[nextpage title=”Introduction”]
With the need for faster SSDs, high performance market is leaving behind the 2.5 inches models with SATA-600 interface, which obviously limit the bandwidth of these devices to 600 MB/s. One of these high performance SSDs is the 1.2 TB Intel SSD 750 Series, which uses the NVMe standard, PCI Express 3.0 x4 interface and promises to deliver read speeds up to 2,400 MB/s and write speeds up to 1,200 MB/s. Let’s test this SSD.
The 750 Series SSDs can be found in two form factors: a PCI Express 3.0 x4 expansion card or a 2.5” drive with SFF-8639 interface (and thus, with different connectors from the 2,5” SATA drives). The avalilable capacities are 400 GiB and 1.2 TiB. The 2.5” version needs a special cable and a compatible motherboard with dual SATA Express connection.
The SSD 750 Series is, according to Intel, the first model targeted to consumer market to use the NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) specification, which replaces the AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) standard, which was developed and optimized for SATA hard disk drives and replaced the IDE standard. This interface allows higher speeds and lower latencies than the earlier standards, and works better with parallelism.
An important detail is that Windows 7 has no native support to NVMe, so it will need a driver to work with it. In order to install this operating system in an NVMe SSD, you will need this driver (on an USB stick, for example) at the installing time. It is also necessary that your motherboard BIOS offers NVMe support. We managed to install Windows 7 on the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB with no hassle, just by providing the NVMe driver on an USB thumb drive. Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and newer Linux distributions, however, offer native NVMe support.
In our tests, we will compare the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB to the Kingston HyperX Predator 480 GiB, which we tested recently. However, it is important to keep in mind that those two drives are not direct competitors, because they have not the same capacity (we don’t have another 1.2 TiB competitor SSD in our lab to compare), and also because they are in different price ranges (see table below). So, we are comparing them just to have an idea of the performance of the reviewed SSD.
Before proceeding, we highly suggest that you read our “Anatomy of SSD Units” tutorial, which provides all the background information you need to know about SSDs.
In the table below we compare the units tested.

Manufacturer Model Model # Nominal Capacity Form Factor Interface Price

Intel

SSD 750 Series

SSDPEDMW012T4R5

1.2 TiB

PCI Express

PCI Express 3.0 x4

USD 1,200

Kingston

HyperX Predator

SHPM2280P2H/480G

480 GiB

M.2

PCI Express 2.0 x4

USD 490

We researched the prices on the day that we published this review. In the table below, we provide a more in-depth technical comparison between the two drives.

Model Controller Buffer Memory
Intel SSD 750 Series Intel CH29AE41AB0 5 x 512 MiB DDR3L-1600 Micron MT41K1G4RH-12:E 18x 64 GiB + 14x 16 GiB Intel 29F16B08LCMFS
Kingston HyperX Predator Marvell 88SS9293 2 x 512 MiB DDR3L-1600 Kingston D2516EC4BXGGB 8x 64 GiB Toshiba TH58TEG9DDKBA8H

[nextpage title=”The Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB”]
We received the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB alone, with no box. It is a PCI Express 3.0 x4 expansion card, with a heatsink (according to Intel, it dissipates up to 22 W while on write and read, and 4 W on idle).
Obviously, you can also install it at a PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, or even at a PCI Express 2.0 x4 or x16 slot, but in this case, there will be a performance loss.
Figures 1 and 2 present the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiBFigure 1: the SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiBFigure 2: upside of the card

As you can see in Figure 3, the SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB comes with two brackets, one for standard cases and one for half-height cases.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiBFigure 3: brackets

[nextpage title=”Components”]
Figure 4 shows the solder side of the SSD 750 Series. Here you can see 14 flash memory chips and two DDR3 memory chips that work as a data buffer. Unfortunately, the heatsink that covers the chips at the component side is glued to the chips, so we could not remove it. However, we discovered that there are under it, besides the controller chip, more 18 flash memory chips and three DDR3 chips.
The controller used in the SSD 750 Series is the Intel CH29AE41AB0, which supports PCI Express 3.0 x4 and 18 channels for the flash memory chips. For you to have an idea, most controllers found on “common” SSDs use only eight channels.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiBFigure 4: solder side

Figure 5 shows the detail of one of the NAND MLC 20 nm flash memory chips from Intel itself. Each one of those chips stores 16 GiB of data. The chips on the other side, however, have similar characteristics, but store four times more data. This is probably because the chips on the other side are cooled by the heatsink, while the ones at the solder side have no cooling.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiBFigure 5: memory chip detail

Figure 6 shows one of the five DDR3L-1600 Micron chips used as data buffer.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiBFigure 6: buffer memory chip

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
During our testing procedures, we used the configuration listed below. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the SSD being tested.
Both SSDs were installed in a PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot controlled by the CPU. In order to identify a possible performance drop if the correct slot is not used, we also performed the tests with the Intel SSD 750 Series installed at a PCI Express 2.0 x4 slot controlled by the motherboard chipset.
Hardware configuration

