Buying solid-state storage on a budget is a tricky proposition. Intel’s trying to make the decision a little easier with the refresh of its mainstream SSDs: the third-generation 320 Series drives move to 25nm flash memory while slightly improving speeds over a 3Gbps SATA interface. These drives aren’t going to break any land-speed records--Intel’s own 510 Series sets a higher standard with a 6Gbps SATA interface.
While you won’t find a 120GB SSD 510 Series for under $300, the 320s are available starting at $89 for 40GB and scale up to 600GB for $1069, which Intel says is 30% cheaper than the models of yesteryear.
Anandtech took a close look at the SSD 320 Series and charted their performance and pricing against competing drives. They found that the controller in the 320s is faster than the Corsair Force F120, and that the 2011 SSDs outperform Intel’s previous X25-M flash storage drives in 120GB and up capacities. The 40GB and 80GB 320 Series drives are a bit slower, but the rest of the units offer reads of 270 MB/s and write speeds ranging from 130 MB/s to 220 MB/s.
While the 320 Series is an improvement over last year’s Intel SSDs, Anandtech expresses a concern that they won’t stand up to the performance of other 2011 SSDs with faster controllers and 6Gbps SATA like the OCR Vertex 3. As a budget SSD, don’t expect the 320 Series to match the speeds of more expensive drives; but if you’re looking for 120GB of solid-state storage at the price of $1.74 per gigabyte, the 320 Series is ready and waiting.