Intel 750 PCIe SSD Review (400GB)

PCMARK VANTAGE X64 HDD SUITE

The SSD Review uses benchmark software called PCMark Vantage x64 HDD Suite to create testing scenarios that might be used in the typical user experience. There are eight tests in all and the tests performed record the speed of data movement in MB/s to which they are then given a numerical score after all of the tests are complete. The simulations are as follows:

  • Windows Defender In Use
  • Streaming Data from storage in games such as Alan Wake which allows for massive worlds and riveting non-stop action
  • Importing digital photos into Windows Photo Gallery
  • Starting the Vista Operating System
  • Home Video editing with Movie Maker which can be very time consuming
  • Media Center which can handle video recording, time shifting and streaming from Windows media center to an extender such as Xbox
  • Cataloging a music library
  • Starting applications

PCMARK VANTAGE RESULTS

This time around in PCMark Vantage the Intel 750 series achieved a Total Score of 138,295 points, while impressive, it isn’t as impressive as the 330K the 1.2TB model achieved. The highest transfer speed of 1,628MB/s was during the “Windows Vista startup” test, which is quite ironic as you will see later in this review. The lowest value of 345MB/s was recorded in the “video editing using Windows Movie Maker” test.

Intel 750 Series 400GB PCMark Vantage

PCMARK 8 EXTENDED STORAGE

WORKLOAD CONSISTENCY TESTING

For our last benchmark, we have decided to use PCMark 8 Extended Storage Workload in order to determine steady state throughput of the SSD.  This software is the longest in our battery of tests and takes just under 18 hours per SSD.  As this is a specialized component of PCMark 8 Professional, its final result is void of any colorful graphs or charts typical of the normal online results and deciphering the resulting excel file into an easily understood result takes several more hours.

There are 18 phases of testing throughout the entire run, 8 runs of the Degradation Phase, 5 runs of the Steady State Phase and 5 runs of the Recovery Phase.  In each phase, several performance tests are run of 10 different software programs; Adobe After Effects, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop Heavy and Photoshop Light, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word, as well as Battlefield 3 and World of Warcraft to cover the gaming element.

  • PRECONDITIONING -The entire SSD is filled twice sequentially with random data of a 128KB file size.  The second run accounts for overprovisioning that would have escaped the first;
  • DEGRADATION PHASE – The SSD is hit with random writes of between 4KB and 1MB for 10 minutes and then a single pass performance test is done of each application.  The cycle is repeated 8 times, and with each time, the duration of random writes increases by 5 minutes;
  • STEADY STATE PHASE – The drive is hit with random writes of between 4KB and 1MB for 45 minutes before each application is put through a performance test.  This process is repeated 5 times;
  • RECOVERY PHASE – The SSD is allowed to idle for 5 minutes before and between performance tests of all applications.  This is repeated 5 times which accounts for garbage collection; and
  • CLEANUP – The entire SSD is written with zero data at a write size of 128KB

In reading the results, the Degrade and Steady State phases represent heavy workload testing while the recovery phase represents typical consumer light workload testing.

PCMARK 8 RESULTS

As you can see, performance is recorded in terms of Bandwidth and Latency. Bandwidth (or throughput) represents the total throughput the drive is able to sustain during the tests during each phase. Latency, at least for the purposes of PCMark 8, takes on a different outlook and for this, we will term it ‘Total Storage Latency’.  Typically, latency has been addressed as the time it takes for a command to be executed, or rather, the time from when the last command completed to the time that the next command started.  This is shown below as ‘Average Latency’.

PCMark 8 provides a slightly different measurement, however, that we are terming as ‘Total Storage Latency’.  This is represented as being the period from the time the last command was completed, until the time it took to complete the next task; the difference of course being that the execution of that task is included in ‘Total Storage Latency’.  For both latency graphs, the same still exists where the lower the latency, the faster the responsiveness of the system will be.  While both latency charts look very similar, the scale puts into perspective how just a few milliseconds can increase the length of time to complete multiple workloads.

For a more in-depth look into Latency, Bandwidth, and IOPS check out our primer article on them here.

AVERAGE BANDWIDTH (OR THROUGHPUT)

These results show the total average bandwidth across all tests in the 18 phases. In this graph the higher the result the better.

Intel 750 Series 400GB PCMark 8 Average Bandwidth

AVERAGE LATENCY (OR ACCESS TIME)

These results show the average access time during the workloads across all tests in the 18 phases. In this graph the lower the result the better.

Intel 750 Series 400GB PCMark 8 Average Latency

TOTAL STORAGE LATENCY

These results show the total access time across all tests in the 18 phases. In this graph the lower the result the better.

Intel 750 Series 400GB PCMark 8 Total LatencyThese PCMark 8 scores were quite unexpected based on the previous benchmarks, especially after seeing the PCMark Vantage results. The 400GB Intel 750 is the fastest SSD in this benchmark. It delivers very consistency performance throughout both the heavy workload and light workload phases. During the heavy workload phase the Samsung NVMe SM951 gives it a run for its money, but it pulled away near the end. During the recovery phase 3-5 it achieved a throughput of 532MB/s and average latency remained low at just 0.02ms, about half that of the 1.2TB model and other competitors.

