Intel 320 Series SSD 300GB review
A disappointing drive that's neither the fastest nor the cheapest SSD we've seen.
Review Date: 11 Apr 2011
Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith
Price when reviewed: £370 (£444 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Last month Intel introduced its latest high-end 510 Series SSDs. Now it’s launched the new mainstream models, known as the 320 Series.
The drives break new ground in several ways. They’re Intel’s first units to use 25nm MLC flash cells, promising lower prices and potentially better performance than previous 34nm models. They’re also the first to store data in encrypted format, although that’s no obstacle to thieves, as files are automatically decrypted as you read them back.
A more useful security feature is the ability (on systems with a compatible BIOS) to lock the drive so it can’t be accessed by any device until a password is provided.
The 320 Series even ups the ante in terms of capacities, with a range that stretches from 40GB up to a huge 600GB – the largest capacity of any SSD we’ve come across.
Oddly, these up-to-date features sit behind a SATA 3Gb/s interface, rather than the 6Gb/s connector used by many modern SSDs. That means the 320 Series can’t possibly match the read speeds of premium drives.
For example, the 256MB Crucial M4 SSD managed a sequential read speed of 416MB/sec in the AS SSD benchmark, far beyond the capabilities of a 3Gb/s link. We found the 300GB 320 Series’ sequential read speeds averaged 262MB/sec, with write speeds of 220MB/sec.
The 320 Series also lagged in AS SSD’s taxing multi-threaded tests: it hit read speeds of 140MB/sec and write speeds of 62MB/sec, way behind the Crucial’s 159MB/sec and 204MB/sec. The pattern was repeated across our Windows file copy tests, with the Intel drive failing to match the Crucial in any operation.
These comparisons might seem unfair – after all, 320 Series drives are marketed as mainstream units, while the M4 is unashamedly branded as a high-performance drive. Look at the pricing, though, and there’s actually nothing in it: in their varying capacities, both drives sell for just under £1.60 inc VAT per gigabyte.
That being the case, we can only recommend the 320 Series if you need the truly exceptional 600GB model (and don’t mind paying the exceptional £800+ price). If you just want a cheap SSD, the A-Listed Kingston SSDNow V100 is better value, with the 128GB version now available for just £150. And if you’re looking for performance, the Crucial M4 is faster across the board.
Author: Darien Graham-Smith
- Nokia Lumia 530 UK release date and price revealed
- Steve Ballmer steps down from Microsoft board
- Google's self-driving cars can speed... "for safety reasons"
- Firefox gets Chromecast, but no Mozilla TV hardware yet
- Goodbye Chromebooks? Specs leak for $199 HP Stream
- Would you let your child sign up for a Google account?
- iPhone 6 release date, rumours, specs and features: when will the iPhone 6 come out in the UK?
- Apple's "iPhablet" to be called the iPhone 6L
- Motorola Moto 360, Moto X+1 and Moto G2 release date, specs and price in UK
- Forget the iPhone 6: Huawei Ascend P7 to also get sapphire display
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick vs Apple TV: what's the best TV streaming device?
- The 8 best small tablets of 2014: what's the best compact tablet?
- How to edit PDFs: make change to a PDF
- Building a patently better future
- How to update Android apps individually: stop Google Play apps from auto-updating
- Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8: what’s the best iPhone 5s alternative?
- Best music streaming apps: Spotify vs Rdio vs Google Music vs Deezer vs iTunes
- 12 best Android smartphones of 2014: what's the best Android phone?
- How to transfer and sync files between Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive
- How to set up Google Chromecast
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy