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Intel Optane SSD 900P 280GB & 480GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review

By: Jon Coulter | PCIe in Storage | Posted: Nov 20, 2017 2:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 100%Manufacturer: Intel

Moderate Workload Model


We categorize these tests as indicative of a moderate workload environment.


PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests


Version and / or Patch Used:


The reason we like PCMark Vantage is because the recorded traces are played back without system stops. What we see is the raw performance of the drive. This allows us to see a marked difference between scoring that other trace-based benchmarks do not exhibit. An example of a marked difference in scoring on the same drive would be empty vs. filled vs. steady state.


We run Vantage three ways. The first run is with the OS drive 75% full to simulate a lightly used OS volume filled with data to an amount we feel is common for most users. The second run is with the OS volume written into a "Steady State" utilizing SNIA's consumer guidelines. Steady-state testing simulates a drive's performance similar to that of a drive that been subjected to consumer workloads for extensive amounts of time. The third run is a Vantage HDD test with the test drive attached as an empty, lightly used secondary device.



OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used






OS Volume 75% Full - Steady State






Secondary Volume Empty - FOB






Typically, there is a big difference between an empty drive, one that's 75% full/used, and one that's in a steady state. Not so with Optane. Scoring is similar no matter what the state the drive is in.




The important scores to pay attention to are "OS Volume Steady State" and "OS Volume 75% full." These two categories are most important because they are indicative of typical of consumer user states. When a drive is in a steady state, it means garbage collection is running at the same time it's reading/writing.


Steady-state only applies to flash-based SSDs, not Optane. The Optane drive's score at minimum 100% better than the 960 Pro at 75% full and steady-state. Look at the Intel 750. This is a perfect example of 3D XPoint's superiority over NAND. The 750 actually scores higher than the 900P when empty, but look at what happens when data is on the drive. The Optane 900P outscores the 750 by roughly 400% when data is on the drive.



PCMark 7 - System Storage


Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4.0


We will look to Raw System Storage scoring for evaluation because it's done without system stops and, therefore, allows us to see significant scoring differences between drives. When evaluating NVMe SSDs, we are looking for a minimum score of 11,000.


OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used








The 900P lays waste to the competition yet again. The 900P is delivering almost 4x our minimum score of 11K.



PCMark 8 - Storage Bandwidth


Version and / or Patch Used: 2.4.304


We use PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs, and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.


OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used






PCMark 8 is the most intensive moderate workload simulation we run. Concerning moderate consumer type workloads, this test is what we consider the best indicator of a drive's performance.




When comparing storage scores, it is important to keep in mind that a few points are a big deal.




Storage bandwidth really highlights what the 900P can do in a more discernable way than scoring does. What it does is crush the competition.



BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE Application Performance


Version and / or Patch Used:


SYSmark 2014 SE is considered the gold standard for testing system performance because it is an application based benchmark. This test gives us the ultimate in real-world results because it utilizes actual applications running on the system, instead of playing back recorded traces. If you want to know what kind of impact a particular SSD will have on your system's overall performance; this test will show you.


Our systems are much more powerful than the calibration system (1000-point baseline) used by BAPCo, so we ran an OCZ TL100 120GB SATA III SSD to establish a comparison point relative to our test systems. We will be running this test going forward, and we will add drives to our chart as we test them.






It is important to keep in mind that with SYSmark 2014 SE a few points are a big deal when comparing one drive to another on the same platform.




This lineup is a bit different than the others we've used for our test pool to this point. This is because these are the only SSDs we've run on our new Z270 storage testing platform. With all other benchmarks, there is very little difference between our Z170 and Z270 platforms. However, with SYSMark there is a marked difference due to increased CPU performance.


10 points is a big deal, and the 900P is beating the world's fastest flash-based consumer SSD by a whopping 75 points.

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