Review: Intel 750 NVMe PCIe 1.2TB SSD
Reviewed by: Wendy Robertson
Provided by: Intel
Firmware version: 8EV10135
Today I’m looking at something new. In fact this article
will feature the world’s first SSD, aimed at the professional consumer, to utilise
the new NVMe (Non Volatile Memory Express)
interface. NVMe SSDs are PCIe based and are installed in a standard PCIe slot,
or via the brand new U.2 connector. PCIe SSDs are not new, and have been around
for several years. However, the PCIe SSDs of the past required a special
controller which sat between the SSD hardware and the PCIe system bus, to allow
SSD hardware and the PCIe bus to do the translation and communication between
the two interfaces. This was of course a very complex and time consuming task,
which inevitably led to increased latency.
NVMe is a native solution, with its own highly optimised
protocol, which features a very much reduced command set, much lower latency
when compared to AHCI, and is specifically optimised for Non Volatile Memory
Intel was kind enough to send me one of their brand new 750
series NVMe SSDs for review. In this case the 1.2TB PCIe version. There is also
a 400GB version available, as well as U.2 connection versions.
So let’s find out how this new SSD performs in our range of
Intel company information
Intel should need no introduction, but those of you who
would like to find out more about Intel, can do so at their website.
The Intel 750 NVMe 1.2TB SSD
The review sample provided was the PCIe version, which is
PCIe gen3, and uses 4 PCIe gen3 lanes for data transfer.
You simply install the Intel 750 NVMe SSD into a PCIe
generation 3 PCIe slot with at least 4 PCIe lanes available, but for best
results, you should install the Intel 750 NVMe SSD into a generation 3 x16
socket which is connected directly to the CPU.
Please note: To be able to boot from the Intel 750 NVMe SSD,
you will require a motherboard which allows booting from NVMe. Many motherboard
manufacturers have already updated their Z97 chipset motherboards to support booting
from NVMe. Those with X99 chipset motherboards, should find they all support booting
There is apparently a workaround for motherboards which do
not support booting from NVMe, to allow booting via EFI mode, but I have not
The SSD controller used in the Intel 750 series of SSDs is
the mighty Intel CH29AE41AB0, which boasts 18 channels to the NAND array, and
is in fact the same controller found in the Intel DC-3700 enterprise class
SSDs. The firmware is of course optimised towards client use rather than the
The NAND is Intel/Micron 20nm MLC.
Intel SSD Toolbox.
The toolbox allows the drive’s firmware to be updated,
secure erased, optimised, and drive diagnostics. The toolbox also offers
utilities to tune the PC for best performance, displaying system information,
and viewing the Intel 750’s S.M.A.R.T. data.
If you are running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 then NVMe SSDs
are supported natively, and there is no need to find and install NVMe drivers.
Intel however has made available their own optimised NVMe drivers, which offer
improved performance, and allow some of the more specialised features of the
Intel SSD Toolbox, such as secure erasing the Intel 750, to function properly. The
Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 native drivers are more than enough to allow you to
do a clean install of the operating system.
Does the SSD support TRIM?
To allow TRIM to function you first need an SSD that
supports the TRIM command. You then need a storage stack that will allow the
TRIM command to pass-through to the SSD, and this includes the driver.
Thankfully this is now very easy to check with some degree
of reliability, using a small utility written by Vladimir Panteleev called TRIMCheck.
According to TRIMCheck, TRIM is functioning correctly on the
Intel 750 NVMe 1.2TB SSD.
Let’s head to the next page where we take a look at our
testing methods and the review PC….