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Testbed and Methods

We test SSDs on a special testbed based on a mainboard with Intel H77 chipset. The latter has two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports and we connect the tested drives to one of these ports.

Since this review covers a premium-class SSD, which is one of the most expensive consumer-class models available right now, we want to pit it against a number of popular top-end products.

Besides Intel’s two 730 series models of different capacities, we will have a Samsung 840 Pro (the fastest consumer-class SSD right now, based on Samsung’s proprietary MDX controller), Seagate 600 (with LAMD LM87800 controller), Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme and SanDisk Extreme II (with Marvell’s 88SS9187 controller), Intel 530 (with the good old SandForce SF-2281 controller), and OCZ Vector 150 (representing the proprietary Indilinx Barefoot 3 platform). The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme, SanDisk Extreme II, OCZ Vector 150 and Seagate 600 are equipped with 19nm MLC flash memory from Toshiba/SanDisk. The Samsung 840 Pro is based on Samsung’s own 21nm MLC flash, and the Intel 530 features Intel’s 20nm MLC flash.

The tested SSDs have similar storage capacities (240/250/256 GB). It must be noted that such a capacity means maximum performance for every SSD other than the Intel 730 series because it enables 4-way interleaving of NAND devices on each controller channel. In the Intel 730 series the maximum performance is ensured by the 480GB model.

Here is a list of all hardware components we will use in this test session:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-3470S (Ivy Bridge, 4 cores, 2.9 GHz, EIST and Turbo Boost disabled)
  • Mainboard: Intel DH77DF (BIOS 0108)
  • System memory: 2x2GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM (9-9-9-24-1T)
  • System disk: Crucial m4 256GB (CT256M4SSD2)
  • Tested SSDs:
    • Intel SSD 530 240GB (SSDSC2BW240A4, firmware DC32)
    • Intel SSD 730 240GB (SSDSC2BP240G4, firmware L2010400)
    • Intel SSD 730 480GB (SSDSC2BP480G4, firmware L2010400)
    • Intel DC S3500 (SSDSC2BB240G4, firmware 0355)
    • OCZ Vector 150 240GB (VTR150-25SAT3-240G, firmware 1.2)
    • Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 256GB (PX-256M5P, firmware 1.06)
    • Samsung 840 Pro 256GB (MZ-7PD256, firmware DXM06B0Q)
    • SanDisk Extreme II 240GB (SDSSDXP-240G, firmware R1311)
    • Seagate 600 240GB (ST240HM000, firmware C675)
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (SP1, 64-bit)
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver 9.4.0.1027
    • Intel HD Graphics Driver 10.18.10.3345
    • Intel Management Engine Driver 9.5.0.1367
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology 12.9.0.1001
 
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