This is the part of the article we we always point out the drive capacity which can be a bit confusing for some. Essentially the given physical capacity rating of a drive, 256GB in this case, is expressed in GB (1 GB equals 1 billion bytes) and the virtual capacity as reported by Windows and applications is expressed in GiB (1 GiB equals 1,073,741,824 bytes). So, if you do that conversion you’re looking at ~238GB available but set another 7% aside for spare area and the user ends up with 223GB as reflected in the drive properties as shown in Windows. As always, the spare area is NAND set aside for the drive to use for maintenance and drive endurance activities so there’s always a fresh supply available to the controller. At least for a good chunk of the drive’s life depending on how it’s used and how full it gets.
Since the drive is just now announced, Intel has given us an MSRP of $184 for these 240GB drives. This comes out to about $0.83 per usable GB which a really nice price for a quality Intel SSD. However, we know that when new products hit the market and supply is limited, the prices will be artificially inflated so expect prices a bit higher even though there are some SSD prices wars underway. **EDITORS NOTE: As predicted, they have debuted on Newegg at $209** With the desktop bundle and three year warranty, this is a pretty nice buy and there a lot of Intel loyal buyers out there to take advantage. The toolbox application is also very nice and is not something offered by every drive maker.
As we discussed in the outset of the article, there’s not a lot that’s changed from the 330/520 Series of drives except the move to smaller architecture 20nm NAND which helps make them more affordable. We know the smaller the architecture, the greater rate of errors that occur which must be dealt with by the controller so some firmware changes were likely incurred as well. Currently the 240GB version is the only capacity available so those looking for a bit cheaper and smaller drive will have to look elsewhere for now. With the prices dropping on SSDs overall, it probably won’t be too much longer until the 60Gb and 120GB drives start going the way of the dodo.
As far as performance goes, we have nothing really to complain about. Performance is on par with the 520 Series save for some better marks on sequential writes on low or incompressible data. This is a good thing since it’s where the SF-2281 controllers struggle the most. In the end, it joins the big stack of SF-2281 drives with not a ton to differentiate it. Although it’s the first with 20nm NAND, it’s not going to mean a whole lot to the average user in terms of impact to performance; however, there is an added bonus of power savings where on the 330 Series it was 850/mW active and 600mW idle which drops to 350mW active and 275mW idle on the 335 Series. We do know Intel did some serious work on their firmware to get it as bug-free as possible so from a reliability standpoint, we can’t see anyone else exceeding Intel’s quality on a SF-2281 drive. As such, we have absolutely no qualms about recommending this drive. Still, we eagerly await to see if and when Intel again releases their own drive controller to up the already heated competition.
Legit Bottom Line: The Intel 335 Series is only a minor refresh of their earlier 330/520 series drives, bringing the next generation of NAND with 20nm architecture although little change in performance as it still employs the SF-2281 controller at its heart.