Examining Intel's 525 Series mSATA Solid State Drive

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Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Intel's SSD 525 Series mSATA drives worked as advertised, and that's no small feat considering Intel is promoting "great performance" in a package that's a fraction of the size of a 2.5-inch SSD. All five capacities we tested -- 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, 180GB, and 240GB -- turned in fast synthetic benchmark results across the board, which translated into speedy real-world performance. To give a specific example, the three larger capacity drives each scored around 530MB/s to 532MB/s in SiSoft Sandra, which is in line with Samsung's 2.5-inch 840 Series.


Intel's 525 Series SSDs come in capacities ranging from 30GB to 240GB.

 Oftentimes in technology there are concessions made at every turn. Trying to build a quiet system? You're probably going to have to sacrifice ultra high-end components to do so, or pay a premium on advanced cooling techniques. Need an ultra-compact laptop that's thin and light? Say goodbye to the optical drive. There are countless examples, but every once awhile, a hardware maker defies the status quo and simply builds a better product. This is one of those instances.

Conventional wisdom might say that if you're going to shrink the SSD, something has to give, and it's probably performance. That's not the case here. Intel's SSD 525 Series offers blazing fast performance in an mSATA form factor that can fit into tight spaces, such as Ultrabooks, mini PCs, and embedded applications. We saw read speeds top 550MB/s in some instances with write speeds not far behind. It doesn't get much faster, not unless you're willing to stick a pair of drives in a RAID 0 configuration.

The weakest link in the 525 Series is the 30GB model, both in terms of available capacity and rated performance, especially write performance, which is rated at 275MB/s (sequential). It's still a peppy drive, just not as fast as its larger capacity siblings, and obviously you're limited to the number of applications you can fit on a 30GB drive.

For all the positives, there are a couple of reasons why users might skip over the 525 Series. The first is price. Intel's MSRPs are above $1 per gigabyte at a time when high performing 2.5-inch drives have dipped below that point. And the second reason is application. Unless you're rocking a NUC or other device that can accept an mSATA drive, the 525 Series won't do you any good. That's where Intel's 520 Series comes into play. It's essentially the same drive, but in a 2.5-inch form factor.

The inability for consumers to find a home for an mSATA SSD might be a short lived limitation. As technology trends towards smaller form factors, expect to see mini PCs like the NUC take center stage. When that day comes, it's good to know there are fast mSATA SSDs already on the market.

 

  • Really fast performance
  • Wide range of capacities
  • Generous warranty (5 years)
  • 128-bit AES encryption
  • Built-in safeguards for overheating
  • Data protection schemes

 

  • 30GB drive's write performance is slower than the rest
  • Relatively expensive
  • Limited application

 


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