The Intel 600p series isn't perfect, but it's what the market needs right now. Most of us don't have much money left over for a $500 NVMe SSD after we spend $500 on a CPU and motherboard upgrade. NVMe falls into the old chicken versus the egg scenario. You need newer hardware to use it, but you still have to buy another expensive component that would be useless with your old hardware.
We've already tested the 256GB and 512GB 600p SSDs but came away unimpressed. Other NVMe SSDs are shipping with planar MLC NAND, mainly the Phison E7-based models, which impacts my thoughts on the 600p. The E7 drives compete directly with the Intel 600p 256GB and 512GB. The BPX, which leads the group of E7 SSDs, costs just a little more but it delivers a significant performance increase. However, the Phison E7's capacity limitation is an Achilles heel. We've only tested a single 1TB E7 SSD, and it is a limited-edition model sold mainly in Asia. The Galax HOF PCI-E is also more expensive than an Intel SSD 750 series 1.2TB SSD, so it's off the table.
The lack of competition in the entry-level NVMe 1TB class makes the Intel 600p 1TB appealing. It's the only low-cost 1TB NVMe product, and that makes it the default (and only) option. The Plextor M8Pe M.2 2280 challenges the 600p when it's on sale for $399, but you have to time your purchase with a sale. The Intel 600p 1TB has a fairly consistent price that hovers right around $350. I would like it better at $300, but the current NAND shortage means we won't see any significant price reductions until early 2018.
Many people with new Z170 and now Z270 motherboards want to fill the M.2 slots. In fact, it's one of the biggest attractions to the Sky/Kaby Lake platforms. The Intel 600p will fill that need, but it doesn't always give you the best performance. The 600p 1TB only delivers 7,800 random read IOPS at QD1. That's 20% less than a Samsung 850 EVO 1TB that has roughly the same price. The 600p 1TB took the lead during sequential read workloads because it can transfer data at a higher rate than the SATA interface supports.
The 600p's write performance is another story, and that is where we find the biggest conflict. The Intel 600p 1TB gives you an ample 100GB SLC buffer to absorb incoming write data but lacks direct-to-die technology. The SLC buffer is big enough for daily use, and perhaps even accommodate those rare occasions when you run a professional application. This is where our conflict turns to compromise. If you don't want to compromise, prepare yourself for sticker shock. The 600p in the only sub-$400 NVMe 1TB model on the market.
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