Conclusion, Pricing, and Final Thoughts
- Intel SSD DC pedigree remains unmatched in quality control testing and reliability.
- Cost/GB below $0.50 for an Intel NVMe Datacenter SSD!
- Budget enterprise parts carry with them budget performance and endurance.
- P3xxx series controller architecture getting long in the tooth (limited to 2TB capacity).
- 450GB – $294 ($0.65/GB)
- 1.2TB – $619 ($0.52/GB)
- 2.0TB – $984 ($0.49/GB)
These don't breathe fire like the P3700, but <$0.50/GB for an Intel PCIe Datacenter SSD is nothing short of outstanding!
Warning (to non-IT pros):
If you have read this far and are not an enterprise customer, I know what you're thinking. You may want one of these for your video editing, workstation, or maybe even your gaming rig. That's fine, but there are a few things you need to consider. First, enterprise parts are tuned for random access across the entire drive, meaning a consumer SSD / firmware would likely perform better with consumer workloads as it is tuned for that purpose. Second, and more important in the case of Intel Datacenter parts, is the matter of 'assertion'. IT specialists don't like wasting time on intermittent faults and silent data corruption. If something is wrong in the slightest, an IT Pro just wants the thing to fail hard so they can replace it and get that portion of their network back up ASAP. As such, Intel programs their DC SSD firmware to enter an 'assert mode' at the slightest sign of trouble. An asserted Intel SSD is effectively a bricked SSD that won't do anything further as it is meant to be replaced. Even if most of the data was good, it will no longer be readable. That's not to say Intel's Datacenter SSDs are bricking left and right, but an SSD 750 (consumer version of the P3xxx) will push through many faults and attempt to continue operating while those same issues would instantly assert a P3520. Moral of the story – don't use an enterprise part for consumer purposes unless you are employing an enterprise-level redundancy / backup regime.
Despite Optane looming on the horizon, Intel has opted to push 3D NAND into their enterprise datacenter parts. While they have stuck with MLC for their new P3520 Series SSD, we can tell that first generation IMFT 3D NAND was designed more for capacity than for high performance. Sure the P3520 isn't the fastest SSD we've tested, but it is no slouch and offers great performance consistency. The winning result here is cost – an Intel Datacenter SSD for less than $0.50/GB is just awesome, and the performance hit becomes less relevant when you consider that Intel's Optane is coming in just a few months. The P3520 should make for a great low-cost NAND tier once Optane is around to handle more demanding workloads. Overall, the Intel DC P3520 is a great enterprise SSD at an outstanding price.
(Yes, I feel the price is that important here – you don't have to the fastest to be the best when it comes to budget parts)