Examining Intel's 525 Series mSATA Solid State Drive

SiSoft SANDRA, ATTO, and HD Tune Pro

We used Intel's NUC to test all the drives rather than test with the 2.5-inch adapter the company sent us for the simple reason that mSATA SSDs will end up mini PCs and similar devices. This did present a unique challenge, however, since the pre-production NUC I had on hand  exhibited some instability. How did we solve it?

By getting a little creative (and silly)! Yes, that's a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus CPU cooler, and no, it's not hooked up to anything. We did, however, rest it on top of the SSDs during testing to help dissipate the heat generated from our intense stress testing. Please note you don't actually need to go to this extreme to use a NUC, but since we didn't experience lockups during testing, we figured it couldn't hurt.

On a more serious note, we updated the NUC's BIOS to the latest available (GKPPT10H.86A, version 0039 released on March 4, 2013). Other specs include an Intel Core i3 3217-U processor, 4GB of DDR3-1333 SO-DIMM memory, and Windows 8 64-bit.


We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA suite (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Memory Bandwidth and Physical Disk Performance). All of the scores reported below were taken with the NUC running at its default settings.

Synthetic General Performance Mertrics

30GB Intel 525

60GB Intel 525

 120GB Intel 525
180GB Intel 525

 240GB Intel 525
Intel's 525 Series came out swinging in Sandra, posting read scores that ranged from 459.6MBs/ (30GB model) to 532.3MB/s (120GB). The three largest capacities (120GB, 180GB, and 240GB) all hovered around 530MB/s, just 20MB/s below their rated maximum throughput. The 60GB model benched closer to 510MB/s, which is still impressive. Only the 30GB model is rated at 500MB/s, and it fell just 40MB/s below its theoretical ceiling. So far, so good.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
Synthetic Disk Performance - more information at http://bit.ly/btuV^w

The Intel 525 Series mSATA drives performed right in-line with their specified ratings in the ATTO Disk Benchmark. All of the drives put up good scores, with the higher capacity drives outpacing the smaller models.

HD Tune Pro
Synthetic Drive Peformance -- more information at http://www.hdtune.com

EFD Software's HD Tune is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more." The latest version of the benchmark added temperature statistics and improved support for SSDs, among a few other updates and fixes.

HD Tune Pro is a little harder on storage systems than your typical synthetic benchmark an measures continued performance over a period of time. All of the averages here are below each drive's rated maximum read speed, and once again, the higher capacity drives performed best.

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