Intel Z68 Review - The Sandy Bridge Platform Expands

Author: SKYMTL
Date: May 11, 2011
Product Name: Intel Z68 Chipset
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The Larson Creek 311 Series SSD

Alongside the Z68 chipset, Intel is launching their new 311 series 20GB SSD which is code named Larson Creek. Specifically tailored for caching, the 311 sports high end, long life 34nm SLC NAND and sequential speeds of 200MB/s write and 105MB/s read.

20GB may put it on the low end of the capacity spectrum and a SATA 3Gbps interface isnít quite in line with some of the higher end drives out there but Intelís choice of SLC modules makes the $110 Larson Creek 20GB a bit of a rarity. There arenít many drives on the retail market which use this NAND type and the few which do hit eye-watering enterprise market price points.

Considering most 40GB MLC-based drives sell for under $80, this is a bit of a risk but Intel is betting that people are willing to spend more to get increase reliability.

Intel Smart Response Technology Performance Testing

In order to test RST Caching, we paired up our Larson Creek 20GB SSD with one of the most popular hard drives of the last few years: the Western Digital Black 640GB. Both the Maximum and Enhanced settings were used.

Synthetic Benchmark Performance

The increase in performance between the hard drive alone and a system with the SSD included is like night and day. The Maximum setting does provide the best overall results due to its ability to impact both read and write speeds but the Enhanced setting displays nearly identical read numbers. Unfortunately, the hard drive becomes a substantial read speed bottleneck in Enhanced mode. Letís see how this impacts real world performance.

Real World Performance

While there may have been a significant difference between the Maximum and Enhanced modes in synthetic benchmarks, the same canít be said about real world scenarios. Both offer a tangible load time improvement over a system with the hard drive operating by itself. The Maximum setting does offer quicker an OS boot cycle but the application load time differences between the two modes really wonít be felt by the end user.

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