The Intel X25-M is the only drive we’re testing today that does not use the J-Micron disk controller, and cracking open the casing reveals a very different component array and layout than in the Patriot or G.Skill drives.
Rather than buying in a third party controller chip Intel instead decided to develop its own. It has produced a significantly larger controller chip that dwarfs the diminutive J-Micron JMF 602 and should provide much improved read and write speeds over the competition.
Intel has also included a dedicated cache in the form of a 16MB Samsung SDRAM chip running at 166MHz and the 80GB of storage is spread across twenty 4GB MLC NAND Flash memory modules manufactured by Intel itself. This replaces the Samsung chips used the G.Skill and Patriot drives.
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This larger amount of smaller modules combined with the improved disk controller means that the drive should have far superior write speeds to the other drives we’ll be testing, with the drive able to write to more modules simultaneously.
Thanks to the in-house designed and made memory and disk controller Intel claims some pretty monstrous read/write speeds from this drive, quoting the max read at a heady 250MB/s and a fairly realistic max write of 70MB/s.
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As with the other two SSD drives, the PCB is housed in a 2.5” metal casing that’s about as plain as a house brick. Today we’re looking at an engineering sample but the retail version is identical (bar the NO WARRANTY! Disclaimer). Speaking of the warranty, Intel provides three years of warranty cover which, while a solid year better than the competing Patriot and G.Skill drives, is still less than the norm you’d get from mechanical drives.
With all this speed on offer there has to be a catch and for the Intel X-25 M it’s the price. At $599 in the USA and anywhere between £435 and £550 in the UK it’s almost double the price of the competing SSD drives on test. For a bit of scale, for similar money you can build our entire recommended affordable gaming system for a similar price! Let’s hope that the Intel X25-M will be able to justify this frankly ludicrous cost in testing.