Intel 510 Series 120GB
Intel's 510 Series 120GB shows improvement


Intel 510

The timing of the 510's launch couldn't come at a worse time really.

With the next generation of drives using SandForce's SF-2000 controller about to appear anytime soon and if the speculation about the pricing of the new drives is correct then Intel way well be hit by a double whammy – competition with much faster drives at the same price point.

But back to the 510's performance, the tweaking that Intel has done to the Marvell controller certainly adds to the sequential read/write performance, as does its SATA 6Gbps interface.

It gets close to the quoted sequential read speed of 450MB/s when tested with the ATTO benchmark, and just exceeds the quoted figure for writes.

These attentions to upping the sequential speeds have come at the expense of the 4K write speeds, which are on the low side. So like a great many SSDs it's ideal for moving large files around but not so handy at moving small file packages around the place.

You may be thinking then it's a bit unfair to pitch the 510 120GB up against OCZ's RevoDrive 120GB because they use completely different interfaces, with the RevoDrive knocking lumps out of any traditionally interfaced drive put up against it when it comes to comparing performance.

While that may be true, performance isn't the only factor when considering which hard drive to buy and the important point in this respect is that both OCZ's RevoDrive 120 and the Intel 510 Series 120GB are price in the same £220-£230 price bracket, so the comparison is valid from the £ per Gigabyte point of view.

The one thing that the Intel 510 Series SSD does have in its favour is Intel's attention to detail when it comes to reliability and longevity in a drive.

The 510 comes with an MTBF of 1.2 million hours, and not only does it come with TRIM support but it's also backed by Intel's superb SSD Toolbox software utility.

The utility includes everything you need to keep the drives performance as sharp as it can be and includes an SSD optimiser, a system tuner and a secure erase package.

Also worth a mention is the comprehensive bundle that comes with the retail boxed drive.

It's everything you need to get the drive installed and up and running: a 3.5-inch mounting bracket; a four-pin Molex to SATA power adapter; a SATA cable; data migration software; and Intel's superb SSD Toolbox software utility.

We liked

The sequential read performance is excellent, but then again it should be, since the Marvell controller has been tuned for just that. Another plus point is the 6Gbps interface. We also liked the TRIM support and the inclusion of Intel's SSD toolbox.

We disliked

In some respects, the 510 is Intel treading water while sorting out the controller for the next generation of the X25-M Yes, it's a fast drive, but it leaves more of a thought of what might have been especially with the new SandForce controller equipped drives appearing anytime soon.

Final word

Intel's 510 isn't a bad drive – in fact if you are just moving large files around it's a very good choice to go for – but the timing of its release hasn't done it any favours.