PCIe NVME SSDs are the premier class when it comes to fast storage media. Of course, this also has a price, in the truest sense of the word. PCIe SSDs are expensive, sometimes very expensive. In addition, the practical benefit of the partially achieved 3000MB / s + is “questionable”.
However, not all PCIe SSDs are overly expensive. Just an SSD stands out here something out of the crowd, the Intel 600p.
Intel SSDs are actually considered the best on the market, in terms of reliability and durability. This is usually synonymous Intel pay well, not so in the 600p.
The Intel 600p is the cheapest currently available NVME / PCIe SSD on the market, with a price even below that of many normal SATA SSDs.
But what about the performance? Is the 600p just a lame duck and therefore so cheap? Let’s try to find out in the test!
The Intel 600p
The Intel 600p is a PCIe SSD in m.2 form factor. This is primarily intended for notebooks or for newer desktop PCs.
Intel directs the 600p here primarily to the normal user, which does not seek the absolute maximum in performance but still attach importance to fast load times.
This orientation is also supported by the technical data. The 600p is available in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB size. Intel specifies the maximum read speed of 1800MB / s and the maximum write speed of 560MB / s.
Both values are absolutely top compared to classic SATA SSDs, but for a PCIe / NVME SSD these are not outstanding values.
For the controller, Intel uses the Silicon Motion SM2260, which is combined with three TLC NAND chips in the 512GB version. Of course, the NAND memory chips come from Intel’s own production
The 600p has only three NAND chips is a bit unusual and probably also explains the lower writing speed.
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.
As an operating system, I use Windows 10, which was separated from the Internet to avoid unwanted updates in the background.
For the theoretical tests, the SSD was used as a secondary drive. In the practical tests, Windows 10 was also on the SSD itself.
Benchmarks and temperature
Let’s start with a few of the usual benchmarks.
The currently most popular memory benchmark is CrystalDiskMark. That’s why we start with that.
CrystalDiskMark confirms the values given by Intel, at least in the Q32T1 runs. Here even the reading 1800MB / s can be outdone even a bit!
However, what stands out a bit is that the 4K values are not overly good. Of course, these are not bad, but reading at 32MB / s will certainly create good SATA SSDs.
Writing the 600p pretty much reaches the advertised 560MB / s.
Are these values also confirmed by other benchmarks?
On the whole, yes. AS SSD sees the values of the 600p somewhat lower, but also reading good here are 1554MB / s and writing good 544MB / s achieved.
Access times also look good to very good with 0.095ms reading and 0.035ms writing. However, if you expect another significant improvement here compared to a good SATA SSD, you will be disappointed.
Also interesting is the temperature development of the SSD. Especially high-end NVME SSDs often have temperature problems if they are not directly supplied with airflow. With NVME SSDs, temperatures under load of up to 80 degrees are not uncommon.
Fortunately, the Intel 600p does not seem to struggle with such temperatures. In my desktop PC, without direct air flow, a maximum of “just” 59 degrees were reached. An absolutely unproblematic temperature.
But what about in practice? Nice high scores on benchmarks are of course fine, but in the end, only practical performance matters.
In order to be able to compare the values measured here somewhat better, I have also carried out all tests with a Samsung 840 EVO. The 840 EVO is a SATA SSD in m.2 format, which costs just as much or as little as the Intel 600p. Therefore, this is quite an interesting comparison.
Let’s start by starting Windows. A clean install of Windows 10 was done on both SSDs. The time was measured from the moment the switch was pressed to the appearance of the desktop. The specified value is the average of five runs each.
As we can see, the differences between the two SSDs are not significant. The Intel 600p manages the Windows 10 start in an average of 20.25 seconds, the Samsung SSD in 21.93 seconds.
A small difference in favor of the Intel SSD, which is also understandable. The Intel 600p offers very good read rates.
This is also reflected in the application test. Here I started 7 applications at the same time. These applications are FireFox, iTunes, OpenOffice Writer, OpenOffice Calc, GIMP, Notepad ++ and IrfanView.
Once again, the Intel 600p performs very well! Although the difference to the Samsung SSD is low, it is available. This again underlines the good reading performance of the 600p.
Here it is no surprise that these values are also reflected when loading a game. Here’s an example The Witcher 3:
So we can basically go on. In all tests where reading data is concerned, the Intel 600p performs consistently well. This also applies to virus scanning, etc.
But what about when data has to be written?
Here we should also see strong values, after all, creates the Intel 600p whopping 560MB / s writing?
Here, unfortunately, the theory differs from practice. The 600p can only write temporarily at 560MB / s. If you write more than approx. 18GB in one go at the 600p, the writing rate breaks down massively!
The 600p has some sort of write cache, so one area of the SSD can write data significantly faster than the rest of the SSD. This range is approximately 18GB in the 600p. It is assumed that this area is about twice as large in the 1TB version and half as large in the 256GB version.
If this write cache is full, the write rate drops to approx. 140MB / s. Whereby there are strong fluctuations to partially two-digit values and then suddenly 200MB / s +. On average, however, you reach this around 140MB / s.
Let the SSD rest for a few seconds and the 560MB / s will be reached again. If you copy a few files back and forth this will not be noticeable at all.
Only when it comes to file sizes of 18GB in a row, it is critical. Normal users will probably hardly have problems here. Also I would have no problem with my notebook. Unless you regularly do 4K video editing, you usually do not have such critical amounts of data.
You are looking for a cheap and fast SSD? Then the Intel 600p is currently one, if not the best, option on the market.
The 600p can score by a good to very good everyday performance. Just starting large programs or games is very fast, faster than it would be possible with a SATA SSD.
Add to that Intel’s legendary durability. If you’re looking for an SSD that lasts as long as possible, you usually have two options, Samsung or Intel.
All the more amazing the very fair price with around 170 € for the 512GB version or 320 € for the 1TB version. This is a good deal cheaper than a PCIe SSD from Samsung, Toshiba and Co.
Does that sound good? What is the catch? The write performance of the Intel 600p is bad! This is indeed specified by Intel with 560MB / s, which is okay so far. But these 560MB / s are only half the story. The 600p has a kind of cache, this cache reaches the advertised 560MB / s. If this is full, the write speed drops to up to two-digit values.
Practically, this is not quite as bad as it sounds. In the 512GB version, the cache is around 18GB in size, so the write speed will only drop if you consistently write more than that 18GB. If the SSD has a short break, the full speed can be reached again.
In summary, I would definitely recommend the Intel 600p for users who write many files.
The Intel 600p is more suitable for ultrabooks or “smaller” notebooks where fast loading times are more relevant than copying very large amounts of data. Even in gaming notebooks, I see quite potential for the 600p. Fast game load times you have guaranteed with this.
So unless you copy data volumes in the order of 20GB + every day, the Intel 600p is worth an absolute recommendation! For the price you will not find anything better at the moment.