Technology Explained

10 Reasons Why Intel’s Bleeding-Edge Optane Drive Is a Rip-Off

Kannon Yamada 02-05-2017

Thinking of buying Intel’s Optane technology? Think again. While Optane performs like some insane hybrid between RAM and solid state drives (SSD Should You Get A Solid State Drive (SSD)? [Opinion] If you've kept up with some of the latest news about new computer parts, you may have heard about SSDs, or solid state drives. They are designed to replace your clunky, slow hard drive and... Read More ), it suffers from unbelievable problems. Don’t trust the hype: it’s a rip-off for what they’re charging.


But before buying from Intel, you might first want to know what Optane is.

What Is Optane and Why Is It So Hyped?

Optane sold out immediately at Amazon and other online retailers. Chances are, even if you need a drive, you won’t be able to get one. But why are consumers so excited about it?

Intel Optane Memory M.2 2280 32GB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x 2 (MEMPEK1W032GAXT) Intel Optane Memory M.2 2280 32GB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x 2 (MEMPEK1W032GAXT) Buy Now On Amazon $73.00

The key technology behind Optane is 3D XPoint. 3D XPoint (pronounced “cross-point”) is a new kind of solid state memory, vaguely similar to a memristor. Its commercial development originated as a joint venture between Micron and Intel (Intel-Micron Flash Technologies). And true to the hype, it’s several times better than the flash memory found in SSDs. Here’s a video explaining the technology:

In short, Optane is a chimera. It melds the 3D architecture of V-NAND, which lends it greater storage density, with the lightning fast latency and bandwidth of RAM. Then it throws in non-volatility, like flash memory. And like a mythological beast, its origins remain a mystery. We know almost nothing about 3D XPoint.


xpoint memory modules
Image Credit: Trolomite via Wikimedia

And that’s why investing in the technology might not be a good idea. While it’s among the fastest SSDs around The Fastest SSDs You Can Buy in 2017 Solid State Drives, or SSDs, improve performance over mechanical hard drives (HDD). However, if you want the fastest SSD around, you need to know two things: the connector and protocol. Read More , there are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t buy early models of Optane.

1. Optane Costs a Fortune per Gigabyte

The prices for the newly released 16 GB and 32 GB modules are $44 and $77, respectively. That works out to around $2.75 per gigabyte for the 16 GB module and $2.40 for the 32 GB drive. In comparison, a 960 GB OCZ TRION 150 costs around $0.25 (£0.24) per gigabyte.

Toshiba OCZ Trion 150 960GB 2.5" 7mm SATA III Internal Solid State Drive TRN150-25SA3-960G Toshiba OCZ Trion 150 960GB 2.5" 7mm SATA III Internal Solid State Drive TRN150-25SA3-960G Buy Now On Amazon $926.00


trion 150 amazon

However, all sources online have sold out of Optane. And the only way to buy one right now is through third party sellers, who are selling at a small markup.

For the Same Cost, You Can Get an SSD Boot Drive

For $49, it’s possible to buy an ADATA 128GB M.2 drive, the SU800 [Broken URL Removed]. While slightly more expensive, you get eight times more storage. For roughly $80, the 2.5-inch Kingston HyperX Fury 240 GB offers seven-and-a-half times the storage of a 32 GB Optane module.

Kingston Digital HyperX FURY 240GB SSD SATA 3 2.5 Solid State Drive (SHFS37A/240G) Kingston Digital HyperX FURY 240GB SSD SATA 3 2.5 Solid State Drive (SHFS37A/240G) Buy Now On Amazon


kingston hyperx ssd

More or less, Optane’s limited capacity makes it unsuitable for use as a storage drive or a location to hold your operating system — except on a Linux-based system. And that’s another problem.

Since this article was published, Kingston has released a new version of SSD, the Kingston HyperX Savage.
Kingston HyperX Savage 240GB SSD (SHSS37A/240G) Kingston HyperX Savage 240GB SSD (SHSS37A/240G) Buy Now On Amazon

2. Optane Officially Only Supports Windows (For Now)

If you use Linux or macOS, you might suffer problems using an Optane module. While Intel’s overall Linux support has been good, its Optane press releases mention nothing about Linux. In fact, all press releases only mention Windows. While you could almost certainly use the drive for Linux, that might not be advisable. Early Sandforce SSDs suffered from a serious bug in Linux which resulted in data loss. It might not be worth the risk.


