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Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness

Inland Professional has one of the bestselling SSDs on Amazon, now that we have it we can give it a run for it's money!

@ChrisRamseyer
Published Sat, Jul 14 2018 10:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:57 PM CST

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

When I stumbled on the Inland Professional SATA III SSD, it was the 5th best-selling SSD on Amazon. The drive comes in three sizes, and pricing starts at just $24.99 for the 120GB model.

Inland Professional SATA III SSD:  For 480GB Madness 01 | TweakTown.com
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Inland Professional is an established brand that specializes in rebranding products. A search will deliver vast results that range from power generators to tents and 3D printer filament. Most still remember the Inland name from low-cost surge protectors from the last decade.

None of those products has anything to do with the Inland Professional SATA III SSD, aside from the product packaging. Phison builds the SATA III SSD on the same manufacturing lines used by big-name enthusiast companies with the same components. Microcenter, the 25 brick and mortar chain store in the United States, imports the drives, sells, and guarantees them with a three-year warranty.

The Inland Professional SATA III is a DRAMless SSD using the Phison S11 controller. It's not a fast drive by most standards, but it gives shoppers an alternative to hard disk drives. The 480GB SSD costs slightly more than a small mechanical drive, and you would have trouble finding a used HDD on Craigslist for the $25 asking price of the 120GB model.

Over the last decade, we all learned that any SSD is better than a HDD. That rule still stands today, and with the rise of 3D memory, and more advanced controller IP, the gap between flash and platters has increased.

Specifications

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 12345 | TweakTown.com

The Inland Professional SATA III has a large performance drop off as we move down through the capacity range. The 480GB model delivers up to 550 MB/s sequential read and 490 MB/s sequential write speeds. The random performance reaches up to 70,000 IOPS read and 60,000 IOPS write.

Moving down to the 240GB model, the sequential performance stays the same but the random reads drop to 42,000 IOPS. The random writes increase to 80,000 IOPS due to fewer cells for the DRAMless architecture to keep track of.

There are parallels between the 240GB and 120GB models in random writes but the seminaries stop there. The 120GB drives drop to just 520 MB/s sequential read and 410 MB/s sequential write speeds. The random read performance takes the biggest hit with the drive achieving just 38,000 IOPS.

Pricing, Warranty, And Endurance

The most interesting aspect of this series is the price and warranty. The series starts out at just $24.99 for the 120GB model and increases to $42.99 at the mid-tier 240GB. The most promising drive for our readers has to be the $72.99 480GB.

The Inland Professional SATA III warranty is through Microcenter, where our samples came from. The warranty period is three years, but also limited by the amount of data written to the flash. According to the Microcenter webpage, the 480GB and 240GB both share a 262 terabytes written (TBW) rating while the smallest drive in the series carries 181 TBW.

A Closer look + 512GB Class Performance Testing

A Closer Look + Class Performance Testing

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 116 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 117 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 118 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 119 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 120 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 121 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 122 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 123 | TweakTown.com

The Inland Professional SATA III ships in a simple package and uses a common design case made of plastic. The 7mm z-height design fits in most notebooks and desktops. Inside we found a Phison PS3111-S11 DRAMless controller paired with Toshiba BiCS FLASH (3D) TLC memory.

Product Comparison

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 02 | TweakTown.com

We pulled the hottest 512GB class SATA SSDs from this summer to compare to the Inland Professional SATA III. Sadly, none matches this series in price but all should outperform this drive in nearly every test. The real question is how much better the other drives, or to change the perspective, how close the very low-cost drive can get to mainstream and premium SATA performance.

Sequential Read Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 39 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 40 | TweakTown.com

The 480GB Inland drive rides just outside the sequential read performance set by the more established drives. There is a slight gap but not one that most users will notice when reading back large block size files.

Sequential Write Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 41 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 42 | TweakTown.com

We found a much larger gap writing sequential data to the drives. Still, the 480GB Inland drive performs much better than it's $75 price would lead many to believe.

Sustained Sequential Write Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 43 | TweakTown.com

We didn't observe a lot of performance loss writing to the entire user area of the drive. The large overprovisioning on the 3D memory helps to keep performance high. The Inland drive uses the same memory as the Plextor M8V, but the controller and firmware allow the writes to flow without a large drop-off. This does decrease endurance to a degree but you will still get years of use out of the drive before running into any endurance issues.

Random Read Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 44 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 45 | TweakTown.com

The 480GB Inland doesn't show strong random performance, an issue that Phison controllers always seems to battle. The low queue depth random read performance is still far superior to any hard disk drive but isn't in the same league as many of the comparison drives also in the charts.

Random Write Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 46 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 47 | TweakTown.com

The biggest drawback for most DRAMless architectures is low random write performance. On DRAMless NVMe models, using host memory buffer technology the performance gap shrinks but that's not an option over the SATA bus.

The large SLC buffers largely minimizes random write performance. Daily use applications simply don't write enough random data at one time to overrun the buffers so we can overlook this setback in performance. Tt will become a larger issue with mixed workloads later in the review, though.

