Intel 600p Series SSD Review

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For the last year, we've talked about how amazing NVMe products are, but in the same breath, we complained about the cost. The 600p is Intel's answer to enthusiasts complaining about NVMe pricing. The drive fits well in the Intel lineup, where it slots between the 7- and 5-Series. Unlike both of those products, the new 6-Series is a compromise in performance, and that takes some of the shine away from NVMe's reputation for high performance.

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$ per TB Of Endurance128GB256GB512GB1TB
Intel 600p72TB / $0.92144TB / $0.76288TB / $0.69576TB / NA
Intel 750NANA350TB / $0.90350 / $2.37
OCZ RD40074TB/ $1.62148TB/ $1.18296TB/ $1.04592TB/  $1.23
Patriot HellfireNA115TB/ $0.78230TB/ $0.78NA
Samsung 950 ProNA200TB/ $0.93400TB/ $0.79NA
Samsung 850 Pro150TB/ $0.60150TB/ $0.81300TB/ $0.73300TB/ $1.39
Samsung 850 EVO75TB/ $1.0475TB/ $1.33150TB/ $1.05150TB/ $2.04
OCZ VX50074TB/ $0.87148TB/ $0.63296TB/ $0.52592TB/ $0.60
Crucial MX300NA80TB/ $0.88160TB/ $0.80220TB/ $1.18

(EDIT - Intel has since increased the endurance rating, as noted in the chart). Let's tackle the endurance elephant in the room first. The Intel 600p was the second SSD we've tested (the 750 Series was the first) with a blanket endurance rating that doesn't increase with capacity. We reached out to Intel and confirmed that the 72 TBW rating was accurate for all 600p SSDs, but the company increased the rating later. The 600p has a stellar low-cost pricing scheme, and after Intel's endurance specification adjustments, you pay less for each TB of endurance than you would with most competing SSDs.

Until the last few years, endurance was an overlooked specification in the consumer SSD space. The endurance rating for most SSDs was high enough that most of us didn't give it a second thought. I've only killed a single SSD due to endurance, but it took a high-speed internet connection and the desire to upgrade my movie collection to Blu-Ray ISO files. The data came in over Usenet in RAR files that expanded into ISO files, which meant a write amplification of ~2x per movie. It took roughly eight months, but the low-cost 256GB SSD wasn't designed for 24/7 data writes or the accompanying RAR and Par operations every 50 gigabytes

Flash endurance ratings became an issue to worry about with TLC SSDs. TLC requires advanced error correction algorithms that work in both hardware and software to preserve data. 3D NAND increases endurance. Intel altered the endurance rating to scale as the capacity increases, but we feel the initial low rating was a way for Intel to reduce the cost of the drive by severely limiting the warranty.

You still get a 5-year warranty, but the endurance rating will limit your eligibility. For some users, the endurance rating will not be a factor. For others, it may change behavior. Only you can tell how much data you write per day, but I suspect most users don't know because it hasn't been an issue before. I'm more concerned with the way Intel SSDs possibly react once you pass the endurance threshold. Intel indicates that the read-only procedure is a data protection mechanism to prevent data loss, and some theorize that Intel uses the measure to prevent data centers from using low-cost consumer products. In either case, the technique seems drastic.

The Intel 600p's performance is slightly higher than premium SATA products like the Samsung 850 Series and SanDisk Extreme Pro. We shouldn’t compare the 600p to the first-generation NVMe products; it just isn’t a level playing field. SSDs like the Intel 7-Series and Samsung 950 Pro are superior in every way, but they also cost considerably more.

For most users, the Intel 600p is an easy way to get slightly better than SATA performance under real-world application workloads at a low price point. As we examined the benchmark results, I moved from not liking this product to accepting it. This is not the SSD that enthusiasts and power users are looking for. My wife, on the other hand, would find the 600p to be an excellent upgrade with a nice performance boost. More notebooks are adopting an M.2-only strategy with low-cost SATA SSDs, but the M.2 600p NVMe SSD would change the system into a powerhouse (as long as it supports NVMe). At this point, most new notebooks support both SATA and PCIe-based storage.

Intel NUC and third party NUC-like systems have also adopted M.2 for the primary storage. Intel has an interest in the seeing the tiny systems succeed, and adding a low-cost NVMe SSD to the compatibility list will certainly further those goals.

Intel is the first to market with an entry-level NVMe SSD, but in the coming days and weeks, we will see several products join the 600p. We know of at least one unannounced product that delivers higher endurance and better performance at the same general price. The company doesn't have Intel's long history of high quality and lowest return rate in the industry, but it doesn't potentially implode when you cross the endurance line, either.

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Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.
  • n0ns3ns3
    Lol ...
    glad I got the much cheaper X400 wth 320 TBW.
    Somehow the performance difference (M.2 sata vs PCIe ) isn't that noticeable in real life. Not to mention throttling - which for some reason was not mentioned in review :)
  • rgrigio
    I have a standard 120GB 840 from 2013 alongside with a 1TB HDD on my laptop, paid 120 bucks for it then, and... only 4.60TBW... As long as you use it as a read-drive there isn`t much to be afraid.

    Now... if you have a more demanding workload or install/uninstall games every few days, then you should look for another drive.

    IMHO it should at least have better performance. This seems "meh"...
  • Game256
    Intel just can't release a good product for mass market. It's either pricey stuff with high capacity like Intel 750 or garbage like 540s and 600p.

    At least 600p is not so overpriced like 540s was (btw the price for 600p is constantly jumping, from 105-130$ for 256 Gb version). At the moment 600p is a good alternative for premium SATA SSD but soon, when there will be more NVMe SSDs on the market and prices fall, 600p will become obsolete.
  • philipemaciel
    Glad there are SATA real world benches in the review! These are very useful for those of us using SATA SDDs and contemplating moving to NVMe.
  • tripleX
    The difference is that your Samsung doesn't self destruct when it passes the endurance limit. Also, since that is early flash I'm sure you have the endurance number wrong.
  • tripleX
    On further thought... that's only 14tb of data per year. Horrible.
  • Brian_R170
    If the not-yet-released 1TB version scales up well, it will be somewhat competitive with the other NVMe offerings and likely a lot cheaper, but as it is, there's not really a lot of reason to buy a 600p.

    Of course, the application benchmarks clearly show that the fastest NVMe drives improve your experience by only 1-2% over SATA while costing twice as much, so for most users, there's not a lot of reason to pay extra for NVMe.
  • tripleX
    Well it doesn't scale at all, like it said in the article...
  • Zaxx420
    Intel should not even use 'NVMe' anywhere on the product or packaging...would better keep user's initial expectations in check...everybody associates 'NVMe' with blistering speeds atm. Exceptional job of keeping your conclusion fair with the price being the top consideration. Woulda been REAL easy to unfairly declare this a real turd...tho it does seem Intel coulda done a little better by having direct to die writes at least.
  • n0ns3ns3
    18618710 said:
    On further thought... that's only 14tb of data per year. Horrible.

    A single game with updates etc can do about 1TB a year. some games are crossing 100GB already.
    So while 14TB is indeed a lot, I'd prefer to gave more just to be sure.