The Great High-end SSD Shootout

Intel SSD 520 Series, Kingston HyperX 3K, OCZ Vector

Intel SSD 520 Series

Controller: LSI SandForce SF-2281
Memory type: Synchronous MLC NAND (Intel)

Intel’s eagerly anticipated high-end SSD 520 Series drive made its debut early in 2012 and it packed SandForce’s SF-2281 controller with Intel’s own 25nm synchronous MLC NAND memory. Backed by Intel’s year-long validation process and a custom firmware exclusive only to Intel, the SSD 520 Series drives packed performance and reliability in a single package. What’s more, the drive was bundled with an extensive array of accessories, including a 3.5-inch HDD bay installation bracket as well as SATA data and power cables.

The Intel SSD 520 Series is unique in that it has a removable bumper, so that it can fit in 9.5mm drive bays or can be turned into a 7mm drive for notebook application.

A look at the SandForce SF-2281 controller in the Intel drive.


Kingston HyperX 3K

Controller: LSI SandForce SF-2281
Memory type: Synchronous MLC NAND (Intel)

The HyperX brand denotes Kingston’s flagship lineup of drives. The HyperX 3K is the latest addition to the Kingston stable and the “3K” suffix denotes the number of P/E cycles that the memory in the drive, 25nm MLC NAND chips from Intel to be specific, are rated for. The drive comes in a neat package and Kingston provides a cool-looking 3.5-inch HDD bay bracket in matching electric-blue for installation.

The Kingston HyperX 3K has a stylish case and comes in a 9.5mm form factor.

The SandForce SF-2281 controller is to the left and to the right are rows of Intel MLC NAND chips.


OCZ Vector

Controller: Indilinx Barefoot 3
Memory type: Synchronous MLC NAND (Intel)

A year after its acquisition of both Indilinx and PLX Technology, OCZ has released their first SSD with both an in-house developed controller and firmware. The new controller is called the Indilinx Barefoot 3 and in our earlier review, we found it to be a credible alternative and challenger to the current crop of high-end SandForce and Marvell drives. The drive comes with a 3.5-inch HDD bay adapter for easy installation.

The OCZ Vector comes in a stunning blue case that feels solid and sturdy. It also comes in an Ultrabook-friendly 7mm form factor.

Sadly, the new Indilinx Barefoot 3 is concealed by thick thermal paste. Surrounding it are OCZ-branded memory chips which are in fact from Intel.