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Intel X25-M 80GB SSD - Intel X25-M 80GB SSD

By Edward Chester


  • Recommended by TR
Intel X25-M 80GB SSD


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Taking a look at the drive itself we see there's not much to it. On one edge are the SATA power and data connectors and on the top there's a whole raft of technical information about what's inside. Apart from that, though, there's little to say, so let's get straight down to the performance tests.

For comparison we've used the Western Digital VelociRaptor, which is the fastest consumer hard drive currently available, and the OCZ SATA II 46GB SSD, which is the fastest SSD we've yet tested.

We started our testing by adding the unformatted drives to our test bed then running the read test portion of HDTune. This program comprehensively tests performance of the entire disk and returns a clear and easy to read graph that pretty much sums up everything you could possibly need to know about the raw speed of a drive. There's also a write test included in HDTune, though we've only had the chance to test this on the Intel drive so we can't compare results.

Next, we loaded an identical installation of Windows onto each drive. We then test the boot, reboot, and shutdown speeds of the system with each drive installed. Following this we run the HDD portion of the PCMark Vantage test suite. This runs a whole host of simulated hard drive tests including Windows Vista booting, video editing using Windows Movie Maker, and importing music into Windows Media Player. At the end it returns an overall score but also breaks down the results into individual scores - we've reported both.

Finally, we timed how long it took to complete a run through of our Crysis timedemo. We run through the demo just once and turn all graphics details to low with resolution set to 800x600 to ensure the graphics card isn't a bottleneck. This way we can ensure as much as possible of the test is spent loading the game into memory and taxing the hard drive.

Looking first at the HDTune results, there's one figure that really stands out; the Intel X-25-M's access time. Registering at consistently below 0.1 secs, HDTune simply rounds the figure down to 0 secs, as that's all it can display. Now the difference between the Intel's <0.1ms access time and the 0.3ms of the OCZ SSD may not look like very much but it actually demonstrates that the Intel SSD is at least three times faster, which is a huge difference for two seemingly identical devices. When you then take into account the X25-M's 230MB/s read speeds, you have what's technically known in the business as a trouncing.

As mentioned, we don't have write speed results for the other drives so we can't draw any absolute conclusions, but even in isolation the figures are impressive. This drive still won't compete with a fast conventional hard drive when it comes to sequential write speed but it certainly isn't bad and conforms with the figures Intel was suggesting. Also, the fast access time (note how much slower it is than the read access time) counters this by making smaller random writes much faster than any conventional hard drive could manage. Essentially, if you regularly find yourself copying large files then you may want to avoid this drive, but for most other uses the X25-M should excel.

This is reflected in our PCMark Vantage figures that show the Intel drive simple annihilating the competition. Now, PCMark does tend to favour SSDs, even though in real world usage conventional hard drives are often faster (as is the case with the OCZ SSD vs the VelociRaptor). Nonetheless, the Intel drive still nearly doubles the performance of the OCZ drive.

Finally, our real world tests bring things back down to earth with a bump. While the X25-M does itself no disservice, it's quite clear that if game loading times and windows boot times are your priority then buying an SSD doesn't really gain you that much, if anything. However, what none of these tests really tell you is how fast day to day work can be. Opening programs like Firefox and Photoshop, flicking between windows, or simply scrolling through a folder of thumbnailed images, just feels more instant and makes the everyday use of a computer that little bit more enjoyable.


We expected great things when Intel announced it was to enter the SSD market and with the X25-M it has certainly delivered. Of course it costs a lot and the capacity is nothing compared to much cheaper hard drives, but that's always been the case with SSDs - you should only ever buy them for their speed. Ironic really, being as this isn't even the fastest SSD Intel are set to release in the coming months. That said, this drive probably strikes the best balance between price, performance and capacity to suit most enthusiasts' needs.

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September 17, 2008, 9:14 am

Fairly badass then.. if only it were half the price and double the capacity. I guess we are going to have to wait another year or so. If I go for a SSD drive it'll have to be SLC. Just for the peace of mind.