70% Read Sequential Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 48 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 49 | TweakTown.com

Mixed workloads are far more important for the overall user experience than the single workloads. The low-cost Inland drive lacks the processing power to deliver strong performance here but it's not far off the most of the more powerful drives. It is faster than the SanDisk Ultra 3D throughout the queue depth range.

70% Read Random Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 50 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 51 | TweakTown.com

The low random performance in 100$ loads combines to reduce the mixed workload performance. The 480GB Inland SATA III trails all of the other drives here. The line charts shows that the more powerful Phison S10 quad-core, eight-channel controller paired with Toshiba 15nm MLC flash, in the Corsair Neutron XTI, follows nearly the same line as the Inland with the S11 DRAMless controller. There isn't a larger performance gap between the two drives.

Game Load Time

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 57 | TweakTown.com

In this section, we move into our real-world performance tests using applications and traces. The synthetic workloads help us understand why a drive performs as it does in these tasks.

The Inland Professional's low mixed workload performance in both sequential and random hurts application performance. It's impossible for the drive to outperform the others but it is possible for it to stay close.

PCMark 8 Total Storage Bandwidth

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 68 | TweakTown.com

The standard PCMark 8 storage test uses ten real-world application traces to measure storage bandwidth. The throughput score averages the individual results into an easy to compare number that effectively ranks performance across the test drives. The Inland SATA III falls where we expected on the list. The drive trails the others under light workloads with daily use software.

PCMark 8 Extended Storage Test

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 69 | TweakTown.com

The PCMark 8 Extended Storage Test uses the same workloads as the standard test but works the drive much harder to start. This introduces a steady-state condition where the performance is low. Then the test uses idle time to allow the drive to perform garbage collection during the recovery mode tests.

The recovery mode is where most users need to see high performance because it's rare to push SSDs into the other phases of this test after the initial setup where users install the operating system and applications. The 480GB Inland SATA III trails the other drives across the test range. The recovery phase performance is poor and that makes this drive less than ideal for a boot drive.

SYSmark 2014 SE System Responsiveness and Power Tests

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 74 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 75 | TweakTown.com

The SYSmark 2014 SE Responsiveness Score is a direct measurement of the system's latency that effects the user experience. The weighted scores come from an OEM Samsung SSD similar to an 850 EVO. The OEM drive's performance marks the 1,000 point reference and other products compare to it with either a higher (more responsive) or lower (less responsive) score.

The SYSmark 2014 SE software also measures system power consumption during the test. We report power consumption during the responsiveness portion of the overall test. This is not a direct measurement of the SSD's power consumption.

Notebook Battery Life

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 76 | TweakTown.com

Early in the development of DRAMless SSDs we were told the technology would decrease power consumption. DRAMless drives often deliver low idle consumption results but use more power to perform background activities. In our experience, the additional power required to keep the drive running optimally outweighs the reduction in idle power. The 480GB Inland SATA III SSD isn't a strong choice for use in a notebook as the primary storage drive.

256GB Class Performance Testing

Product Comparison

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 03 | TweakTown.com

In this section, we look at both the 240GB and 120GB Inland Professional SATA III SSDs. We typically don't review 128GB class SSDs but added the $25 SATA III to the charts to see how well it would perform for users building secondary or special use systems, like a media center with a large mechanical drive to store cold data but a small low-cost SSD for the operating system.

In the 256GB class, the other products lose some performance due to decreased flash parallelization but the DRAMless drives generally increase performance due to fewer cells for the table map to track. It's a very interesting phenomenon.

Sequential Read Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 77 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 78 | TweakTown.com

The 240GB and 120GB driver performance much better in the sequential read test compared to the drives we're comparing them to. There is still a performance gap, especially in the low queue depth areas, but the results are more competitive than what we saw on the previous page.

Sequential Write Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 79 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 80 | TweakTown.com

We can say the same about the sequential write performance, but to a lesser degree. Here the Inland drives have a much lower queue depth 1 write speed but several transfers at one time will move data at nearly the same rate.

Sustained Sequential Write Performance

In this test, we see why it's possible to use these drives for heavy sequential data and it not seem like you lost performance. The two smaller Inland SATA III SSDs actually write sequential data very well. Sequential data with larger block sizes than random data do not increase the table map as rapidly because there are less block to track.

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 81 | TweakTown.com

Sequential data is often stored in a 128KB size. Your map table is kind of like an Excel workbook. If you just map a single 128KB block, it will use one Excel cell. Random data is often in 4KB blocks and it takes 32 cells on the Excel sheet to map the same about of data as a single 128KB block. Thirty-two cell entries increase the size of the map file, just like an Excel workbook. DRAMless SSDs work better, and with less latency, with a smaller table map since only a small amount of the map is in a small cache on the controller and not in a much larger DRAM-based cache.

Random Read Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 82 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 83 | TweakTown.com

Random read performance is the most important metrics for a Windows boot drive. Your boot drive reads random data more than any other type of data. The two smaller Inland SATA III SSDs deliver the same performance at queue depth 1, but some of the other mainstream series don't scale as well.

