If you want to equip a computer or notebook with a m.2 SSD, you have two options to choose from.
Do you buy an NVME PCIe SSD or a SATA SSD? Of course, NVME is the newer and better standard. As is usually the case, the newer standards are the more expensive too.
However, there is one exception, the Intel 600p NVME SSD. The Intel 600p is a comparatively cheap NVME SSD, which is over ¼ cheaper than competing models from Samsung and Co.
Of course, the Intel 600p is one of the “slower” NVME SSDs. Here is the question what is better, a slightly slower NVME SSD or a middle class SATA SSD?
The 512GB version of the Intel 600p is priced at around 160 €, just like the Samsung SSD 850 EVO. The latter is only a SATA SSD.
What is preferable to a cheap NVME SSD or a mid-range SATA SSD? Let’s find out in the test!
M.2 is the new standard “connection” for SSDs in notebooks and also in desktop PCs. However, M.2 only describes the connection. M.2 SSDs can use two standards, SATA or PCIe / NVME.
SATA is the older standard, which theoretically can provide up to 550MB / s in transmission power.
NVME / PCIe SSDs, however, are much newer and can theoretically reach up to 3500MB / s.
Most notebooks and desktop PCs can use both SATA and PCIe / NVME. However, NVME SSDs are usually a good deal more expensive than SATA SSDs, so the decision here is not quite as easy as it might seem at first. Especially since the higher transmission power in practice is often not so relevant.
The Intel 600P and the Samsung 850 EVO
Let’s start with the theory. Both SSDs have the m.2 form factor, but apart from that, the two competitors are quite different. The Intel SSD uses the PCI-e interface and the NVME standard, while the Samsung 850 EVO uses the classic SATA standard via M.2.
On paper, the Intel 600p in the 512GB version creates 1775MB / s reading and 560MB / s writing. The Samsung 850 EVO creates 540MB / s reading and 500MB / s writing.
While this may seem like a clear victory for the Intel SSD, in practice it is not that easy to compare the theoretical maximum transfer rates to make the winner.
Especially with SSDs, for example, the controller plays a very important role in everyday performance. The Intel is here clearly the cheapest NVME SSD on the market, so is the controller used, for example, when transmitting smaller data or many accesses at the same time maybe a bit slower?
Maybe even slower than the Samsung 850 EVO? The Samsung 850 EVO is a M.2 SATA SSD of the good middle class, at least as far as the price is concerned. Samsung SSDs are generally considered very good and powerful.
The interesting factor is of course the price, which is almost identical for both SSDs. Is there a performance difference and if so how big is this?
The test system is a PC with Intel Intel Core i7-5820K, 32GB RAM, an AMD RX480 and an ASRock X99 Extreme6 / 3.1 motherboard.
Windows 10 is used as the operating system, which was separated from the Internet to avoid unwanted updates in the background.
For the theoretical tests, the two SSDs were used as secondary drives. In the practical tests, these were also the drives on which the operating system was.
Let’s start with a few benchmarks. Although benchmarks do not necessarily reflect practice, they can certainly help us get a rough estimate of the expected performance.
Besides, who does not like to see nice big numbers in benchmarks?
First let’s take a look at the values of CrystalDiskMark. At first glance, these speak a fairly clear language, in favor of the Intel 600p. This provides reading around the 3x performance of the Samsung SSD. However, if you look at the 4K values, you notice that the difference is less significant for smaller file sizes.
Writing, the values are even more balanced. But this was also clear from the beginning, if one considers the manufacturer’s information. Depending on the file size and queue depth wins times the Intel SSD and sometimes the Samsung.
These values are also roughly confirmed by ASSSD. Again, the Intel SSD wins five out of eight “values”.
Sequential reading is also quite clear with 1554MB / s on the side of the Intel 600p.
Let’s move from theory to practice. How much faster is the Intel 600p here? Is she ever faster?
Let’s start with a Windows start. On both SSDs a clean version of Windows 10 was installed, no additional programs or the like. The time was measured from the moment the switch was pressed until the appearance of the desktop. Indicated is the average of five runs each.
