As mobile PC’s get smaller, even the 2.5″ form factor solid state drives are too large to fit inside without making design concessions. Sure, computer makers can embed than NAND into the device but that pretty much kills any upgrade options for the consumer. This where mSATA drives come in. They are small, yet able to carry larger capacities and are easily added or removed assuming they are easily accessible. Until now, there hasn’t been a lot of activity in the mSATA SSD space but Intel is pushing the form factor front and center with their 525 Series (Lincoln Crest) line of drives which are mSATA exclusively. We didn’t just get the usual single drive to test, they sent over virtually every available model they have which is great to show the differences in performance between differing capacities.
As you can see from above, all of the drives feature a green PCB save for the 30GB drive having blue, otherwise they are are visually indistinguishable so one must refer to the product sticker to discern which is which. Unlike their appearance, the performance varies between drives with the lowest capacity 30GB drive maxing out at 500MB/s and 275MB/s reads and writes respectively and the 240GB version cranking out 550MB/s and 520MB/s. Of course these are maximum specifications using compressible data and as most know by now, the SF-2281 controller does not fare as well as compressibility wanes.
The motherboard we have on our test bench does have an mSATA slot, but it’s limited to 3Gbps bandwidth so we’re leveraging this mSATA to SATA adapter Intel was kind enough to supply with their samples. It supports full 6Gbps bandwidth so we should be good to go.