Solid State Drives Guide
First Looks: Intel SSD 320 Series 300GB – Going The Extra Mile
25nm Has Arrived
Intel’s SSD 320 series is the successor to the X25-M G2 SSD. The difference between the two SSD offerings from Intel primarily relies on the manufacturing process being used. The older model is based on 34nm, whereas the new one makes use of the 25nm process.
With the new fabrication process, SSD vendors are now able to achieve higher manufacturing yields than before with the same resources that they have. For consumers, 25nm means better performing SSDs at a more reasonable price per gigabyte. Looking at this trend on a positive note, this should be another step ahead toward the mainstreaming of SSDs.
Inside Intel’s SSD
The SSD 320 comes in different storage capacities, ranging from 40GB to 600GB. For the 300GB variant, like the one we had, it comes with a printed circuit board (PCB) that is packed with 20 memory chips. The given count suggests that each chip, a 29FI6B08CCMEI from Intel, has a theoretical capacity of 15GB. A Hynix H5585162EFA 64MB cache chip is also soldered on the board.
Sitting adjacent to the cache chip is Intel’s PC29AS21BA0 controller, the same one found on the X25-M G2 SSD. Although it uses the same controller, the new SSD 320 series comes with new features like full disk encryption and NAND redundancy, both of which are made possible by Intel through firmware. The entire circuitry makes use of SATA 3Gbps interface and is enclosed inside an aluminium casing, compliant with the 2.5-inch standard.
Speed Tests And PCMark Vantage
Our 300GB SSD 320 was tested on a platform composed of an Intel Core i5-720 2.66GHz processor, ASUS P7P55E Pro motherboard, 2GB DDR3 1375MHz memory, AMD Radeon HD 6850 graphics card, and an AcBel 1000W power supply unit. Running on the system was Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate OS.
|SSD Model||Read Speed||Write Speed|
|ADATA S596 Turbo 64GB||249||100|
|Intel SSD 320 Series 300GB||275||138|
|Intel X25-M G2 160GB||253||73|
Using ATTO’s disk benchmark tool, we put the SSD 320 to the test to see how it will fare against other SSD models, namely the ADATA S596 Turbo 64GB and the Intel X25-M G2 160GB, which we reviewed in the past. The chart above reflects the improvements that Intel has introduced to the SSD 320 compared to the other two, in terms of average read and write speeds.
|SSD Model||ADATA S596 Turbo 64GB||Intel SSD 320 Series 300GB||Intel X25-M G2 160GB|
|Overall Score||14360 PCMarks||37587 PCMarks||29884 PCMarks|
|Windows Media Center||64.98||166.10||127.49|
Moving forward, to see how the SSD 320’s fast read and write speeds will affect real-world usage, we launched PCMark Vantage on it. Based on the chart above, we can say that the scores are consistent with the numbers that we yielded from the disk benchmark. The SSD 320 is still on top of its game, toppling the older generation SSDs.
The results that we got using the tests above reveal that the Intel SSD 320 is a worthy upgrade to an older generation SSD, if you are after better performance and larger storage capacities. If there was something that could have made the deal sweeter, that would be the inclusion of a SATA 6Gbps interface into the mix.
Taking into account its recorded speeds, the SSD 320 would be a nice match for a power user’s (a gamer or a content creator) high-end machine. Speaking of high-end, this one doesn’t come at a price point that is friendly to budget-conscious users. At the time of writing, Newegg shows that a 300GB SSD 320 is priced at USD 559.99 or around PhP 24,000 based on the local currency.