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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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