Intel Optane SSD 905P Review: Seriously Fast Storage For Enthusiasts

Intel Optane SSD 905P: All You Need To Know

Intel is upping the ante in the enthusiast storage space again, with a brand-new 3D Xpoint-based drive called the Optane SSD 905P. As its name implies, the Optane SSD 905P isn’t a major departure from the Optane SSD 900P that was released a few month back, but Intel was worked a bit of magic to improve performance in a few ways. Peak capacity of the drive has also been doubled, and a new, edgier design language makes a debut – complete with integrated lighting.

We put the Intel Optane SSD 905P through a battery of benchmarks on our updated test bed and have our results laid out for you on the pages ahead, but before we dig in, let’s cover some specs and take a quick tour of the drive. As a precaution, you’ll probably want to hide your credit card and temporarily lock your PayPal account...
intel optane 905p angle
Intel Optane SSD 905P
Specifications & Features
intel optane 905p specs
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The Intel Optane SSD 905P will initially be offered in two capacities and two form factors. Add-in, PCIe-based Optane SSD 905P cards will be available with a 960GB capacity, and a 480GB U.2 2.5” drive is on the way as well.
optane 905p front
A quick glance at the specifications listed above doesn’t necessarily reveal what makes these drives so special. Their sustained read/write bandwidth in the 2.6GB/s – 2.2GB/s range doesn’t set the Intel SSD 905P apart from other high-end NVMe NAND-based solid state drives that are capable of >3GB/s transfers. An Optane drive’s read/write latency, however, is significantly faster at <10us and random 4K I/Os are strong as well, especially when you consider these specifications are quoted at low queue depths. Intel Optane SSDs also have exceptional endurance ratings of 10 full drive writes per day, for 5 years. With a drive like the 960GB SSD 905P that equates to thousands of Petabytes of written over its lifespan.
optane 905p back
The PCIe Express add-in Optane SSD 905P is reminiscent of Intel’s previous-gen, HHHL solid state drives. It features a half-height PCB (68.9mm / 17.2mm / 168mm), with smooth heatplate on the back and raised-fin heatsink on the front. Intel did jazz things up a bit here with some lighting that resides between the heatsink fins.

optane 905p lit

The case bracket on the Intel Optane SSD 905P is vented to allow for some air-flow over the heatsink, but the drive does not have a fan of its own, and relies on air-flow within a chassis to remain cool. In practice, when tested within a chassis, we found the 905P to get relatively warm to the touch, but not "hot" in a standard mid-tower, with nothing but a couple of intake/exhaust fans. Readings on the back of the card after hours of benchmarking hovered in the 120'F range.

optane 905p temps

The Intel Optane SSD 905P features an Intel-built, multi-channel (7 channel) controller architected and tuned specifically for the 3D Xpoint media at the heart of the drive. The controller is the same one found on the SSD 900P and is similar to what’s used on the enterprise-class DC P4800X. Intel was able to extract more performance from the 905P, however, thanks to updated firmware that better takes advantage of advancements made with the 3D Xpoint media. In terms of power, the 960GB SSD 905P drive has a max power rating of 16.4W (burst), but idle power and active read power are only 6W and 10.7W, respectively.
optane 905p angle
The 2.5” U.2 Optane SSD 905P (15mm / 70mm / 101mm) is essentially identical to the PCIe-based add-in card in terms of its specifications. Power is significantly reduced because there is half the amount of media in the drive, and the internal PCB is obviously rearranged to fit the smaller form factor. The U.2 drive also connects to a system differently, but other than that the foundational technology in the drive is identical. The U.2 905P’s enclosure is smooth on top, but it outfitted with heatsink fins on the bottom, to help dissipate heat.

Before we dive into the benchmarks, let’s quickly cover what makes Intel’s Optane drives and 3D Xpoint memory so different from other SSDs that use traditional NAND Flash memory...

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