We reported on Intel's SSD 330 weeks ago, but today is the official announcement of the drive and its availability in the channel. Unlike previous 300 series drives, the 330 isn't based on Intel's own controller - it's the second SandForce SF-2281 drive in Intel's lineup.

Intel SSD Comparison
  Intel SSD 520 Intel SSD 510 Intel SSD 330 Intel SSD 320
Capacity 60 / 120 / 180 / 240 / 480GB 120 / 250GB 60 / 120 / 180GB 40 / 80 / 120 / 160 / 300 / 600GB
Controller SandForce SF-2281 Marvell 9174 SandForce SF-2281 Intel X25-M G3
Interface 6Gbps SATA 6Gbps SATA 6Gbps SATA 3Gbps SATA
Random Read Performance (Up to) 50K IOPS 20K IOPS 42K IOPS 39.5K IOPS
Random Write Performance (Up to) 60K IOPS 8K IOPS 52K IOPS 23K IOPS
Sequential Read Performance (Up to) 550 MB/s 500 MB/s 500 MB/s 270 MB/s
Sequential Write Performance (Up to) 520 MB/s 315 MB/s 450 MB/s 220 MB/s
Warranty 5 years 3 years 3 years 5 years


The 330 differs from the SandForce based Intel SSD 520 in a couple of key areas. The 330 uses lower p/e count NAND (still Intel 25nm MLC) compared to the 520, reducing Intel's rated lifespan from 5 years of 20GB of writes per day to 3 years under the same workload. Intel's ratings have historically been conservative, so I'd expect that the 330 would last much longer than 3 years for the vast majority of workloads - particularly based on previous calculations on the topic. With a 3 year usable lifespan rating however, Intel dropped the limited warranty on the 330 to 3 years as well.

All of this results in a significant reduction in price compared to the 520:

SSD Pricing Comparison
  60/64GB 120GB/128GB 180GB
Crucial m4 $79.99 $154.99  
Intel SSD 520 $109.99 $184.99 $289.99
Intel SSD 330 $89 $149 $234
Kingston HyperX 3K   $169.99  
Samsung SSD 830 $94.99 $174.99  
OCZ Vertex 3 $98.99 $159.99  
OCZ Vertex 4   $179.99  

In fact, the Intel SSD 330 appears to be the cheapest SF-2281 drive on the market today. Interestingly enough it's only available at three capacities (60, 120 & 180GB), while the Intel SSD 320 was available in far more models going all the way up to 600GB.

Performance ratings are down compared to the Intel SSD 520, although it's not clear whether these are artificial limits or not:

Intel SSD 520 vs. 330
  Intel SSD 520 120GB Intel SSD 330 120GB
Capacity 120GB 120GB
Controller SF-2281 SF-2281
Random Read Performance (Up to) 25K IOPS 22.5K IOPS
Random Write Performance (Up to) 40K IOPS 33K IOPS
Sequential Read Performance (Up to) 550 MB/s 500 MB/s
Sequential Write Performance (Up to) 500 MB/s 450 MB/s
Warranty 5 years 3 years
Price $184 $149

Presumably Intel's SSD 330 uses a similar custom firmware solution to the SSD 520, which should hopefully keep it safe from any SF-2281 related BSOD or other instability.


Intel SSD 330
Capacity 60GB 120GB 180GB
Controller SandForce SF-2281 SandForce SF-2281 SandForce SF-2281
Interface 6Gbps SATA 6Gbps SATA 6Gbps SATA
Random Read Performance (Up to) 12K IOPS 22.5K IOPS 42K IOPS
Random Write Performance (Up to) 20.5K IOPS 33K IOPS 52K IOPS
Sequential Read Performance (Up to) 500 MB/s 500 MB/s 500 MB/s
Sequential Write Performance (Up to) 400 MB/s 450 MB/s 450 MB/s
Warranty 3 years 3 years 3 years
MSRP $89 $149 $234
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  • jwilliams4200 - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    All it takes is a little research to find that the Intel 320 does not cache any host data.

    Someone here is clueless, but it isn't me.
  • bji - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    The Intel 320 wasn't even the topic of conversation. The topic was sandforce based drives. But I'm done with this pointless back and forth as apparently you don't even know what was being discussed.
  • jwilliams4200 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    So you deny reality? Put your hands over your ears and hum? The 320 does not behave how I think SSDs should behave, so I will ignore it?

    And you call me clueless?
  • GreenEnergy - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    I would pick the 320 series over the 520 or 330 series anyday. Even with the premium. Intels own controller works. SandForce doesnt. Even Intels own firmware BSOD. And the drives still get sudden death. I know internally Intel people hate it.

    Biggest mistake ever to start using the worst SSD controller there is. Not to mention the huge hit and PR disaster to the else now well established Intel reliability and quality brand in the SSD marked.
  • Coup27 - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    For all the people who think the 520 is immune from the BSOD's, a quick Google search will turn up pages and pages of different websites and forums with users with problems.

    For me, Samsung 830. Solid.
  • bji - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    I did the search and read the results. I did not come away with the impression that there is a significant problem with BSODs on the 520. I think I saw 3 people reporting actual problems, and lots of reference to "lots of reports of this problem", which leads me to believe that most of it is hearsay.
  • Ramon Zarat - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Have a M4 128GB here and not a single issue or BSOD in 9 months. Looking around at reviews and forums, it's clear that Intel, Samsung and Crucial are definitively the 3 top dog as far as quality/reliability is concerned.
  • SGTGimpy - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    I have an Intel 520 240GB and have beat the crap out of thing for 2 weeks straight on my EVGA X58 Classified and I have not experienced a single BSOD nor have I ever had an issue with any SSD I have used with random BSOD. I read through the BSOD issue on the found on Google for the 520 before I purchased it and 80% are user error related. So I have listed some helpful tips when installing an SSD in your system.

    1. Update your Mother Board BIOS to the latest version. (Unless there is a known issue with it on SSD) Always do this first.

    2. Do not use IDE or Compatibility mode on SATA controller (This is the most common issue). Always use AHCI or RAID (even if you’re not putting it in a RAID Array). Also some add-in SATA Chipsets on MB don't play well with SSD's so it's good to stay on the chipset's SATA.

    3. DO A FRESH INSTALL!!!!!! Don’t be lazy. Do not use a drive copy or image tool. Only bad Ju-Ju comes from this. **Also during the install, even if you’re OS supports the chipset controller (ex Intel ICH.x). Get the latest driver from the manufacture (Intel, AMD or other and not MB manufacture) and load the controller driver during the OS install. (You would not believe how much this fixes your BOSD issues). The driver in the OS is a watered down old driver just to make it work.

    4. Once OS is install, get the latest drivers for all your hardware from their manufactures. This will also help stabilize your system. Some the BSOD that people thought were from the SSD where actually cuased by something else.

    Hope this helps some of you out there pulling your hair out with SSD's.
  • SGTGimpy - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    And I apologize for the bad grammar on the above. I was doing 10 things at once and didn’t check it. :(
  • UltraTech79 - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    The prices go down down down and the NANDs go higher!

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