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hpvd
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hpvd

Thanks very much for this review – especially for also covering boot times.
Booting slower after post than expected and as samsung’s nvme drive is really a bit strange.
Maybe it simply depends on the driver? Which driver did you use for booting
test for the 750? Intel or Windows integrated one? Regarding
performance after boot there are some differences in speed depending on
the driver – maybe during boot too? Which driver was used for the
samsung? Many thanks again!

Sean Webster
Guest

Hi, we used both the Windows and Intel NVMe drivers and both showed similar boot times after multiple trials.

hpvd
Guest
hpvd

thanks for this information. Sounds still strange to me – could you imagine any technical explanation for this? Why should the drive be slower during booting but faster after boot-process? The driver should be loaded right at the beginning so ist should work with full performance right from the start….do you have any contacts direct at intel to ask for?

Sean Webster
Guest

I have reached out through my contact and will be sure to update you when I hear anything.

hpvd
Guest
hpvd

thank you – I’m excited 🙂
btw: have you experienced the same starting from sleep/hibernate?

Had Enough With the BS
Guest
Had Enough With the BS

More thorough analysis of boot times from various states should have been performed instead of just passing this solution off as a “workstation” platform and covering it in cursory fashion.

Sean Webster
Guest

Well, it took me a few hours, but I just updated the last page to reflect hibernation and sleep resume times. Hibernation shows similar results to boot times while sleep is similar, yet still longer, compared to other SSDs. 🙂

hpvd
Guest
hpvd

awsome! Many many thanks! I think you are the only one in the web having analysed that!
(maybe you should add sleep and hibernate to the headline – so your site could be even better found for these results…)

Sean Webster
Guest

I have received a reply: “it is
a known condition with the 750 Series. The firmware was optimized for reliability in the event of an unexpected power loss event. The boot delay was a side-effect of that change. Intel is currently
exploring options to make the boot time shorter in a safe way.”

hpvd
Guest
hpvd

Many thanks for this piece of information! So if they know it they can work on it 🙂
Would be awesome to have an eye on this if there is an update on Intel’s SSD Data Center Tool from https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/23931 which would bring new versions of the firmware..

??????
Guest
??????

Hi Sean Webster, do you think, improving boot speed can be improved by upgrading the firmware?

Sean Webster
Guest

Possibly.

??????
Guest
??????

Intel released a new version of firmware improves load time and the ability to initialize the device, whether the comparison at least for a short time after loading a firmware update?

hpvd
Guest
hpvd

source: https://communities.intel.com/message/335029#335029
We would like to inform that the Intel® Solid-State Drive Data Center Tool contains a firmware update for the Intel® SSD 750, the new firmware improves the Boot time of this drive significantly.
=> should be available soon

hpvd
Guest
hpvd

from https://communities.intel.com/message/335454#335454: “Just updated the firmware using the Intel SSD Data Center and boot time
went down from 15 seconds from the moment I see the Windows Loading icon
to 8 seconds!!”

sounds like this is the thing we were waiting for 🙂

hpvd
Guest
hpvd

@Sean: maybe you could add this as the fourth device to http://www.thessdreview.com/our-reviews/intel-750-pcie-ssd-review-400gb/5/ ?

3x0
Guest
3x0

I’d be interested in seeing latency tests done between NVMe SSD connected directly to CPU PCIe Gen3 lanes vs PCH Gen3 lanes on the upcoming z170 chipset. Do you have any plans on testing it out or do you think the differences would be so minor it isn’t worth it?

Sean Webster
Guest

When we get a new test bench we will be sure to take that into consideration.

Jeffrey Michael de Smit
Guest
Jeffrey Michael de Smit

how about booting in non uefi systems like x58?

Sean Webster
Guest

Not possible.

Karl Ermatinger
Guest
Karl Ermatinger

Are their motherboards/adapters that could put 4 of these into a RAID 10 and see even further speed benefits? I’d like to make a database server with Windows Server 2012. Not sure where to start.

Sean Webster
Guest

You can use any motherboard that has support for 4x PCIe 3.0 x4 slots or more. Our X99 system we tested this drive in has 7 slots. Your RAID options are limited to software RAID. You can trick windows into doing a double software RAID set up like seen here: http://www.sgvulcan.com/2014/10/31/trick-windows-8-into-creating-a-raid10-stripped-mirrors-array/ I wouldn’t suggest it though. Too much overhead most likely. PCIe SSDs are not as flexible with RAID as SATA and SAS drives.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Hello, I was reading this review and that of the Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB PCIe 2.0 M.2 SSD and I couldn’t fail to notice the huge difference between the writing endurance capabilities, while Intel 750 delivers 127TB writes (70GB/day), on the course of its 5 y warranty, the HyperX delivers a “staggering” 882TB writes (with an 1.7/day). I’m in the point of choosing on of them for my x99 system. My final objective would be: video/photo editing, gaming and last, but not least, running a couple of VMs (at least 5 VMs that are intended to simulate a Linux Lab… Read more »

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