Intel has brought a lot of innovation to the storage market. Its 10-channel X25-M was one of the first real enthusiast SSDs, and that was a play on the enterprise-oriented X25-E (without the SLC flash, of course). It was actually disappointing to see Intel back off the desktop with its SSD 510, sporting a Marvell controller. Several products with SandForce processors followed. Last year, Intel's SSD 730 revisited the original formula: use an enterprise-class controller in a client drive to enable superior performance. Those more robust components often consume more power, but offer enhanced reliability and performance. The SSD 750 follows the same recipe, and once again Intel has the fastest consumer SSD available today.
Weighing heavily on my judgement of the SSD 750 is the fact that you need a certain type of workload to extract maximum performance. NVMe is a great step forward, but the new command set doesn't improve performance at low queue depths as much as we expected. That's evident when we see Samsung's SM951 outperforming the SSD 750 in many tests that use lighter workloads. It's a lot like testing CPUs with multiple cores. Yes, you have access to more processing power when you need it for threaded applications. However, most of the time two cores are enough to get the job done. You have to spend a lot on an eight-core Xeon processor, and you have to spend a lot for a 750 Series SSD.
This is really where the missing capacity point hurts Intel. The 400GB model costs less than $400, and a number of enthusiasts will jump on it for that amazing performance. Those same enthusiasts already run high-capacity SSDs, which they load up with games and professional programs. The 1.2TB model we tested today comes at an Extreme Edition price point in excess of $1000. Enthusiasts will shy away from this price point and look for other options. Sadly, Intel isn't shipping the 800GB version that'd land in the middle.
Professional users running high-performance workstations for CAD, CAM, audio or video production can afford the Extreme Edition pricing. Fortunately, they're also in the best position to exploit the 750 Series' available performance. The 1.2 TBmodel is perfect for this type of user. It's more than 4x faster than the quickest 2.5" SATA SSD and costs less than several of the all-in-one RAID SSDs available today. The SSD 750 1.2TB is a drop-in solution to storage performance woes. In a world where time is real money, the SSD 750 pays back with interest.
The 400GB model is at a real disadvantage when you take into account the faster Samsung SM951. We haven't tested the 400GB version yet, but we know its performance level is lower than what we just benchmarked.