Intel Core i+ CPU bundles with Optane Memory hit e-tail shelves

If you've been CPU shopping today, you may have noticed some weird new products on offer at e-tail shops. Don't be confused: the Core i5+ 8400, Core i5+ 8500, and Core i7+ 8700 are all the same CPUs as their non-"plus" brethren. These new models simply include a 16-GB Optane Memory module in the box. Slot that module into an M.2 socket on your motherboard, and you can cache the contents of a hard drive for SSD-like responsiveness.

Intel announced the Core i+ branding when it revealed the remainder of the Coffee Lake CPUs early this month. At that time, though, it seemed as if the branding would be applied only to pre-built systems and laptops that included a Core i-series CPU alongside an Optane Memory device or Optane SSD. Intel gave no indication at that time that we'd be seeing Core i+ bundles at retail for system builders to enjoy.

Even if you plan to boot your system off an SSD, you might still consider the Core i+ bundles. With the latest update to its storage software, Intel now allows users to cache non-boot drives with Optane modules. Gamers still commonly use large hard drives to hold their game libraries while booting off fast solid-state storage. When I tested MSI's Aegis 3 (which included a 16-GB Optane module), the difference that the cache made in overall system responsiveness was downright stark. We haven't tested Optane as a cache for a data drive yet, but if it can offer the same sort of improvements for game load times we saw in our initial testing, then it could become a staple of gaming builds.

The Core i5-8400 currently goes for $179 on Newegg; the Core i5+ 8400 goes for $215. Stepping up, the Core i5-8500 goes for $205, and its "plus" version goes for $240. Similarly, the Core i7-8700 goes for $302, and the Core i7+ 8700 goes for $340. For comparison's sake, the 16GB Optane Memory module goes for $39.85 alone. Buying a bundle only saves you a few bucks over buying the chip and Optane module separately, but that's a few bucks you wouldn't have otherwise.

Comments closed
    • Ninjitsu
    • 2 years ago

    Yes because all we needed was more confusing branding, Intel. FFS.

    • DavidC1
    • 2 years ago

    I actually like Optane and using the 16GB version, but the bundle doesn’t seem worth it.

    There’s a $50-80 price difference between the Core i chips and the Core i+ chips depending on the model. I could get the 16GB version for $30, and that’s what the bundle includes. I’m in Canada, so in Canadian dollars.

    As of right now the same store has the 32GB version on sale for $50. So I could get the 32GB for cheaper than the extra pricing for bundle that gives me the 16GB version. The bundle might justify itself if its the yet to be released Optane M10 module, but because the M10 hasn’t launched yet and the bundles are selling already I’m inclined to believe the bundled modules are the last year’s one. Sometimes, if the stores doesn’t have them on sale, the pricing is equal, but right now, it is so buy it separately instead.

    • tootercomputer
    • 2 years ago

    Intel has done this before. I built a sandy bridge system as a second system, used the i5 2500k (one of the best chips I have ever owned, still running strong). Anyway, at the time, the chipset, it was a z 68 chipset, this was 2012. There was a way you could rig a small ssd to a larger hdd and get overall ssd-like performance. It took at little configuring with the Intel rapid storage technology, but I finally got it to work, and it worked well. The need for it seems less necessary now in 2018 with ssd prices well below 2012 prices. I long ago abandoned that setup and just installed a ssd.

    • Voldenuit
    • 2 years ago

    Correct me if my information is outdated.

    But doesn’t intel Optane only cache C:\?

    I remember seeing that limitation mentioned in reviews of Optane, and would be a complete deal-breaker for me if that is indeed true.

      • christos_thski
      • 2 years ago

      Techies have been howling and hollering for this option (secondary HDD optane caching) but intel has been adamant that its expensive cache modules be used only with primary HDDs. Heaven knows why.

      This makes the usefulness of it all, for most high end desktop systems quite close to jack and that other thing that rhymes with hit.

      [url<]https://communities.intel.com/thread/114013[/url<]

        • RAGEPRO
        • 2 years ago

        [quote<]With the latest update to its storage software, Intel now allows users to cache non-boot drives with Optane modules.[/quote<]

          • christos_thski
          • 2 years ago

          Whoa. Sorry for misinforming! Optane is now a viable proposition! Can’t believe I missed this when I have been ranting about it for ages.

      • JoeKiller
      • 2 years ago

      It caches a drive.