Fortunately, the limited capacity of Optane positions it as a cache drive, not a system critical boot drive. But that’s kind of an issue.

3. It’s a Cache Drive, Not a Complete Drive

A cache drive operates in parallel with a primary boot drive. Where a boot drive stores an operating system, like Windows, a cache drive reads and writes frequently used files. For example, whenever you run a web page, the browser downloads a lot of tiny files, like images and web page code — and it reads and writes these to a cache.

However, on a slow hard disk drive (HDD), reading and writing take a long time. That’s where a cache drive comes in. The cache drive handles tiny, frequently used files. When used in combination with the right software, it vastly improves performance. And while you can technically use the 32 GB Optane drive as a boot device, it’s not really designed to work as such. You don’t get the advantages of Intel’s caching software either (see Reason #5 below).

4. Cache Drives Aren’t Magical

Intel’s marketing department believes Optane is a world-class accelerator for regular HDDs. What blows this myth out of the water are the performance comparisons between computers that use non-3D XPoint SSDs alongside HDDs. They are close in performance to Optane cache drives combined with HDDs. But that’s hardly the least flattering comparison.

What Intel doesn’t mention is that RAM can function as a cache drive, with the right software. We refer to this arrangement as a RAM disk What Is A RAM Disk, And How You Can Set One Up Solid state hard drives aren’t the first non-mechanical storage to appear in consumer PCs. RAM has been used for decades, but primarily as a short-term storage solution. The fast access times of RAM makes it... Read More . On desktops with spare RAM slots, it’s possible to purchase 16 GB of RAM for about $50 ($6 more than Optane’s MSRP) and create a significantly faster cache drive that doesn’t suffer from wear limitations.

Kingston Technology KVR16LS11/8 8GB 1600MHz DDR3L (PC3-12800) 1.35V Non-ECC CL11 SODIMM Intel Laptop Memory Kingston Technology KVR16LS11/8 8GB 1600MHz DDR3L (PC3-12800) 1.35V Non-ECC CL11 SODIMM Intel Laptop Memory Buy Now On Amazon $41.18

kingston ram amazon

More or less, a RAM disk makes Optane look weak in terms of price-to-performance and raw performance. And those are the most important metrics for desktop enthusiasts.

5. Intel’s Caching Software Has Serious Limitations

After years of neglect, Intel finally updated its SSD caching software: Smart Response Technology (SRT). You can’t run SRT on a single Optane drive. So if you thought Windows would fit on a 32GB Optane module, you’re right. But you’d still need two drives in order to get the maximum benefit from the caching software.

intel smart response technology
Image Credit: Intel

6. There’s No mSATA Option for Older Computers

If you own an older computer, you’re also out of luck (or in luck, depending on your perspective). Optane only sells in the M.2 form factor. However, the M.2 form factor (pictured below) only comes on relatively newer motherboards.

m2 edge connector keying
Image Credit: NikNaks via Wikimedia

Even then, Optane doesn’t work on just any computer. There are fairly strict requirements that prevent Optane from being used on most computers.

Optane Requires a 7th Generation Intel Processor

Yup. Intel wants you to upgrade to a 7th generation, Kaby Lake processor. There’s no reason, either. Well, other than the fact that Intel wants you to purchase a new processor.

Intel’s cache booster version of Optane requires a new Intel motherboard. There’s nothing special about Optane that would necessitate using a new motherboard. They just want you to upgrade to a — minimum — 200-series motherboard. That’s Intel’s latest. For those who might find that too expensive, the cheapest 200-series is the B250. Specifically, MSI’s B250 PC MATE motherboard. It runs for about $80 on Amazon, which is a tad on the hefty side.

