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on March 14, 2013
Three year old Dual core Windows 7 computer. About the time I normally buy a new computer. Happy I put this solid state drive in rather then spend on a new computer. Boot time is about 30 seconds now. Civ 5 runs a good deal quicker which I did not expect. A Windows update flashed by the screen in about 5 seconds. Don't need the drive space so I unplugged my old hard drive to save energy... quieter also. My security cameras also come on quicker... used to be my cat set them off but I seldom got a look at her... now there she is going about her kitty business. Computer also snaps awake when I jiggle the mouse. Delighted!
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on December 29, 2012
I replaced my 5400 RPM HDD in my laptop with the Intel SSD, and it is by far the best upgrade I have made in a long time. It is now clear that by having an i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia graphics card, a HDD was a bottleneck in performance.

The read/write speeds on this device are phenomenal. Windows 8 boots, from the moment I press the start button to the login screen, in about five seconds. Applications like Google Chrome load instantly, and others like Libreoffice take no more than a second to load from a cold start. Also, loading of levels or maps in games is now almost instantaneous.

This drive is quiet, which should be obvious since there are no moving parts. As a side effect, there aren't any vibrations coming from it either. Now the only part moving in my laptop is the cooling fan, and I am no longer bothered by the low hum of a HDD.

Power consumption for this drive is great. I can now push six hours on a charge compared to five hours before with the HDD.

Support is pretty good. Intel has their SSD Toolbox available for download which provides functionality like service configuration, diagnostics, updating firmware, etc, for extending the usable lifespan of SSDs. Also, having a five year warranty is always nice.

Unfortunately, I have encountered some problems. The cables which come with the SSD are for desktop machines. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but a USB-to-SATA adapter which was recommended in the manual for data migrations in laptops was absent. While I did have a spare drive bay, this can be an inconvenience for anyone trying to migrate their data from one drive to another.

Another thing was that the migration utility could not migrate my data, having chosen the new SSD as a target drive while failing to select my HDD at all. I had to manually migrate data between the two drives, which was a nuisance. It seems that the problems were caused by the GPT layout of the HDD, which is a ridiculous problem to have in 2012 after Windows 8 ships with GPT by default.

Besides the problematic experience regarding data migration, I am very satisfied with the drive and I recommend it.
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on May 28, 2012
This drive is, in my experience, all it's cracked up to be. I had no trouble cloning my new laptop's C: onto this, and installing it. All my computers -- two desktop, one laptop -- now have SSDs housing their O/S and programs, and this update is simply the best way I've found of increasing my systems' performance, for the most part to a really startling degree. I bought 520 series Intel drives for all of these partly because of the 5-year warranty, and partly because I have some confidence that Intel products will integrate well with my other components. So far, I have no complaints, and having a responsive computer wherever I've working has been a very good way of reducing my stress level!
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on July 9, 2013
Intel released this 520 series in late 2011 with the sandforce controller and are killing it. It even comes with a five year warranty! That is unheard of in the SSD industry, especially with the Sandforce controllers which are known for reliability issues. While OCZ encountered problems after rushing to market, the Intel 520s are stable and reliable, if not a year late to the party. Intel tests thoroughly to maintain a high degree of quality. They release products only after they pass rigorous standards. Intel gets the best binned NAND flash memory which will inherently last longer than the lower binned chips other manufacturers receive; it's nice to own the chip factory! Because Intel manufactures the NAND flash, they can conceivably tease more performance and reliability out of them when they write the firmware (anandtech). This gives Intel a decisive advantage. If your on the fence, get this drive, especially now that the price is half of what it was when it released. I picked this up for $175, that's less that $1/GB. That's a mile mark for SSDs!

I went with Intel again because I like the support and reputation. I also like the ease of installation; Clone your drive with the supplied software and replace your old one. Intel drives just work. All the tools and firmware are easily found on Intel's download page. Plus the firmware updates don't erase your data. However, you should back up anyway.

WHAT TO EXPECT:
If you are upgrading from a spinning HDD, this will blow your mind. There is no better upgrade that speeds your computer up. Not a CPU upgrade, not a video card, or anything. Everything loads fast, like under a couple of seconds to nearly instantly. The operating system is snappy and smooth. No more being uncertain if it's loading after clicking on a shortcut, it just opens. SSD is pricey, but well worth it IMO. Having said that, if you are contemplating an upgrade from another SSD I have to say the difference is not dramatic. I can notice a difference in this drive compared to my X25-M, but it's not dramatic. It's perhaps not worth the pricy upgrade. I wanted the 180GB so that justifies it for me. Your experience may differ.

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Make sure to check that your cloned OS is aligned properly or you will not see all the performance benefits of your new drive. When I cloned my drive it did not align the partition properly. I only recently realized this after running AS SSD benchmark. There is a partition alignment display that indicated I had a bad alignment. I went to Intel's download center and found an Acronis Alignment Tool that is for the Intel 500 series. It says that it is only for XP users but I have windows 7 and it worked fine for me. I backed up and ran the tool. It realigned my partition and the improvement is noticeable! My benchmark numbers have been updated below accordingly. I can't believe I missed this #rookie mistake.

