Intel Optane Memory H10 SSD
Intel’s Optane solutions have been on the market for some time, though they’ve been relegated to the ultra-high end and enterprise markets or alternatively as low capacity cache drives. As has been the case for most of Optane’s life, the cache drives are typically too small and the enthusiast drives are typically too expensive. For Optane to really succeed, Intel needs something in the middle. The H10 we’re reviewing here might just be the device that brings a wide deployment of Optane to the masses.
Intel’s Optane Memory has some significant advantages versus NAND flash, notably its excellent random access performance and low latency. The H10 model we have on hand pairs 32GB of Optane memory with 512GB of QLC NAND, combining both into one M.2 drive. This allows access to a whole new market of storage limited laptops and ultraportables that can make use of Optane’s strengths.
Spec-wise the H10 supports all the features common to traditional SSD’s like TRIM and SMART monitoring. It also supports AES-256 bit encryption which we’re happy to see. There’s a five year warranty and an endurance rating of 150TBW for the 512GB model we tested. For now the highest capacity H10 is a 1TB model paired with 32GB of Optane memory.
At the time of writing, Intel had not released the H10 for the retail market. The H10 is not a simple plug and play device as it requires motherboard hardware and BIOS support along with Intel’s RST software. In order to test the H10, Intel provided a HP Spectre X360 notebook which has gone through all the testing and validation procedures to make it ready for prime time. Unfortunately this means the SSD test data from our Z370 test platform cannot be used for comparison.
As you can see from the benchmarks, Optane excels at random read performance, this is exactly the kind of number that translates into making your system ‘snappy’. There are some oddities though. Write performance was strangely slower than we expected vs an Intel 760P. Synthetic numbers aren’t what Optane is about though. In fact our benchmark suite hardly applies here. System responsiveness and application load times are where it shines, particularly when multi-tasking as the Excel benchmark test shows. It’s the real world performance that matters. That’s where the H10 is at its best.
For now the H10 is only being offered to OEMs. When (or if) the H10 makes it to retail, we probably wouldn’t recommend it over an enthusiast NVMe SSD. The real world tangible benefits won’t justify it. Having said that, if you’re buying a new notebook that offers the H10 as an option, then price depending, it’s basically a no brainer as the drivewill come configured to work silently in the background.