Intel Optane Memory With 3D XPoint Review: Easy, Robust PC Acceleration

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Intel Optane Memory SSD Performance

We tested Intel Optane Memory in a Core i7-7500-based system (Kaby Lake) with an Asus B250 motherboard, 16GB of Kingston RAM, and a Western Digital Black 1TB, 7200RPM hard drive. Windows 10 Pro x64 was installed on the WD hard drive and we toggled the Optane Memory on and off via the included Intel Optane Memory application.

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Intel Optane Memory Installed In Asus Prime B250-Plus Motherboard

Before we show you how Intel Optane Memory can accelerate a system, we’ve got some quick numbers recorded with the 32GB Optane Memory SSD operating as a separate standalone drive. This is NOT the Optane Memory SSD’s intended purpose. There are Intel Optane-branded consumer SSDs coming down the pipeline for standalone installations, but we know this is the first thing many of you would ask for, so here goes...

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The ATTO Disk Benchmark shows the Intel Optane Memory SSD peaking at about 1.4GB/s for reads and 300MB/s for writes. What’s more interesting is that it achieves its maximum speed at right about the 4K mark, and then offers stable performance right on through to the maximum transfer size.

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CrystalDiskMark shows something else that’s very interesting. In the sequential tests, the Intel Optane Memory SSD -- AS EXPECTED -- trails the other high-end M.2 NVMe solid state drives. But these Optane Memory parts excel at small transfers, at low queue depths, which is where the vast majority of consumer workloads reside. In the 4K transfer test, the Optane Memory module absolutely obliterates everything else in the chart.

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The trace-based PCMark Secondary Storage Benchmark tells a similar, though less dramatic story. Here, the Intel Optane Memory SSD achieves the highest overall score, besting even the fastest NVMe SSDs. If we tunnel into the individual results, the Optane Memory SSD doesn’t lead across the board, but it smokes the other drives by a relatively wide margin in a few tests, especially in the Starting Application test.

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