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Intel 510 Series 120GB SSD review

by Parm Mann on 23 March 2011, 09:00 3.0

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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Specification and Test Methodology

Intel 510 Series SSD technical specification
Capacity 120GB 250GB
Price £220 £445
NAND flash components 34-nm Intel NAND Flash Memory multi-level cell
Bandwidth Sustained sequential reads

Up to 450 MB/s (SATA 6 Gb/s)
Up to 265 MB/s (SATA 3 Gb/s)

Up to 500 MB/s (SATA 6 Gb/s)
Up to 265 MB/s (SATA 3 Gb/s)

Sustained sequential writes

Up to 210 MB/s (SATA 6 Gb/s)
Up to 200 MB/s (SATA 3 Gb/s)

Up to 315 MB/s (SATA 6 Gb/s)
Up to 240 MB/s (SATA 3 Gb/s)

Read latency 65 microseconds (120GB and 250GB)
Write latency 80 microseconds (120GB and 250GB)
Random I/O Operations per Second

Random 4KB Reads: up to 20K IOPS
Random 4KB Writes: up to 8K IOPS

Interface Compatible with SATA 3Gbps and 6Gbps
Form factor, height and weight

2.5 inch industry standard form factor
Height: 9.5 mm thick
Weight: 80 grams (± 2 grams)

Life expectancy 1.2 million hours Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)
Power consumption

Active: 380 mW Typical
Idle: 100 mW Typical

Operating shock 1,500G/0.5 ms
Operating temperature 0°C to 70°C
Product health monitoring

Intel Data Migration Software
Intel Solid-State Drive Toolbox
Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.)

Comparison drives

  Capacity Controller Firmware Interface RAID mode TRIM support Cost* Cost per GB
G.Skill Phoenix Pro 40GB SandForce SF-1222 2.1 SATA 3Gbps - Yes £80** £2
Crucial Real SSD C300 64GB Marvell 88SS9174-BJP2 002 SATA 3Gbps - Yes £85 £1.3
Crucial Real SSD C300 64GB Marvell 88SS9174-BJP2 002 SATA 6Gbps - Yes £85 £1.3
Corsair Force Series F80 80GB SandForce SF-1222 1.1 SATA 3Gbps - Yes £145** £1.8
G.Skill Phoenix Pro (x2) 80GB SandForce SF-1222 2.1 SATA 3Gbps RAID 0 Yes £160** £2
OCZ Vertex 2 120GB SandForce SF-1222 1.11 SATA 3Gbps - Yes £160 £1.3
Patriot Inferno 120GB SandForce SF-1222 320A13F0 SATA 3Gbps - Yes £160 £1.3
Intel 510 Series 120GB Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2 PPG2 SATA 3Gbps - Yes £220 £1.8
Intel 510 Series 120GB Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2 PPG2 SATA 6Gbps - Yes £220 £1.8
OCZ RevoDrive 120GB SandForce SF-1222 (x2) 1.20 PCIe x4 RAID 0 (internal) No £225 £1.9
Corsair Force Series F80 (x2) 160GB SandForce SF-1222 1.1 SATA 3Gbps RAID 0 Yes £290** £1.8
OCZ RevoDrive X2 240GB SandForce SF-1222 (x4) 1.20 PCIe x4 RAID 0 (internal) No £460 £1.9
Samsung HD103SJ HDD 1TB N/A, hard-disk 1AJ100E4 SATA 3Gbps - N/A £40 £0.04
Samsung HD103SJ HDD (x2) 2TB N/A, hard-disk 1AJ100E4 SATA 3Gbps RAID 0 N/A £80 £0.04
*Approximate price, correct at time of writing
**Discontinued model, no longer available

Test bench

CPU Intel Core i5 2500K (3.3GHz, 6MB L3 cache, quad-core, LGA1155)
Motherboard Intel DP67BG
Memory 8GB Corsair Vengeance (9-9-9-24-2T @ 1,600MHz)
Host hard drive Crucial 256GB RealSSD C300 (SATA 6Gbps)
Storage controllers Intel P67 PCH (SATA 6Gbps, AHCI)
Graphics card AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB
Power supply Corsair AX750
Operating system Windows 7 Ultimate SP1, 64-bit


ATTO Disk Benchmark The freeware ATTO benchmark provides basic sequential speed results for both read and write operations. Using the default queue depth of four, we record read and write speeds during 1MB transfers.
CrystalDiskMark CrystalDiskMark provides various storage benchmarks, but we're interested in the returned 32-thread 4K performance numbers to see how well the drives fare when tasked with numerous small transfers.

Another freeware benchmark, AS SSD is designed primarily for testing solid-state storage. We run the benchmark and record the drive's overall read and write scores. The final numbers take into account sequential speeds, input/output performance and access time.

Iometer Iometer is an I/O subsystem measurement tool originally developed by Intel. To measure a drive's I/O performance, we set the benchmark to utilise 4KB transfers in a random spread. Read and write distribution is set to 50 per cent, and queue depth at 32. The test is run for two minutes and we record the total I/Os per second.
PCMark Vantage Emulating real-world use, PCMark Vantage spits out a bunch of data on the relative speed of the drives when undertaking common tasks. We record Windows startup, application load time and gaming performance.

We've listed the specification of both the 120GB and 250GB 510 Series drives at the top of the page as a point of reference, but remember we're only reviewing the 120GB model. It's also worth noting that due to ongoing performance issues with the SATA 6Gbps controller on our previous X58 test rig, we've made the transition to a new Intel Sandy Bridge platform.

What's interesting is that the 120GB 510 Series drive carries a £60 premium over last-generation drives of the same capacity. Will the SATA 6Gbps performance increase warrant the 38 per cent price premium over a Vertex 2? And can Intel's latest fend off similarly-priced PCIe storage solutions? The answers are overleaf.