Intel Optane Memory vs RAM

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Intel Optane memory vs RAM: what are the main differences between both? Hunting for hardware components is not an easy job, especially if you’re not familiar with the vast range of memories. There are dozens of choices to pick from and unless you’re a tech geek, you’ll most likely be confused about which type you should go for.

You may know what SSDs and HDDs are, but have you ever heard about Intel Optane memory? If so, then you must know that it is not your classic hardware component. Instead, it brings something special to the table.

However, if you’re not familiar with Intel Optane drive in specific, then this article is for you. Below we go through everything you need to know about this type of memory.

Intel Optane memory vs RAM

What is Intel Optane memory?

Let us start from the absolute basics. Intel Optane is a memory component that was first revealed back in 2017 by Intel. The core specialty of this memory module is its ability to boost a computer’s performance which has turned millions of users into its fans.

Intel Optane offers you a variety of benefits that we will get to later. For now, don’t confuse Intel Optane as a substitute for your system’s RAM. Instead, Intel Optane works in line with the DRAM.

As far as Intel Optane’s working is concerned, the memory component uses complex algorithms to keep track of your computer’s memory even after it turns off. We’ll get to the depth of the way Intel Optane works, but before that, we believe our readers need an insight into the background of how storage memory actually works.

Your top storage system hardware choices

The traditional storage drive your PC comes with is either a Nand SSD (Solid State Drive) or an HDD (Hard Disk Drive). An SSD drive works as a solid memory module that stores data in chips. While the HDD is a disk that comes with mechanical hands that physically organize, access, and store data.

Both of these serve the same purpose of storing your valuable data ranging from personal media files to software programs. However, an SSD is more advanced and a newer option compared to a traditional HDD. From all aspects, both have their different pros and cons.

The SSD, for instance, offers better performance with a price that often falls heavily on the pocket. An HDD, on the other hand, offers better storage capacity at a relatively low price. What does this have to do with Intel Optane product, you ask? Well, here’s the punch line, Intel Optane memory offers you the best of both worlds.

Intel Optane memory is designed to bring a balance between both SSDs and HDDs by offering their main benefits. Now, your curiosity is about to come to an end as we are to discuss its in-depth functioning.

Using virtual memory is faster than just using RAM

How does Intel Optane work

Until now, we’ve given you a slight idea of what Intel Optane memory is capable of delivering. However, the working from the component’s side is left to be addressed. The fundamental principle of Intel Optane is to provide quick access to drives without compromising on storage capacity. This procedure is everything but simple.

Through the help of complex algorithms powered by Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology, the memory component sorts out data from most used to less used. Now, cache memory here plays an important role. The capacity to hold onto data is what makes Intel Optane truly special.

With a large cache drive capacity, frequently-used data can be easily accessed without going through the repetitive hassle of re-writing it. To put it straight, Intel Optane carefully analyzes the programs you frequently use and stores the relevant data at hand ready to be used.

Whenever you launch your PC to do the stuff you usually do, you’ll find your computer’s performance speed to be relatively faster thanks to the already-saved memory.

The wonders of Optane do not end here. Since human behavior is bound to change, you won’t always find yourself to be doing the same computing every time.

That is when the element of adaptability comes into the picture. Intel Optane keeps track of your habits and evolves accordingly so that you get a much better experience.

What is the difference between Intel Optane and RAM?

RAM is a volatile (temporary) memory, which saves results and calculations until the PC turns off. Intel Optane is a non volatile memory, unlike RAM. Instead, it supports RAM by carrying out most of the functions RAM is responsible for.

You can think of Intel Optane as a component that complements RAM instead of taking its place. The duo teams up to deliver an overall better rate of processing from your PC. You can expect your RAM’s performance to double up with the support from Intel Optane.

Until Intel Optane stepped up in the market, the popular method of getting rid of lag was to increase the RAM. This might be a solution worth bringing into consideration but a major drawback, which is being heavy on the pocket, for an average user.

