Final Words

It's great to see that Intel has not forgotten the enthusiast market. While the SSD 520 and SSD 530 weren't bad SSDs, they didn't exactly fill the shoes of X-25M—they were just another batch of SandForce drives, with more generally better validation. With the SSD 730 Intel finally provides a solution that's capable of filling the shoes that have been left empty for more than two years. However, the SSD 730 doesn't provide anything substantial in the terms of performance like the X-25M did.

The performance consistency of the SSD 730 is brilliant but nothing we've not seen from other OEMs before, and the consistency comes at the cost of peak performance. Even though consistency is an important metric regardless of the workload, I would say peak performance is still the dominant factor in most cases as client IO tends to happen in bursts, whereas in enterprises it's more of a constant flow of IO requests.

On top of that, the SSD 730 lacks some features that other high-end drives have. There is no TCG Opal 2.0 or eDrive support to enable proper hardware encryption, which is something that's slowly becoming a norm. Many companies and governments require encryption in all drives they use and that's a market the SSD 730 misses, although that was never its target market. Another weakness is the high power consumption, although neither that or the lack of encryption support plays a big role in the desktop market.

However, given that laptops and other portables cover most of the market nowadays, I feel it's not the best choice to completely rule that market out. Much like the Skulltrail platform whose logo adorns the SSD 730, this targets a very specific enthusiast niche, and the prices not surprisingly are going to be higher than "typical" consumer SSDs.

NewEgg Price Comparison (2/25/2014)
  240/256GB 480/512GB
Intel SSD 730 (MSRPs) $249 $489
Intel SSD DC S3500 $300 $605
Intel SSD 530 $180 $399
Intel SSD 335 $200 N/A
OCZ Vector 150 $210 $445
OCZ Vertex 460 $190 $360
Samsung SSD 840 EVO $190 $300
Samsung SSD 840 Pro $215 $410
Crucial M500 $136 $275
SanDisk Extreme II $233 $450
Seagate SSD 600 $130 $380

MSRPs are fairly high but as usual should be taken with a grain of salt. We are definitely dealing with premium pricing (though nothing close to the enterprise prices) but the SSD 730 is still rather competitive with the other high-end drives. Intel likely views the OCZ Vector 150 and SanDisk Extreme II as direct competitors and is hence pricing the SSD 730 accordingly.

All in all, the SSD 730 is a competitive option for users who seek maximum performance consistency but don't care about power consumption or encryption support. You'll have to sacrifice peak performance and the lack of an M.2 PCIe option may further limit the appeal in the long run. Given Intel's track record and the best-in-class endurance, the SSD 730 is best for the no-compromise enthusiasts and professionals who really need a reliable and consistent drive.

Power Consumption
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  • amddude10 - Sunday, December 7, 2014 - link

    I find it endearing. I bought a 240GB version of the 730 precisely because of its boring, but very practical features relating to reliability and early warning if there are any problems, not because of its speed (because that version is actually pretty slow in some areas). It seems so out of place that it kind of makes for a good story.
  • iLovefloss - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Ever heard of their Extreme line of processors? Or Socket 2011 motherboards? Same deal. I think they also have the skull on their AIO liquid cooling kits (made for the Extreme processors). Just take it as a warning that nobody should buy it as it is overpriced compared to their normal goods.
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    It's badaxe!
  • NCM - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Seriously. If I wanted a tasteless tattoo I'd go and spend the $10 on one.
  • nathanddrews - Friday, February 28, 2014 - link

    It was a joke for those that remember the D975XBX. I'm just mocking Intel's pathetic marketing attempts at being hard core.
  • JlHADJOE - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    To make it fit with your Skulltrail system!
  • ritabhatt - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Is this WP 8 or 8.1?
  • ruthan - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    I think is bad ideal add on general customer product some religion symbol.. ok skull isnt religion symbol, but yes between us satanists are technology enthusiasts too :)
  • zyxtomatic - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    I have to ask: What on Earth does a skull have to do with Satanism? It's just a skull with some stylized line art applied to it.
  • zyxtomatic - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    I have to ask: What on Earth does a skull have to do with Satanism? It's just a skull with some stylized line art applied to it.

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