Random Write Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 84 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 85 | TweakTown.com

With a DRAMless design we're not surprised to see the Inland drives at the bottom of the bar chart prioritized by queue depth 1 random writes. This is the area where DRAMless SSDs have the most trouble simply due to the architecture.

70% Read Sequential Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 86 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 87 | TweakTown.com

Again, we see low performance with mixed workloads. To be clear, these are reads and writes taking place at the same time. SATA technically can't do this, unlike PCIe-based devices. The SATA drives build a queue and execute the commands. Sometimes the drives will execute the commands out of order using native command queueing (NCQ).

70% Read Random Performance

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 88 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 89 | TweakTown.com

Some SSDs will use a portion of the DRAM to cache user data but DRAMless SSDs don't have the DRAM to use as a cache for the data or the map table. That's why we see such a large gap in mixed random data between the DRAM and DRAMless SSDs.

Game Load Time

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 95 | TweakTown.com

The two smaller Inland SATA III SSDs take nearly four seconds longer to load our Final Fantasy: Stormblood benchmark than the Crucial MX500. The drives are nearly ten seconds faster than the Seagate BarraCuda Pro HDD in our testing but fall to the lower-end of the performance scale when comparing just SSDs. You can read more about this test and see over 125 results here.

PCMark 8 Total Storage Bandwidth

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The smaller Inland drives trail the more powerful ones in the PCMark 8 Storage Test. The Samsung 860 EVO delivers nearly twice the bandwidth of the Inlands, but it also costs significantly more.

PCMark 8 Extended Storage Test

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 107 | TweakTown.com

Through most of this section of the review, the 240GB and 120GB Inland drives delivered nearly the same performance. That won't always be the case under real use. The smaller drive holds less data so most users with fill a larger percentage of the available space. The 120GB Inland in a little slower with a lot of data on the flash compared to the 240GB.

System Responsiveness and Power

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 112 | TweakTown.com
Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 113 | TweakTown.com

There is a lot of latency with this series. In our responsiveness test with the drives running in a Lenovo Y700-17, there is a massive fifty point gap between them and an OEM Samsung 850 EVO (the baseline score of 1000).

Notebook Battery Life

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 114 | TweakTown.com

In another Lenovo Y700-17 we measure the notebook battery life using BAPCo's MobileMark software. The two smaller Inland SATA III SSDs don't fulfill the promise of DRAMless battery life nirvana but they do give you more battery life than a mechanical HDD.

Final Thoughts

The Inland Professional SATA III SSDs are some of the cheapest SSDs you can buy today but they are far from the fastest. For many, the almighty Dollar means more than breaking performance records. This series gives you a better experience than mechanical disks for around the same price. Some may hate that this product exists but for others this is exactly what they want in a SSD.

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 115 | TweakTown.com

After going two years with inflated SSD prices, the Inland Professional SATA III is a welcome change. For our readers this isn't what you put your operating system. The series works best as an insanely cheap SSD to load your games and other less-frequently used software on as a secondary drive. It is also a good drive for a second system that you may otherwise use an older HDD for. This series keeps you away from disks because at these prices there simply isn't an excuse to use a mechanical drive in anything but network storage.

Network storage is also another possibility. Most data held on a NAS is written once and read back often. We would like to see 1TB class drive to increase the flash capacity in a NAS, but Inland Professional doesn't offer the SATA III in that size. With more NAS shipping with 10GbE network capabilities, the move to flash as a cache or for data is soon to follow.

When we first found this series, the 480GB model was the fifth bestselling SSD on Amazon. It's clear that others like the idea of low-cost SSDs with some degree of reliability. If SATA isn't your cup of tea, then Inland Professional has another option that only costs a little more.

In an upcoming review, we will look at an Inland Professional NVMe SSD based on the Phison E8 controller. The drive is nearly identical to the new Corsair MP300, Kingston A1000, Patriot Scorch M.2, and MyDigitalSSD SBX.

Final Thoughts

The Inland Professional SATA III SSDs are some of the cheapest SSDs you can buy today but they are far from the fastest. For many, the almighty Dollar means more than breaking performance records. This series gets you a better than mechanical disk performance for around the same price. Some shoppers would never give this product a second glance, and you might think this is a hate, but I don't.

Inland Professional SATA III SSD: $75 For 480GB Madness 115 | TweakTown.com

After going two years with inflated SSD prices, the Inland Professional SATA III is a welcome change. For our readers this isn't what you put your operating system on but it's a good, insanely cheap product to load your games and other less-frequently used software on. It is also a good drive for a second system that you may otherwise use an older HDD for. This series keeps you away from disks because at these prices there simply isn't an excuse to use a mechanical drive in anything but network storage.

When we first found this series, the 480GB model was the fifth bestselling SSD on Amazon. It's clear that others like the idea of low-cost SSDs with some degree of reliability. If SATA isn't your cup of tea, then Inland Professional has another option that only costs a little more. In an upcoming review, we will look at an Inland Professional NVMe SSD based on the Phison E8 controller. The drive is nearly identical to the new Corsair MP300, Kingston A1000, Patriot Scorch M.2, and MyDigitalSSD SBX.

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