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intel b250 lga

7. First-Generation Products Always Have Problems

Like early SSDs that lost performance over time How Ultrabook Performance Degrades Over Time with a Samsung TLC SSD Samsung's TLC SSDs are screwing their customers! A bug with Triple Level Cell NAND memory causes performance to degrade and voids warranty early. Find out whether you're affected and get a fix. Read More or burned out in a matter of months, first-generation products (particularly those based on cutting-edge technology) often suffer from teething problems.

Optane doesn’t seem to differ much. The earlier enterprise SSD based on Optane, the P4800X, doesn’t possess uniformly more performance over the highest quality single-level cell (SLC) SSDs out there. On top of that, Anandtech reported that their 32 GB Optane sample burned out during testing. That doesn’t bode well for 3D XPoint’s reliability.

8. You Can’t Use Optane on Most Laptops

As Windows 10 takes up about 20–30 GB of space, even Optane’s largest 32 GB capacity can’t comfortably accommodate it. More or less, it’s not designed as a boot drive. Combine that with the fact that most laptops only provision for a single storage drive and Linux doesn’t officially (as of Q1 2017) support Optane, and you have a problem: Optane won’t work on most laptops.

On top of that, according to ExtremeTech, Optane’s idle power consumption hovers around 1-watt, making it more power hungry than 10 SSDs. High-power consumption makes Optane a desktop-only part.

9. IMFT Also Means Micron

The other partner in the joint IMFT project has no interest in selling exclusively to Intel’s customers. Micron almost certainly will develop a version of XPoint that works with AMD, ARM, and other Intel alternatives. Their brand for 3D XPoint is QuantX. The difference between QuantX and Optane: Micron decided to not release a first generation product and instead further refined the technology. QuantX is scheduled for release toward the end of 2017.

micron logo

What does that mean? Micron will likely release a range of products with better reliability than what Intel is offering in Optane. However, Micron itself doesn’t sell drives. It merely produces the memory modules that systems integrators turn into consumer and enterprise products. The two most likely scenarios are that Micron releases the components for 3D XPoint hybrid drives and drives with 3D XPoint caches. The overall impact on the market will be to dramatically shift performance up while depressing the prices of non-XPoint drives down.

10. The Price Will Come Down

Just as NAND SSD prices fell rapidly within the first few years of release, so too will 3D XPoint. Unfortunately, there are only two manufacturers of XPoint modules. And until late 2017 (without delays), Intel controls the market. When Micron enters the market with QuantX in late 2017, prices should begin to decline.

Unless there’s a serious supply shortage SSDs Are About to Skyrocket in Cost: Should You Upgrade in 2017? Solid state drives (SSDs) are about to skyrocket in price! Should you buy a new drive in 2017? We've covered several examples of SSD that are worth upgrading to, provided you need a new SSD. Read More , which we saw last year in flash prices.

Who Should Buy Optane Drives Then?

Optane costs a fortune per gigabyte. It doesn’t work well with laptops. It doesn’t work with desktops older than 2016. It doesn’t work on non-Intel systems. It’s not a magic bullet for performance. It’s superfluous on an SSD-only system. So what’s the purpose of an Optane cache drive?

There’s just one reason: to pressure you into upgrading your motherboard and processor to Intel’s latest. And in that regard, it fails miserably. There’s no reason to buy it unless you’re looking to get your feet wet with a cutting edge technology.

Right now, only commercial users should purchase Optane. The cache drive is a waste of time. However, it’s worth noting that Intel will bundle 16 GB sticks of Optane along with certain 200-series motherboards. So if you’re in the market for a new high-end motherboard, it might be worth a look. Everyone else interested in Optane, however, should wait until Micron releases QuantX. Not only will competition cause Intel’s ruinous per-gigabyte prices to fall, Micron’s product isn’t a first-generation design.

Have you purchased an Optane drive? Either way, what are your thoughts?

Related topics: Buying Tips, Intel, Solid State Drive, Storage.

