Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB
Intel beat Samsung to market with a PCI-E 3 NVMe SSD in the form of the 750 Series. It comes in either a half-height, half-length add-in card format, or in a 2.5in case with an SFF 8639 (U.2) connector, rather than as an M.2 drive. Like Samsung’s 950 Pro drives, it accesses four 1GB/sec PCI-E 3 lanes, so it offers far more bandwidth than PCI-E 2 devices such as the Plextor M6e M.2 and Kingston Hyper X Predator M.2.
Three capacities are offered, ranging from 400GB to 1.2TB. Unfortunately, Intel could only send us a 1.2TB sample for testing, which makes direct comparison between the drives on test slightly more complicated. We don’t know exactly how the lower-capacity 750 drives will perform in our test suite, but they have the same number of dies per controller channel as the 1.2TB model, so performance is likely to be similar.
The 1.2TB SSD 750 also carries a price tag that’s well over double that of any other PCI-E SSD, and three times the cost of the 512GB 950 Pro. Notably, though, there aren’t many PCI-E drives that offer capacities above 512GB, so this SSD is unique in that respect.
In the absence of a 1TB 950 Pro model, if you want a PCI-E SSD with a large capacity, you’ll need to dig deep into your pocket.
In terms of the hardware itself, the 20nm 2-bit MLC NAND is branded by Intel, coming in the form of 18 NAND packages. These packages pair up with the 18-channel, four-lane Intel CH29AE41AB0 PCI-E controller, which has been carried over in part from Intel’s P3700 datacentre drive. The large metal casing is really a large heatsink covering the controller and some of the NAND flash, with the remaining chips placed on the underside of the card.
The 750 Series claims the top spot in many of our tests, beating even the Samsung 950 Pro. Of particular note is Iometer, where the 750 Series delivers results that blow away any other SSD on the market, with 262,787 IOPS. Compare that result to the 139,096 figure of the 950 Pro, which is already much higher than the other SSDs on test. The SATA drives languish around the 40,000 mark, so this is an amazing result.
Sequential read and write speeds are impressive too, although the 950 Pro generally has an advantage in these tests, with a notable exception being write speeds, where the Intel drive has the advantage. In the PCMark traces and BootRacer tests, however, the advantages of the 750 Series are less clear. It was the slowest drive on test for a cold boot, and plays second fiddle to the 950 Pro in every trace. In short, this drive’s massive capacity, incredible IOPS and high pricing mean it’s really engineered for specific power-user workloads, rather than general desktop use.
There’s a lot to like about the 750 Series. It’s the only PCI-E 3 drive that comes in capacities over 1TB, and it goes like the clappers in sequential read and write tests, with very impressive IOPS results. It’s also the most expensive drive on test, though, and most consumer desktop users are unlikely to see any benefits from it, particularly when you consider the comparatively slow boot time.
If you’re a serious power user, then the Intel 750 is a very fast, high-capacity drive, but for everyone else, the Samsung 950 Pro offers better value for money and, with an M.2 version, is also a more practical upgrade for anyone with an X99 or Z170 motherboard.