NUMBERS:
The 180GB version doesn't sacrifice performance. The 120GB and 60GB versions have slower IOPS than the 180GB and 240GB. 75% of what we can perceive as a performance boost comes from Reads. The most important of those are the small file random reads and access time. Pay close attention to the IOPS in the 4K file sizes below, as most system files are in that size range. Access time is also important because it represents the time it takes after reading one file to start to read the next. The lower the access time the better. Below is a comparison to my other Intel SSDs:

Intel X25-M 80GB G2 (SATA 2):
- 268MB/s Read, 87MB/s Write maximum throughput, 32,969 IOPS Read 4K QD32, 0.144ms access time, and Windows Experience Index gives it a 7.2.

Intel 510 Elm Crest 120GB (SATA 3):
- 477MB/s Read, 223MB/s Write maximum throughput, 21,473 IOPS Read 4K QD32, 0.148ms access time, and Windows Experience Index gives it a 7.8.

This Drive, Intel 520 180GB (SATA 3):
- 542MB/s Read, 500MB/s Write maximum throughput, 75,073 IOPS Read 4K QD32, 0.174ms access time, and Windows Experience Index gives it a 7.9.

Even though the maximum throughput shows dramatic performance increases, it doesn't translate much to your perceivable experience; the snappiness of the operating system. You'll notice the 4K IOPS increased from 33,000 to 75,000 (CrystalDiskMark), while the access time actually went up from 0.144ms to 0.174ms (AS SSD). While the net result is still a faster drive, as you would expect, the increasing access time is undermining the performance gains. This represents a fundamental limit in SSD NAND flash technology. It's also a trend that's expected to continue as NAND flash's manufacturing process gets smaller and SSDs increase in size.

IMPORTANT HISTORY:
I upgraded from an X25-M 80Gb G2 to an Intel 510 120Gb, and now again to an Intel 520 180Gb. The X25-M was the best drive available when it came out. The 510 was a very good drive, but the Sandforce powered OCZ drives were the king of speed. However, OCZ was and is still having trouble with firmware related issues. The problem is that a customer will report a problem and return the drive, but it will test perfectly in OCZs computers. OCZ has released firmware to fix most issues people have with their drives. They are a reasonable buy, but they are still trying to track down gremlins in the works. I have heard of similar problems from other manufacturers too. If you decide to try these drives, back up your system, update drive firmware, and retain all your purchase information incase you need to return it. Of these issues Intel seems to have the fewest, which is why I keep going with them.

Sandforce tried to track down the problem and had discussions with Intel about it. So it may be an issue with the controller itself. I take it that they were successful in tracking down the problem and ironing it out in the controller. This Intel 520 with the Sandforce controllers are living up to Intel's reputation. Meanwhile OCZ is still having intermittent problems and trying to hide it. Intel must not be sharing what they learned from those discussions with Sandforce. Also, Sandforce must not be allowed to reveal what Intel discovered, that is if Intel even told them at all (anandtech).

ADDITIONAL INFO:
Single Level Cell (SLC) SSDs were the first to appear and were very expensive with only small drives. To reduce the cost and increase size the industry went to Multi Level Cells (MLC) while also reducing NAND flash manufacturing process to the current 20nm. However, significantly slower access times are a direct result. There are plans for Triple Level Cell (TLC) and even smaller manufacturing processes to allow even bigger drives to be made for a reasonable price. However, the performance will take another hit. I should point out that the X25-M, 510, and this drive are each MLC. The only difference between them are the NAND manufacturing process and the firmware/controllers. So even advancements within MLC are resulting in slower access times. This trend is alarming as it signals an end to the SSD performance bubble. Everything that goes up, must come down. All good things must come to an end. If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't. And so on. Because of this, researchers predict that in 2024 as NAND reaches 6.5nm manufacturing process and SSDs reach 4GB-MLC and 16GB-TLC they will hit the end of their performance gains (tomshardware). SLC and MLC solutions will likely still be faster than HDD technology can ever reach, especially if SLC can come down in price/GB. Either way SSDs will hold a niche as the best performing choice for operating system drives. Since you don't need a huge OS drive, and data can be put on a large conventional HDD, SSD has solidified it's place in the enthusiast computer market.

