Intel Optane SSD 900P 480GB and 280GB NVMe HHHL SSD Review - Lots of 3D XPoint!
Conclusion, Pricing, Endurance, and Final Thoughts
- Outstanding responsiveness and performance where it matters most.
- Outstanding endurance (especially for a client SSD).
- Free Star Citizen access and ship.
- Cost is a bit higher than enthusiasts might be used to.
- 'Max' performance figures feel held back by the controller.
Pricing and Warranty (street price at the time of this writing)
- 480GB - $599 ($1.25/GB)
- 280GB - $389 ($1.39/GB)
When Intel announced Optane, they said it would fall 'somewhere between DRAM and NAND pricing', and pretty much everyone assumed that it would land closer to DRAM, at least at initially. Currently, DRAM goes for $10/GB and 'PRO' NAND SSDs go for $0.60/GB, so it appears that the 900P falls way closer to NAND pricing (2x away) than it does DRAM (8x away). Further, these new drives come in at less than half the cost/GB of their smaller Optane Memory caching siblings, instantly making that dream 8x32GB Optane RAID more trouble than it's worth. The warranty period is 5 years, but let us talk about what the 900P is rated to endure for that entire 5-year period:
The 900P's endurance is rated at 8,760 TBW for 480GB and 5,110 TBW for 280GB. For those not used to 'petabytes' being thrown around for SSD endurance, let me present it graphically:
That's pure insanity right there. You can fill these drives from empty to full, 10 times each day, 365 days a year, for 5 years. That was a spec previously reserved for datacenter SSDs, and now you can get it in a client SSD and at a significantly lower cost/GB to boot.
Want to know what makes 3D XPoint tick? Check out my how-it-works article here.
The wait is over, the SSD 900P is here, and it's even more affordable than I was expecting. The product was well built and nicely packaged, but it's the 3D XPoint on the inside that enthusiasts are truly after, and it did not disappoint. Intel's controller may limit the maximum straight-line throughput and random IOPS enabled by 3D XPoint, but the package remains extremely nimble and consistent, with low queue depth latencies coming in nearly an order of magnitude faster than the highest performing NAND-based SSDs. That said, there are still a few hurdles to overcome to better realize the full potential of Intel Optane. The 900P is so fast that OS interrupt response times and CPU context switching start to become significant and cause measurable performance bottlenecks. Even if operating systems were fully optimized, games and apps could also use a few tweaks to take better advantage of this new tech. As an example, many legacy benchmark apps can't accurately report on Optane's performance as the app itself becomes the bottleneck. Something to look forward to for gamers is the possibility of games seamlessly loading ever larger scenes and richer details on-the-fly, with the possibility of loading screens no longer being necessary! These changes will all come with time, but as it stands right now, the Intel Optane SSD 900P delivers outstanding responsiveness and performance where it matters most, and does so at a highly competitive price point.
The price is a bit on the high side, but you won't find a similarly priced client/workstation storage device that can come anywhere close to the SSD 900P's responsiveness, low latency, and high endurance anytime soon!
Ownership of PC Perspective also operates consulting firm Shrout Research. Shrout Research has provided research, consulting, and analysis for many companies in the high-tech industry including AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Arm. A white paper was published by Shrout Research using 900P engineering samples and was commissioned by Intel. All testing for this review was conducted separately and on retail samples of the 900P. This review was not commissioned or sponsored by Intel.