Intel SSD DC P3700 Enthusiast Report (800GB)

TESTING IN STEADY STATE METRICS – 4 CORNERS

Steady state testing consisted of running four tests for a period of one hour each with our goal being to obtain the absolute best throughput and IOPS possible.  For throughput, we started with a 128KB file at 100% read and write, 0% random with four workers at 64 OIO each, and expanded that to a 1GB file size at 100% read and write with 100% random data.  IOPS utilized 4K 100% write 100% random with the same worker setup.

P3700 4 Corners Steady State Testing

The Intel SSD DC P3700 takes a healthy lead on the Kingspec MultiCore PCIe SSD with over 500MB/s lead on write speeds.

Intel P3700 4 Corners IOPS Comparison

Listed specifications for the P3700 write IOPS are 90K IOPS and we are close to that, however, the read IOPS of 455K is simply unbelievable, although they do fall just below listed specs of 460K. It is important to remember that these results are ‘steady state’ and only realized after many hours of consistent activity to find those magic speeds where the SSD levels off and runs at its best under continuous load.  Having said that, the SSD DC P3700 is like a jack rabbit and, as soon as you give it time to breathe, performance jumps significantly.

io 3 699K IOPS

If you take a look closely, you can see that we are pushing 700K IOPS from the P3700 and we were able to do this by adjusting the test pattern.  Most importantly though, this result identifies the test as being run 3 of 32 on the bottom right; it is still FOB (Fresh Out of Box) performance.

REAL WORLD TRANSFER SPEED TESTING

For this test, five PCIe SSDs were compared, as well as the Samsung 840 Pro SATA 3 SSD for a basis of comparison.  This test entailed placing 25GB files of video, ISO and OS data, on each drive and then copying them into another folder on the same SSD.

PCIe True File Comparison

In conducting actual transfer tests of video, ISO and OS files, the Intel SSD DC P3700 was able to show off just a bit by transferring 25GB ISO and video files at well under a gigabyte per second.  As well, it cut our best OS file transfer speed considerably, at just over 3 minutes for the transfer.  This is pretty amazing, considering the total file count of the OS directory that was moved was over 65500 files of varying sizes.

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 SanDisk Extreme Pro.  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, Powerproint 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

PCMark 8 PS Heavy and Overall Chart

There had to be a cog in the wheel and we think these PCMark 8 results are misrepresentative of the Intel SSD DC P3700; however we felt it fair to post with our thoughts.  Of the ten user scenarios tested in PCMark 8, there is a low of 250MB/s and a high of 550MB/s, with the average being around 400MB/s.  As to the reasoning for such low scores, we have commonly seen incompatibility with new technology in the past, we are testing in Windows 7 when the P3700 is clearly listed as being compatible with Windows 8, the driver may also be incompatible, and then again, maybe the P3700 just doesn’t like being pushed as PCMark 8 does.  Not only does PCMark 8 fill the drive, but also, it continues ensuring even the over-provisioning is accounted for.  Regardless, IOMeter helped us along with some incredible steady state performance, as did  our ‘true to form’ file transfer testing.  We will also later test in Windows 8 and return with an update with respect to PCMark 8 results and compatibility.

41 comments

  1. Instead of RAID controllers, won’t there eventually be a need for a flash controller, or flash accelerator card designed to work specifically with these NVMe drives?

  2. Looking at the heat sinking on these units I have to ask if they have thermal shutoffs if things get too hot.

  3. Is all data automatically encrypted when written to NAND on these units?

  4. Many many thanks for this review! Espacially talking about how to make it bootable and Details like this “…there is no delay and this SSD boots in about 10-12 seconds flat in Windows 8?” make it really outstanding and very usefull for decision for daily-live Power-Workstation based computing 🙂

    • Thank you for this reply. I will be rebuilding our complete system around Win 8 and this P3700 this weekend. Perhaps I can post some more accurate boot tests and thoughts. Stay tuned.

      • this would be awesome!!

      • would be interesting too see how it compares to the samsung m2 941 and the evo 1gb in real life applications, like chrome compilation time, boot time (to be fair from start button press) , big game level load time etc…
        it s totally clear that in tnerprise use, this drive is awesome, as it is in benchmarks but it would be fun to see if for enthusiasts it translates into something else than bragging rights…

      • Hi Les -is there any news about this? I’m very excited 🙂

      • Yes in the release date of your further experience with P3700 “Perhaps I can post some more accurate boot tests and thoughts” 🙂

      • A release date would be great. Any idea when this and/or the P3600 family is going to be available?

      • The closest I can get to an answer is ‘Fall’ or Q4.

      • Thanks Les.
        I did see after posting the question that Amazon.com now have an expected date of 4th of August. I do hope that is true, I hate it when products are teased so far in advance. Mind you, I’m in the UK so may well have to wait longer anyway.

