In the world of SSDs, often times people are willing to spend a moderate amount of money and receive a small capacity drive because of the promise of speed. Whether it be for a dedicated boot drive or blazing fast load times on files for gaming, SSDs are the go to drive to ensure you aren’t spending your days wallowing in loading screens. But does the Intel 760p 2TB NVMe m.2 SSD justify the steep price? This is our Intel 760 m.2 SSD review.
What is it?
The Intel 760p series is a SSD series meant to specifically benefit the user by providing twice the capacity and performance over their previous 600p SSDs. The thin profile of the m.2 760p is also a benefit to system builds who are looking to either build small form factor PCs without sacrificing storage space, or someone who needs to maximize the space in their custom built rigs. With the 2TB model this is engrained in the actual layout of the SSD, as the M.2 drive is double sided to house the terabytes of storage.
Here are the specs as detailed by Intel:
- Capacity: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB (all single sided); 2TB (Double sided, Reviewed)
- NAND Flash Memory: 64-layer, TLC, Intel 3D NAND Technology
- Bandwidth: Seq Read: (up-to)3230MB/s; Seq Write: (up-to)1625 MB/s; Random Read: (up-to)340K IOPS; Random Write: (up-to)275K IOPS
- Interface: PCIe Gen3 x4, NVMe
- Form Factor: M.2 (80mm)
- Height/Weight: up to 2.38mm/ up to 10 grams
- Life Expectancy: 1.6 Million hours Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)
- Power Consumption: Active: 50mW Typical; Idle: 25mW Typical; L1.2 Sleep: 3mW Typical
- Operating Temperature 0C - 70C
Right away, looking at the Read/Write metrics, the write speeds are a little underwhelming compared to other SSDs on the market. However, the read speeds are up there with some of the top SSDs out there. But the keyphrase to keep in mind here is “up-to” by Intel. Intel also warns that the performance does vary by capacity, but their literature doesn’t expand upon that statement, so it leaves me to wonder whether it degrades the higher capacity the SSD or on a smaller capacity drive.
With any SSD, synthetic tests don’t tell the whole story, but it is a way to determine how close actual performance of the drive is with the manufacturer’s claims. With the Intel 760p, our test machine is as follows:
- CPU: Intel 8700K @ 4.3GHz
- Cooler: Corsair H60 Liquid Cooler
- RAM: Patriot 16GB DDR4 @ 3200MHz
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z370PD3 (M.2 drive rated @ 32GB/s theoretical bandwidth)
- GPU: Gigabyte GTX 1080 Mini
- PSU: Corsair 750W
- Case: Corsair Carbide 400C
We look first at the AS SSD benchmarks, which start to tell a concerning tale. After multiple tests, the results were pretty consistent. Both the Read and Write metrics are coming in well under the posted results, with sequential read and write at 2658 MB/s and 1329 MB/s respectively. While these numbers are up there compared to other SATA SSDs on the market, it still falls well short of its own marketing. Again, synthetic tests don’t always equate to real-world performance, but it’s concerning nonetheless.
Thankfully, when we turn to ATTO and CrystalDisk, the numbers fare better. While still sitting underneath the marketing claims by Intel, we see a much more respectable read/write of 3026 MB/s and 1543 MB/s respectively from ATTO. Widely used and respected across the hardware industry, these results make the Intel 760p feel like a more compelling SSD versus the AS SSD results. Thankfully CrystalDisk shows similar results with a read/write of 2912 MB/s and 1537 MB/s. While we aren’t hitting that top tier mark set by Intel, the Intel 760p’s numbers in these tests are nothing to scoff at.
However, compared to the other M.2 drive I use consistently, the Plextor M9Pe SSD, the write speed is woefully subpar.
File transferring between the Toshiba hard drive and the Intel however, is impressive. Moving the Assassin’s Creed Origins folder from the Toshiba to the Intel 760p - an almost 50GB folder, proved to be a easy feat. within two minutes the data had been transferred with ease. Moving the data back took much longer thanks to the slower speeds of the Toshiba, but what about up against a SATA SSD? Thankfully my boot drive - a SATA Samsung 750 EVO had just enough space on it to attempt this. What took the Intel under two minutes to transfer took around seven for the 750 EVO - an impressive difference between the two. And while seven minutes to transfer 50 gigabytes worth of data isn’t unimpressive - being able to do it consistently under two minutes (I tested this three times throughout the last week) on the Intel boasts of real-world speed.
