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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:33 am 
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I want to get an SSD for my X220. I'm not sure whether to get OEM or Retail version of Intel SSD. My only concern is whether a Lenovo OEM version would work better (performance, reliability, etc) in an X220 than a retail version of the same drive.

The OEM versions state different firmware than the Retail versions. Doesn't this indicate that the drives are setup differently and that the OEM firmware is "better adapted" for a Lenovo computer?

Will an OEM intel SSD purchased from Lenovo perform better than a retail version of the same drive purchased from say Newegg?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:21 am 
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I wouldn't buy the same version of the retail drive as the Lenovo OEM. Here's why. The Lenovo OEM is going to be an Intel 320 series SATA II drive (or Samsung I believe they ship both). The Intel retail model is going to give you the option to buy the Intel 320 or 520 series - the 520 is their new (as in the last month or two) SATA III drive with a Sandforce controller and custom Intel firmware. Since your X220 can support SATA III drives, you'll be better off with the Intel retail 520 drive.

The only issue I believe you will encounter is that you will need to remove the spacer from the top of the Intel 520 drive to change it from a 9.5mm to a 7mm drive. They put the spacer on there so that you can remove it for these installation circumstances. However, I just checked the retail box for my Intel 520 120gb drive and the screws you will need to replace the ones that hold on the spacer are not in the package. So if the screws it comes with are too long once the spacer is removed, you'll need to source those for replacement.

I purchased my Intel 520 series drive from newegg and it works great in my T420 in the sig below. Good luck!

BTW - just saw this online - these are the exact screw you need, mentioned in this thread by someone who used the Intel 520 in their X220: http://forum.notebookreview.com/lenovo-ibm/647535-intel-520-heads-up-2.html.

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Thinkpad T420 | Core i-5 2520M | 16gb RAM | 120gb Intel 520 SSD + 750gb 7200 RPM | 6300 N | Ubuntu 12.04 x64
Desktop: AMD FX-8350 (8 cores) | 32gb ECC RAM | 240gb Intel 530 SSD + 1tb 7200 RPM | Ubuntu 12.04 x64 | HP ZR24w
Previous Thinkpads: A21m, R40, X61, T410


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:27 am 
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thanks for this info, but what about my question of whether the drive being OEM and having the different firmware means it's "better adapted" to Lenovo computers. Is there any truth to this?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:08 pm 
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I'm not sure how that can be substantiated or denied unless someone with some sort of inside Lenovo information can post. I can say that I've used retail Intel drives in 3 different Thinkpads with zero issues: an X25-M in an X61 and T410 and the 520 in the T420. Beyond that, I can't really say much more sorry.

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Thinkpad T420 | Core i-5 2520M | 16gb RAM | 120gb Intel 520 SSD + 750gb 7200 RPM | 6300 N | Ubuntu 12.04 x64
Desktop: AMD FX-8350 (8 cores) | 32gb ECC RAM | 240gb Intel 530 SSD + 1tb 7200 RPM | Ubuntu 12.04 x64 | HP ZR24w
Previous Thinkpads: A21m, R40, X61, T410


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:47 pm 
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schester wrote:
thanks for this info, but what about my question of whether the drive being OEM and having the different firmware means it's "better adapted" to Lenovo computers. Is there any truth to this?
yes, there absolutely is truth to that.   any SSDs included from the factory in any manufacturer's system will contain firmware tweaked especially for their systems.   typically this is to cover compatibility or reliability concerns.   the same goes for spinning hard drives as you'll find certain features disabled in the firmware (ie: timeouts to allow RAID use with a desktop drive, accelerometers disabled in notebook drives, etc.).

the other difference is support.   getting a replacement drive from intel is a $25 fee to pre-ship a replacement, otherwise it's a good 2-3 weeks to ship your drive and await the replacement.   lenovo on the other hand will have a replacement in your hands the next business day at no charge provided your system is under warranty.   buying an SSD with a thinkpad can be slightly more expensive but the added cost is worth it to business and enterprise users who need quick replacements in the rare event of a failure.

regarding SATA II versus SATA III, choose based on reliability.   you won't likely be able to discern a difference between the two in real-world use unless your workload mostly comprises large file transfers.   even then the difference is negligible outside of benchmarks.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:06 pm 
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Thanks for the post Erik. So I am assuming that it would be a better move (if I want the better adapted SSD/firmware) to buy the SSD as an "accessory" part from Lenovo as opposed to buying retail from a 3rd party (e.g. Newegg etc). Do you concur? The main question to you being, will buying an "accessory" part that is filed under my X220 model number on the Lenovo website be likely to contain this better adapted firmware?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:14 pm 
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Thanks for the info Eric, good to know.

Just be aware that Intel continues to have failures related to the 8mb bug even after the firmware fix (see here: http://communities.intel.com/message/145854). The 520 series uses a Sandforce controller, not an Intel controller like the 320. The 520 comes with a 5 year warranty from Intel, but the RMA caveats mentioned above apply.

It would seem the best option for you is to get the SSD from Lenovo and have piece of mind that everything is covered by Lenovo and optimized for your use on that specific device.

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Thinkpad T420 | Core i-5 2520M | 16gb RAM | 120gb Intel 520 SSD + 750gb 7200 RPM | 6300 N | Ubuntu 12.04 x64
Desktop: AMD FX-8350 (8 cores) | 32gb ECC RAM | 240gb Intel 530 SSD + 1tb 7200 RPM | Ubuntu 12.04 x64 | HP ZR24w
Previous Thinkpads: A21m, R40, X61, T410


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:34 pm 
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that 8mb bug is scary! I hope I never experience it. I haven't heard anything about Lenovo drives experiencing it, have you? Maybe it's specific to the Intel retail drives?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:45 pm 
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schester wrote:
Maybe it's specific to the Intel retail drives?

