We are pleased to welcome the new Intel 730 SSD which features Intel’s third-generation controller and is targeted at enthusiasts. It is an indication of Intel’s intention to stay on the top-end SSD market after its position has been weakened by the mediocre SandForce-based series. Despite their exclusive firmware, 5-year warranty and high reliability, Intel’s consumer-class products with SandForce SF-2281 controller are outdated already. They are not fast and their writing performance degenerates with use.
Now Intel proves that it is still interested in producing high-quality and fast SSDs for enthusiasts. The new solution is based on Intel’s best technologies which have previously been limited to the server market. It is hard to tell why the 730 model wasn’t released earlier as its controller had been designed back in 2012, but that controller still serves as a good foundation for a modern SSD. By increasing its clock rate and equipping it with modern 20nm NAND flash memory, Intel offers an original SSD for top-end desktop PCs. The 480GB version of the new drive is highly competitive. It is even among the best products when it comes to random-address operations. The new SSD features high reliability and specified endurance, which are ensured by a number of technologies from the server-class Intel DC S3500 model. Thus, the Intel 730 is a versatile high-speed SATA 6 Gbit/s drive optimized for heavy loads.
Talking about its downsides, the Intel 730 series is limited to two storage capacities only: 240 and 480 GB. It doesn’t support hardware encryption. And it is very expensive. The Intel 730 is going to cost more than top-end consumer-class SSDs from Samsung, OCZ, Plextor and SanDisk, so it is hard to tell if the new product will be popular at such a high price. We suspect it will only be interesting for hardcore enthusiasts. However, the very fact of its release makes us hope that Intel's controllers will return to other consumer-class SSDs and completely replace the good old SF-2281 from Intel's product range.
To help you with your shopping choice, we offer the following summary table with test results of various SSDs. It contains basic hardware information about SSDs we’ve tested so far and allows to quickly determine the general position of a particular model among its competitors in terms of relative performance.