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In­tel was an early prime mover in solid-state drive tech­nol­ogy, ap­ply­ing its semi­con­duc­tor know-how to make some re­spected SSDs in the days be­fore they be­came more af­ford­able and pop­u­lar. To­day’s In­tel SSDs have for­saken in­no­va­tion and are more de­riv­a­tive, and in the case of the SSD Pro 2500, we find that In­tel is no longer us­ing its own sil­i­con any­where. For the main NAND flash chips it is buy­ing from South Korean Hynix, while the key con­troller tech­nol­ogy is supplied by Sea­gate Sand­Force.

The SSD Pro 2500 is aimed at busi­ness users and con­sumers that want to add an ex­tra layer of se­cu­rity with a self-en­crypted drive (SED). This is avail­able with most SSDs as an en­cryp­tion rou­tine that is ac­cessed through the BIOS of PCs run­ning Win­dows or Linux, but is per­haps not the eas­i­est way for an un­skilled user to se­cure their com­puter. Mi­crosoft is mak­ing this eas­ier for Win­dows users with its eDrive ini­tia­tive, which al­lows BitLocker to work with hard­ware en­crypt­ing SSDs built to the later TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 stan­dard. Drives like the SSD Pro 2500 here, which is avail­able in a wide range of ca­pac­i­ties, namely 120-, 180-, 240-, 360- and 480GB.

Fur­ther­ing its busi­ness cre­den­tials, In­tel tells us is de­signed to meet an An­nu­al­ized [sic] Fail­ure Rate of be­low 1 per­cent, and like many mod­ern drives it is cov­ered by a five-year war­ranty.

The drive can be man­aged by In­tel’s SSD Tool­box soft­ware for Win­dows. This al­lows di­ag­nos­tic scans, SMART re­ports and se­cure era­sure, as well as firmware up­dates. For Linux and OS X users, there are just bootable ISOs for firmware bug fixes.


In straight­for­ward sequential test­ing with syn­thetic bench­marks the Pro 2500 proved to be a fast mover, reach­ing up to 555MB/s reads in ATTO and 530MB/s write speeds. Crys­talDiskMark showed rel­a­tively fast re­sults here too in its zero-data mode, just shy of 500MB/s for reads and writes. When the bench­mark was set to its de­fault ran­dom dataset we saw the usual slow­down ex­pe­ri­enced by Sand­Force-based drives, with sequential write speed drop­ping to 291MB/s.

With the small 4kB ran­dom tests the In­tel was read­ing at 31MB/s, a typ­i­cal re­sult, with writes reach­ing 70MB/s, which is at the lower end of what’s pos­si­ble with mod­erns SSDs. When loaded with 32 threads these fig­ures swelled to 302MB/s reads but just 252MB/s writes, where most drive we test tend to ex­ceed 350MB/s.

Look­ing at in­put/out­put oper­a­tions per sec­ond, CDM gave us 77,300 read IOPS and 64,600 write IOPS, while AS SSD re­ported even lower with 50,100 and 52,900 IOPS re­spec­tively. This led to the lat­ter bench­mark re­turn­ing an over­all nom­i­nal score of 721 points, the low­est on test.

It’s worth remembering that the poor bench­mark re­sults are a di­rect re­sult of the Sand­Force con­troller and its low write speed when pro­cess­ing in­com­press­ible data. This would be most man­i­fest in re­al­world use if you were work­ing heav­ily with media files such as JPEG, or even plain ZIP files. For gen­eral of­fice tasks this may be less of an is­sue and the drive should per­form at closer to its head­line speeds. VER­DICT: The In­tel SSD Pro 2500 is de­signed for Win­tel busi­ness com­put­ing, where its Opal 2.0 com­pli­ance may in­ter­est IT man­agers. How­ever this se­cu­rity fea­ture is not unique to busi­ness SSDs and can be found on, for ex­am­ple, Cru­cial and Sam­sung drives too, at a lower cost. Where the In­tel SSD may ex­cel is in its use of older but well-tested com­po­nents, pro­mot­ing re­li­a­bil­ity and free­dom from is­sue in­her­ent with newer hard­ware and firmware.

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