Intel 730 SSD Review

On First Page2. Performance

Intel 730 SSD Review

Intel 730 Series 480GB Review (including RAID)

In the first two generations of SSDs one of the stand out models was Intels X25-M. Using their own controller it offered competitive performance and showed us just how reliable an SSD could be. In fact our original sample from June 2009 is still running today, without issue. Recently Intel released their latest range of SSDs, the 730 Series and today we take a look at the 480GB model in single drive and Raid 0 while also throwing in a few tests on the 240GB too.

Intel 730 SSD packaging

Our samples arrived in a plain box. The drive was sitting within foam inside, wrapped in an anti-static bag and bundled with a case sticker.

Software

Intel also make available, as a free download, their SSD toolbox. It allows us to monitor, optimise and update our SSD. Ensuring it maintains its peak performance over time.

The 730 SSD

Intel 730 SSD topIntel 730 SSD base

As these are engineering samples the stickers used here are not final however the main drive hardware is and Intel stick with a metal casing for the 730 Series. This is a 7mm thick drive and in the 2.5" form factor with a weight of 78 grams.

Intel 730 SSD PCBIntel 730 SSD PCB

Intel are making the 730 Series available in 240GB and 480GB capacities and both use Intel 20nm NAND flash memory (MLC) with a 3rd Generation Intel controller. Down the side we find capacitors which will protect data in the event of a system power failure and of course we can also see the Micron branded cache chips on the PCB. On the 240GB drive one side of the green PCB has space for more NAND, on the 480GB model each location is populated. In terms of formatted capacity we get 223GB or 447GB depending on the model bought.

Intel rate the 480GB at 550MB/s read with write at 470MB/s and state that IOPS will hit 89,000 on read, 74K on write. The 240GB has similar read speeds though peaks at 280MB/s on writes. This performance is then maintained by TRIM in operating systems such as Windows 7 and 8. Secure erase is also supported. Finally, for power draw we have active use at 5.5w with idle draw of 1.5w and a reliability specification of 70GB writes per day.

Capacity

Conclusion
You can view our full perfomance results for the 730 Series and direct competition on the next page.

Lets get the one proper negative out of the way first. Intel market this SSD as an enthisiast model, one which is ideal for those wanting to work with video. In its 240GB form that simply isnt the case. The limited write speeds of that model very much restrict it when compared to the competition, or the 480GB edition. Other than that though there is a lot to like about Intels new SSD series.

First of all we are pleased to see Intels own controller making an appearance in an enthusiast drive. Experience tells us that Intel parts are well made and reliable and that includes our experience with their early SSDs which have proven to be some of the most reliable around. Backed by Intel NAND and Micron DDR3 there is little to be concerned about here and the inclusion of capacitors to protect our data in power loss situations, as well as a rugged metal casing all contribute to an impressive drive.

None of that would be important though if Intel couldnt compete in performance with the likes of Samsung but there is no issue there either. The 730 Series 480GB drive was competitive thoughout our testing, sometimes dropping a touch behind in write operations but never to a level where we would see it in real world use. When we combined two of the 480GB drives in Raid 0 the performance was exceptional, peaking at over 1000MB/s in synthetic tests and for working with 1080 res HD video we saw figures well over 900MB/s for read and write operations. An editors dream.

Backed by a solid 5-year warranty and a decent software suite, including a tool to migrate our install from an existing SSD to the new Intel drive, the 730 Series (480GB) is a very well rounded product. Great build quality and impressive performance.

You can view our full perfomance results for the 730 Series and direct competition on the next page.

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