Intel 330 Series SSD Analysis, Upgrading the ThinkPad W520

Intel has extended their SandForce-based strong state drive lineup off their performance-oriented 520 series to the brand-new 330 series of SSD, with all the advertising slogan, “The speed we want. The cost we need.”  Unlike the past generation of Intel SSDs (510 plus 320), Intel has provided the buyer an alternative to purchase a rapidly, SATAIII drive with all the self-confidence of the Intel brand name at almost $ 1/GB, or less when it was bought throughout a sale after release ($ 15 off the 60GB 330, or $ 60 off the 180GB 330).  At $ 0.78/GB throughout this sale, the 180GB drive was an appealing provide, however, does the value-oriented Intel 330 SSD meet the performance guarantees, plus more importantly, did Intel go inside the appropriate way by selecting the SandForce controller inside their SSD?

Front

The 180GB adaptation of the Intel 330 is advertised with all the following specs:

  • Maximum Sequential Read: 500MB/s
  • Maximum Sequential Write: 450MB/s
  • Maximum 4K Random Read: 42,000 IOPS
  • Maximum 4K Random Write: 52,000 IOPS

Delivery plus Packaging

The 180GB adaptation of the Intel 330 beneath review was ordered from Amazon.com when about sale for $ 140 following mail-in rebate, yet has because risen inside cost to $ 215. Utilizing Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery, the drive arrived fast plus inside superior form. It came inside a bubble envelope, though it might have been good when Amazon had included filler information to further safeguard the drive; being more shock-resistant than a mechanical drive shouldn’t imply which it’s greater to ship without these contents. At any rate, the Intel 330 comes with a 3-year limited guarantee which shields against production faults, standard amidst many SSDs, yet 2 years less guarantee than the past generation Intel 320.

Besides the drive itself, the retail packaging included a 3.5” mounting bracket for desktop installations, a Foxconn SATA cable (element quantity G10333-001), Foxconn SATA force cord (piece amount E99090-001), 2 sets of screws for the bracket (piece numbers E77026-001 plus E77138-001), an installation guide plus guarantee (about a Mini CD), plus an Intel “Speed Demon” sticker. It moreover involves a Quick Start guide to show the buyer how to install the drive to a desktop or computer, in addition to URLs to download information migration software plus Intel’s SSD Toolbox software. For computer installations, truly the only piece that’s necessary is the drive itself.

Intel 330 inside the box

Test System plus Benchmarking Software

I is utilizing my Lenovo Thinkpad W520 to test the Intel 330 SSD. This workstation computer will provide a wise signal of how Intel’s solid-state drive works inside benchmarks; with these specs, the storage drive is the just bottleneck inside performance:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2720QM
  • Graphics: Intel HD 3000 / nVidia Quadro 2000M
  • Memory: 12GB DDR3-1333MHz (3x4GB)

The Intel 330 plus Thinkpad W520 communicate through Microsoft’s MSACHI motorists (adaptation 6.1.7600.16385) through the SATAIII port inside the key drive bay. Software utilized for this review consists of Anvil’s Storage Utilities (1.0.45 RC2), AS SSD (1.6.4237.30508), ATTO Disk Benchmark (v2.46), Bootracer (adaptation 3.8), plus CrystalDiskMark (3.0.1). For all tests, I’ll have Windows 7 Expert plus many alternative applications installed and certain information found on the drive, because the useful benchmarking scores are those which show how the drive holds up below real-world conditions; in the end, a SSD isn’t great when it loses its performance following being partly filled. As seen in the Intel SSD Toolbox screenshot, the 330 has almost 49GB of information found on the drive (Windows plus different files) from 167GB total as well as the TRIM control was run found on the remaining free room (SSD Optimizer).

Intel SSD Toolbox

ATTO Benchmark

Let’s begin with an oldie however goodie: the ATTO Disk Benchmark. Utilizing the standard settings, the Intel 330 SSD outputs certain good performance numbers. Write speeds max out at merely below 519MB/s, with reads at 557MB/s. Smaller files degrade performance numbers because expected (HDDs plus SSDs hate using them), plus read/write speeds approach advertised numbers at file models of 128MB plus high.

ATTO Benchmark

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks

A prevalent choice for benchmarking solid-state forces, CrystalDiskMark measures the read/write speeds for sequential, 512K, 4K, plus 4K QD32 transfers. Two different tests were carried out by CrystalDiskMark: the 0Fill (all 0×00) test plus 1Fill test (all 0xFF). While the 0Fill test results are expected (SandForce forces are usually tested utilizing 0Fill), the 1Fill tests are surprising because SSDs utilizing SandForce controllers usually have performance issues when composing incompressible information to the drive. Running additional tests utilizing this software show synonymous numbers to the ones inside the screenshot; the unusually significant write speeds were not a one-time fluke. At any rate, CrystalDiskMark shows which this SSD surpasses Intel’s advertised sequential read speeds.

