Intel 240GB Series 520 SSD Review

By on March 7, 2012
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Return of the king?

Good: As fast as any SandForce SATA III SSD, Intel SSD Toolbox allows for easy management and firmware update, Intel fixed SF-2281 bugs
Bad: Slight price premium over other SandForce SSDs due to superior firmware and better reliability
Price: AED 1,700
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

When solid state drives exploded onto the PC enthusiast scene a few years ago, reliability was one of the main concerns people had. Sure, data being available at unbelievable speeds is all well and good, but it’s useless if there is no data to use at the end of the day. Amongst the very few SSD manufacturers 4 to 5 years ago, Intel was the first name to bring relief to the whole failing SSDs debacle. That’s not to say that Intel drives never failed, but as far as reliability is concerned, they’re up there.

So today I’ll be looking at the latest Cherryville series 520 SSD from Intel, the 240GB MLC SATA III version to be precise. At its most basic level, the new Cherryville 520 SSDs is like any other SATA III SSD on the market with a SandForce 2281 controller. The only difference is Intel’s own 25nm NAND MLC chips used for data storage. That, and their drivers, which Intel claims is superior to anything else available from other manufacturers.

Basically Intel has been working with SandForce to work out the kinks in their SF-2281 controller, clearing out the bugs that have been plaguing other SSDs with the same controller. The Intel 520 series SSD is supposed to be foolproof from the BSOD errors as well as those where the SSD sometimes isn’t recognized after putting the computer to Sleep.

Of course, SandForce themselves sent out a firmware update to all partner companies in October last year, which should have resolved this issue entirely, but you still hear the odd report from consumers of failing SF-2281 powered SSDs. Our own Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD is running absolutely fine in our testbed. Armed with this supposedly superior firmware and management tools, Intel is able to charge a slight premium on their 520 series SSDs.

With our test unit for the Intel 520 series 240GB SSD came a full upgrade kit as well. You have a 3.5-inch bay with multiple screws and a molex-to-SATA power cable. Manuals and software mini-disc are also part of the package.

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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