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Intel 750 1.2TB NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 AIC SSD Review

Intel 750 1.2TB NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 AIC SSD Review
Intel is first to penetrate the consumer space with NVMe. The new 750 NVMe PCIe SSD promises to revolutionize SSD performance; and yes - it's bootable.
By: Jon Coulter | PCIe in Storage | Posted: Apr 2, 2015 4:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction

 

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Today marks a revolution in consumer based Solid-State storage solutions. Intel has launched the first of its kind client-side (consumer) SSD based on NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) technology. That SSD is what we have here today; Intel's brand new 750 Series NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 solid-state drive. Intel believes the 750 Series will usher in a new level of performance and reliability. Intel's 750 Series SSD's are based off their hugely successful DC Family of PCIe NVMe Datacenter SSD's.

 

Intel's 750 Series SSD looks remarkably similar to the DC P3500. This leads us to believe that the 750 Series may in fact be a consumer variant of Intel's DC P3500 enterprise SSD, in a similar fashion to the 730 series SSD being a consumer variant of the DC S3500 enterprise SSD. The AIC (Add-In-Card) version's PCB appears to be the same, and from what we have been able to discern, the same 18-channel proprietary CH29AE41AB0 controller powers the 750 series. As far as we can tell, the only physical difference between a 750 Series SSD and a DC P3500 Series SSD comes down to the amount of flash dedicated to overprovisioning (8% -9% for client vs. 25% for enterprise), and the use of consumer grade vs. enterprise grade flash. We are happy to see the similarities, because the best consumer SSD's to date have been variants of enterprise counterparts.

 

Intel feels their 750 Series NVMe SSD is the highest performing consumer drive in existence, and anticipate it will be for some time to come. Because the 750 is all about performance, Intel chose to go full half-height, half-length size, as well as a 2.5" form factor. Intel went full size as opposed to an M.2 form factor to avoid incurring limitations that are inherent to a device that is so small. The 750 Series employs no power saving features, as they cut into overall performance.

 

NVMe lowers overall CPU overhead because NVMe has a simplified command set which minimizes the number of CPU clocks per I/O in comparison to AHCI. NVMe is designed to be future proof, with a protocol built for current and future non-volatile storage solutions such as PCM (Phase Change Memory) or MRAM (Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory) memory.

 

Intel is emphasizing that the 750 is a bootable device, and is compatible with most current Intel Z97 and X99 platforms. This is in contrast to the limited boot compatibility we saw from Intel's enterprise PCIe family of SSD's. Most current Z97 and X99 boards already have BIOS updates on deck that ensure compatibility with the 750. Windows 8.1, Server 2012 R2 and Windows 10 already come with a built-in Microsoft NVMe driver, so the drive is a plug and play device with the latest Microsoft OS's. For best boot compatibility, you should install your OS on a GPT partition with UFEI boot enabled. The 750 Series is TRIM compatible as well.

 

At TweakTown's consumer storage testing lab, we are on a never-ending quest for the ultimate OS (Operating System) disk, after all, the majority of our readers are looking for the latest and greatest to power the OS on their own PC's. So far, nothing has been able to outperform a properly configured SATA array composed of quality SSD's in an operating system environment where random small file performance reigns supreme. We've seen countless PCIe drives recently launched all claiming to eviscerate SATA based SSD's in performance. While this claim is not entirely false, it is limited to secondary attached volumes, and reality has proven to be quite the opposite especially when pitted against a properly configured SATA array and subjected to an OS environment.

 

Not so long ago, TweakTown had a showdown featuring a single Intel DC P3700 800GB NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 enterprise SSD vs. our fastest 6-drive SATA array in RAID 0. Our testing featured both the DC P3700 and the 6-drive SATA array as our boot (OS) volumes filled to 75% of their total capacity. We came away with no clear winner, but for the first time, a PCIe drive was not blown away by our SATA array in an OS environment. That testing was performed on an ASRock Z87 board, one of the very few capable of booting a DC P3700 at the time; most boards including every non-ASRock Z87-Z97 motherboard I tried would not even boot to the system BIOS with a DC P3700 on board.

 

So, why all this talk about an array vs. a single drive? It's pretty simple really, the drive we are going to test today is on a whole new level of performance. Intel states that the 750 Series SSD is capable of delivering 4-6x the performance of a single SATA SSD. Comparing a 750 Series NVMe SSD to a single SATA SSD is akin to determining if a horse will outperform a Ferrari on the freeway. There is really no point; you know the outcome without actually racing. However, to provide contrast, we will chart the performance of one top performing single SATA SSD. So what about Samsung's fastest consumer M.2 SSD's? We will chart the performance of Samsung's X941 and SM951 on our PCMark 8 standard and extended testing. We have already determined that no current PCIe drives with an AHCI interface including the mighty SM951 (which isn't even publicly available yet) can outperform our best 6-drive SATA array in a heavy duty OS environment.

 

We will also compare our under $1/GB 750 Series 1.2TB SSD to our higher spec'd $3/GB DC P3700 800GB SSD. The 750 series is tuned for consumer workloads and the DC P3700 for enterprise workloads; with that in mind we won't be surprised to see the 750 outperforming the DC P3700 in some of our consumer based testing. So what it comes down to is this; will our best SATA array be able to hang on as the best performing consumer OS disk? Or, will there be a new champion?

 

 

Specifications, Pricing, and Availability

 

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Intel's 750 Series SSD is available in two capacities: 400GB and 1.2TB. Both capacities are available in two form factors, a half-length, half-height AIC with a single slot x4 connector, and a 2.5" x 15mm Z-height standard form factor with an 8639-compatible connector. Sequential R/W performance is listed at 2400/1200 MB/s. 4K random read performance is listed at up to 440,000 IOPS. 4K random write performance is listed at up to 290,000 IOPS. Both available form factors (AIC & 2.5") carry identical performance ratings.

 

Enhanced power-loss protection is provided by onboard capacitors. Data protection is enhanced by up to 32GB of the drives' memory dedicated to XOR internal data parity. Endurance is rated at up to 70GB per day or 219 TBW (Terabytes Written). Power consumption is listed at 25W active / 4W idle. The 400GB drive is slated to retail for $389 and the 1.2TB drive $1029. Intel backs the 750 series with a five-year limited warranty. You can order your 750 Series SSD from Intel starting today.

 

 

PRICING: You can find the Intel 750 1.2TB NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 AIC SSD for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

 

Australia: The Intel 750 1.2TB NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 AIC SSD retails for $xxx at PLE Computers.

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