There are always improvements to be made and manufacturers will come up with stop-gap solutions to these problems. There are some TLC SSDs appearing on the market that are not sacrificing performance thanks to innovative memory caching methods. The controller sets aside a portion of the NAND to use as a caching buffer, writing to this portion as SLC to speed up the writing process. Samsung calls this a "Turbo Write Buffer". However, this method will only be effective as long as the write size is smaller than the cache buffer. If it exceeds the cache buffer the disk starts writing directly to the TLC NAND sacrificing performance. As long as writes don't exceed the Buffer the disk performs like SLC and in this way manufacturers are getting around the limitations of TLC. Remember that although the end is in sight, SSD's will likely be faster than HDD for the foreseeable future.
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on May 22, 2013
I bought this drive to replace the Windows install drive in my laptop that had two 500gb mechanical drives. I'm extremely happy with this purchase for a few reasons:

Installation was easy.
It bolts in like any other harddrive. My biggest problem was that the two harddrive bays in my laptop were unlabeled and I had to take a gamble on which one actually contained my install of windows. That's not Intel's fault, but it was the biggest problem with installing this drive. It came with a molex to sata power converter, a sata cable, a 2.5 to 3.5 converter tray, and all the screws I might have needed in desktop or laptop.

Migration was easy.
The Intel migration tools are nice and simple. All I had to do was install the tool and tell it to migrate. It even automagically found my new SSD as the destination and my windows install as the source. It restarted the computer into the transfer utility and did it all the appropriate moving and resizing to put my 500gb Windows 7 installation on the 180gb SSD. After that I had to change the boot priority of the drives to make my laptop boot to the SSD instead of my old mechanical one.

The drive is crazy fast.
The speed of this drive is just silly. My computer boots and finishes loading all programs so fast that everything is loaded before my wifi adapter can connect to my network. This means I have the first world problem that Steam completely loads before there is internet connectivity and complains that it is offline. Copying files from one location to another on the drive happens at speeds so fast I don't feel the need to benchmark it. Booting up my laptop takes about 15 seconds because of my bios wait time and shutting down takes about two seconds.

Head parking sounds traded for an odd sound after standby.
I have noticed that my laptop makes a high pitched sound when coming out of standby. It lasts about three seconds and goes away. I think there's something that the soundcard might be picking up from the drive. It's not too bad and only happens right after standby so I'm O.K. with it. I'm happy to trade the frequent sound of the mechanical drives parking their heads for a short sound that only happens after standby.

As an overall review I will say that Intel SSD drives will probably go into any new machine I build and recommendations I make to other people regarding builds.
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on March 13, 2013
Just a few weeks ago I had a hard drive crash for the second time within two months. I wanted something better but I found that I didn't need 500 GB at all. Since my hard drive was the bottleneck of my gaming PC in the first place, I decided to spend the extra money and buy a Solid-State Drive.

Boy am I glad I did. This thing is fast. Every program seems to load in under a few seconds with super-responsiveness. Tasks like installing programs and copying files are near-instantaneous.

It's 2013 and you're still spinning at 5400 or 7200 RPM? You're waiting for what seems like minutes for Photoshop to load? Get with the times. Get an SSD.
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on June 28, 2012
All I need to say is that my new 180 GB Intel 520 boots Windows 7 x64 in 11 seconds. All disk operations are speeded up significantly.
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on February 7, 2013
This 2.5" drive come with a standard adapter to install in a 3.5" bay. Unfortunately my brand new Dell Optiplex 9010 has nice but non-standard drive brackets (plastic no tools) so I couldn't cleanly install the drive. This isn't Intel problem it is Dell's. Would you believe that it took 2.5 hours on chat and phone to Dell parts sales and then technical support to order the $6.00 part?

Once installed cleanly, everything else was trivial. You download Intel's version of Acronis from the Intel website, install the software, and clone your current drive. Ten minutes elapsed time. Either change cables or change the boot sequence and you are done.

Comparing the Intel 520 180 GB drive with the Western Digital WD2500AAKX, you get wonderful improvement. My boot time has decreased by more than 90%. There is no longer a noticeable delay when loading porky applications like Excel.

Here is some data from HD Tune.

transfer rate (Intel) 203 MB/sec (WD) 100 MB/sec so twice the performance!

Access time (Intel) 0.1 ms (WD) 15.5 ms just what you would expect

Burst rate: (Intel) 176 MB/sec (WD) 168 MB/sec the same
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on December 23, 2012
This is my first SATA 3 based SSD (my previous SSD is running on a SATA 1 system) and I am extremely impressed. Boot times are mindblowingly fast. The windows logo doesn't even appear while it's booting because of how fast it is. Add to that Intel's solid reliability and warrantee, and I think this is a great SSD worth getting in every way.

And FYI, if you don't have a slot for 2.5" drives, don't worry because this SSD comes with a 3.5" bracket.
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on March 9, 2013
My PC has a SATA II interface, so I was concerned that I wouldn't see a big performance boost. After I moved my OS over to the 180G SSD I have seen a marked difference in loading times in Windows and larger apps, including games.

The Intel app for migration kept giving me errors, though. If it gives you a problem, google MiniTool Partition Wizard. Free program, works wonders. Make your partition smaller than the new SSD, then copy/paste from one drive to the other. PC will restart, then finish the job. Afterwards your new SSD will have all the boot flags etc it needs, and will be your new C: =)
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