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  1. Lewis Balentine
    March 6, 2019 at 1:26 am

    I have a brand New HP Laptop that came with an optane drive and the embedded Intel Optane BIOS Drivers. It has since been replaced with a One TByte NVMe PCIe drive. Regardless of what I do I can not get the HP Laptop to install a Linux OS to the NVMe drive. The embedded Intel Optane software in the BIOS effectively blocks access to the drive via the standard Linux NVMe PCIe drivers. Thus one is limited to only running only a Microsoft Operating System on this laptop with a NVMe drive. This smells very much like a conspiracy between Intel, Microsoft and HP.

    Also note that the real NVMe drive is much faster than the Optane equipped system ever thought about being regardless of the supposed advantages of 3D flash.

    • kannon
      March 6, 2019 at 5:29 pm

      Do you have fastboot turned on in UEFI? Fastboot/fast startup preloads drivers before the OS even loads. It could be interfering with Linux. But there are a few other UEFI settings that can also cause the same issue.

      I know there's some firmware level stuff going on, but AFAIK the Intel Optane software IIRC runs as a background service inside of Windows 10 and it functions similar to a RAID 1 array. The caching software may have turned something on at the UEFI level (as all RAID arrays do). RAID stuff is generally handled by the southbridge chipset IIRC so it's firmware level stuff. I don't know for certain that Intel's caching solution involves firmware level stuff but my guess is that it does since it is functionally similar to a RAID array

      if you can't do that from the UEFI interface, the only way will be through running Intel's caching solution in Windows 10 and turning it off from there.

      Here are the instructions for turning off Optane as a caching solution:

      This is a really awful design. It doesn't make any sense that it can't be turned off from within the UEFI/BIOS.

  2. Owl575
    December 23, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    The problem is the way that flash works. Flash is not a good way to store information reliably over many rewrites because while it's easy to write to, you have to fry large blocks of data, even if you're only writing to just a few bytes. Each time you electricute a block of data, you reduce the lifetime of that block. This isn't just for deleting, this is for overwriting too. The whole point of optane and x-point is to reduce this wasteful frying of blocks, thereby increasing the reliability of the drive. For this reason alone i'd prefer to keep work data on an optane even if i never see any performance improvement whatsoever. Old flash ssds are a disposable technology, and i don't want data i value stored on something with built in obsolescence.

    • Kannon Yamada
      December 24, 2018 at 10:19 pm

      SSD endurance tests have shown that they will last a very, very long time:

      Optane is really great but it's not competitive with SSDs on a per-dollar basis. The cache products that they're offering don't make financial sense when just upgrading to an SSD is more cost effective compared. A 1TB HDD drive + Optane costs almost as much as a 1TB SSD. Which would you rather have?

  3. John
    July 29, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Another sensationalist negative article. I have the 16gb Optane - very inexpensive, and sped my non-SSD system up to SSD speeds.

  4. gomerpile
    June 22, 2018 at 12:57 am

    Yes optane memory increases Kingston hyper x reads speed almost double then what my drive was before, it is not a waste of 35 dollars I spent. I am disappointed with the write speed but I'm a gamer. The faster read speed is what I need. 1000 mb read compared with my Kingston hyper x ssd 550 mb writes, its a no brainer Bench marks are available using crystaldisk and aado. I have had no issues as you mention with any bugs. Even with new ssd installed the optane will give a boost to those new drives.

  5. CRI
    March 27, 2018 at 12:52 am

    I do SAP Data Migration with Excel VBA, (sounds stupid but in many cases much easer and more flexible as the conventional stuff...) So last project i had a set of Data of 22 GB, which are tons of txt files and xls files like extraction files, mapping files, logs, load and verification files.

    I upgraded my system from i5 6600k to 8700k with M.2 NVME SSD 960 EVO for the OS which gave some nice benefit. (runtime on something from 22 min down to 15 min)

    Then I got the 900p because i dont want to crush my OS SSD with writing some GB per day, means creating and reading lots of files, between a few byte and 300 MB per file (xlsx and txt) . I am trusting Intel that durability is better than on NVME - hoping not to get disappointed here.

    So 240 GB is 10 times as much i need for one customer project. (Sleeping Data are stored on conventional HDD- to work i move this once to the optane). But i want it fast reading and writing, many small and big files during the vba runtime and fast backup.