Software Configuration

  • Operating System: Windows 7 Home Basic 64-bit using NTFS File System

Benchmarking Software

Error Margin
We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% cannot be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.
[nextpage title=”Compressible Data Test”]
As mentioned in the previous page, me measured the performance of each drive using the CrystalDiskMark 4 program. In this version, the software performs sequential and random reading and writing with 4 kiB blocks, first with a queue depth (QD) of 32, and then with a QD of one. So, it does not only test the performance with a single task, but also the performance with simultaneous read and write requisition, mimicking a scenario such as the one found in database servers.
Also keep in mind that CrystalDiskMark 4 uses a different measuring methodology from CrystalDiskMark version 3, so data obtained with different versions are not comparable.
First, we ran CrystalDiskMark in “All 0x00 Fill mode”, where the data written on the drive are only zeros, in order to measure the SSD performance with compressible data.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB

On the sequential read test with a queue depth of 32, the Intel SSD750 at a PCI Express 3.0 was 116% faster than the Kingston HyperX Predator. While connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance dropped by 55%.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the sequential write test with a queue depth of 32, the SSD 750 Series was 24% faster than the Predator. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, it maintained the same performance.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the random reading test with 4 kiB blocks and QD 32, the 750 Series was 134% faster than the HyperX Predator 480 GiB. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, the performance dropped by 40%.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the random writing test with 4 kiB blocks and QD 32, the Intel SSD was 131% faster than the Kingston model. While connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance dropped by 35%.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB

On the simple sequential read test (i.e., queue depth of one), the SSD 750 was 81% faster than the Predator. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance was 10% lower.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the simple sequential writing test (i.e., queue depth of one), the SSD 750 beat the Predator by 24%. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance dropped by 5%.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the simple random reading test, the SDD 750 was 11% faster than the HyperX Predator. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance was 7.5% lower.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the random write test with 4 kiB blocks, the SSD 750 Series was 266% faster than the HyperX Predator. Its performance dropped 34% when connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot.
[nextpage title=”Incompressible Data Test”]
On this test, we left CrystalDiskMark at standard mode, with random, non-compressible data.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB

On the sequential read test with a queue depth of 32, the Intel SSD750 at a PCI Express 3.0 was 114% faster than the Kingston HyperX Predator. While connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance droped by 55%.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the sequential write test with a queue depth of 32, the SSD 750 Series was 25% faster than the Predator. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, it maintained the same performance.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the random reading test with 4 kiB blocks and QD 32, the 750 Series was 140% faster than the HyperX Predator 480 GiB. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, the performance dropped by 40%.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the random writing test with 4 kiB blocks and QD 32, the Intel SSD was 131% faster than the Kingston model. While connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance dropped by 34%.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the simple sequential read test (i.e., queue depth of one), the SSD 750 was 84% faster than the Predator. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance was 9% lower.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the simple sequential writing test (i.e., queue depth of one), the SSD 750 beat the Predator by 26%. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance dropped by 5%.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the simple random reading test, the SDD 750 was 11% faster than the HyperX Predator. Connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot, its performance was 10% lower.
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB
On the random write test with 4 kiB blocks, the SSD 750 Series was 258% faster than the HyperX Predator. Its performance dropped 33% when connected to a PCI Express 2.0 slot.
[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is important to keep in mind that the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB and the Kingston HyperX Predator 480 GiB are not direct competitors. Even while both of them use a PCI Express x4 interface, they have very different prices, and distinct capacities. The SSD 750 Series 400 GiB could be considered a competitor to the Kingston model, but its performance, according to Intel, is lower than the 1.2 TiB model’s. Unfortunately, we had no access to the 400 GiB model.
Another detail that is different on both models is that, while the Kingston HyperX Predator uses a PCI Express 2.0 x4 bus, the Intel SSD 750 Series uses a PCI Express 3.0 x4 interface. Our tests shown that, while connected to the PCI Express 2.0 x4 slot controlled by the chipset (instead of a slot controlled directly by the processor), the performance of the Intel SSD dropped up to 55%.
This can actually be a problem, if your computer has a limited slot configuration or an SLI or CrossFire array that uses all the PCI Express 3.0 lanes offered by your processor; you may have to choose between reduce the video cards or SSD performance.
A point that is very clear in our tests is that both the units tested had similar performances with both compressible and not compressible data, which is compatible with high-end units.
Another interesting detail is that the SSD 750 Series was not limited by the PCI Express 2.0 x4 maximum theoretical bandwidth of 2 GB/s. So, it could perform faster than this limit when installed at the correct slot.
Our most important (and quite obvious) conclusion of our tests is that the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB is a device with incredible performance. It is also obvious that it only reaches all its potential when under a heavy workload; it seems to be because it was originally designed for enterprise and server applications. So, in situations where very high performance storage can improve a professional activity, it is an excellent choice.
The most important question that can remain unanswered is if is this SSD is a good choice for the home, enthusiast, or gamer user. In most of the cases, the answer is no, because of its high price. Actually, you can build a whole gamer computer with the bucks you will invest on this SSD. However, if you are very rich and want to build the most powerful possible system, the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TiB is an excellent choice.