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I am sure no one doubts that second-generation SandForce controllers are perhaps the best platform for modern SSDs in terms of performance. Thanks to on-the-fly data compression algorithms, SandForce-based SSDs with fast flash memory have always delivered astonishingly high speeds. SandForce’s problems were of a different nature and referred to reliability of the products using them. Being a small developer, SandForce could not carry out comprehensive prerelease testing of their platforms and the resulting instability and failures spoiled the impression from otherwise promising SandForce-based SSDs.

Fortunately, things have improved by now. The small SandForce Company is now under the aegis of the large LSI Corporation, whereas Intel has taken the testing and firmware optimization into their own hands. The result – the Intel SSD 520 series – has been presented in this review.

Quite expectedly, we were highly pleased with the new Intel product. The old SandForce problems have vanished without a trace, and the performance of the new drive is very good, too. Intel SSD 520 uses proprietary 25 nm ONFI flash memory, and is currently among the fastest SF-2281 based products. As a result, it is superior to any other SSDs with SATA 6 Gbit/s interface available today. Its exclusive firmware contributed to making it better than similar SSDs based on the same hardware platform. And if we add 5-year warranty and traditionally high quality of Intel’s SSDs, this product can't help becoming highly popular among users who want to speed up their disk subsystems.

Therefore, we are proud to award Intel SSD 520 drive with our Editor’s Choice as perhaps the most attractive SSD for high-performance desktop PCs:

The only downside to the bunch of advantages is that Intel’s SSD 520 costs more than average SandForce-based SSDs. It’s up to you to decide whether the higher reliability, famous brand name, exclusive firmware and 5-year warranty are worth the extra money they ask for it. To make you choice simpler, we want to show you a table that compares different SSDs based on the SF-2281 controller:


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