Intel Optane H10 speeds up next generation laptops (and saves money too)

Intel Optane H10
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Inside every PC, laptop, Mac, iPad, smartphone, there is storage. Intel Optane H10 is set to take that to the next step in performance, price and capacity.

Intel Optane H10 (website here) comes in 256GB/16GB, 512GB/32GB and 1TB/32GB capacity – the last figure is its Optane cache size.

Intel Optane H10

The conundrum with storage has always been ‘bang for buck’ – or in this case how many Megabytes, Gigabytes and Terabytes can you get for the money. Typically, the slower the transfer rate, e.g. hard disk, the lower the cost per GB.

For example, a 1TB

  • SATA 6 spinning hard disk costs around $50 or 5 cents a Gigabyte. Typical data sequential read/write speeds are up to 140MBps.
  • SATA 6 SSD costs around $160 or 16 cents a Gigabyte. Typical data sequential read/write speeds are up to 500Mbps.
  • PCIe NVMe 2-lane SSD mid-range costs around $200 or 20 cents a Gigabyte. Typical data sequential read/write speeds are up to 1500Mbps.
  • PCIe NVMe 4-lane top-of-the-range WD Black or Samsung 970 EVO costs about $400 or 40 cents a Gigabyte. Typical data sequential read/write speeds are up to 3500Mbps.

Why is Intel Optane H10 important?

It adds a small bucket (16/32GB) of high-speed cache memory to lower-cost, highly reliable but slower QLC 256/512GB/1TB flash NAND memory. The majority of work (frequently used files) is done in the cache at PCIe 3.0 2-lane speeds approaching 1500MBps sequential read and then transferred to the QLC in a sequential, orderly manner.

But there is more. Once the 16/32GB becomes congested (and 90% of your work is will here), the QLC can also read and write directly at PCIe 3.0 2-lane speeds. The outcome is more speed at a lower cost.

Intel Optane H10

Speed tests

Our tests were on HP Spectre X360, Core i7-8565U with 16GB ram. This is a ‘boss’ laptop, and you would normally spend a lot more to get a high-end SSD. It was an interesting laptop choice because Intel Optane H10 is more for the the value, bang for buck market.

Intel rates the speeds at a maximum of 2400/1800MBps sequential read/write. We have seen international review reach 2400/1200Mbps.

While our test speeds did not quite reach that that we are happy. Why? Our tests were with Optane enabled as a separate volume (as supplied). Had we had more time we would reformat and run tests in the fastest mode – Optane fully enabled and the drive into one volume.

The efficiency of the Intel Optane H10 module depends on what you do with it.

If you are a average user, then the Intel Optane H10 option is perfect for 90% of what you do. Photo uploads, web surfing, Word, email etc. Most of the time, you will be dealing with small files. And if the files are already in the non-volatile cache, they will be very quick to open and execute.

If you are a designer, video editor, photographer dealing with large files and renders then you would be better using a high-end SSD like Intel’s SSD 7 (760p review here).

Why Intel Optane H10?

This is the era of ultra-portables – small, light, great battery life and fast. Intel Optane H10 has given mainstream SSD performance at a far lower cost. We don’t know what that cost is as only computer makers can buy it. But if you take the Intel SSD 7 as a guide (with its Optane cache), it offers top-of-the-range performance at 27 cents a GB compared to its competitors at over 40 cents per GB.

It also helps to increase the storage capacity for the same price. Where before a 256GB SSD was installed you may get a 512GB or even a 1TB for the same price.

GadgetGuy’s take: We have always liked the Optane concept

I have been using caching controllers on servers and fast PCs since the 90s. They were nowhere near as advanced, but the Optane concept of working in fast memory instead of slow hard disks was sound. And this also allowed data to be sequentially written to the hard disk at its fastest speed.

Intel’s Optane is a lot smarter than a cache controller – it learns what files you use and places them in cache – a prefetch.

Bang for buck – if it has the word Optane on it then you are getting better value.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Improves system responsiveness for an average user
Achieves speeds rivalling mid-range SSD
Much more power efficient
It speeds up lower cost QLC NAND, and you reap the price benefit
Not for heavy users
Not a retro-fit – needs new hardware and software