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Intel Optane SSD 800P Review: Swift, Small-Capacity XPoint

Final Thoughts

We can easily identify the target audience for most products, but we're not so sure about the Intel Optane SSD 800P. Intel's Optane Memory caching product had a clear target even though the user base was limited to newer chipsets. The 900P opened Optane technology up to a wider audience without any system-specific restrictions. In previous products, Optane's high performance made up for the big price tag, but we see less of that with the Optane SSD 800P.

The Optane SSD 800P series has two issues that will prevent most users from giving it a shot. The first is capacity. For most, the 58GB model is too small for anything other than a cache SSD. Luckily, it works as an Optane Memory caching module, and it should also work with third-party caching/tiering software.

The 118GB model is the only real option for most of our readers, and even that's debatable. We stopped reviewing 128GB SSDs several years ago because enthusiasts and power users moved on to higher capacities as SSD pricing plunged. Intel's $200 price tag for the 118GB Optane 800P pits it against low-cost NVMe and premium SATA 512GB SSDs. It's a tough sell even if you have a very high-speed internet connection and a rock-solid cloud service.

The low-capacity 800P SSDs might stand a chance if their performance was more in line with the 900P. Without a custom driver, the low-capacity drives are only slightly faster than NVMe SSDs in some areas, and slower in others. We don't see a clear all-round performance advantage that compels us to buy an Optane 800P.

That may change. Currently, you can't change the Optane 800P's Windows cache buffer settings, which means performance will suffer until Intel offers a custom driver. That's not ideal; the company needs every advantage possible when it's trying to sell 118GB drives to the masses. Intel does have a driver for its Optane Memory, but it is designed to cache data for an HDD or SATA SSD. The Optane 900P also has a driver, but it uses the same one as the enterprise DC P4800X.

I think Intel misjudged the market. A duo of larger 120GB and 240GB capacities would be more realistic in 2018. It's possible to fit four memory packages onto a single-sided M.2 SSD, and there isn't a need to stick with the single-sided design at this point, either.

The 800P's saving grace is the VROC feature and special adapter cards that fit four drives in a single PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot. Asus, Asrock, and Aplicata all have good, low-cost cards that work with X99 and X299 motherboards. Aplicata makes a card with a PLX bridge that accepts four M.2 SSDs and works with mainstream chipsets like the Z170 and Z270. The PLX card downshifts to a PCIe 3.0 x8 connection, but there should be minimal performance loss with 800P SSDs. It will also avoid the CPU utilization issue we found.

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Buying four 118GB Intel Optane 800Ps puts you in the $800 range before you even buy an adapter card. That's more than a 480GB Optane 900P, which is a superior product that runs right out of the box without jumping through VROC hoops (and there are plenty). Configuring RAID on a mainstream platform like the Z170 is simple, and the performance results rival the X299 platform with VROC.

The 800P works as an Optane Memory drive (800P Cache in the charts above) with Intel's caching software, which caught us by surprise. But the performance results with the 118GB Optane 800P and the Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB are even more exciting. We have always liked Optane Memory and feel it has excellent potential for gamers with large libraries. If Steam gift cards are the only items on your holiday list, Optane Memory and the 800P are a powerful combination. The 800P provides increased cache capacity, which addresses one of the biggest complaints about the official "Optane Memory" series.

The Intel Optane SSD 800P may not be the perfect product right out of the box, but it is a versatile SSD that works well in some nontraditional roles. You might not envision buying a 60GB or 120GB SSD in 2018 as a boot drive, but a few in RAID (or as a larger cache) fit well with the capacity and performance available.

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  • derekullo
    Does Smart Response still have the 64 gigabyte limit on the maximum size of the cache?
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    Yes but when configured as Optane Memory it seems to take the entire drive for cache.
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    I would have liked to see the 900p performance included in the graphs. Then you could tell how much "performance" you're losing by going down to the 800p.
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    That's why we have the performance charts on the final page. We wanted to get in the 900P and Optane Memory charted but didn't want to make all Optane results in the main testing portion of the review. You will see 800P, 900P VROC, and PCH RAID coming up soon together in a review.
    Reply
  • TomHaX
    Fast? Intel claims the new Optane SSD 800P series is capable of up to 1,450/640 MB/s of sequential read/write throughput. Random performance reaches up to 250,000 read and 140,000 write IOPS.

    That is SLOW. Compare to gold standard: Samsung 960 Pro 2TB:
    Sequential Read Speed: 3,500 MB/sec
    Sequential Write Speed: Max 2,100 MB/sec
    RANDOM READ (4KB, QD32): 440,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    RANDOM WRITE (4KB, QD32): 360,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    http://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/minisite/ssd/product/consumer/960pro
    Stop FUD. Get the facts!
    Reply
  • natx808
    price/performance is not doing it for me. I'd take a cheap adata XPG SX8000 256 GB instead.

    i'm not sure what consumer application would suits these drives for considering such small density. not much room left for games once you install the OS on a 64 or even 128GB drive

    disappointing 4k random write performance compared to drives that cost a fraction of the optane drives. I suppose the average consumer isn't going to be running a heavily loaded database server, but regardless i would just as soon opt for nvme drives than optane.

    Question - whats the purpose to show 4 R0 optane if you don't compare it to 4 R0 SSDs?

    Reply
  • DavidC1
    To Chris, the author:

    You guys should update your SSD articles to include 760p in the comparison. It's the top drive when it comes to battery life, and power restricted performance, which is a nice balance for notebooks.
    Reply
  • Glock24
    Finally images display correctly in Firefox mobile in all articles!
    Reply
  • TikoL
    Intel inside, Idiot outside. Only an idiot will buy this product vs. Samsung 960 pro SSD.
    Reply
  • rilebru
    Once I watched a documentary in which a whale washed ashore exploded like a water fountain spraying blood and all other disgusting bodily fluids. This is because it was bloated. How come I don’t see that whale on packaging of Optane products now?
    Reply