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The energy efficiency of the Intel 520 Series 120GB was poor compared to other SSDs. Its power consumption was more typical of a 5400 RPM notebook hard drive. As a notebook upgrade, don't expect any battery life improvement.
As solid state drives have no spinning platters or moving parts of any kind, they are effectively silent storage devices. It is possible that there could be a tiny bit of electronic noise (typically a high pitched squeal) being emitted, either intermittently depending on task, or continuously, but the Intel 520 Series 120GB was completely silent. The only SSD we've ever tested that made any audible noise was a Zalman S Series 128GB sample that produced an odd high frequency squeal whenever it was accessed.
In our real world performance tests, the Intel 520 Series 120GB had mixed results compared to other SandForce models, squeaking past the ADATA SX910 128GB but not quite able to catch the Corsair Force GS 240GB nor the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB and Samsung 830 Series 128GB. Its lackluster numbers weren't buoyed by synthetics tests, either; its speed in both HD Tune and CrystalDiskMark weren't terribly impressive. The 520 also failed to demonstrate superiority in energy efficiency, with power consumption figures comparable to its SandForce comrades.
What really differentiates this seemingly run-of-the-mill SSD is the Intel name and all it stands for. Like all of Intel's products, the 520 has undergone an extensive validation process. Intel worked on developing SandForce drives for well over a year before release and they've also backed the 520 with an industry leading 5 year warranty. Though the days of unreliable SSDs are mostly behind us, having an Intel drive still instills a sense of confidence in many. The stability of the drive is of course impossible to confirm without a fleet a drives and long-term stress tests, so it's really a complete intangible. [Editor's Note: These are the reasons we chose the 520s for our web server... but most readers here know that Intel is hardly infallible, either: Remember the assive Intel P67 and H67 chipsets moderboard recall at their launch?]
Aside from this "X" factor and the fact that the black metal frame can be removed to make it a 7 mm thick drive, the Intel 520 Series 120GB is fairly unremarkable. It doesn't excel or falter in any particular area and its street price of US$120 is not especially affordable either by today's standards. We can't say with confidence that it's worth the slight premium over cheaper models that often dip to US$100 or below with mail-in rebates, etc. but we have a feeling even if you're not delighted with the price, you won't end up regretting the purchase.
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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Crucial M4 64GB: Solid-State on a Budget
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB vs. Samsung 830 Series 128GB
Corsair Force GS 240GB: SandForce with Toggle-Mode NAND
Western Digital Red 3TB & 1TB Hard Drives
ADATA XPG SX910 128GB Solid State Drive
WD VelociRaptor 1TB and Scorpio Blue 500GB
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this article in the SPCR Forums
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