In­tel SSD 750 Se­ries 1.2TB

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Custom PC - - LABS TEST / SOLID STATE DRIVES -

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.

Con­clu­sion

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.

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