Storage is still limited and the price is still high, but these M.2 SSDs are lightning fast.
if you want a fast PC in 2018, then an SSD is essential as your boot drive while hard drives still have their place in a system, offering terabytes of cheap storage. But there is a third option you’d be forgiven for forgetting about. It’s called Intel Optane Memory, was developed by Intel and Micron, and now it’s being targeted at “mainstream consumers.”
Optane is Intel’s brand name for the non-volatile memory known as 3D XPoint (Micron brands it QuantX). Optane sits somewhere in-between your standard SSD and RAM in terms of performance. It’s effectively a faster SSD, which makes it highly desirable to have as a boot drive. The problem is, it’s really expensive, or at least was at launch which meant Intel only offered 16GB ($36) and 32GB ($60) M.2 Optane drives for use as “system accelerators.” That changed this week, though.
Intel launched two Optane SSD 800P drives, which are aimed squarely at consumers. Storage is still limited to either 58GB or 118GB, but these M.2 SSDs offer read speeds of up to 1,450MB/s and write speeds of 640MB/s. Read latency is just 7 microseconds, and write latency 18 microseconds.
Intel says the 800P drives are ideal as a standalone SSD (if you can cope with the storage limit), in a dual drive setup, or as part of a RAID configuration. Laptops are also a key target for Intel, with the 800P supporting low power states to aid battery life without sacrificing speed.
The 58GB 800P costs $129, where as the larger 118GB version is $199. For me, that still classes them as enthusiast drives, especially when you consider a 250GB Samsung 960 EVO SSD costs just $120 and the 500GB version if $236. Intel is clearly sticking with Optane, though, and we should expect the storage size to keep increasing and the price falling. Hopefully, like last year, Intel will opt to add these Optane drives to new versions of the NUC.