Intel has had fits and starts when it comes to releasing SSDs. Its first batch took out the performance crown with ease, but was soon surpassed by the likes of Samsung.
Then last year it released the 750 with NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification), a way of controlling the flash memory within SSDs that did away with the old HDD standards of the past, and it blew the competition away. The Series 600 is a very different drive to that though. Instead of trying to blast the competition away with performance, Intel is going for the mainstream affordable market. Can they make a dent in one of the most competitive segments around?
Costing a mere $235 for half a Terabyte of SSD storage puts this drive right smack bang in the middle of the entry-level 512GB market. It’s been able to keep costs low by using affordable MLC memory, working with close partner Micro to deliver it in a new 3D stacked package. This means it can tuck large amounts of memory onto incredibly small boards – in this case, it uses the M.2 form factor with a length of 80mm.
Yet even the 1TB version only needs to mount its memory chips on one side of the board, the memory chips are so tight. It uses all four PCIe 3.0 lanes like most modern M.2 drives, yet also utilises the NVMe spec that Intel got so right last year. As a result, you’ll need to ensure your PC has four spare PCIe 3.0 lanes to make the most of this drive, which may be an issue for those already running multiple SSDs and graphics cards.
Beware which version you buy, as performance between capacities varies massively. The 128GB drive is rated for a sequential read speed of 770MB/sec, with sequential write speeds dropping to 450MB/sec. Yet our 512GB version is rated to hit more than twice the read speed, at 1770MB/sec, though write performance isn’t quite as improved, at 560MB/sec. IOPs performance also varies wildly. For the 128GB drive expect to see around 35,000 Random read IOPs, while the 512GB version smashes this with 128,500, making it significantly better at handling random file performance.
When it came time to test, we first used CrystalDiskMark 3.0, recording a sequential read performance of 1044MB/sec, while sequential write speeds came in at 498MB. These aren’t too shabby, but it was only when we started using real world apps such as 7zip’s built-in benchmark that we saw some real issues, taking 349 seconds to compress a 40GB file compared to Samsung’s 54 seconds. Anvil’s Storage Utilities measured a large decrease in IOPs performance compared to other drives as well.
Intel may well have delivered a very affordable drive, but it’s really only designed to handle smaller files. If you’re going to be playing with 100GB files all day, we suggest you look elsewhere.