    I killed a SATA SSD used only for the Data within 4 Month (half of the project time), so believing or hoping that the Optane durability is much higher than SSD, then Optane is really cheap. Otherwise i trust the Intel warranty ;-)

    For me any comparision in Price for GB is irrelevant. I need fast read and write and copy for backup during a worksession and for that purpose the optane seems to be much cheaper in the context of data accessability and durability.

    Then I got a 32 GB Optane as well - because there was an M.2 slot available on my MB and also the 60 bucks in my budget to play... The 32 GB i use to backup data and programms during a worksession. The copy speed is incredible - 1 min for 22 GB. This is saving Time!
    At the end of a work session i backup to USB3 HDD and Sata HDD taking 15 min for the package.
    A backup to the 960 Evo was also not bad, but NVME is too expensive in terms of lifecycle for that purpose and its slower.

    Its all new, so i dont want to take any risk on optane for my operating system, which is just on the 960 EVO and i dont want to mix that with optane. Also want to save my HDD over the day, it can take the backup when i got to lunche once in the evening...

    The 32 GB Optane is not recommended to be used as a Drive - but i do ;-).
    I have also linked the Ram Swapfile here, why should this go to my OS NVME drive?

    I have used Ramdrive before which was good, but i dont like to work on volatile memory and i have only 32 GB of Ram. Here optane is more safe (i hope, for now it looks so) faster and cheaper per "how often can i write files".

    All this aspects made my curious on using Optane and for now i am happy, lets see what the future will bring up.

    I am just a Consultant, not a tech nerd, so i am open to comments if i do something useless here or how i can do better, i am just a curious and kind of experimental guy.

    Today my PC crushed when i got a new driver for the 900p through Driver Booster 5.2. no idea for now, what has happened. So i restored my OS from Windows Backup and leave hands off from a amazingly running system - ye its all new, so be careful ;-)

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 27, 2018 at 3:49 am

      Thanks for sharing!

      If it's doing what you need it to do, that's great! I'm still of the mind that most people are better off going with less expensive, proven, less complex technologies or waiting until QuantX comes out. There might one day be hybrid SSD drives that combine a small amount of XPoint memory with a standard SSD. Similar to today's HDD+SSD drives.

      Anandtech reported that the Intel/Micron partnership that manufactures XPoint recently broke up. They are going to be making their memory modules separate from one another. They apparently made some serious mistakes with the technology that resulted in performance issues that aren't easily resolved. So they're going to try different approaches. But that means Micron's QuantX may be delayed further.

  6. Lilian
    February 9, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Just a bunch of misinformation and lies.
    1. Yes, it is more expensive because it is significantly better
    2. It's just an NVMe, it works on any system that supports NVMe - nothing special here.
    3. It's just an NVMe. You don't need to use the Cache Drive software.
    4. RAM data is not persistent, compared with 3D XPoint(Intel Optane).
    5. "Two drives" - not really, it's just an NVMe.
    6. This one is true, no mSata option, but you really don't want that one because it is slow(You cannot achieve the 3D XPoint speeds on mSata) - mSata was created for spinning disks, not for drives with extremely low latency(close to RAM).
    "Optane Requires a 7th Generation Intel Processor" - another lie. It's just NVMe - it can run on AMD for example.
    7. My 950 Pro still runs perfectly fine, as any "first" gen SSDs(I have a very old SSD and it still runs perfectly fine). This is a really bad argument these days...
    8. This one you cannot argue against. I cannot find laptops with U.2 either(for Intel Optan 900P).
    9. Has nothing to do with "Optane" being bad...
    10. Yep, pricey.

    "It doesn’t work with desktops older than 2016" - again, lie.

    My take:
    Intel Optane is the beast when it comes to small files(the actual real-world workloads, we don't transfer 1 single 10GB file every day) - you pay more if it fits your needs.

    • GeneralInfo
      September 12, 2018 at 1:28 pm

      as of Oct 2017, Dell and MSI have been producing laptops with multiple NVME ports inside. LinusTechTips has also recently proven several performance gains with Optane. This article might need a few updates.

