Intel 600p 512GB review: inexpensive PCIe SSD

PCI-Express price breakthrough?

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Introduction

Up until this point PCI-Express SSDs have always been relatively expensive, but recently Intel introduced a new series with cheaper models, the 600p. Today we test the Intel 600p 512GB and find out if it is worth its purchase price.


PCI-Express SSDs are relatively new and that makes them rather expensive. Compared with the high-end or mid-range Sata600 SSDs a few years ago, these are not more expensive. That said, considering the decrease in NAND-prices in the past years these can definitely be called expensive. This is primarily due to the fact that all PCI-Express SSDs are found in the high-end segment.

Nevertheless there is no reason as to why PCI-Express SSDs should be more expensive than their predecessors. They use a different interface and need a faster controller, but as soon as their development costs are recouped the production cost is not that much. This meant we were waiting for a manufacturer to offer these drives for less. Previously, Samsung introduced their 960 Evo that costs a lot less than earlier PCI-Express models, but more recently the slightly cheaper Intel 600p series was released, a manufacturer that is not known for cheap products.

Intel 600p 512GB

The Intel 600p is a PCI-Express SSD with a PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface, meaning it can theoretically use the full bandwidth that an M.2-slot offers. The SSD is equipped with 3D NAND flash memory made by Intel. This flash memory is actuated as TLC: it writes three bits per memory cell. The used controller is the Silicon Motion SM2260, the PCI-Express successor to some controllers that we find a lot in SSDs in the budget segment. All of this means that the 600p can be offered at a lower price. 

Capacity Read Write 4k random read 4k random write Average price Average price per gigabyte
Intel 600p 128 GB 770 MB/s 450 MB/s 35.000 IOPS 91.000 IOPS 61 pounds / 72 euros 47.7 cents
Intel 600p 256 GB 1570 MB/s 540 MB/s 71.000 IOPS 112.000 IOPS 87 pounds / 103 euros 34 cents
Intel 600p 512 GB 1775 MB/s 560 MB/s 128.500 IOPS 128.000 IOPS 168 pounds / 199 euros 32.8 cents
Intel 600p 1024 GB 1800 MB/s 560 MB/s 155.000 IOPS 128.000 IOPS 319 pounds / 378 euros 31.2 cents

As is clear from this table, there are a lot of differences between the individual SSDs. The 600p 128GB is not as interesting. The write speed is low and the read speed is barely higher than the maximum of SATA600 SSDs. Also, the price per gigabyte ratio is a lot higher than that of the other models in the series. The 256GB offers double the capacity for only 25 pounds / 30 euros more, as well as a lot higher read speed and a lot more 4k IOps. The same can be said for the 512GB and 1024GB models. At the time of writing this article, the 512GB model also offers more capacity per pound / X euro.

Considering the lower speed and price, the 600p does not primarily compete with high-end PCI-Express SSDs such as the 960 Pro, or even mid-range models like the 960 Evo, but primarily with SATA M.2 drives and the slightly more expensive mid-range SATA SSDs. SATA M.2 drives are primarily interesting for laptops, but here we face the problem that we are not (yet) able to test the power consumption for M.2 SSDs. According to the specifications, the Intel 600p should be very economic when it comes to this: the power consumption is 0.04 watt in idle mode and 0.1 watt at a light productivity workload.

Intel does not say what the maximum write capacity is, but the SSD does come with a long warranty period of five years. Aside from that, 256-bit AES encryption is supported, but other features such as Microsoft eDrive and TGC Opal are not. 

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