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Intel 520 Series SSD - Poor Performance Issues

Esteemed Contributor III

CPU: 3770K

MB: DZ77GA-70K

SSD (Boot): Intel SSD 520 Series (120GB, 2.5in SATA 6Gb/s, 25nm, MLC)

HDD (Storage): WD Green Caviar, 3TB, SATA 6Gb/s

OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

I have a the SSD on SATA port 0 and the HDD on SATA port 1 (the two blue ones). The BIOS was set to AHCI before I did a clean install of Windows 7. The BIOS is the latest version (0039).

I installed all the motherboard drivers (except Intel Rapid Storage Technology) and the Intel SSD Toolbox and ran the SSD Optimizer. Then I did this AS SSD Benchmark:

I then installed Intel Rapid Storage Technology and ran the AS SSD Benchmark again:

There was an overall decrease in performance.

Both times the Acc.time failed on the read test giving this error:

This is the first build I've done with an SSD so is there anything obvious I'm missing? I was excepting much closer to the promised 550Mb/s read and 500Mb/s write speeds.

One thing I thought may be causing the problems was using SATA 3Gb/s cables but I've read that it shouldn't have any effect.

Message was edited by: Will When I copy a 3GB file from my HDD to my SSD I'm getting about 30-40Mb/s transfer speeds. When I copy the same file from my SSD to my HDD I get upwards of 100Mb/s speeds.


Esteemed Contributor III

No idea about the Access Time problem, but the write speeds seem rather low. The AS-SSD Write Score should be in the 270-280 range, giving an overall rating of ~600. I had problems using the supplied Foxconn SATA cable, as it was folded very tightly to fit in the SSD box, giving greatly reduced write speeds (reads were unaffected ???). A new (6gbps) cable fixed this, so don't rule it out - try a few cables and both 6gbps ports.

If you want to see the 550/500mbps speeds quoted by Intel (and every other Sandforce drive), try ATTO for benchmarking, as it uses compressible data (CrystalDiskMark also gives higher write speeds than AS-SSD). My 120gb 520 gets 555/520mbps with ATTO (and the new cable), so you should be getting close to these speeds if everything is set up correctly. I'm not suggesting ATTO is the better benchmark, but it does give the maximum read/write speeds so you can tell that the SSD/cable/port are working properly.

Esteemed Contributor III

ATTO does give much closer to the 550/500mbps speeds quoted by Intel. It still doesn't explain why when I copy a 3GB file from my HDD to my SSD I'm getting about 30-40Mb/s transfer speeds and when I copy the same file from my SSD to my HDD I get upwards of 100Mb/s speeds.

Esteemed Contributor III

The copy speed from your HDD to the SSD is not hard to explain. You're seeing the limitations of a HDD in actual usage. I imagine you're thinking you have a SATA 6Gb/s WD Green HDD, so it should be much faster. I have a (so called) SATA 6Gb/s HDD too, but not the same model as yours. While these HDDs can be labeled SATA 6Gb/s due to meeting some part of the SATA III specification, in use they will never even surpass the SATA 3Gb/s transfer rate most of the time, or even come close to it. Next, yours being a "green" drive, it uses less power and its internal disks likely spin at less than the 7200 RPM speed usually seen in standard consumer HDDs. That of course further reduces its speed potential.

Have you ever tried running an AS SSD test on that or any HDD? If you do, just do the Sequential test by un-checking the other boxes (4K, etc.) Otherwise, it will take about half an hour to complete the entire test. My 2TB, 7200 RPM SATA 6Gb/s HDD scored ~130MB/s for both sequential read and write, on the 1GB data file used by AS SSD. That is just over real world SATA I (yes, one) speed. ATTO will likely show better results, as it displays the theoretical, best case performance. AS SSD is an average of a few runs, and is a more real world result. If you let an AS SSD run on all tests complete on a HDD, as I have, you will be shocked at the performance compared to a SSD, night and day.

There are all kinds of other factors that may have affected that ~40MB/s speed. How much free space is on the HDD? HDDs become slower as they are filled up. Windows was performing other tasks while the copy was running, it always is, and depending upon what they were, they can affect other tasks. Windows 8 Release Preview has a new, real time graph and numeric display feature that can be seen during a file copy, The copy speed goes up and down from second to second.

Try running AS SSD by right clicking on it and choosing Run as Administrator, you may get a higher priority in the mix of running programs and a better score.

I have seen that missing read access time in AS SSD once or twice. It happened on a new Windows 7 installation with a SSD (not a 520 or Intel) I used. That stopped happening, so my guess is I may have not had the .inf files, and other required programs (ie, Intel ME) and all the endless Windows updates installed yet (likely the latter.) IMO, that missing access time is not a problem with your SSD.

New Contributor

I just started looking at this subject after replacing an opriginal x-25M 80gb SSD a new 120GB 520 ssd. Sadly the new 520 is appreciably slower than the x-25 and repeated tests with crystaldiskmark and even windows 7 performance tool show it.

I also put a 120gb 520 SSD in my 2nd pc at the same time and it is also slower than the 40GB -320 it replaced.

One is a p55 and the other an x-58 , new good 6gbs cables and indeed tried other cables as well to no avail. Latest windows 7 updates as well as intel RST drivers. Both units have 12gb of ram and seperate hitachi 2 tb drives for data and other programs.

SSD toolbox says all are fine. - I only know that something is wrong.