  7. Daniel
    October 26, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    When and if Optane reaches a reasonable size and cost with ssd drives, then this will become useful product. I'm tired of Microsoft Continuously doing background read and writes (PID 4) at the harddrives and ssd drives trying to wear them out. Optane can take over that burden
    with its better read and write wearout factor, leaving the rest of my storage system alone.

    • Kannon Yamada
      October 26, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      I've heard that Micron or Intel may release SSDs and HDDs that include a XPoint cache that's transparent to the operating system, the way hybrid drives are today. In that case, it would automatically move background writes to the XPoint memory without requiring special configuration from the user or using up an extra M.2 slot.

  8. desi
    September 18, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    it appears most people have a very limited grasp on this tech. These chips can be used in a variety of ways. Although it can be your boot drive it not what they were designed for so why would you. Theyre designed to pair with for example a bootable m.2 nvme ssd creating a raid environment and caching your most common tasks. It is not ram, ram is volatile your optane cache is not cleared when you shut down your system. Use optane as its intended and you wont feel let down.

    • Kannon Yamada
      September 18, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      Hi, thanks for the comment! The article wasn't about how the drive is used as a boot drive, although people are certainly using it in that capacity. It's about how it's not worth the money for multiple reasons. I clearly state in the article that Optane is designed as a cache drive, that it's not RAM, etc... I'm not sure whom you are addressing.

  9. James D
    September 14, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Optane can be used on any motherboard with m2 PCI-E as a drive. Only using it in a caching mode takes you to have latest Kaby Lake processor.

    Also 32 is enough for a boot drive. I use Windows 7 on my 32GB SSD for years now and never had less than 8GB free from 30GB drive.

    • Kannon Yamada
      September 18, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      Hi James, thanks for chiming in.

      Doesn't that complicate the upgrade process? Windows 10 upgrades get really unreliable if you have to use a second storage medium to hold the installation files. Microsoft even recommends a minimum of a 64GB storage drive.

  10. Michael
    September 13, 2017 at 1:38 am

    I bought the 32gb version of the Intel Optane drive and I had a 1TB laptop SSHD for my desktop's C drive. From it being just the hard drive, boot times were close to 20 seconds from post and Google Chrome would hang and actually close pages when left untouched for some time and just reload the page. After adding the Intel Optane on my system, reinstalling windows and installing the driver for it, my first reboot was about 15 seconds. Then after 24 hours and had installed and played some games and ran Chrome I had then restarted my pc. The boot time was significantly dropped to 8.4 seconds! Everything was so responsive and "snappy". Still can't play Division but that's a different issue. I've saved up some money and had purchased a samsung 850 evo 500gb SSD and went through the same steps as before. Boot times were about the same just over 8 seconds. Then when I enabled the Optane drive and restarted boot time was instantly dropped to 6.4 seconds. And for the lulz, I ran a benchmark test and it says my "intel ssd" has a transfer rate of 5GB/s!!!! I personally found having an Optane drive is nice for me. My last pc I had was a LGA 775 build with a Q9560 and a GTX 660 with 8gb of ram. Now I have an i5 7600k 16gb of ram and GTX 1050ti.

    • Kannon Yamada
      September 15, 2017 at 12:34 am

      Wow. I had forgotten that a legitimate use case is using Optane alongside an NVMe SSD. That is insane performance. I'm looking forward to the 2nd and 3rd generation drives under the QuantX branding.

      • Aurelien
        January 2, 2018 at 5:41 am

        I had that impression while reading the article, and confirmation here: you do talk a lot, but don't know much.
        He is not using Optane alongside an NVMe SSD.
        He is only using it as it is intended to be used, as a super fast cache for HDD or SSD. With the obvious limitations of a caching system of course.

        The interesting answer that Michael brings here, and I have been searching that answer a while already, is that you do gain a few seconds of booting time with Optane+SSD vs SSD.

        Contrary to popular belief, a NVMe drive doesn't always boot windows faster than a simple SSD, even if it does have much faster read and write speeds.