      • Hope you used our links and thanks!

  5. This is a really amazing SSD. For the first time in a while it seems like my OCZ Revo 3 x2 has something to upgrade to – at a reasonable price point. I ran a quick test on my daily workstation so everyone can have a reference for exactly how fast this new intel offering is. https://screencast.com/t/q0CSeXKon3 keep in mind this is daily usage on a general purpose workhorse for the last 2 years.

    • Thanks for the input. Perhaps I should have included similar, but comparison of the 4 and 8KB results merits a definite look. I don’t think we would ever see from a PCIe what we will from the NVMe drive.

  6. Reality of Truth

    Awesome stuff, now where can I get mine?

  7. If I understand this correctly, NVMe is just a protocol, so will I be able to use the p3700 as a win 8.1 boot drive on a Rampage IV black edition mobo?

    • Yes this should work so long as you can install and then boot from UEFI. WE haven’t tried the board but have had success with a few now…same procedure in all.

      • Thanks for getting back to me… I am really looking forward to your extended article with more accurate boot times and thoughts

      • I was hoping to get it done this weekend but decided to hop on the motorcycle with the wife and head 12 hrs down the road to West Virginia… Give me until next week early. Thanks!

  8. Les,

    Can we expect to see fire sale pricing from the other PCIe SSD vendors when the Intel units start shipping?

  9. When can we buy these?

  10. Thank you for this and for many other awesome reviews! I might be in the lame minority here, but when it comes along, any reason not to recommend the 3500 in a Thunderbolt 2 PCIe expansion box as a video editing scratch disk for a new Mac Pro?

    • That is a great idea if you can find just the right TBolt2 external chassis. It is important to understand that the controller in that chassis will have a lot to do with the final speed reached by the intel card, ergo there might be a bit of overkill. Given the right match, however, this might be the most powerful combination available for this external design.

  11. Thanks a lot for the review! I’m considering the DC P3600 800GB PCI-E for my next Workstation, but do you think I will notice the faster speed over, say, a Samsung 850 Pro? My work include photo editing on multiply raw files (fairly big, already compressed files) and using Lightrooms database etc.

    I’m fine paying for top class performance, BTW! 🙂

    • Yes, I believe for extensive media use jumping out of the SATA 3 realm is a definite benefit. In the day to day use, you won’t experience any difference whatsoever, but in media manipulation, it is key.

      • Thanks for your quick reply, Les. Much appreciated! I had some envy of the very fast SSD in the new Mac Pro, but this certainly looks even more impressive, although the wife won’t like the price one bit! 😉

      • Yes I understand that all to well right about now eheh.

  12. Is there a full height pci bracket included in the package, so that it can be installed in regular cases?

    • No, it only come with Half Height bracket, if you install in a normal case, you need to take out the bracket and use electrical tape to fixed it

  13. Just want to make sure this point is clear. UEFI/Win8.1 is required to use these drives as a boot drive, but they can be used as a data drive anywhere the Linux/Windows drivers supports it.

  14. Very very interesting!

    I’m currently running an Areca 1882ix (4GB RAM) with 6 x 120GB Sandisk Extremes in RAID0 on my desktop/gaming computer.

    Performance of this 800GB version seems great. I’ll have to throw together some benchmarks as a comparison (obviously not apples to apples due to machine differences)…

  15. Does this support Hibernate/Standby functions in Windows 8.1? Just curious, since most workstation/enthusiast users won’t be powered on 24/7.

  16. Has anyone tried these or the 3600 in a RAID config? We have tried 3x 400GB 3600 in a windows RAID stripe and only getting ~2400MB/sec seq read, would have expected to see more

  17. My OCZ Revodrive just took a crap after a year and I decided to purchase the 400GB P3700 as a replacement. It was easy to source locally and in stock for same day pickup (which really surprised me!) It works perfectly with my Asus Rampage Extreme IV – I turned off compatibility mode in the BIOS and switched over the UEFI. I was concerned when the drive didn’t show up in the BIOS at first – but don’t panic. Windows 8.1 setup will find it just fine. Make sure to boot the Windows installation media in UEFI boot mode (or USB drive in my case.) The 400GB model is slightly slower than the 800GB one reviewed, but I am still satisfied. I can post benchmarks if requested.

    • Forgot to add – thanks @Lee for this awesome review. I wasn’t sure what to purchase after the RevoDrive went out. I do not recommend OCZ products, their support is jerking me around on the warranty and they don’t seem to stand behind their products. I feel safe going with Intel even if it’s a higher priced enterprise product.

  18. Is a Xeon processor required for maximum performance of this SSD? from the product description it specifically says so, I am confused.

  19. Did your test sample come with an optional full height bracket? I’m asking because of your case and the fact, that some pics show the P3700 with a half-height bracket.

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