Intel SSD 730 (480GB) Review: Bringing Enterprise to the Consumersby Kristian Vättö on February 27, 2014 12:00 PM EST
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)|
|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|
|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.