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Intel SSD 545S Series 512GB Review - IMFT 64-Layer TLC

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

Today Intel is launching a new line of client SSDs - the SSD 545S Series. These are simple, 2.5" SATA parts that aim to offer good performance at an economical price point. Low-cost SSDs is not typically Intel's strong suit, mainly because they are extremely rigorous on their design and testing, but the ramping up of IMFT 3D NAND, now entering its second generation stacked to 64-layers, should finally help them get the cost/GB down to levels previously enjoyed by other manufacturers.

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Intel and Micron jointly announced 3D NAND just over two years ago, and a year ago we talked about the next IMFT capacity bump coming as a 'double' move. Well, that's only partially happening today. The 545S line will carry the new IMFT 64-layer flash, but the capacity per die remains the same 256Gbit (32GB) as the previous generation parts. The dies will be smaller, meaning more can fit on a wafer, which drives down production costs, but the larger 512Gbit dies won't be coming until later on (and in a different product line - Intel told us they do not intend to mix die types within the same lines as we've seen Samsung do in the past).

Specifications

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There are no surprises here, though I am happy to see a 'sustained sequential performance' specification stated by an SSD maker, and I'm happier to see Intel claiming such a high figure for sustained writes (implying this is the TLC writing speed as the SLC cache would be exhausted in sustained writes).

I'm also happy to see sensical endurance specs for once. We've previously seen oddly non-scaling figures in prior SSD releases from multiple companies. Clearly stating a specific TBW 'per 128GB' makes a lot of sense here, and the number itself isn't that bad, either.

Packaging

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Simplified packaging from Intel here, apparently to help further reduce shipping costs.

Read on for our full review of the Intel 545S 512GB SSD!


June 27, 2017 | 04:29 AM - Posted by Dark_wizzie

What am I missing here? It seems like lower perf than 850 Evo while costing slightly more.

June 27, 2017 | 04:41 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It beats the EVO in the mixed workload test and comes very close to it in the others.

June 27, 2017 | 06:56 PM - Posted by Dark_wizzie

I would hope for more... given that 850 Evo was released a long time ago, and it's halfway in 2017 already.

July 2, 2017 | 04:20 PM - Posted by Crookid (not verified)

You hoped wrong. Not much has changed in the SSD space and the technology has plateaued due to sata limitations. What was hoped here is slightly better performance at a similar price point. This was achieved.

People reaching for the Intel hate from a cloud of ignorance and inexperience is getting old fast. Let alone the preaching from users who don't know what they're talking about.

July 23, 2017 | 05:51 AM - Posted by Dark_wizzie

Cool story?

No need to bring in a totally irrelevant point into the discussion. I dunno what the hell the last paragraph was about, but at least you let your inner struggles out. Or maybe in your world expecting or hoping for more is Intel hate.

Sata limitations limit bandwidth, randoms don't saturate that much.

If you can't beat performance you win in price.

Hoped wrongly? Lol okay buddy.

Higher performance... in one test, mixed? Not a clear cut win.

June 27, 2017 | 04:31 AM - Posted by Techtoday (not verified)

Agreed, Dark wizzle. Would go Samsung 960 Evo PCIe over this every time.

June 27, 2017 | 04:39 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The 545S is meant for those upgrading an HDD-equipped laptop or desktop (which might not have an M.2 slot), and the 960 EVO costs $40 more, which not everyone can afford, despite the better performance.

June 27, 2017 | 04:56 AM - Posted by Techtoday (not verified)

Fair enough. But in that scenario I'd just grab an ADATA SU800 which is $140 with promo code right now on Newegg.

July 2, 2017 | 04:21 PM - Posted by Crookid (not verified)

You aren't every user.

What is so challenging for people to understand about this product and review?

September 20, 2018 | 04:36 PM - Posted by ThaCrip (not verified)

"But in that scenario I'd just grab an ADATA SU800"

But with that your gambling on non-brand name SSD's and a lower warranty as it's 3 year vs 5 year with Intel and other name brands. basically a manufacturers warranty on a SSD pretty much speaks volumes about the quality of the product.

I got a Intel 545s 128GB SSD for only $31.99 in July 2018 as that's hands down the best SSD I have found for around $30 even though it's normal price, which is around $50 or a bit more, makes it far less appealing to where your better off going with something else and a larger capacity as to me 120-128GB range SSD's are not worth more than around $30 as much beyond that your better off going to a 250GB range SSD etc. basically 120-128GB range SSD's are mostly good for internet machines and not much beyond that because as a general rule I suggest most people get at least a 250GB range SSD and if your a gamer the 500GB range ones are the sweet spot right now in terms of capacity/price combo.

but for the most part I would be cautious buying SSD's that are not from Crucial/Intel/Samsung (and maybe a small amount of other brands like Western Digital) if you want more proven quality as venturing outside of those can save you a bit of $ but your gambling on quality/longevity and less warranty to. personally I would straight up avoid the generic brands if you want reliability as to me it's not worth saving a little $ for a drive that might not last nearly as long.

June 27, 2017 | 05:16 AM - Posted by Moyeni (not verified)

So that's nice and all, but where's consumer Optane ? Take my money Intel !

June 27, 2017 | 09:26 AM - Posted by Dark_wizzie

I think it was supposed to be late this year.

June 27, 2017 | 06:27 AM - Posted by John H (not verified)

More fast sata competition is a good thing - we need nand prices to resume their historical downward trend..

June 27, 2017 | 02:15 PM - Posted by Mutation666

Meh, if you have to put "(for an Intel SSD)" then its not a good deal. Not feeling to gold award on this, maybe bronze or silver.