In practice, the theoretical advantage of the Intel 600p has melted down very much. Although the Intel SSD was just under a second faster when starting Windows 10, in practice this second will hardly play a role.
Windows starts now so fast that here the 1700MB / s against 540MB / s just barely have relevance. Of the 20 or 21 seconds alone, about 12 seconds are the time the motherboard needs to load the BIOS. Windows 10 is fully charged in 8-9 seconds, if you like.
What about starting applications?
Starting an application would be quite a boring test, so we start 7 applications simultaneously via BAT file. These are FireFox, iTunes, OpenOffice Writer, OpenOffice Calc, GIMP, Notepad ++ and IrfanView. There were five runs each with a reboot in between.
Again a very close race, which was won by the Intel 600p. On average, the Samsung 840 EVO needed 6.22 seconds to start all programs, the Intel 600p 5.9 seconds.
This may not seem like a big difference, it is not, but for larger programs, of course, the difference would be a little bigger.
What about a game, for example? The Witcher 3 is not a game that is known for very high load times, but this can be tested quickly and easily.
The measured values are the average of three runs each.
The trend continues. The Intel SSD is a tick faster than the Samsung 840 EVO when it comes to charging times. The Witcher 3 took 7.17 seconds on average with the 600p, with the 840 EVO 8.04 seconds.
From load time tests to a slightly different application. Just about every Windows user will have a virus scanner installed. How long does this take to scan a directory? For this test, Avira Antivirus had to scan a folder of about 100GB (about 4000 files, colorful mix) with the same settings.
This time a slightly bigger win for the Intel 600p. When it comes to just opening large files, it feels very comfortable and can play to its strengths.
With around 3 minutes for the 100GB, the Intel 600p can beat the Samsung 840 EVO by around 15 seconds.
Occasionally you have to work in everyday life with large file archives. For my test, I packed a 30GB archive consisting of 1700 files. This archive is unpacked on the respective SSDs (WINRAR).
Here we see a clear difference! Interestingly, in favor of the Samsung SSD! How is it? Like many SSD manufacturers, Intel uses a kind of write cache in its 600p. So an area of the SSD which is faster describable than the rest. This area is shoveled continuously again, so after a short recovery time, the full power is available again.
But if large amounts of data are written in one go, the performance of the Intel 600p breaks down quite a bit. In the case of the 512GB version of the Intel 600p, the cache is around 18GB, then it gets slow, really slow!
While about the first half of unpacking the archive went very fast, the second half lasted four times as long.
The Samsung SSD, on the other hand, did not struggle with such problems and was able to unpack the archive at a constant pace.
If you need to write a lot of large files quickly, the Samsung 840 EVO is clearly superior to the Intel 600p!
What is better, a cheap NVME / PCIe SSD like the Intel 600p or a relatively more expensive m.2 SATA SSD, like the Samsung 840EVO?
If these results show one, then it’s how close the duel is. Of course, the Intel 600p SSD wins on paper and in benchmarks, but in practice the values are much more balanced.
There are even situations in which the Samsung 840 EVO is faster than the Intel 600p, then when it comes to writing large files.
The Intel NVME SSD, on the other hand, can score points in read-intensive applications, such as application launch or Windows.
The bottom line is the duel Samsung 840 EVO against Intel 600p quite a stalemate. However, I would prefer the Intel 600p due to the newer standard and the better reading performance, which is quite a value in everyday life, nevertheless. Especially since the price of both SSDs is almost identical. Why not then resort to the more modern Intel 600p SSD?
It is still very interesting to see how close a good SATA SSD can be to a “cheap” NVME SSD in practice. Sure, the Samsung 840 EVO represents pretty much the best you can get on SATA SSDs.
Nevertheless, the Intel 600p is currently hard to beat, if you are looking for a good and price / high performance m.2 SSD!
However, should you already have a decent SATA SSD in your notebook or desktop, the jump to a cheap NVME SSD like the Intel 600p will probably not be worth it, unless you also want to upgrade your capacity.
Also you should want to buy a notebook / desktop PC, which is still equipped with a SATA SSD, this does not necessarily mean that this is significantly slower than a system with NVME / PCIe SSD.
Of course, if you have the choice, the newer standard for SSDs is usually preferable.