      [url<]https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000023989/memory-and-storage/intel-optane-memory.html[/url<]

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      [quote<]With the latest update to its storage software, Intel now allows users to cache non-boot drives with Optane modules.[/quote<]

    • willmore
    • 2 years ago

    Intel really missed a trick here. What they should have done is to embed the small chunk of Xpoint into the CPU package with a low latency/high BW link. The sneaky benefit of this for Intel is it gives the CPU a part that can wear out. One more way to make old processors obsolete–other than unfixable bugs–or just refusing to fix them…

      • hiki
      • 2 years ago

      I wouldn’t buy it, for that reason.

      • DavidC1
      • 2 years ago

      An open admission of planned obsolescence results in bankrupt companies. Ask Sony. Me and others I know of Sony products that broke weeks after warranty was over. You were talking about $900 monitors and big names like Sony Walkman that did that.

      If they really want to do it, the whole package would have to be a lot cheaper.

      Plus, there’s no advantage an on-package Optane can bring over DIMM slot one.

    • Wilko
    • 2 years ago

    I’d be interested in seeing tests for caching a data drive. If it worked well it would make the wait for more affordable 2 TB and up SSDs easier.

    • blastdoor
    • 2 years ago

    Has anybody implemented Apple’s fusion drive concept for PCs?

    That is, not a cache but a write-buffer on the SSD combined with a block-level system that keeps frequently accessed file blocks on the SSD? The distinction I’m trying to make here is that a file is not kept both on the SSD and the HDD. Instead, the frequently accessed piece of a file can be on the SSD and the less frequently accessed piece can be on the HDD.

    Has anyone compared the performance of Apple’s solution to a more traditional caching solution?

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      [quote<]That is, not a cache but a write-buffer on the SSD combined with a block-level system that keeps frequently accessed file blocks on the SSD? The distinction I’m trying to make here is that a file is not kept both on the SSD and the HDD. Instead, the frequently accessed piece of a file can be on the SSD and the less frequently accessed piece can be on the HDD. [/quote<] Both of the things you described are a cache. Keeping copies on both SSD & HDD is a write-through cache, while only writing to an HDD when a file is evicted from the SSD is a write-back cache. [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cache_(computing)#WRITE-THROUGH[/url<] And no, Apple didn't "invent" either concept.

        • blastdoor
        • 2 years ago

        Ok… so it sounds like I was not aware of the diversity of definitions of the word cache. Great to know. Thanks so much. That’s *REALLY* helpful.

        I’ll attempt to restate my question, armed with the amazingly useful information you’ve provided me regarding various nuanced definitions of “cache”. Perhaps I won’t even use that word, since that appears to be a MAJOR distraction.

        Is there a system for Windows that moves frequently used blocks (not files, but blocks) to the SSD and infrequently used blocks to the HDD. By “move”, I mean that a block on the SSD does not have a copy on the HDD or vice versa — the total capacity of the drive is not just the capacity of the HDD — it’s the capacity of the HDD plus the capacity of the SSD (minus the part of the SSD used as a write-buffer).

        Has anyone compared the performance of such a system to a system that operates at the file level and keeps copies of files on the SSD (so, the capacity available to the user is just the capacity of the HDD)?

          • chuckula
          • 2 years ago

          Well, after 15 seconds of google searching [url=https://superuser.com/a/392886<]here's a post with an extensive list of options that was written in February of 2012[/url<] -- the better part of a year before Apple even announced Fusion Drive. Are these options undoubtedly passe over 6 years later? Sure. But I'm just answering your question.

            • blastdoor
            • 2 years ago

            Thanks for yet another helpful reply. I don’t use the word “hero” very often, but you are the greatest hero in American history.

            Yes, I’m aware of 6 year old reviews of fusion drive. Anandtech had some good stories from many years ago, too.

            • chuckula
            • 2 years ago

            I’m krogothed with you & windwalker’s faked up “outrage”.

            You intentionally trolled the article with a bogus question about Mac products (what a shock) that are wholly unrelated to the article in an attempt to make it seem like a poorly done cache on an obsolete hard drive in an iMac blows PCs out of the water.

            But since you want this story to be about Apple instead of a real article, let’s get real: Why the hell is Apple [b<]also[/b<] late to the party with Optane support in its own product portfolio? Do you think they are also coming up with a brand-new memory technology that will destroy Optane in 2020 to go along with their Xeon-killer chip?

            • blastdoor
            • 2 years ago

            The first rule of trolls is “don’t feed the trolls.” So if you really think I’m a troll, then why did you reply?

            Answer: You have SO MUCH EMOTION invested in everything connected to Intel that you just can’t stop yourself.. If ever there was someone who is ripe for trolling, it’s you.

