Intel's extra-fast 3D storage comes to your desktop PC

Optane will speed up your system on April 24th.


It didn't take long for Intel's 3D Optane storage to reach a product you can realistically buy. The chip maker has introduced Optane modules designed to boost the performance of your desktop PC. They're strictly cache drives that only hold 16GB or 32GB (the server module packs 375GB), but don't let that dismay you. In theory, the combination of extremely low latency (under 10 microseconds) with solid state drive speeds (at least 900MB/s in peak sequential reads) should dramatically reduce loading times across the board.

Compared to a PC with a conventional spinning hard drive, Intel claims that you should see a 28 percent overall performance boost, with storage up to 14 times faster. Common apps like the Chrome or Outlook should load five to six times faster, Intel says. And not surprisingly, Intel is making a big deal out of gaming performance. The company boasts that games can start up to 67 percent faster, and load levels up to 65 percent faster.

Intel expects both of these desktop modules to land on April 24th, and they'll be very affordable at $44 for the 16GB module and $77 for its 32GB counterpart. Optane-equipped systems from PC makers like ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo will arrive throughout the second quarter of the year. Just don't expect to update an older PC. You'll need a system running a 7th-generation Core (i.e. Kaby Lake) processor and the chipset to match, so you'll have to "settle" for an SSD or hybrid hard drive if you're not quite on the cutting edge.

As for whether or not they're worth it? That likely depends on your exact circumstances. While Intel believes you'll see a speed boost even if you already have an SSD in your computer (it can eliminate the SATA bottleneck, for instance), AnandTech notes that you might be better off relying solely on an SSD if you can afford one that meets your storage needs. This is really for people stuck with conventional hard drives who want a speed boost without the expense of buying a high-capacity SSD.