Intel X25-M Solid State Drive Review

Intel X25-M Solid State Drive Review

Anthony Nguyen
Jan 21, 2011

Product: Intel 80 GB X25-M Solid-State Drive (SSD)
Price: $200
Rating: Strong Recommend

Okay performance hackers. This is the moment you've all been waiting for. A test of one of the fastest drives on the market today - the Intel 80GB X25-M SSD. While other drives on the market have run into inferior performance and the scary "stutter problems" that have kept me away from this new technology for a while, I've heard enough good things about the X25-M line that it made me curious enough to see if it could live up to its name.

WHAT IT COMES WITH:

  • 80GB Intel X25-M Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Manual
  • Ugly sticker
  • 3.5" desktop drive bay adapter
  • Some screws
  • Installation guide

The reason why I picked up a SSD in the first place was because I wanted to improve my battery life and speed up some application launch times (namely Adobe's Creative Suite) on my MacBook Pro 13" Unibody. I knew testing it would be sort of tricky not trying to avoid that psychological bias, so I wrote down some numbers just to make sure.

The thing that bugs me is that Apple doesn't really tell us what brand the 128GB SSD drive is offered for their MacBook Air or Pro lines. Seeing as the prices are lower and have larger capacity, I imagine the performance of this drive should be much better. But enough with the hypothetical, let's get testing!

I followed the instructions over at Other World Computing to get the SSD into my MacBook Pro 13" (You can see instructions for the 15" over here):

After trading places with the old drive, I loaded the original one into a cheap $2 USB external enclosure. I plan to use it to hold music while I'm on the go - since I felt 80GB probably wouldn't suffice in the long run, especially after a few years of use. So an enclosure for my old 150GB was a must.

As an attempt to measure boot time, which can get pretty confusing because there isn't really a scientific way to test it. Do you wait for the "chong"? Do you measure it right when you press the button? I decided to go with the latter - the result?

I found boot times were consistently much faster. While the SSD was able to finish booting, load up the start up programs, and connect to a wireless network, the standard HDD model was still spinning its gear on the grey boot screen. A big difference indeed.

Also, if you get kicks out of seeing your apps launch 5-10 seconds faster, then the SSD will be everything you've dreamed of. I eerily became became addicted to rebooting my system over and over and launching my applications, just to soak in the speed that I had acquired. The system as a whole feels snappier, shutting and and powering up quicker than ever before.

I also tested write speeds. I'd say there's an improvement of about 50% overall compared to the old drive for an extra-large 4GB DMG file. Smaller files were too quick to really even draw a proper comparison.

In conclusion, I'd say the 80GB (74.4GB usable space) X25-M SSD is fast. Damn fast. But worth $200 damage to the wallet? I'm going to go ahead and say this one's up in the air. At its current price, it's still very much a luxury buy, but if you're going for the best laptop performance out there, you certainly cannot go wrong with the X25-M SSD.

Update: To answer jpfieber's question, the battery life went from 3 hours to about 3 hours and 45 minutes - a splendid improvement!

Pros: It does quicken your application launch speeds, boot time, general performance, and battery life
Cons: It is still a bit of money for a few seconds of improvement, 80GB is a bit small

Our Ratings:
Strong Recommend
Recommend
Weak Recommend
Don't Recommend

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did loan us the product for testing and review purposes.

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