Intel 310 Series 80GB mSATA SSD Review

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Intel 310 Series 80GB SSD

Let's be clear that the 310 Series isn't something Intel is pitching to home users to buy and pop in their existing laptop or desktop rig, and because of the mSATA form factor (which we'll discuss in a moment), you probably couldn't do that anyway. OEMs are the real target audience, and Intel says these SSDs are ideally suited for "dual-drive notebooks, innovative single-drive tablets, and low-power, rugged embedded industrial or military applications."

Lenovo's Tom Butler, Director of ThinkPad Product Marketing, notes that the 310 Series can be used as the ThinkPad's sole storage device or in conjunction with a mechanical hard drive. According to Intel, when configured in a dual-drive system, the 310 SSD can up the performance ante by up to 60 percent.

Intel wasn't kidding when it said this thing was 1/8th the size of a traditional 2.5-inch SSD. It's nearly small and flat enough to swallow, which we don't recommend (circuit boards and memory chips tend to be really bad for your health), and is too tiny to use a standard SATA connector. Instead, the drive is built around the mSATA form factor. This is basically a mini PCI Express (PCIe) mini-connector, except that it supports SATA signals. Before you think about ripping your notebook's Wi-Fi card out and jamming this into the mini PCIe slot, save yourself the trouble, because it probably won't work unless the manufacturer did a bit of tweaking so that it will process SATA signals.

So if Intel's 310 Series SSD doesn't use a standard SATA connector and won't be recognized by our notebooks, how can we go about evaluating it? Intel sent us a Transposer adapter card with the proper SATA connectors fused on specifically so we could test and benchmark the SSD. The Transposer card, which itself is the size of a 2.5-inch SSD (only thinner) shouldn't introduce much, if any, kind of a performance hit.

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