Intel 750 PCIe SSD Review (1.2TB) – 1st Consumer 2.4GB/s NVMe SSD Set To Change The Industry

You know how we said in previous reviews that the enthusiast market hasn’t had much action and is just starting to take off? Well, right when we thought we were starting to see some fast PCIe SSDs, Intel decides to step in and release a beast. “A beast you say?” Yes, a fast, high capacity, NVMe, PCIe lane destroying beast! A beast of which those stories about things that go bump in the night could not have prepared you for. Let us introduce you to Intel’s latest disruptive monstrosity, the 1.2TB Intel 750 PCIe SSD.

Glorious isn’t it? We sure think so, and not just because of looks or capacity, but the speed it pushes and the technology behind it. By utilizing PCIe 3.0 x4 and Intel’s latest 18-channel NVMe flash controller, the Intel 750 was able to achieve speeds of nearly 2.7GB/s during our testing! That is more than four times that of the highest end SATA 6GB/s SSDs on the market, and even faster than the fastest M.2 PCIe SSDs available! This type of performance is an enthusiast’s dream come true!

Intel 750 1.2TB Main

After the Intel DC P3700 series received so much attention by enthusiasts in our review , it was only a matter of time until Intel released a consumer variant. Not only is the Intel 750 the first consumer released NVMe SSD, but also, it is Intel’s first PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD developed for the client enthusiast and workstation market. That is right, a powerhouse SSD envisioned for high-end systems and not your typical mom and pop’s builds. If you are looking for bleeding edge performance and top value in the consumer segment, look no further. Just wait until you see the price! This Intel PCIe SSD simply takes the crown.

WHY NVME OVER PCIE AND SATA?

We have covered PCIe and NVMe SSDs a few times in the past. These two technologies are much more apparent in the enterprise class segment of the market, however, there are benefits to us in the consumer segment. For those who are not in the know, we will cover these technologies once again.

PCIe NVMe

The PCIe interface allows for SSDs to achieve faster overall throughput as they are not limited by the SATA interface. The latest PCIe Gen3 architecture furthers performance by removing much of the overhead that there was in PCIe Gen2, as well as doubling the bandwidth. With PCIe 2.0, there was basically a 20% loss in performance due to 8-bit to 10-bit encoding. Also, bandwidth is limited to about 500MB/s per lane. With PCIe 3.0, they removed the 8-bit to 10-bit encoding scheme and replaced it with a more efficient 128-bit to 130-bit encoding scheme. This drops the overhead from 20% down to a mere 1.54%. In terms of bandwidth, it is effectively doubled from the 500MB/s to 1GB/s per lane. Thus, overall PCIe 3.0 allows for actual transfer speeds of about 985MB/s per lane versus about 400MB/s over PCIe 2.0.

Intel 750 1.2TB PCIe X4

Now, let’s move onto NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) and explain why it came about and how it benefits us. Years ago before flash went mainstream, there was the AHCI interface. This was designed for use with high latency, slow performing hard drives. SSDs, on the other hand, are low latency, high speed devices. The AHCI logical interface for SSDs, while highly compatible, is very inefficient. NVMe was built from the ground up to replace the AHCI logical interface over the PCIe bus to allow greater performance out of flash storage devices. It better exploits parallelism, and provides lower latency due to a streamlined storage stack. Its command structure is much smaller as it has ten admin commands for queues and transport and three I/O commands for SSD functionality. With less latency there is also a reduction in CPU cycle usage by over 50%.

Overall, NVMe allows for a cooler running machine, higher IOPS, much better reliability. The fact that NVMe is a native technology agnostic protocol from which manufacturers can build on, rather than work around as they do with SATA, make this host controller interface a standard for years to come when NAND flash becomes a thing of the past.

With these two technologies combined with a direct path to the CPU, end users can expect more speed and responsiveness out of their storage. In terms of OS support, Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 both support NVMe straight out of the box, however, older versions need a driver for support. Other operating systems such as Linux and even Chrome OS support NVMe as well.

COMPATIBILITY AND EASE OF INSTALLATION

When testing the Intel 750, we were able to install Windows 8.1 onto the device with ease. No special drivers or additional software were needed, and it was detected immediately during the storage selection prompt during installation. In order to install the OS onto the Intel 750, we first went into the UEFI, disabled CSM support and booted off our install media via the “UEFI: <install media name>” option. After Windows installed, the main boot option shows as “Windows Boot Manager.” This also means that it can be utilized with both hardware fast boot modes and Windows fast boot feature. The only issue we encountered was that it had longer boot times than typical SATA drives. Check out our review to see our analysis on boot time utilizing the 400GB model to learn more.

Intel 750 1.2TB Full Length

Bootability verification goes for both our Z97 and X99 systems. Beyond these, we are unable to verify system support. Intel lists OS support for Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8 64-bit, and Windows 8.1 64-bit and it requires motherboards to have UEFI 2.3.1 or later.

SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING, AND AVAILABILITY

The Intel 750 series of SSDs are available in two form factors, 2.5″ 15mm with a SFF-8639 connector and the half-height, half-length (HHHL) add-in card form factor such as we have on our bench today. The 2.5″ form factor will be better utilized in prosumer server and client systems rather than your typical desktop PC. Capacities are available in 400GB and 1.2TB. This seems quite limited but here’s the kicker; the MSRP on the Intel 750 Series is $389.00 for the 400GB and $1029.00 for the 1.2TB. That is right, Intel is releasing this SSD into the retail market at or under $1 per GB! Sequential read and write for the 1.2TB model is rated for up 2,400/1,200MB/s for while random 4K performance is rated for up to 440K/290K IOPS read/write. The 400GB model is rated for up to 2,200MB/s read and 900MB/s write and up to 430K/230K IOPS read/write. Intel is definitely pushing the boundaries by offering such a great price to performance ratio.

