Intel SSD 520 Series 480GB review

Intel goes big with its latest solid-state beast

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  • Big capacity
  • SandForce controller


  • Poor write speed
  • Expensive

For most PC users, choosing a solid-state drive is a question of balancing cost against capacity and performance. For those whose budgets stretch a little further, really big SSDs such as the new 480GB Intel 520 Series SSD are on the menu.

Conventional magnetic hard disks are certainly available in larger capacities and £80/$120 will buy you a 2TB drive, which makes a mockery of the Intel 520 Series SSD 480GB's £620/$780-odd selling price.

What you don't get with a 2TB magnetic lump, of course, is SSD performance, physical robustness or low power consumption.

Moreover, a 480GB SSD is likely to be a big enough boot drive for the vast majority of PCs.

It should even get the job done for gamers with a big Steam collection, after all, just a few years ago a 500GB HDD would have been all we had in our gaming machines.

Vital stats
Form factor - 2.5-inch
Capacity - 480GB
Controller - SandForce SF-2281
Memory type - Intel 25nm Synchronous MLC
Interface - SATA 6Gbps


The general rule of thumb for large SSDs is bigger equals better. But the new Intel 520 Series SSD 480GB proves there's a limit to that.

In fairness, this large SandForce-powered drive isn't alone in seeing write performance fall off compared to smaller siblings. Drives around the 500GB mark based on Marvell's controller, like the Crucial M4, suffer the same problem.

Incompressible sequential read performance

Intel SSD 520 Series 480GB Benchmarks

Incompressible sequential write performance

Intel SSD 520 Series 480GB Benchmarks

Random 4K read performance

Intel SSD 520 Series 480GB Benchmarks

Random 4K write performance

Intel SSD 520 Series 480GB Benchmarks

Tech Specs

Product TypeSolid State Drive
Product Family520
Drive InterfaceSATA
Drive Width2.5"
Drive Interface StandardSATA/600
Brand NameIntel
Drive TypeInternal
Storage Capacity480 GB
Maximum Read Transfer Rate550 MBps
Maximum Write Transfer Rate520 MBps
Product Series520
ManufacturerIntel Corporation
Product Name520 Series MLC Solid State Drive
Package TypeOEM
Manufacturer Part NumberSSDSC2CW480A301
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Intel Solid-State Drives represent a revolutionary breakthrough that delivers a giant leap in storage performance. Unlike hard disk drives, Intel SSDs have no moving parts, resulting in a quiet, cool, highly rugged storage solution that also offers faster system responsiveness.

Drawing from decades of memory engineering experience, and industry-leading, compute-quality NAND Flash memory manufacturing processes, Intel SSDs are designed to deliver outstanding performance for a wide range of computing applications. Intel SSDs also feature low write amplification and a unique wear-leveling design for higher reliability, meaning Intel SSDs not only perform better-they last longer.