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Intel 750 series SSD review: Storage so fast, only the highest-end PCs can keep up

Jon L. Jacobi | April 6, 2015
They're here: Intel's 750 series SSDs--scintillatingly fast NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory express) storage for the masses. At least, the enthusiast subset of the masses--the infrastructure to support this advanced storage technology is found only in high-end PCs. But the 750's are fast, and that's with a capital ‘F' in certain benchmarks.

On the other hand, while this next comment is subjective as subjective can be, it did seem that Windows operated more smoothly with the 750 series in place. Perhaps it was imagination. Perhaps it was the multiple queues that NVMe provides that make it more efficient when handling multiple I/O requests.

Relatively low-cost

We were expecting the 750 to be fast, but we were not expecting it to be affordable. It is, relatively speaking. The 400GB flavor (either type) is $389, and the 1.2TB version is $1,029. That's expensive by SATA SSD standards, but cheap when you compare it to the nearly $1,000, 480GB OCZ Revo Drive 350, the $500/256GB Plextor M6e, and the $750 MSRP of Kingston's 480GB Hyperx Predator PCIe SSD. The latter is actually available at a heavy discount, but expect the price of all the Intel 750 series competition to drop real soon.

Intel warranties the 750 series drives for five years and for 0.3 drive writes a day. The latter is a new concept from Intel: It means the warranty allows you to write up to 30% of the drive's total capacity per day without voiding the whichever-comes-first warranty. That's 133GB per day on the 400GB model, and a whopping 400GB per day with the 1.2GB model — an extremely large amount of data for a non-enterprise drive.

Conclusion

Because of the relatively tame performance in some tests and the lack of NVMe support in legacy PCs, we can recommend the 750 series only for the high-end crowd, and then with the caveat that you might get as much dash for less cash with a RAID 0 setup. But the 750 aces server-load scenarios, it's a single-drive solution, it has a fantastic warranty, and if you have an NVMe-aware BIOS you're golden. 

For the average user with an average desktop, SATA RAID or a PCIe/M.2 solution, such as Kingston's HyperX Predator PCIe SSD, are the preferred, and generally the only practical solutions for increasing storage performance. Not for long, though: Expect big inroads from NVMe in the very near future.

A final note: Not all SSDs handle RAID well. Intel's 735s and Samsung's 840s do, but it can be hit-and-miss with other drives. Look for a story on that soon.

 

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