Intel Sneaks Out Core+ Processors With Bundled Optane Drives (Update: Pricing, Availability)

Update, 4/6/18, 8:30am PT: Intel responded with availability and pricing, which you can find below.

Original article, 4/5/18, 9:45am PT:

Intel's recent eighth-gen processor launch found the company adding yet another hieroglyphic to its product naming convention in a bid to "simplify" its stack. Intel's latest branding effort comes in the form of the "Core+" branding, which the company told us indicates the processors, or the devices they are installed in, come with Optane memory. Now it turns out that the company is also offering CPUs with a bundled 16GB Optane memory module.

Intel's Optane memory is a collection of software and hardware, such as 3D XPoint memory, that leverage the power of next-generation memory to boost storage performance. The Optane modules come as both cache and normal bootable SSDs that fill the good, better, best verticals. As we covered earlier, Intel now also supports using Optane caching with a secondary storage volume. Unfortunately, the speedy new devices aren't compatible with all Intel processors and platforms.

Intel is adding a "+" marking to the badges of some processors and OEM devices, like notebooks. The badge indicates that the processor comes with bundled Optane memory or the device already has one installed. Of course, this doesn't help much for the average consumer that has no idea what the new symbol represents. In fact, it is likely even more confusing.

The new branding also marks the debut of new CPU bundles that come 16GB Optane Memory modules, meaning you can use the small M.2 SSD to boost your storage performance. Nothing comes for free, though.

Bundle With 16GB Optane (CAD)
Processor Only (CAD)
Part Number
Core i7-8700
Core i5-8500
Core i5-8400

The first news of these kits popped up in Japan yesterday, where they are already at retail, but we've managed to find a few of the new products at PC-Canada. The online retailer lists the prices in CAD. As we can see above, we are looking at a ~$50 (CAD) premium for the Optane bundle. PC-Canada doesn't sell Optane modules separately, so we can't provide a direct comparison with CAD pricing. After conversion, it appears that the extra charge is roughly equivalent to the $39 retail price of the 16GB Optane module.

Curiously, it appears that the new bundles don't come with a discount. Intel updated its CPU price list recently, but it doesn't include any Core+ models. PC-Canada lists the new bundles as backordered for 1 to 2 weeks (see screenshots below), which may indicate the timing of Intel's launch. We've reached out to Intel for official pricing and U.S. availability.

EDIT: Intel responded with availability and recommended pricing, which will vary by reseller. The bundles officially launched on April 3, but will be on the shelves at various retailers soon:  

Numerous retailers in North America will be carrying the bundled product post-launch, including, and other leading online retailers of technology products.

  • Intel 8th Gen Core i5+ 8400 = $215
  • Intel 8th Gen Core i5+8500 = $235
  • Intel 8th Gen Core i7+8700 = $346

Intel® Optane™ memory requirements:

  • Aa 7th Gen or later Intel Core™ processor
  • An Intel® 200 series or later chipset
  • M.2 type 2280-S3-B-M connector on a PCH Remapped PCIe* Controller
  • Lanes in a x2 or x4 configuration with B-M keys that meet NVMe* Spec 1.1
  • System BIOS that supports the Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST) 15.5 or later driver.

Bundle pricing reflects a premium over the recommended pricing for the processor alone. The price increases are roughly equivalent to the price of a 16GB Optane module.