However, how does this translate to gaming performance?
Thankfully, the large capacity of the Intel 760p 2TB drive makes this a compelling alternative to a magnetic disk for enthusiast gaming PC builders. But does it actually compete when it comes to real-world loading?
In short: Yes.
The Intel 760p more than holds its own against the Plextor - a SSD that touts its gaming performance as a selling point - in multiple gaming applications. Specifically - The Elder Scrolls Online and World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth load in at blazing fast speeds. These loads are from the time you launch the game to either the menu in WoW’s case or the first splash screen in ESO’s case. Six seconds in ESO is insane, but a consistent four second load time in World of Warcraft is the fastest I’ve ever seen. Going from the Blizzard launcher to the character select screen in seemingly a blink of an eye is compelling as a gamer. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds does see the Intel cede the load-in time to the Plextor, but 13 seconds is definitely respectable.
Final Fantasy XV is interesting because not only does the game have to launch, but it also has a loading screen before the menu. 14 seconds from Steam to the first splash screen is nice - especially when compared to the almost double time on the Plextor. However, these graphs show one thing: Magnetic drives should not be used for gaming if you can help it. Getting a quality SSD to game with is paramount to getting the most streamlined and worry free experience.
When playing around in these games I’ve noticed vastly improved performance even over the Plextor - which has been a great M.2 drive for the past few months. Pop-in is significantly reduced - cut scenes in WoW specifically that I noticed massive pop-in just a week ago no longer have the issues. I’ve always complained about ESO’s performance, and while much of the judder you feel can be attributed to netcode and Zenimax’s servers, I’ll take the 5 frames per second boost I’ve seen on average in cities. Quantum Break has also had a worrisome history when it comes to PC performance, which is one reason I test it here - and while I still find framerate issues when not using the reconstruction rendering, I have noticed more stable framerates in busy areas and when it’s noticeably streaming in the next batch of assets.
Is it worth it?
The Intel 760p series is an impressive SSD, synthetic tests notwithstanding. In real world applications - especially multitasking - the drive performs admirably. I don’t notice any slowdown when using the drive in multiple ways simultaneously, such as gaming and editing documents in Microsoft Office for my SEO gig - and these are moments that I would normally see some performance degradation when multitasking on the Toshiba. However, the 2TB variant is maybe not the choice for your average MMO player simply looking for an upgrade.
At over $800 (which is comparable in price to other 2TB SSDs on the market), the Intel 760P 2TB M.2 SSD really lends itself to those enthusiasts MMO players who enjoy building powerful computers and simply want the best they can get for their money. If you’re looking to optimize speed and storage, grabbing the 760p makes sense over a 2TB hard drive you’ll pull your hair out over when it inevitably slows down. It’s incredibly small form factor also lends itself well to MicroITX builds or media center owners with large movie and music libraries. This isn’t a drive for the average MMO player - and that’s ok. Thankfully, if you’re looking for the 760p at a cheaper price, the lower capacity drives are much more manageable and sport the same specs, meaning you could settle for a 256GB version with lightning fast load times to help streamline your gaming experience even more.
Intel’s SSD optimizer software also allows you to make the most of your SSD as well as check on updates to the drivers, firmware and run diagnostics on your SSD at any time, extending the life of your drive. Other SSD manufacturers have tools for their SSDs as well - and Samsung’s is pretty good. However, Intel’s also provides some data on your other drives - though the optimizer really only works on the Intel specific drive - giving you an overall snapshot of your drive health when you want.
I don’t see myself switching back to the Plextor any time soon. And while the synthetics on the M9Pe were technically more impressive than the Intel, when it comes down to it, the 760p provided a faster experience. Coupled with the enormous capacity, the Intel 760p NVMe M.2 2TB SSD provides an enormous upgrade to any gaming PC in both loading speeds and SSD capacity. While the synthetic test results, specifically the AS SSD bench, are concerning, loading two large MMOs within 10 seconds as well as other intensive game applications quickly over their magnetic and other M.2 counterparts is impressive enough to keep this in mind for your next over-the-top gaming build.
- Outrageous game load speeds
- Small form factor perfect for compact builds
- Performance increases in game felt considerably
- Not cheap
- Synthetic benchmarks fall short of Intel’s claims