AS SSD Benchmarks

Another favorite benchmarking software title, AS SSD is regarded as the limited benchmarks particularly produced to test solid-state forces. AS SSD shows numbers more inside line with different forces utilizing the SandForce SF-2281 controller, with all the Intel 330 having sequential read speeds only beneath advertised speeds plus sequential write speeds at merely below half of what Intel claims they ought to be.

AS SSD equally tests for a drive’s IOPS performance at 16MB, 4K, 4K-64Thrd, plus 512B settings. The more significant 4k-64Thrd scores show which the Intel 330 surpasses advertised unique write scores plus is within line with advertised unique read scores. Another test utilizing the AS SSD software is the Compression Benchmark, plus because its name suggests it tests for read plus write performance utilizing information sets that are compressible to a certain extent. With completely incompressible information (0% found on the x-axis), write speeds are synonymous to AS SSD’s 207.4 MB/s, though read performance is oddly low till 20% of the information is compressible, where point read speeds remain steady between 462 MB/s to 500 MB/s at 100% compressible information. The trendline for write performance exponentially increases because you move from completely incompressible information to completely compressible information, achieving a maximum of about 470 MB/s sequential write speeds. This possibly explains the unusually high write speeds for the CrystalDiskMark 1Fill test.

As SSD compression benchmark

One final test provided by AS SSD is the Copy Benchmark, that measures real-life performance of the drive whenever presented with 3 different copy-paste scenarios: ISO files, system files, plus game files. For instance, when a consumer was moving an ISO off their Downloads folder to their Documents folder, they could anticipate a transfer speed of only north of 300 MB/s.

As SSD Copy Final

Anvil Storage Utilities Benchmark

One of the unique benchmarks found on the block, this benchmarking software tests many different read plus write situations which SSDs may face inside real-world conditions by utilizing a specially-tuned SSD benchmark.

Anvil Storage Utility

Bootracer

Last, yet not smallest, the Bootracer benchmark measures the amount of time it takes for a computer to boot from pressing the energy switch to a useable Windows desktop. After installing the Intel 330 SSD plus tweaking my Windows 7 install a small (no-GUI boot, certain start-up programs disabled, plus several services disabled), I was capable to achieve a boot time of 18 seconds total, with 11 of those seconds occurring amongst the force switch plus Windows login. While I feel which almost any SATAIII solid-state drive can theoretically beat those occasions, boot instances are hard-limited by how lengthy it takes the mainboard to POST (anything a consumer can’t change).

Boot Racer

Conclusion

For the initially limited decades of SSD, Intel was prevalent due to their top-quality, in-house controllers plus flash chips (X-25 series, 320 series) plus utilizing top-quality, third-party controllers for their performance-oriented SSD (510 series, Marvell controller). While Intel has usually been priced high than contending SSDs per GB, the aged reasoning behind this was as a result of early SandForce controller issues. But, with Intel’s initial move to SandForce inside the 520 series plus today the 330 series, you need to reexamine whether the Intel premium is worthwhile. When I purchased a 160GB variation of their 320 series SSD, I absolutely thought it was worthwhile, plus with all the latest sale at $ 0.78/GB the 180GB variation of the 330 series was worthwhile to me. However today which the 180GB 330 is marketing for $ 1.19/GB, it encounters sturdy opposition from different established SSD sellers like Crucial plus Plextor, whom nevertheless utilize non-SandForce controllers. Because the 330 is a new drive because of the writing, it’s difficult to tell when the SF-2281-based 330 is because reliable because my past 320 plus alternative non-SandForce forces, nevertheless with Intel reducing the guarantee to 3 years rather of the past five year guarantee available found on the 320, it’s potential which Intel expects the 330 to be simply because reliable because alternative SF-2281-based SSDs. With the buy of SandForce by LSI, positive critiques of different SF-2281-controlled forces, plus Intel’s custom firmware, it’s lookin because when the infamous past of SandForce is beginning to be really that: the past. Even nonetheless, I’m keeping a backup of my information simply just in case. If Intel maintains their security edge against additional SandForce products, then Intel’s principal competition remains the same (Crucial, Plextor, Samsung; the initial 2 utilize Marvell controllers, plus Samsung makes everything in-house). If SandForce security has improved over the board, then there are greater deals to be found whenever the Intel 330 is not about sale, like Corsair’s Force GT plus Force 3 products at 180GB, the latter being available at $ 1.06/GB (compared to the 330’s $ 1.19/GB). Because the performance of SATAIII SandForce SSDs are almost the same over the board, the choice of whether to purchase the Intel 330 mostly depends about long-term security plus pricing. Overall, the Intel 330 180GB has the value drive with significant read/write numbers, low latency, plus has the greatest of both the small 120/128GB forces (lower price) plus high capability 240/256GB forces (~168GB useable storage compared to 100-110GB).

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