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240 GB Intel 520 Series Solid State Drive Review
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Testing The 240 GB Intel 520 SSD

The Testbed


Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition


ASUS P6T Deluxe (Intel X58 Express)


Three Kingmax 2 GB DDR3-1333 modules

Graphics Card

Galaxy GeForce GTX 260+ OC

Hard Drives

2 TB Western Digital Caviar Black
2 TB Western Digital Caviar Green
600 GB Western Digital VelociRaptor
256 GB Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue
240 GB Intel 520

160 GB Intel X25-M G2 (34 nm)
120 GB OCZ Vertex 2 (E)
90 GB Corsair Force Series F90
80 GB OCZ RevoDrive

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit
Microsoft Windows Vista 32-bit


Testing Methodology

We tested the drives in Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 7, with the latest updates. We chose to use AS SSD, ATTO, IO Meter 2008 as well as our "old faithful", WinBench 99 2.0, with the following tests :

  • Platter Data Transfer Profile
  • Business Disk WinMark 99
  • High-End Disk WinMark 99
  • Disk Transfer Rate (Beginning)
  • Disk Transfer Rate (End)

Business Disk WinMark 99 is a real-world simulation based on three office application suites - Microsoft Office 97, Lotus SmartSuite and Corel WordPerfect Suite 8, as well as a web browser, Netscape Navigator. They are quite dated, but should still reflect the usage patterns of users in an office environment using such applications. The test runs through a script that keeps multiple applications open, while it performs tasks that switches between those applications and Netscape Navigator. The result is the average transfer rate during the script run.

High-End Disk WinMark 99 is a real-world simulation based on AVS/Express 3.4, FrontPage 98, MicroStation SE, Photoshop 4.0, Premiere 4.2, Sound Forge 4.0 and Visual C++ 5.0. However, it differs by running the applications serially, instead of simultaneously. There are individual results for each application but in this comparison, we will be looking only at the weighted average score, which is the average transfer rate during the tests.

Unfortunately, WinBench 99 seemed to have some issues with Windows Vista and Windows 7. It would register a SetFilePointer error in the Disk Access Time test. So, we were not able to obtain any Disk Access Time results.

The IO Meter 1.1.0 RC1 tests were carried out with the alignment set at 4 KB. In addition, we tested each drive with repetitive (compressible) and random (non-compressible) data, and used the average of the two results. This will give us a more accurate representation of how the drive will perform in real life.


Maximum Surface Temperature

We monitored the surface temperature of six solid state drives, together with a low-powered hard disk drive for comparison, during their benchmark runs. The following chart shows their operating temperature range, from idle to maximum load. Please note that instead of giving you the absolute numbers, we are showing the temperature delta, which is the difference between the actual temperature and the ambient room temperature.

The Corsair F90 solid state drive was the coolest drive in this comparison, followed closely by the OCZ Vertex 2 (E) 120 GB solid state drive. The 240 GB Intel 520 solid state drive ended up performing slightly poorer than the 2 TB Western Digital Caviar Green hard disk drive. It was 0.6 °C cooler at full load but 1.2 °C cooler while idling.


Transfer Rate Profile

Unlike hard disk drives, solid state drives do not have different areal densities. Hence, a virtually flat transfer rate profile across the entire capacity. When used with a SATA 6 Gb/s interface, the 240 GB Intel 520 SSD delivered a read throughput of around 350 MB/s. When paired with the slower SATA 3 Gb/s interface, its read speed dropped down to just 280 MB/s.


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240 GB Intel 520 Series SSD Overview


Intel Solid State Drives, Packaging


The 240 GB Intel 520 Series SSD
Usable Capacity, Specifications


The SSD Controller, The Flash Memory
Solid State Drive Maintenance


Testing The 240 GB Intel 520 SSD
Maximum Surface Temperature
Transfer Rate Profile


WinBench 99 Test Results
Transfer Rate Range


IO Meter Random Access Performance


IO Meter Sequential Access Performance


IOPS Scaling (Random Access)


IOPS Scaling (Sequential Access)


AS SSD Benchmark Results


ATTO Disk Benchmark Results


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