Intel Optane M.2 2280 32GB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x2 Memory Module Review: Page 6 of 6

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Posted by Damon Bailey on Monday, November 6, 2017 - 8:00am

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

Intel Optane Memory Technology NVMe SSD 32GB

Intel’s first 3D Xpoint drives only come in diminutive sizes, but they make a HUGE impact when coupled with a low cost, high capacity SATA Drive, even when it’s a relatively slow mechanical drive. In fact, we actually routinely saw slightly better performance out of a combination of SATA SSD and an Optane module than a high-performance Consumer NVMe SSD in the day to day tasks. It can’t hold a candle to the NVMe drives sequential speeds in this form, but in real-world performance, you can feel, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference anywhere besides your wallet.

The numbers paint a pretty clear picture, but subjectively the difference is pretty big. You don’t really ‘feel’ much of a difference between a $200 combination of ‘spinning rust’ and an Optane module vs a $1200 NVMe SSD of the same capacity, But I bet you’ll notice the price tag of each. Even tasks we didn’t measure explicitly in the review, like loading windows, installing programs, moving files around seemed noticeably faster with Optane enabled, even with being used to running almost exclusively from PCIe based NVMe Drives.

I’m not going to say a modern high-end desktop was useless when booting and running only from a 5400 RPM mechanical hard drive, but it was certainly an exercise in patience we haven’t really experienced in many years.  From the very first boot after enabling Optane caching, the PC magically became usable again, and that alone tells us quite a bit. Launching programs and games was very responsive, even with the loud grinding sounds of a busy mechanical drive on an open test bench.

With Large 3D Xpoint drives just starting to hit the market, it makes us wonder if NAND flash’s days are numbered. Large sequential bandwidth looks great in benchmarks, but that low queue depth 4K performance is what makes or breaks the average user's perceived experience, and that’s exactly where this technology shines. If you are doing some upgrades or planning a new build, are trying to balance your budget between fast and expensive flash storage and cheap capacity, we strongly urge you to consider layering Optane into your plans. If you don’t need raw sequential bandwidth for a specific reason, you may actually find better performance with Optane. We were pleasantly surprised at the results ourselves.

Great Job Intel!

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