||Intel 525 Series 30GB|
|Flash Controller||SandForce SF-2281|
|Flash Type||IMFT 20nm MLC Sync||IMFT 25nm MLC Sync|
|# of Flash Chips||16||16||4||3||4||4||4|
|# Die per Chip||2||2||8||8||4||2||1|
|Form Factor||SATA 2.5"||mSATA|
|Sequential Read||500 MB/s||550 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||450 MB/s||520 MB/s||500 MB/s||475 MB/s||275 MB/s|
|Price (Feb 10, 2013)||$192||$235||$300||$230||$170||$90||$50|
|Total Bytes Written||32 TB||Undisclosed|
|Warranty||3 Years||5 Years||3 Years|
The prices of theIntel 525 Series have yet to settle down, so they are well over the $1/GB range. Expect this to come down a bit eventually, but they will likely always be more expensive than their 520 Series counterparts.
|CPU||Intel Core i7 3770K (Review)|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H Motherboard|
|Memory||8GB Kingston HyperX Genesis @ 9-9-9-27 (Review)|
|OS||Windows 8 Professional x64 RTM|
|Test Notes||CPU Speed Locked at 100%
Each drive secure erased before each test run in "Fresh State" tests
Unless otherwise specified, all tests are done while the drive is in a ‘fresh’ state, meaning it will perform just as it does out of the box. This is to maintain consistency across all benchmark runs. We have to use a specific method to get a consistent used state (but not worst-case-scenario), and we’ll do that separately with two groups of tests.
IO Performance Consistency
We first started discussing SSD performance consistency with our review of the Intel DC-S3700 enterprise drives. Intel believe that this is the most important factor in SSD performance moving forward, and we tend to agree.
To show IO consistency, we are going to use the same testing method employed by Intel using IOMeter. We first fill each drive twice over with sequential 128KB data, then run 4K random writes with a queue depth of 32 for about half an hour. By recording IOPS every second, we are able to plot out what happens when a drive’s spare area is filled up, and how it handles this scenario.
What you are looking for in these graphs is the flattest line possible, particularly after it hits the performance wall once the spare area is full. This shows us how a drive handles a scenario of having to read and modify a block before it can write data to it.
This confirms that theIntel 525 Series have similar IO consistency patterns as their full sized 520 Series counterparts. They only run into issues at the 60GB and 30GB sizes, where there is much less spare area to work with.