Intel SSD 520 Series Solid State Drive Review - HotHardware

Intel SSD 520 Series Solid State Drive Review

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Our Test Methodologies: Under each test condition, the Solid State Drives tested here were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a standard spinning hard disk for the OS and benchmark installations. Out testbed's motherboard was updated with the latest BIOS available as of press time and AHCI mode was enabled. The SSDs were secure erased and left blank without partitions wherever possible, unless a test required them to be partitioned and formatted, as was the case with our ATTO, PCMark 7, and CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests. Windows firewall, automatic updates and screen savers were all disabled before testing. In all test runs, we rebooted the system and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle before invoking a test.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 and SSD Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -

Video Card -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drives -


Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7-2600K

Asus P8Z6-V Pro
(Z68 Chipset, AHCI Enabled)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285

4GB Kingston DDR3-1600

Integrated on board

WD Raptor 150GB (OS Drive)
Samsung SSD 830 (256GB)
OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPs (240GB)
Corsair Force GT (240GB)
Crucial M4 (256)
OCZ Octane (512GB)
Intel SSD 520 (240GB)

OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64
Intel, iRST 10.5.1027
DirectX 11

NVIDIA GeForce 275.33

Benchmarks Used:
IOMeter 1.1.0 RC
HD Tune v4.61
ATTO v2.47
CrystalDiskMark v3.01 x64
PCMark 7
SiSoftware Sandra 2011

I/O Subsystem Measurement Tool

As we've noted in previous SSD articles, though IOMeter is clearly a well-respected industry standard drive benchmark, we're not completely comfortable with it for testing SSDs. The fact of the matter is, though our actual results with IOMeter appear to scale properly, it is debatable whether or not certain access patterns, as they are presented to and measured on an SSD, actually provide a valid example of real-world performance for the average end user. That said, we do think IOMeter is a gauge for relative available throughput within a given storage solution. In addition there are certain higher-end workloads you can place on a drive with IOMeter, that you really can't with most other benchmark tools available currently.

In the following tables, we're showing two sets of access patterns; our Workstation pattern, with an 8K transfer size, 80% reads (20% writes) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and IOMeter's default access pattern of 2K transfers, 67% reads (34% writes) and 100% random access.


The Intel SSD 520 series drive's performance was mixed in our IOMeter tests. Intel's latest drive performed well overall, but trailed the other SandForce-based offerings using IOMeter's default access pattern. In our custom workstation test which ups the block size and changes the mix of sequential and random access, however, Intel's drive is among the best performers.

Also note, that since we got our hands on a pair of Intel SSD 520 series drives, we've included RAID 0 scores throughout our benchmarks as well. Although not comparable to any of the other single-drive results, we thought some of you would like to see how two of these drives perform when running in a RAID.

SiSoft SANDRA 2011
Synthetic HDD Benchmarking

Next we ran SiSoft SANDRA, the the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. Here, we used the Physical Disk test suite and provided the results from our comparison SSDs. The benchmarks were run without formatting and read and write performance metrics are detailed below.

Our SiSoft SANDRA tests show the Intel SSD 520 series drive performing as well as the other SandForce-based drives. In terms of read speeds, the Intel drive finished right alongside the OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS drive, but the SSD 520 pulled ever so slightly ahead in the write test. RAID 0 performance was exceptional.

Article Index:

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I'd rather get the corsair force gt ssd than this, cost less, better performer.The 5 years warranty beats the 3 years of the corsair but still i dtay with the corsair, nice review!!! I LIKED IT

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Very nice review and as they all seem to have the same performance capabilities I would tend towards the least expensive SSD.

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Yes, Thank you cowboyspace, I will put bench marks up any day of the week for ya on my Corsair Force GT sata III

two way RAID 0! SOOOO FASST!!!

just let me know what benching program you would like me to use.

I often find my self trying to remember what the loading screens looked like on the games I play.

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SiSoft SANDRA 2011,IOMeter, AS SSD Benchmark, and shows some pictures it scored points in windows experience index. :)

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This drive has some serious issues this was my post in Intel Support Community:

Last Thursday I received my brand new Dell Precision M6600. Before I started to use the system I upgraded the hard drive to an Intel 520 Series..

After dropping in the SSD, I was ready to install Windows 7 Pro. I first went into the BIOS and left the setting on RAID. After reading tons of forums, this seemed like the right way on installing the hard drive. Once complete I installed all the necessary drivers (which is a story in its self!). After, I went on the Intel website and ran the driver utility make sure everything is up-to-date. I also installed the SSD toolbox to optimize the drive.

After dealing with the BIOS not always detecting the SSD and the occasional OS freeze, I made my way into the Intel control panel. I noticed the hard drive was only running at 3GB/s, I thought that was kind of odd since the computer is capable of running 6GB/s. I decided to change the BIOS to AHCI and reinstall 7..

Once complete, I still had to deal with the BIOS not detecting the SSD and 7 freezing up, every so often. Anywho, once I re-installed all drivers and utilities. I now see the hard drive running at 6GB/s. I was a happy camper until I started to use the computer. I noticed it freezed up the more I use it.

Intel (typing this while simultaneously shaking my pointer finger) you have a serious issue with your SSD. You need to post a firmware update. Not only to fix the issue with 7 but, also for folks who have M6600 and other affected laptop/desktops; who decide to buy your SSD.

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