June 27, 2017 | 03:45 PM - Posted by pdjblum

more substandard tlc shit for way too much money

should be 10cents/gig for this shit already

September 20, 2018 | 04:56 PM - Posted by ThaCrip (not verified)

You seem to act like TLC is crap when it's far from it as the bottom line is TLC is still plenty fast and write endurance is great as just about any modern SSD (or semi-modern) should be able to crack at least '7x TBW' which means if one wrote 20GB per day EVERY SINGLE DAY it would last at least 10+ years (i.e. 73TB of written data in 10 years @ 20GB per day) and the vast majority of people won't consistently write that much data to it day-after-day.

or put it this way... unless your going crazy with writing data to the drive one should be able to get a EASY 5+ years of life from a modern SSD. but I would expect to see 10+ years in general. say one wrote 40GB a day that should be able to do at least 5+ years of use out of it but I would expect comfortably beyond that as 40GB of writes per day is 14.6TB per year and in 10 years that 146TB of writes and it's not unrealistic for a 7x TBW rated drive to hit that amount of writes and 40GB is a lot of data writing per day for the vast majority of people. plus, 10 years is a lot of time for technology advancement to as how many people who get a SATA SSD now will still be using it in 10 years? ; some, but probably not too many especially if the computer they have it in is obsolete in that time (like if it's not at least a decent internet machine I don't see people hanging onto it for long). plus, even a 500GB range SSD today, which is about the top end of what most people would buy today (in Sep 2018) in terms of SATA SSD's, is not that much storage space either and will be that much less in 10 years.

also, from the looks of things... the official TBW rating tends to be conservative which means in the real world they will likely last quite a bit beyond the official TBW rating before actual failure occurs from writing data to the drive.

June 27, 2017 | 05:16 PM - Posted by Jim Survak (not verified)

To make sure I'm understanding correctly: do you actually fill the drive with data for each of your % testing? Like, you just throw large files/large amounts of files on the drive such as movies or something?

Just wanting to make sure I'm fully grasping the testing methodology.

June 27, 2017 | 05:22 PM - Posted by jim_survak

(Sorry, logged in now)
And would you recommend this testing methodology for older SSDs that are only MLC? I've got a PNY XLR8 Pro 480GB SSD that's about 1.5 years old that I'd be interested in testing using your method.

June 28, 2017 | 10:28 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Yes, the drive is filled with actual files during the sequence. They are large files meant to replicate bulk media being stored over time. The random portion remains the same size and in the same location during the test. This is all to get as close as we can to what actually happens to an SSD in real world use.

June 27, 2017 | 08:15 PM - Posted by John Barksdale (not verified)

I'm still rocking Intel first generation client SSDs and Intel SSDs are the only vendor I use. I've never had one fail yet. Awesome and detailed review Allyn!!

June 27, 2017 | 09:08 PM - Posted by Xebec

If you mean still using X25-M's -- a modern "good" SSD will be very noticeably faster..

June 28, 2017 | 12:11 AM - Posted by goosegrease

I'm still using 320 series. I can't believe it's already 6 years old, but it's still going strong (according to Intel's SSD Toolbox, still 100% life remaining, which I don't fully trust).

Why did I ever worry about SSD endurance?

September 20, 2018 | 08:04 PM - Posted by ThaCrip (not verified)

"Why did I ever worry about SSD endurance?"

I heard bad things about SSD's in the earlier days. but anything semi-modern should last a long time.

also, I would not really look at 'life remaining' as I would look at TBW which is the amount of data written to the drive as that's the best indicator of about how much life you got left in it assuming the drive only fails from writing data to it.

sure, I realize the SSD's could fail out of no where on something else but chances are unless you got a faulty SSD it should easily last many years with a brand name SSD like Samsung/Crucial/Intel (and possibly some others).

in my main PC I got a Samsung 850 EVO 250GB, which I had since May 2015, and here it is 3 years and 4 months later and 12.3TB are written to it (it's rated @ 75TBW but will likely go well beyond that before actual failure occurs from writes). so basically I am in the ball park of 4TB a year. so at my current rate, assuming the drive only fails from writing data to it, I would see 20+ years of use out of it. NOTE: the amount of data written to the Samsung SSD be noticeably higher had I not used my regular hard drives which is where I put my larger files which are video files. but then again just about any SSD's that are more affordable currently (i.e. 500GB and less is where I expect most people to be interested in currently) are not all that large to where many will need a regular hard drive.

but as we start to see larger capacity SSD's drop in price I suspect it will be more likely ill start using some for larger data on them which will increase the amount of writing I do on the drive quite a bit. but as the SSD's TBW ratings start to get into the 100's of TBW it gets to the point you can just simply use them and do pretty much whatever you want and don't even worry about how much data your writing because the drive will still easily last 5+ years.

July 2, 2017 | 01:13 AM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell, B.A., M.S. (not verified)

We do LUV you, Allyn.

However, does your new test suite mean
that we won't be seeing ATTO numbers for
Intel's upcoming 2.5" NVMe Optane? :)

p.s.
Bumper sticker seen in Oregon:
CONSTANT CHANGE IS HERE TO STAY.

July 2, 2017 | 05:14 AM - Posted by HERETIC (not verified)

Pleasant surprise,as this year has been the-
"race to the bottom in SATA SSD's"

Seems to have fixed the latency problems of first gen(MX300)
Be interesting to see if Crucial brings this NAND to us
with a Marvel controller.

A 850EVO killer it's not but it's close enough to consider
if it's priced right..................

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