Intel 750 1.2TB NVMe Intel ToolBox

Intel is also including an updated version of the Intel Toolbox with the release of their 750 Series NVMe SSD. It includes a bunch of useful tools and features such as SSD health monitoring, diagnostic scans, a firmware updater, a secure erase function, and a system tuner.

In terms of power, the 2.5″, and add-in card form factors, utilize both the 3.3v and 12V rails, rather than the 5V rail as we see with most consumer SATA SSDs. These are rated for an average read and write wattage of 12W read and 9W write for the 400GB model and up to 22W read and 10W write for the 1.2TB model at a QD128 under sequential read and write workloads with 64KB data. Both have an idle power draw of 4W.

This SSD features your standard TRIM and garbage collection support as well as power-loss protection, however, it does not come with any type of hardware encryption; Intel has saved that feature for its enterprise class SSDs. Finally, the endurance is rated for up to a maximum of 219TB written and the Intel 750 series is backed by a 5-year limited warranty.

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Obsidian71
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Obsidian71

You guys are replacing my keyboard. I just drooled all over it

Sean Webster
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Haha, time for one of those water proof ones! Trust me, I found myself drooling uncontrollably after first receiving this SSD as well! I think that I even forgot how to speak for a bit.

darpa21214
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darpa21214

Is it true that in the real world a user will notice no difference between an Intel 750 and a Samsung 850 pro or any other SSD for that mater?

Sean Webster
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It depends on what your real world use is. Everyone has different workloads. If you are editing media heavily such as video and 4K video for that matter, yes there is a difference. If you are just a power user who does a lot of typical desktop tasks you are better off with a SATA SSD.

darpa21214
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darpa21214

So for a person with an overclocked 5820K, 16gb of ram, four 4 TB HDs full of movies, who plays games and reads the internet, a 400gb 750 would be a waste of $150 over a Samsung 850 pro 512gb? or should I just blow the $150? I am not the price sensitive.

Les@TheSSDReview
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Well…if you are one who likes the best and the fastest (evident by the OC), you might just have to have the 750 but, for what you describe, there will be no performance difference from the other SSD. Not being price sensitive, I’de be grabbing the 750 personally though…just sayin’.

Dash
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Dash

It’s not going to help you with movies or surfing the web if you’re already running on SSD. It will benefit game loading times, but probably not by a noticeable amount.

Also, a word of warning on the 5820K, it’s been crippled to only have 28 PCIe lanes. Which means if you’re ever thinking of Crossfire/SLI on your graphics card then may start running out of lanes.

If you’re looking for a sensible decision, this isn’t it – but then, Haswell-E is probably not that sane either (I’ve got one, so I’m with you on that).

John Curtis
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John Curtis

So my revodrive 3 x2 failed a few days ago and I was eyeing the p3700 but its a bit pricey. Is there a good reason not to consider this thing now?

Sean Webster
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Up to you and your uses. The P3600 is rated for faster reads and writes, but a bit lower random writes. Then if you look at the endurance rating the P3600 is rated for 3 drive writes per day up to nearly 11PB TBW…not 219TB TBW. So the P3600 annihilates it in endurance if you need that for your workflow.

John Curtis
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John Curtis

Its a solid point on the endurance. Its for a workstation so I might trade in this case I might favor the p3600 but it’s pretty amazing that tech has gotten to the point where this is even a decision.

Thanks for the note and great input as always!

Sean Webster
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No problem, good luck with your decision!

Technostica
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Technostica

If you actually are running workstation loads then this might be useful otherwise judging by the real world benchmarks I’ve seen elsewhere this is a waste of money.

Sean Webster
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Yep, thus why it is targeted towards that market.

ShawnF
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ShawnF

The 2.5-inch form factor model interests me. It says it ships with an add-on card? Is the SSD tethered to this card or can we use other SAS/Sata Express cards from LSI to power this thing?

Sean Webster
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It comes with a SFF-8639 to SF-8643 cable. It is only compatible with a PCIe adapter of some sort such as an M.2 to SFF-8643. Currently the only supported motherboard for this SSD is the Asus X99 Sabertooth as it comes with an M.2 to SFF-8643 adapter. It will not work with SAS cards.

Guts
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Guts

Hi, can anyone help to verify how fast was the boot up timing as I get a wide range of result for the boot up timing.

Techreport review claim 51 sec boot up which is slowest in all SSD and TT also claim that 750 is noticeable slower, yet the review here mentioned single digit boot up.

Just how fast? Any software to keep the exact timing?

Sean Webster
Guest

I had 9 seconds boot in the Z97 test system from power off to on after optimizing everything.

Guts
Guest
Guts

Hmmm so is about as fast as SATA drive, but just not much faster?

Sean Webster
Guest

Yeah, just about the same. The Samsung 850 Pro 128GB I have as the OS Drive normally boots from power off to desktop in about 8-10 seconds…even a bunch of other SSDs I’ve tested boot about the same.

Guts
Guest
Guts

Well then, I guess this drive need some firmware update to really boost up the boost speed. Probably better future bios update as well.

Dash
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Dash

I suspect most of the delay in boot these days with SSD are BIOS/UEFI initialisations and or driver issues with Windows. All of which could vary from system to system.

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