        • Guest
          March 30, 2018 at 1:27 pm

          Aurelien, well said. Thanks

        • Michael
          May 27, 2018 at 7:20 am

          It now being some time using Intel Optaine I have a few things too add.
          1: over time a normal windows installation slows down over a period of time and I have seen it my self using a mechanical drive. But having the Optaine drive with a 2tb Seagate Green drive not only do I not have any slow downs but I'm using the the same windows installation from back in Oct. and it still feels fast as if it was just installed a week ago.

          2: pricing has come down abit since this post and yes it's still expensive.

          I stand by me purchasing it back when I did and I've gotten friends to get one and help them set them up and I've yet to hear anything bad about how there computers are being so slow. It is worth getting especially if you play games or do a lot of heave work loads like video rendering or loading large images from your c drive. And for that I recommend getting the 32 gb model. But for simple tasks like farming on Farmville, watching YouTube videos or typing up a theses on dictatorship, its worth getting the 16 gb for anything like that light.

    • Kannon Y
      June 3, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks for updating us with your experiences. I still wouldn't buy an Optane cache drive unless it came with the system. Basically, with Optane, we're still getting the unreliability of a consumer HDD and the price is still completely ridiculous. A 32GB Optane cache drive is still around $55-60. A 1TB HDD costs around $50.

      SSD prices are starting to come down. There are 500GB SSDs that are going for around $100 and below. Compare that to the price of an HDD combined with an Optane cache drive. You get double the storage on an HDD + Optane but is it worth it for the increased battery consumption, reduced reliability, reduced performance, and slightly higher price?

      • Michael
        June 3, 2018 at 9:18 pm

        Where did battery consumption come from? Most if not all computers utilizing Optane are going to be desktops. Sure if you have a compatible laptop with a free m.2 drive if it even has one, You would be better off getting a SSD for the laptop. Besides if you have a laptop with a 7th gen cpu and a free m.2 port, the last thing you would be thinking about is battery usage as it would most likely only have less then 4 hours on a charge to start with.

        • Kannon Yamada
          June 3, 2018 at 11:21 pm

          Well, that's just another negative. Workstations oftentimes include 2 or more M.2 slots, but their CPU and GPU power consumption is so high that it would make the high power draw of Optane + an HDD look trivial in comparison. It definitely is a bad point, but the main issue is that Optane + an HDD is not really adding that much value to a computer unless you already own an HDD on an Optane-ready system. In that case, you do get a decent performance boost but it ends up costing more than other solutions.

          I'm really glad that your cache drive isn't suffering from long-term reliability issues, though. While I wouldn't risk Optane on a production machine, I would definitely consider trying it on a consumer system.

  11. Kaitain
    May 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Surely a RAM disk is not equivalent to an Optane drive inasmuch as its volatility always incurs a startup cost. The Optane drive is going to maintain its cache after a restart, whereas a RAM disk will need to be repopulated. If it's repopulating gradually as a background task you could see some gains, but you're still going to get a performance hit of some kind.

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 6, 2017 at 12:51 am

      You're definitely right that a 16GB RAM disk, if maxed out, will require a substantial amount of overhead when pulled off the disk at boot or copied to disk at shutdown.

      In the most common use cases, I believe that the RAM disk still comes out far ahead. Most users don't need the full 16GB for a cache. A 4GB cache for browsing, or as a scratch drive, outperforms anything out there. Unfortunately, SRT isn't compatible with RAM disks. :-(

  12. likefunbutnot
    May 4, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    End users struggle to see real-world gains from NVMe SSDs as it is. If your day-to-day computing is media access plus web browsing, there's no point to something like this over and above anything else you might stick in an M.2 slot. If you're doing database operations with intensive random reads through a full-stop Optane Enterprise SSD, this technology is all kinds of exciting.

    The Thinkpad T470 notebooks I just ordered have Optane caching drives in them, but that's mostly a function of having the budget to get them in that configuration rather than any specific need.

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 6, 2017 at 12:53 am

      Wow, that's great that enterprise has already begun adopting Optane. I'm a little curious as to why a laptop was chosen. The 1-watt draw makes it pretty much a battery killer. Sounds like the T470 is a workstation and is just plugged in all day long.