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Intel NAS Performance Toolkit

Intel NASPT is another disk sub-system test that uses real-life usage scenarios. Like PCMark 7, Intel NASPT reproduces predefined disk activity traces and measures how fast they are executed. However, the default traces are designed for network attached storage devices rather than for SSDs. Therefore during our test session e replace them with the specially developed SSD Benchmarking Suite which offers more relevant usage scenarios such as compressing and decompressing files, compiling large projects, copying files and folders, loading 3D game levels, installing software, batch-processing photos, searching a digital library for data, mass-launching applications, and transcoding video.

Like PCMark 7, this benchmark gives us a true-to-life illustration of disk subsystem performance. Here the SSDs are again tested in their “steady” state.

Frankly speaking, we prefer INASPT with special traces from SSD Benchmarking Suite to PCMark 7 when it comes to benchmarking SSDs. This test takes typical SSD usage scenarios into account and its results usually agree with the practical experience of using SSDs in desktop computers.

Here, the new drive from Intel performs brilliantly, enjoying a 5% lead over the same-class Corsair Force GT and a 1.5% lead over the OCZ Vertex 3 MAX IOPS. The gap doesn’t look very large, but we must keep it in mind that all of these SSDs have the same controller inside. Intel has managed to squeeze this advantage out by means of firmware optimizations whereas the numerous SandForce-based products we’ve tested before only differed when they were equipped with different types of flash memory.

The detailed INASPT results help us see what usage scenarios are the most suitable for the Intel SSD 520. Take note that the data-transfer rate is higher than the SATA interface bandwidth in some subtests. That’s because INASPT is a high-level test that uses standard Windows functions to access the disk subsystem. The OS’s caching mechanisms come into play then.

The Intel SSD 520 is the best drive across most of the usage scenarios. It turns out to be a versatile solution suitable for many types of high-performance desktop PCs.

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