All brands of SSD drives have some issue or other..... at this stage of SSD technology evolution, its still not as problem free as HDD technology. However, with any storage technology you need to be making regular backups!

Cheers,

Bill B.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:33 pm 
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i have four retail intel 320 SSDs currently in deployment getting hammered every day with GBs worth of writes, rewrites, boots, reboots, and shutdowns, and have yet to have one fail or misstep in any way.   while i don't doubt the 8GB bug affects some, i can't say i'm personally worried about it whatsoever.   my mission-critical data is stored in triplicate, in multiple locations on- and off-site, and a snapshot of my C20's boot drive taken twice daily.   an SSD going down is typically a non-issue for me save for the time it takes to overnight a replacement if i don't have something on hand (and i typically do).

like bill suggested, lenovo's firmware won't be any more reliable than what comes from intel in retail drives.   all types of storage mediums carry risk.   firmware tweaks specifically made for OEMs are typically so minor that if it were a widespread fix then intel would include it in their retail firmware updates.   we should also keep in mind that intel writes a firmware per an OEM's request.   OEMs don't write firmware.

my recommendation is to purchase based on warranty coverage, availability, reliability, and factors other than firmware.   while i certainly wouldn't hesitate to use an OEM SSD, i absolutely wouldn't go out of my way to get one if my needs didn't dictate it.   if an OEM SSD meets your needs, budget, and deployment strategy then go with it.

regarding intel versus sandforce controllers, my money is on intel's own silicone.   while intel's sandforce drives are arguably the best sandforce flavor available, the silicone itself has left a bad taste in many users' and manufacturers' mouths.   once intel develops their own 6Gbps controller, their use of sandforce will disappear completely.   sandforce is nothing more than an interim solution.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:43 pm 
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The OEM from Lenovo is considerably more expensive than the retail version. I would prefer to pay less for it, but was willing to pay more if it meant it would perform better in the Lenovo computer. Sounds like you recommend getting the retail version though. I guess this is what I'll do unless you think having that OEM will given any increased performance/reliability etc. I've gone from "going to get retail" to "going to get OEM" back to "going to get retail" :=)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:00 pm 
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since you already own the X220 then i personally see no reason to buy OEM.   an OEM drive purchased separately from a system is only covered by a one-year term.   that changes things considerably.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:22 pm 
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If you are not using the wwan slot you might want to consider using an mSATA drive card in that slot. I just purchased and received an x220 with the 320gb 7200rpm drive and at the same time ordered and received a 128gb mSATA drive from MyDigitalSSD for $169. The installation and transfer of the OS to the mSATA was a snap and now I have an x220 that boots to login in less then 20 seconds and loads programs almost instantaneously! I couldn't be more pleased! :D :D :D . I use the 320gb for storing my data.

Steve

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:01 am 
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I installed the Intel 320 120 GB drive in my coworkers laptop last year in September. I did the firmware upgrade since it was found out this drive has a bug, after I decided it was the most reliable drive I could find. I put my trust in Intel being honest that they fixed the problem.

One month ago the drive failed. Couldn't even be detected in the BIOS. Complained to the distributor about the problem, and asked for another type of replacement drive. Received the Samsung 830, and that's working great. I've also had good experiences with two Corsair Force GT 120 GB drives.

For all costs, avoid the Intel 320 series.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 11:04 pm 
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Esben wrote:
One month ago the drive failed. Couldn't even be detected in the BIOS.
that wasn't the 8MB bug.   the 8MB bug would have shown up in the BIOS as only having 8MB capacity.   either your coworker did something extraordinary and killed the drive or it was a rare catastrophic failure.   without knowing the laptop used or what was done at the time of the failure, it's difficult to draw any conclusions here.

hopefully you and your coworker are keeping backups.   anything can fail at any time no matter how reliable.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 6:41 pm 
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Esben wrote:
For all costs, avoid the Intel 320 series.

Intel has consistently had the lowest reported failure rate of all current SSDs :idea: :!:

http://www.behardware.com/articles/843-7/components-returns-rates-5.html

Cheers,

Bill B.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:46 pm 
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Here's an alternative you may want to consider. This drive is 7mm thick as to fit in your X220 also, just like the Intel 520, and though it has a different controller in it, trades blows with the Intel drive as far as performance goes. It's also got a 5-year warranty (Plextor drives seem to also be quite reliable).

The area it wins in, though, is power consumption. Intel uses one kind of flash, Plextor uses another- suffice it to say that at idle and random reads it uses less power than the Intel one will. So it's also worth consideration.

Oh, and it's a retail drive- again, no difference from the pared-down OEM package (which doesn't exist with this drive AFAICT). So you get the mounting bracket that you need to put the drive from the X220 into a desktop machine if you so choose.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:31 pm 
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Q-Ball wrote:
Here's an alternative you may want to consider. This drive is 7mm thick as to fit in your X220 also, just like the Intel 520, and though it has a different controller in it, trades blows with the Intel drive as far as performance goes. It's also got a 5-year warranty (Plextor drives seem to also be quite reliable).

The area it wins in, though, is power consumption. Intel uses one kind of flash, Plextor uses another- suffice it to say that at idle and random reads it uses less power than the Intel one will. So it's also worth consideration.

Oh, and it's a retail drive- again, no difference from the pared-down OEM package (which doesn't exist with this drive AFAICT). So you get the mounting bracket that you need to put the drive from the X220 into a desktop machine if you so choose.



I used Intel SSD 710 series, it fit right in. Here's the part number

SSDSA2BZ100G3S

http://ark.intel.com/products/56583/Int ... s-25nm-MLC)

It is running very fast to me.

Hope this will help in your selection.

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