            But anyway, my question was serious — I’m not trolling.

            Apple’s fusion drive setup is old and so far as I know hasn’t been updated in a long time. It’s also (so far) unsupported by APFS. When Anandtech reviewed it back in 2013, it looked pretty good compared to the hybrid drives of the time. But that was a long time ago.

            So I’m genuinely curious — how does it compare to modern alternatives? Is there anything else out there like it? Are there newer solutions that blow it away?

            I don’t expect an informative answer from you — just more foaming at the mouth and downvotes. But if anybody has a real answer, I’d love to hear it.

            • green
            • 2 years ago

            [quote<]How does it compare to modern alternatives?[/quote<] If you want a serious answer, Fusion Drive was solving a problem that existed until technology made the problem disappear. With the shift to SSDs in general, we've stopped caring about slow access times on spinning rust on the basis most people will use spinning rust for bulk streaming media storage (pic, vids, music). Intel is trying to reintroduce problem so they can sell the solution, but realistically the average consumer doesn't need it. While I'm sure it'll find it's niche, the simpler solution would be to scale up optane memory to SSD price:capacity.

            • blastdoor
            • 2 years ago

            I don’t agree at all. Yes, SSD prices have fallen, but not to the point where I’m willing to spend the money for 4TB worth of storage. I still like having a 4 TB HDD for many things. What I don’t like is having to manage “by-hand” which files sit on an SSD and which sit on the HDD. The Fusion approach handles that for me, and it does a pretty good job of it so far as I can tell.

          • windwalker
          • 2 years ago

          The point of his “answer” was not to help you but to humiliate you for mentioning a competing alternative made by Apple under a post about an Intel product.
          Apple has never invented anything of substance and peasants like you should know better than to suggest otherwise.

            • Klimax
            • 2 years ago

            Frankly, there are very few things Apple invented. (If any) Most of times they have just done marketing correctly and in few cases jumped on incoming tech at right time. (See capacitive touchscreens)

            Apple is 90% marketing and insane prices and only 10% tech.

            • blastdoor
            • 2 years ago

            Good description of the state of affairs circa 1999, back when I left Macs for PCs.

            Not such a great description of today, though.

            If you raise the bar on the definition of “invent” or “innovate” high enough, then almost nobody has ever invented anything because just about everything new can be described as a combination of, or small refinement of, existing things/ideas.

            But if we think about this in a more useful/realistic way, then I’d point to the following as examples of innovative tech that Apple has introduced/developed more recently (as in, not ancient history):

            1. The A-SOCs — the best, by far, CPUs in mobile

            2. Swift — Apple recently created a new programming language from scratch.

            3. APFS — Apple recently created a new file system

            4. OSX (and the rest of the stack) — I could go on and on with major Apple software development that very few companies out there engage in. With any reasonable definition of “marketing” vs “tech” this is clearly tech.

            5. On the lighter side: AirPods —- possibly the best truly wireless earphones on the market with a great Bluetooth pairing mechanism and great battery life

            6. Unseen investments in the supply chain — others might disagree, but I contend that without Apple, the foundries would still be trailing Intel in process tech by one or two nodes, instead of being essentially tied with the potential to take the lead. Apple has almost certainly had similar effects on other suppliers.

            But yeah — Apple didn’t invent the wheel, they didn’t discover relativity, they didn’t invent radar, lasers, or the microchip. So I guess it’s all marketing.

            • windwalker
            • 2 years ago

            If Apple is so great at marketing and unremarkable at product development then why don’t the companies that are more inventive hire some decent marketers and blow Apple out of the water?

          • Loombi
          • 2 years ago

          Maybe Primocache has this function.

            • blastdoor
            • 2 years ago

            Cool — thanks!

            I googled it and found more info here:

            [url<]https://www.romexsoftware.com/en-us/primo-cache/[/url<] A few things jump out at me: 1. It looks like it is block-level, rather than file-level, which is nifty (and like Fusion) 2. It looks like it can use RAM, SSDs, and attached USB flash drives 3. I can't quite tell, but it appears to be a solution in which a copy of a file is kept in a cache rather than a solution in which the SSD is additive to total capacity 4. It's got a pretty low price Overall, sounds like a great solution, assuming that it's well-implemented. Google didn't show reviews from sites I am familiar with, unfortunately. Does anybody have experience with this?

