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.

29 comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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?

  3. Jeffrey Michael de Smit

    how about booting in non uefi systems like x58?

  4. 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.

  5. 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 and Exchange/AD environment). The main question is if this storage solution will last for at least 8-10 years if it only has a 70GB write/day?
    Thank you in advance for your advice and response Sean.

  6. Could you please provide a full Linux Kernel source build time ?
    such as “time makepkg” with ArchLinux x64_64

  7. As of 9/12/15 the Kingston Predator PciE ssd does not upgrade to windows 10 at all.

  8. If boot times are important I guess it would be better to use PCIe SSDs for storage only, while having the OS installed on a SATA SSD.

    You mention this SSD would be perfect for replacing a raid of SSDs used for media editing or virutal machine storage. Would it make a huge difference in terms of load times in certain games as well? Or would a high-end SATA SSD do the job just as good?

  9. Just bought this drive and not seeing the speeds shown in this article. https://imgur.com/G2eBmYu is the speeds I am getting. Drive is plugged into a pcie3.0 x4 slot on a Dell T5600 workstation on a Windows 10 machine. Any pointers on what you needed to do to get the speeds mentioned in the article.

    I have done the following attempting to get the speeds you mentioned

    1. Installed latest intel nvme driver.
    2. Installed intel ssd toolbox and verified that drive is using pcie 3.0 x4 channel.
    3. Installed latest firmware.
    4. Reboot after the above.
    5. Switched to performance power plan.

    Speeds I get are shown in following image – https://imgur.com/G2eBmYu

    Any pointers on things I could try?

  10. Here is an Video overview of this :
    https://youtu.be/lH1Lexy61CM

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