Intel SSD 660p (2TB)
- Competitive consumer performance
- Low price point
- Software package
- Slow native write performance
- Relatively low endurance
Verdict: Like other capacities of the drive, the 2TB Intel SSD 660p lacks high endurance, and direct to QLC write speed is lackluster. But you get solid performance and efficiency under consumer-based workloads. Top things off, it’s significantly cheaper than the competition and often goes on sale, making it one of the best SSD values available.
2TB Performance Results
Today, we pit the 2TB Intel SSD 660p against a few mainstream and high-end offerings. As the most expensive SSD in the bunch, we’ve added in Intel’s 1.5TB Optane SSD 905P, powered by Optane memory, it has the lowest latency profile in the group. Next up, we threw in the 1TB Samsung 970 Pro, which is the only SSD that utilizes 64L MLC V-NAND. Below it, Samsung 970 EVO Plus is a slightly cheaper alternative price per GB wise than the PRO, but it features Samsung’s 9xL 3D V-NAND as well as the same a penta-core “Phoenix” NVMe controller the PRO has.
As another mainstream alternative, we threw in HP’s 2TB SSD EX950, which has SMI’s SM2262EN NVMe controller and Micron 64L TLC NAND flash. And, built on Phison’s E12 controller and Toshiba’s BiCS3 64L TLC NAND flash we also added in the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro. Finally, as reference, we threw in a 1TB Samsung 860 EVO SATA SSD and a 6TB WD Black HDD to see relative performance differences of these slower alternatives.
Game Scene Loading - Final Fantasy XIV
The Final Fantasy XIV StormBlood benchmark is a free real-world game benchmark that easily and accurately compares game load times without the inaccuracy of using a stopwatch.
Intel’s SSD 660p’s game load performance is right in line with the rest of the group. Overall, it lands fifth place with the total load time of 19.88 seconds. This score bests the BPX Pro, SATA alternatives, and it even outperforms the HDD by nearly double.
Transfer Rates – DiskBench
We use the DiskBench storage benchmarking tool to test file transfer performance with our own custom 50GB block of data. Our data set includes 31,227 files of various types, like pictures, PDFs, and videos. We copy the files to a new folder and then follow up with a reading test of a newly-written 6.5 GB file.
Again, when copying files to itself, Intel’s SSD 660p outperforms the BPX Pro and SATA alternatives and scores fifth place. During the large file read back, however, the BPX Pro delivers a speed that is almost twice as fast and lands the Intel SSD 660p sixth place overall. Still, it easily reads at speeds that are significantly faster than any SATA SSD can deliver, and is six times faster than the 6TB WD Black HDD.
Trace Testing – PCMark 8 Storage Test 2.0
PCMark 8 is a trace-based benchmark that uses Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, World of Warcraft, and Battlefield 3 to measure the performance of storage devices in real-world scenarios.
Intel’s SSD 660p lands sixth place in PCMark 8’s storage test. When it comes to application performance, the Intel SSD 660p is a significant improvement over any HDD. As well, its average bandwidth was double the Samsung 860 EVO’s and, overall, the performance was very similar to other mainstream NVMe alternatives. Although, it can’t touch the capability of Intel’s Optane 905p. That ultra-low latency and quite expensive memory offers up performance that is a tier above NAND.Trace Testing – SPECworkstation 3
Trace Testing – SPECworkstation 3
Like PCMark 8, SPECworkstation 3 is a trace-based benchmark, but it is designed to push the system harder by measuring workstation performance in professional applications. The full suite consists of more than 30 workloads, but we've opted to only run the storage benchmark which uses only 15 of them and categorizes the results into 5 market segments for scoring: Media & Entertainment, Product Development, Life Sciences, Energy, and General Operations.
Like in PCMark 8, Intel’s Optane takes the lead by quite a bit. But for entry-level use, the 660p offers enough performance for most. And again, even under such a heavy workload, the 660p outranks the Samsung 860 EVO and the WD Black HDD. If you are into any sort of professional application, higher-end SSDs offer improved performance and higher endurance, but this QLC based SSD still did pretty well. In SPECworkstation 3 the 2TB 660p scores sixth place and offers similar performance overall as the BPX Pro.
Synthetic Testing - ATTO
ATTO is a simple and free application that SSD vendors commonly use to assign sequential performance specifications to their products. It also gives us insight into how the device handles different file sizes.
As the cheapest NVMe SSD of the bunch, the Intel SSD 660p offers the lowest sequential performance, up to 1.9 GBps read and write. Before the 8KB file size, the 660p holds up well, but after the high-end offerings, with their higher sequential performance, tend to leave it behind. Overall, Intel's drive offers significant performance gains over the SATA based alternatives.
Synthetic Testing - iometer
iometer is an advanced and highly configurable storage benchmarking tool that vendors often use to measure the performance of their devices.
Sequential results from iometer are similar to what we saw in ATTO, up to 1.9 GBps read and write. Random read and write performance is very competitive, which is why we saw it do so well during our application testing. Averaging QD 1-4, read performance nearly matches the Samsung 970 EVO Plus and write performance is similar to the BPX Pro. And, maximum IOPS throughput hit upwards of 200,000 in both read and write, just shy of its 220,000 IOPS read and write ratings.Sustained Sequential Write Performance
Sustained Sequential Write Performance
Official write specifications are only part of the performance picture. Most SSD makers implement a pseudo-SLC cache buffer, which is a fast area of SLC-programmed flash that absorbs incoming data. Sustained write speeds can suffer tremendously once the workload spills outside of the pSLC cache and into the "native" TLC or QLC flash. We use iometer to hammer the SSD with sequential writes for 15 minutes to measure both the size of the pSLC buffer and performance after the buffer is saturated.
For over two minutes of writing, Intel’s SSD 660p wrote over 275GB of data at a rate of 1.8 GBps. After that, the SSD’s write performance fell significantly, down to just 175 MBps on average. This gives the Intel SSD 660p great performance in applications that need high-speed write speeds as well as good performance when moving around most modest-sized files and folders. However, if you are writing well over 200GB of data to the SSD at once, write times can extend beyond that of the SATA based Samsung 860 EVO
We use the Quarch HD Programmable Power Module to gain a deeper understanding of power characteristics. Idle power consumption is a very important aspect to consider, especially if you're looking for a new drive for your laptop. Some SSDs can consume watts of power at idle while better-suited ones sip just milliwatts. Average workload power consumption and max consumption are two other aspects of power consumption, but performance-per-watt is more important. A drive might consume more power during any given workload, but accomplishing a task faster allows the drive to drop into an idle state faster, which ultimately saves power.
Overall, the 660p’s efficiency is really good. It scores third place on the charts when copying our 50GB folder. Average and maximum power consumption is the lowest in the group, save for the SATA based 860 EVO. At idle it drops down to a measly 14mW to boot. Therefore, this SSD may be a good pick if you are looking to upgrade your laptop’s M.2 SSD, just as much as if you were to be throwing it into a desktop rig.
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