by Robert Tanner on February 6, 2012 in Solid-State Drives
SandForce is back in town and it’s here to stay. Intel’s 520 Series is a full replacement for the 510 Series, but utilize the SF-2281 controller and custom Intel firmware to deliver one of the best SSDs we seen to date. If you already want an Intel SSD but donâ€™t know which to get, we can answer that. Oh, and did we mention the 5 year warranty?
For the boot test we perform a cold boot, with the stopwatch starting the moment the power button is pressed until the last systray icon has finished loading. A large number of factors can change how fast a computer starts, from the motherboard to the BIOS/EFI configuration, so these times should not be used as an expectation of how fast the SSD will boot in your respective system. Thanks to motherboards replacing the BIOS with UEFI boot times have dropped significantly in many cases.
If there is one surprising result in our benchmarking results, this one is definitely it. Although we did see boot times as low as 28 seconds initially, the average results after five runs (after dropping the highest and lowest results) still gave us the worst boot time out of all the SSDs tested.
That said, the overall difference in results from best to worst is 5 seconds, and 35 seconds to boot a system from power to desktop is nothing to shake a stick at. After the Intel SSD had been “dirtied” a bit from our testing regimen, boot times stayed consistently around the 35 second mark.
Game Level Loading
Last but certainly not least of our benchmarks are the game level-load times. SSDs are great at decreasing load intervals, and having an SSD can appreciably improve game immersion by minimizing load delays. It may not seem like much, but after a few levels, having the load times decrease by even a third compared to a hard drive adds up fast.
For our new regimen we chose Portal 2 and Civilization V. Portal 2 is already a very well optimized game and isn’t particularly demanding, and Civilization V is anything but either of those. For Portal 2 we chose to load the larger sp_a3_03 chapter, while with Civ V we loaded a save game file from late in a large game.
Our game level load results are mixed. Although the 520 adds 1.5 seconds to the Portal 2 test, it manages the best Civilization V load time we’ve seen yet by shaving off four seconds from the previous best. In both cases, results are well ahead of what a modern 2TB hard drive was capable of. So even though an SSD likely won’t boost your FPS during games, it will certainly cut down when changing levels, loading maps, or transitioning from one part of a game to another. A few seconds won’t seem like much, but they will seem like everything once you are immersed in your favorite game.