The Intel DC S3500 brings enterprise-class features for the price conscious, rounding out Intel's product stack with a current-generation value SSD contender. One of the immediate effects of the DC S3500 will be increased competition in the mainstream and value SSD market. Much like the introduction of the Intel 910 helped to lower prices of all PCIe Workload Accelerators, the DC S3500 will pressure other contenders in the market with its low price point.
The Intel DC S3500 will retail for roughly $1.22 per GB initially, and price will be subject to fluctuation. This places the SSD into our value category of SSDs that range from $1.00 to $1.50 per GB. Exact pricing for enterprise SSDs is hard to come by due to fluctuations and volume pricing. However, this range provides us a good comparison pool. It is important to remember that a difference of even 25 cents per GB can add up quickly when purchasing a large number of high capacity SSDs.
We noted a definite separation in our test pool with the slightly higher-cost Seagate 600 Pro and SMART CloudSpeed 500. These SSDs feature much more robust write performance, lending them an advantage in many of our tests. The Samsung SM843 and the Intel DC S3500 were closely matched, though the SM843 tends to sport higher read speeds.
One weakness of the DC S3500 is the sequential read/write performance. The sequential read performance of the DC S3500 was lower than other entrants. The sequential write performance experienced significant variability and an average speed lower than the other SSDs in the test pool. In random read testing the DC S3500 fared well, but once we mix in write workloads, performance fell quickly. The random write speeds were within expectations for the SSD, reaching 11,000 IOPS in a 4k random write workload.
We experienced slightly better performance from the DC S3500 in our mixed workloads, though it still did not reach chart-topping status. The power consumption for heavy write workloads is higher than other SSDs, and in mixed workloads this only improved slightly. From an IOPS to Watts standpoint, there are more efficient SSDs on the market, but not many with the same blend of pricing and features.
As the chart above illustrates, endurance should always be a driving factor behind any SSD purchasing decision. Small differences in price can equate to large differences in performance and endurance, and for those that wade into the value market, it is important to take a number of factors into consideration. Features such as end-to-end data protection, host power loss protection, and a five year warranty separate this class of SSD from client-side hardware. One area that the DC S3500 does excel in is predictable performance consistency. This is in stark contrast to client-side hardware that experiences tremendous variability and poor latency performance.
The Intel DC S3500 performed within expectations during our testing with the exception of higher power consumption than other competing SSDs. In comparison to any HDD, the DC S3500 will offer a tremendous power saving advantage.
The five year warranty provides customers with peace of mind that the DC S3500 will live to its endurance specification. The low price point, weighing in at 50% cheaper than the DC S3700 and 20% cheaper than the Intel 320, will also draw in many customers. For those looking to replace HDDs with a value alternative, the Intel DC S3500 fits the bill.