Peter Morris

September 17, 2008, 12:20 pm

Thanks for the review, Ed. I work in professional audio and have ben testing fast USB drives as my audio disk for sometime with mixed results...

My need is for a drive that is always ready and has the fastest R/W possible so that multiple audio tracks can be read and written simultaneously. Simple enough and the fast HDDs do the job - up to a point. Typically a pro rig will have 1 disk for the system (including Logic, Pro Tools or other audio app), 1 disk for samples & virtual instruments, 1 disk for recording and playing back audio and 1 disk for video content (when scoring to film for example). A combination of internal disks and FW800 so as not to flood a single bus normally works well.

What concerns me is the inexplicable hits that SSDs sometimes take. I can understand it when an app has ben swapped out, when memory has ben paged out, when an HDD has spun down or encounters RPS latency. What causes the X25-M to take a bath on Windows shutdown? It's 60% slower than the Velociraptor. I've read other reviews that also have an inexplicable hit but in other areas. It's almost as if there is some kind of occasional initialisation issue or bottleneck.

It's hard to say to an artist: "Sorry - system fault. I lost that great take" so instabilities are far worse than predictable but inferior performance. There are strategies when the system behaves predictably but not when there are glitches.

Long preamble to a short question: are there glitches in SSD performance? Perhaps these are masked or averaged out in multiple tests but might manifest themselves according to Murphy's Law. What of the Windows Shutdown anomaly? Any ideas?

I'll still try it anyway, of course. When simultaneously reading and writing audio from the same disk (even with decent size buffers), the head movement is something I'd like to eliminate so that part of it is a no-brainer. As for capacity, the audio disk seldom needs to be bigger than 20GB for a recording session. I would archive after every session to RAID, whether using Velociraptor or SSD. 80GB is fine for work in progress.




September 17, 2008, 12:45 pm

agree - need to be way cheaper

but only use I can see over a mechanical drive is in laptops, silent media pc's or if you need the ultimate performance....

It would have been interesting to have compared it against a drive with high areal density of 300gb+ per platter and 32mb cache as well as the raptor.

capacity wise - no competition seeing as the Seagate 3.5" 1.5Tb drive will be available this month for way less that half the price of this SSD...

Simon J

September 17, 2008, 12:50 pm

Is there any reason why the Intel drive was not matched against the latest OCZ Core 2 SSD? I appreciate that the OCZ drive uses the faster SLC chips (and clearly demonstrates just how much performance Intel has gained from MLC chips) but this drive is an earlier generation example and it would have been nice to see how Intel's drive compares to it's direct rival.

Will we see such a comparison by using the Core v2 60 or 120gb drive? After all I don't think TR has yet reviewed this drive and it has been available for sale in the UK for a little while now?


September 17, 2008, 1:20 pm


It wasn't a conscious decision to not compare the OCZ core range, we just haven't received one yet. From what I gather, though, the core drives are nothing special.


The VelociRaptor is significantly faster than the high capacity drives that you're referring to. If you want some numbers then check out the VelociRaptor review: http://www.trustedreviews.com/...


Previous SSDs have exhibited anomalous performance, as referred to on page 2, but I didn't encounter any such problems with this drive.


November 17, 2010, 9:25 pm

Just bought one of these drives (the G2 of course) last week for use as a boot drive in my desktop. I appreciate that the G3 will be out soon (and even better) but my need was urgent following a HDD failure.

This drive is absolutely superb. The BIOS takes longer to load than Windows 7. Hibernation is even better as return to operation is near instant. Everything that runs from this drive loads extremely quickly and the general "feel" of Windows (albeit a fresh install) is extremely responsive.

I'm very happy with my purchase and look forward to the next generations that are much bigger, faster and even cheaper. I won't buy another PC (or laptop) without one.

Finally. The drive weighs virtually nothing and whilst I had it running outside the PC it didn't warm to the touch at all. And (ofc) it's completely silent.

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