    • watzupken
    • 2 years ago

    This certainly feels like a desperate way for Intel to try and sell off their meaningless cache. Optane is a good product, don’t get me wrong. But in 2018 where people can get a full fledge SSD, even a 120GB one that does not cost a bomb, will feel the dramatic improvement in system responsiveness. A 16GB cache just don’t make sense from a cost to performance perspective since its not cheap either. They can’t sell it so nicely “bundle” it so that they can sell more of it.

      • Eversor
      • 2 years ago

      Yes and the next best thing you can do to move your product, is to make sure the caching feature isn’t compatible with all motherboards with an M.2 slot.

      Sorry Intel, not this time. Seems even OEMs are not biting this one.

        • JoeKiller
        • 2 years ago

        Probably more useful for those holding out with spinning disks and oems that want to stretch some value.

        This is more for small PC’s with a spinning disk.

        I could imagine getting this from a value angle but doubt many TR readers are in that paradigm.

        I’m just gonna stick with my 900P 480 GB drive.

          • mczak
          • 2 years ago

          Yes, but the same money that gets you the 16GB Optane will also get you a bottom-of-the-barrel 120GB SSD, so the value still isn’t really there.
          Though the bundle pricing might just move this below what those 120GB SSDs cost.
          Of course, I’d not recommend bottom-of-the-barrel 120GB SSDs neither – get a 240GB one, might be 50% more expensive, but with twice the capacity and twice the write performance seems like a better deal to me for most use cases.

      • Klimax
      • 2 years ago

      Reminder: You can now cache any of drives, not just system drive . I got some 17,5TB of drive space and only 1TB in SSDs (5 are SATA3 HDDS). This could be handy if there were enough of slots for Optane for all drives.

    • LocalCitizen
    • 2 years ago

    no one has tested using a portion of the primary SSD drive to cache a secondary mechanical drive. the fact that you can easily partition up to 64GB on a 256 or 512GB drive to buffer your games should make this setup more effective than an expensive 16GB stick.

      • TheRazorsEdge
      • 2 years ago

      “no one has tested” what now? Intel had Turbo Memory years ago, and it sucked. Then they had Smart Response, and it was still mostly pointless. This Optane setup is basically the 3.0 version, and now they’re using new storage tech instead of regular SSDs. This is the only way that it might work–not that I expect it to be good at all.

      That said, you don’t need a fancy caching mechanism to move things from mechanical drives to SSDs transparently. You can usually use NTFS symbolic links.

      I did this with my Steam library a few years ago when I upgraded from an old SSD. Before, I could only fit a few games, and the new drive could hold everything. Rather than reinstall all of the games and mods, I moved the folder over to the new drive and created a symlink from the old location.

      Everything works to this day, even after upgrading from Windows 7 to 8 to 8.1 to 10.

        • stdRaichu
        • 2 years ago

        “Intel had Turbo Memory years ago, and it sucked. Then they had Smart Response, and it was still mostly pointless”

        Depends highly on the software in use and the workload I think. Smart Response might have been mehly mediocre, but I’ve made a lot of use of dm-cache on linux machines (both with dinky optane devices and larger LVs carved out of regular SSDs) and it can make a massive difference to random workloads.

        Sequential workloads – quite common when using nothing but files from big-ass computer games – are generally quite hard to cache well and generally the caches won’t be used much in those scenarios.

        Primocache is one third-party software caching system I’ve heard of for windows (although don’t have any experience with it myself).

        • DavidC1
        • 2 years ago

        They are not the same.

        As a cache Optane is far better, because it doesn’t suffer from degradation in performance due to storage being close to full, or being “dirty”. It doesn’t suffer performance degradation from running out of write cache either.

        Also, Optane Memory software itself is an advancement over the SRT software. Whitelisted system files are preloaded so the benefits to boot times are felt immediately. Also, while the 16GB works(other than the whitelisted files) mostly like the SRT version and only caches as its requested, the 32GB, by the virtue of being larger can also recognize the file types so it gets better over time. As one article put it “it doesn’t cache video files”. That would be a waste of space for example.

        Tomshardware’s Optane Memory review compared 32GB Optane Memory using SRT + 600p and same Optane Memory being cached using the Optane Memory application but with HDD. The Optane Memory application + HDD sometimes outperforms the SRT+600p.

    • chuckula
    • 2 years ago

    Step 1: Cut a hole in the box.
    Step 2: Put your junky Optane in the box.
    Step 3: Make the fanboys pay for the box.

    And that’s the way you do it

      • derFunkenstein
      • 2 years ago

      Don’t have to get them to open the box?

        • moose17145
        • 2 years ago

        Nope! That is the beauty of this plan. By step 3, they already have your money. At which point you opening the box or not is irrelevant to them.

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