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Testbed Configuration

For our today’s SSD test session we put together a unified system on an Intel H67 based mainboard. This chipset provides support for two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports, which we use to connect the tested SSDs.

Two Intel SSDs from the same price range is already a very interesting topic in itself. However, since we previously didn’t have a chance to compare Intel SSD 330 and Intel SSD 335 against the products from the competition, we also decided to include all major SSD products available in the market these days for a more extensive comparison. The diagrams will include performance numbers for other products based on SandForce controller (Intel SSD 520 and Corsair Force GS) as well as for a variety of products with different hardware platform. Among them are: Corsair SSDs on LAMD LM87800 controller (Neutron GTX and Neutron), OCZ Vertex 4 on Indilinx Everest 2 controller, the newest OCZ Vector SSD on Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller, Crucial m4 on Marvell 9174, and Plextor SSDs on Marvell 9174 controller (M5S) and Marvell 9187 controller (M5 Pro). All above mentioned drives used synchronous flash memory.  In particular, Crucial m4, Corsair Neutron, Intel SSD 520, OCZ Vertex 4, OCZ Vector and Plextor M5S use 25 nm IMFT memory with ONFI-interface. And Corsair Force GS, Corsair Neutron GTX and Plextor M5 Pro use Toggle Mode MLC NAND manufactured using 2x nm or 19 nm technology.

Overall our testbed was configured as follows:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.1 GHz, EIST and Turbo Boost turned off);
  • Foxconn H67S mainboard (BIOS A41F1P03);
  • 2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM DIMM 9-9-9-24-1T;
  • Crucial m4 256 GB system disk (CT256M4SSD2);
  • Tested SSDs:
    • Corsair Force GS Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GBGS-BK, firmware version 5.03);
    • Corsair Neutron GTX 240 GB (CSSD-N240GBGTX-BK, firmware version 2.06);
    • Corsair Neutron 240 GB (CSSD-N240GB3-BK, firmware version 2.06);
    • Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2, firmware version 040H);
    • Intel SSD 330 240 GB (SSDSC2CT240A3K5, firmware version 300i);
    • Intel SSD 335 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A4K5, firmware version 335t);
    • Intel SSD 520 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A3K5, firmware version 400i);
    • OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB (VTX4-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 1.5);
    • OCZ Vector 256 GB (VTR1-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 1.02);
    • Plextor M5S 256 GB (PX-256M5S, firmware version 1.00);
    • Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB (PX-256M5P, firmware version 1.01).
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver;
    • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology


Random and Sequential Read/Write

We use CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 benchmark to test the random- and sequential read and write speed. This benchmark is convenient to work with as it can measure the speed of an SSD with both incompressible random and fully compressible recurring data. This feature is important for testing SSDs based on SF-2281/2282 controller, which tries to compress the data before writing it into the flash-memory. So, there are two numbers in the diagrams below that reflect the maximum and minimum SSD speed. The real-life performance of an SSD is going to be in-between those two numbers depending on how effective the controller data compression is.

Note that the performance tests in this section refer to SSDs in their “Fresh Out-of-Box” state (FOB). No degradation could have taken place yet.

Whatever is written in the official specs of the new Intel SSD 335, we wouldn’t equate it to the SSD 330. It is different for some reason, which may be the 20nm flash (which theoretically has lower latency) or firmware or both. It delivers higher performance than the Intel SSD 330 when the request queue is long and also features higher sequential write speed than the other Intel SSDs. The 335 model is inferior to the SSD 330 in the other scenarios, though.

The SSD 335 isn’t exceptional. Its behavior is overall the same as that of any other SandForce-based SSD, so it is only average in performance by today's standards. Flagship products are considerably faster and, unlike their SandForce-based opponents, deliver consistent performance with any types of data. Intel's SSDs compress data prior to writing it into the flash memory and slow down when data is incompressible.

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