We’ve posted a number of reviews of solid state drives based on the second-generation SandForce controller. The rest of available controllers can only feel jealous of its popularity which is not even diminished by certain problems such as its somewhat blemished reputation, not very high performance, and lack of variation in SandForce-based products. There is just no other controller which, like the SandForce, would permit to manufacture SSDs without any preparatory engineering work. LSI, the developer of the SF-2281 chip, provides it bundled with everything necessary such as PCB design and firmware. The SSD manufacturer only has to actually assemble everything together on its production facilities.
That said, there are still a few original solutions that stand out among the crowd of identical SandForce-based SSDs. They are offered by Intel which designs its SSDs and develops firmware independently. As a result, Intel’s SandForce-based products are really different in their consumer properties. They are faster and have no stability issues. Intel itself seems to be quite satisfied with the SandForce platform as is indicated by its plans on releasing new modifications of SSDs with the same SF-2281 controller inside.
We were pleased with Intel’s first and flagship SSD we tested about a year ago. When benchmarked today, the Intel SSD 520 can still deliver good performance. Average in terms of speed, this series features immaculate stability and very high reliability thanks to premium flash memory with a service life of 5000 reprogram cycles. It comes with a 5-year warranty, by the way. That’s the longest warranty among all SandForce-based SSDs. So, the Intel SSD 520 is an interesting product, yet it couldn’t really be a market hit due to its high price. That’s why it was followed by more affordable solutions.
Some time ago we tested Intel SSD 330, which is similar to the Intel SSD 520 in design but has less reliable flash memory with a service life of 3000 program/erase cycles and is slowed down somewhat on the firmware level. The warranty period is shortened to 3 years. Otherwise, the Intel SSD 330 is quite a typical SSD from Intel. It is somewhat faster than other SandForce-based products, free from critical bugs, and perfectly compatible with the popular Intel SSD Toolbox utility.
Recently, Intel has come up with yet another affordable SSD which is even slightly cheaper than the SSD 330. The Intel SSD 335 model has provoked some excitement, especially as it doesn’t differ from the SSD 330 in its official specs. In this review we will try to find out why it is cheaper and in what features it actually differs from its cousin.