Intel 520 240GB SSD RAID 0 Performance Review

Author: Anthony "AkG" Garland
Date: February 20, 2012
Product Name: 520 240GB
Part Number: SSDSC2CW240A3K5
Warranty: 5 Years
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SATA 2 Performance

In a perfect world everyone investing in a new solid state drive would have access to a SATA 6Gb/s controller which could pass on the TRIM command. In reality not everyone has this and for many the decision comes down either giving up TRIM – never a good idea with most controllers – and running it off a secondary controller; or taking a performance hit and running in SATA 2.0 mode.

These tests will consist of some of our real world and synthetic benchmarks run on our standard 1155 test-bed; but the drive will be attached to an SATA 2 port.

For synthetic we have opted for the newcomer to our charts: Anvil Storage Utilities Pro. For real world we have opted for our Adobe test. These two tests should give you a very good idea of the level of performance impact you can expect from running a modern SATA 6 drive in compatibility mode.

While the overall performance of these drives is indeed impacted by running them in SATA 2 mode, the results are still impressive. As mentioned in the original Intel 520 240GB review, we can not see much reason to run in SATA 3gbps mode unless your system is devoid of SATA 6gbps ports.

If you want to add massive performance to an older rig which only has SATA 3 gbps ports, this kind of array would be a decent option. However, for such a massive amount of money, we can't see many consumers going this route.

Parting Thoughts

There really isn’t any point in us drawing out this conclusion since the results really do speak for themselves: a single Intel 520 SSD may be fast but having two in a system can result in performance that was only dreamt about a year ago. The RAID 0 setup tore through our benchmarks like nothing we’ve seen before, routinely beating OCZ’s previously class leading $1500 RevoDrive 3 X2. If anything, the Intel 520 RAID array showed us how quickly SSD technology is progressing on a number of fronts but most importantly, what was a cutting edge solution a few months ago now struggles to keep up with a less expensive alternative.

The lack of TRIM in a multi drive environment may deter some from considering more than a single 520 but as we demonstrated, Intel’s self cleaning routines seem to be well versed in maintaining long term performance. As long as you let them go about their business during periods of system idle time, don’t expect to “feel” any perceptible degradation.

A wise man once said “go big or go home” and that certainly applies to the Intel 520. Two of these drives offer massive amounts of performance but that goes hand in hand with stratospheric pricing. Sure RAID 0 costs more than most people spend on a whole system but if you have the cash, why not go for it?

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