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Performance Tests

Intel 730 vs. Intel DC S3500: The Benefits of Overclocking

The consumer-class Intel 730 was made out of the DC S3500 by selecting the best components (controller and flash memory chips) and pre-overclocking them. These SSDs share the same architecture, differing only in firmware and clock rates. The new drive's controller and memory are clocked 50% and 20% higher, respectively, in comparison with its server cousin. According to the official specs, this overclocking translates into a 20% performance boost and we can check this out in practice. We tested a DC S3500 240GB earlier, so we can compare its speed with that of the new 730 model of the same capacity. The following table is based on their benchmarking results in Anvil's Storage Utilities 1.1.0.337.

So Intel’s overclocking brings about some tangible benefits. The 730 model is much faster than its server cousin, enjoying an advantage up to 74% at sequential writing. The table also shows that Intel’s overclocking has a positive effect on random-address operations with a long request queue. The advantage is 15 to 25%, which is quite a lot, too. Overall, Intel’s method of transforming a server-class SSD into a solution for desktop PC enthusiasts seems to produce excellent results.

Advanced users are going to appreciate the Intel 730 for its improved specs and the methods they were arrived at. Hopefully, the drive’s reliability will be high. Overclocking is supposed to reduce the service life of semiconductor devices but Intel claims there’s no reason to worry. Intel’s 3rd generation controller and 20nm MLC NAND flash are both mature products and their ability to work at increased clock rates is supported by the latest advances in their manufacturing technology.

Sequential/Random Reading and Writing

We use Anvil's Storage Utilities 1.1.0.337 to measure random and sequential read and write speeds of our SSDs. The synthetic benchmark integrated into this software suite provides a great overview of the tested products by checking out their key speed characteristics. The results you will see here refer to the FOB performance (fresh out-of-box, i.e. non-degraded) of the SSDs. It must also be noted that we use incompressible data for this test.

The Intel 730 behaves in an original manner in this test. It is in the leading group in most of the subtests, especially at random reading. It looks somewhat worse at writing, but we should keep it in mind that random reading is far more common for desktop PCs than random writing. So this synthetic benchmark suggests that the Intel 730 is just the right solution for high-performance PCs.

One thing should be noted, though. Our praise goes mostly to the 480GB version of the new drive. It is the fastest version in the Intel 730 series whereas most of the competing products offer their top speed in versions which are only half that capacity. And it is 240/256GB SSDs that enjoy the highest demand today. Our praise wouldn't be so abundant if we compared the mainstream 240GB version of the Intel 730 with its rivals. It is not downright slow, being a mere 10% behind the 480GB version in most subtests, yet its sequential write speed is just awful. Overall, it looks worse than the indisputable leaders Samsung 840 Pro, OCZ Vector 150 and SanDisk Extreme II.

 
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