Intel has not been making SSDs for the mainstream market for as long as OCZ, but it’s learned quickly, and as usual quickly worked its way into a position of power in a very short time. The 520 series is no different; coming out on top of the OCZ Octane in nearly every test, it is the better drive of the two.
Intel has not only improved its drive read and write speeds significantly, but it now offers a 5-year warranty (up from 3), and officially claims the drive has a “5-year minimum useful life with up to 20 GB/day written”. Long gone are the days of 1-year warranties and nose-diving performance after the first 6 months.
Intel has managed to get most of their speed boosts not only by moving to 25nm memory, but also by moving on to a Sandforce controller – more specifically, a SF-2281VB1, more commonly known as SF-2200. This controller is among the best in the world (and some would say it is the best), so you can be sure the Intel 520 series will remain a top contender throughout the year 2012.
In our performance tests the only ‘weakness’ we could find with this drive was the seek times. While still fast, they are relatively slow by today’s standards of SSD. We aren’t sure if it was just this sample, or if indeed these drives are a little slower due to the new memory chips used. In real world testing the SSD didn’t appear to be slower at seeking than the Octane or even the Revo X2, but for those of us who like to worship benchmark results, there may be a placebo effect convincing you that the drive is noticeably slower at seek.
Capacities in the new 520 “Cherryville” range are 60, 120, 180, 240 and 480GB, and they’re certainly worth buying.