Intel series 510 120GB & 250GB SSD Review - Where to Buy

By on June 28, 2011

The king returns.

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Intel series 510 120GB & 250GB SSD Review


Solid State Drives or SSDs for short are slowly becoming the preferred choice of PC performance enthusiasts with their faster access times and quiet operation. Previously, Western Digital’s Raptor series held that top spot with its 10,000rpm drives, but with companies like OCZ, Crucial and Intel releasing faster and cheaper SSDs into the market, the traditional hard disk drive may soon become a thing of the past.


Today we look at Intel’s new 510 series of SSDs, offering 120GB and 250GB versions  with SATA3 (6 Gb/s) compatibility. We will pit them against two hard drives and see how much one can expect to lose in terms of load times and overall speed.



Model name Intel® Solid-State Drive 510 Series Capacity 120GB and 250GB NAND flash components 34-nm Intel® NAND Flash Memory multi-level cell compute-quality components Bandwidth2 Sustained sequential reads
120GB250GB

  • Up to 400 MB/s
    (SATA 6 Gb/s)

  • Up to 265 MB/s
    (SATA 3 Gb/s)



  • Up to 500 MB/s
    (SATA 6 Gb/s)

  • Up to 265 MB/s
    (SATA 3 Gb/s)


Sustained sequential writes
120GB250GB

  • Up to 210 MB/s
    (SATA 6 Gb/s)

  • Up to 200 MB/s
    (SATA 3 Gb/s)



  • Up to 315 MB/s
    (SATA 6 Gb/s)

  • Up to 240 MB/s
    (SATA 3 Gb/s)


Read latency3 65 microseconds (120GB and 250GB) Write latency3 80 microseconds (120GB and 250GB) Random I/O Operations per Second (IOPS)4

  • Random 4KB Reads: up to 20K IOPS

  • Random 4KB Writes: up to 8K IOPS


Interface Compatible with SATA 1.5 Gb/s and 3 Gb/s Form factor, height and weight

  • 2.5 inch industry standard form factor

  • Height: 9.5 mm thick

  • Weight: 80 grams (± 2 grams)


Life expectancy 1.2 million hours Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) Power consumption

  • Active: 380 mW Typical5

  • Idle: 100 mW Typical6


Operating shock 1,500G/0.5 ms Operating temperature 0°C to 70°C





Setting up the SSDs was very easy. A 3.5” adaptor kit is included in the retail packaging which I found very convenient and quite easy to install in my case. The process took no more than a few minutes and involved a few screws, a screw driver, the adaptor kit and the SSD. Installing Windows 7 on the SSD was simple and straightforward.

The test system consisted of an Intel Core i7-2600K on an ASUS P8P67 EVO motherboard. Paired with that was 4GB of G.SKill RipJaws X ram and a Gigabyte HD 6870 graphics card. The whole system is powered by a Corsair TX750 PSU. All benchmarks were run on Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit. For comparisons we have used a Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB (@ 10k rpm) and a Seagate 1.5TB HDD (@ 7.2k rpm)

HD Tach and ATTO (results in Mb/s)






With both SSDs offering random access times of 0.2ms each, they hold a clear lead over the Raptor and Seagate with 7.0 and 15.3ms respectively. However, the Raptor closes in on the 120GB SSD and 250GB SSD at 3GB/s in the burst speed test. We can also see a significant reduction in performance when the 250GB SSD is connected to a SATA2 port instead of the newer SATA3 ports. However, these are synthetic benchmarks that do not necessarily reflect real world experiences. The read/write speeds of the 250GB SSD are indeed impressive when on SATA 3, but it's interesting to note the read speeds of the 120GB SSD more than the 250GB version on SATA 2.

Boot Time (results in seconds)



As is expected Intel’s SSD comes out on top here with almost 20 seconds difference between it and the Seagate and 8 seconds compared tot he VelociRaptor. The difference between SATA2 and SATA3 SSD load times is a meager 0.3 seconds which seems to point toward little noticeable speed gains between the old and new SATA speeds.



Games (results in seconds)



Measured in seconds, the SSD is the quickest to load all 3 games with GTAIV and Team Fortress 2 showing significant load time reductions but the same can’t be said of Assassin’s Creed. Perhaps the difference can be seen in other points in the game.

Adobe CS5



I was expecting significant load time differences between the 250GB SSD, the WD Raptor and the Seagate, but the results were quite surprising. The SSD managed a very quick 0.8 seconds from start to a fully loaded Photoshop session; the VelociRaptor managed 1.1 seconds with the Seagate trailing them with 1.4 seconds. Not the significant difference I was expecting but load times may vary when one is loading an image into Photoshop and this is probably where we may see the SSD shine and the Seagate fall behind.


The Intel 510 series SSDs offer great performance in both capacities. Windows load times as well as the load times of games can be significantly reduced and with up to 250GB of disk space the average user should have more than ample space to install all the games and applications they want. The difference in load times is staggering but is not uniform and that means that not all the games and applications installed will see a significant reduction. Price is another factor which needs to be taken into account; SSDs are still very expensive in comparison with traditional hard drives and even the Velociraptor therefore one should think hard about whether they really need the latest in drive storage technology.  SATA3 speeds did not seem to yield any noticeable difference to SATA2 in the real world so if you’re new to SSDs and just want to try them out then you can’t go wrong with an older SATA2 or the 120GB drive.  You can even take advantage of Intel’s Smart Response technology on their newly released Z68 motherboards.
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