Intel Optane is a better solution since it pretty much falls into the category of non-volatile memory. Contrary to volatile/temporary RAM, Intel Optane uses its 3D XPoint technology to save memory even after the PC fully shuts down. It’s a persistent memory.

The next time your PC launches, the data needed to start up would be right where it is needed. This is how Intel Optane battles lag and provides faster computing power.

Using virtual memory is faster than just using RAM

System acceleration

System acceleration is a term that you’ll often come across when doing your research about Intel Optane. The term comes from the manufacturer (Intel) itself.

System acceleration refers to a processor’s ability to gather all the required data for executing a task and displaying results. This ability is greatly impacted by the presence of Intel Optane memory.

You’ll find a PC with Intel Optane to be significantly faster and more responsive as compared to a PC without Intel Optane. This “System Acceleration” is a result of quicker access to data that the Intel Optane gives your computer. Users get their tasks taken care of in a shorter period which results in overall better productivity.

How much can Intel Optane improve your computer?

Until now we’ve talked about the way things work with Intel Optane. If you got that cloud above your head making you curious about the extent of performance upgrades, then we’re here to pop it. When it comes to measuring performance, the results are pretty much satisfactory.

According to Intel themselves, an average PC with the support from Intel Optane memory can deliver 2x better results. This is, of course, a comparison that may vary from PC to PC, nonetheless, you can expect around 2x faster results with Optane.

As far as games are concerned, you can expect the loading time to be slightly better than before along with lag-free gameplay.

Pros and cons of Intel Optane memory

We have explained what Intel Optane is and how it works. However, from a consumer point of view, you might be wondering is it all just sugar-coating, or is there more to Intel Optane than the info here suggests.

Well, here’s the thing; despite giving you the best of HDD and SDD, Intel Optane memory is not entirely free from drawbacks. An average user would heavily benefit from this memory module but at a cost.

Therefore, we have listed the top pros and cons of Intel Optane below. In the end, it is up to the average user to balance them and give a final verdict.

Pros

  • Improved performance

Admit it, we all dislike slow computers. They only test a user’s patience. Intel Optane tackles the lag problem effectively. Apart from boosting your PC’s traditional SSD’s functionality, Intel Optane also helps PCs equipped with the standard mechanical HDDs. This results in higher speed and reduction of lag to a great extent.

  • A Pocket-friendly alternative

For those of you who cannot spend hundreds of dollars improving computing performance, Intel Optane is an alternative that leaves all competition behind. Instead of buying more RAM, Intel Optane is an affordable and easy way out.

The price of Optane might seem a tad bit high to some users, but if compared with memory components of similar standards, there’s no doubt Intel is the winner.

  • Advanced adaptive algorithm

A memory module that closely monitors your daily computing habits and adapts accordingly, what more can one ask for? Through this advanced learning ability, Intel Optane helps your frequently-used programs launch and operate as smoothly as possible.

This guarantees a boost in productivity of a user and helps unleash creativity much faster whenever a bulb lights up in the head.

  • Better CPU performance

When you go for Intel Optane memory, you’re not just getting your tasks done quicker. Since the memory module assists the processor too, you can expect the overall computing power to be much better. From booting to responsiveness, you’ll find Intel Optane to be of great help in terms of the computer’s functionality.

  • Best for gamers

This one’s for the folks out there who are tired of blaming their losses on lag while gaming. Gamers who are on a budget can simply go for Intel Optane memory.

As we mentioned previously, it is a great alternative for expensive RAM. Not only will it help in launching the game, but you’ll also enjoy a relatively polished gaming experience.

Cons

  • Limited compatibility

Unfortunately, Intel Optane memory is only compatible with 7th generation Intel Core processors or newer ones. Other than that, a Windows operating system is required as well. The prerequisites Intel Optane demands are simply too many.

This decreases the compatibility rate of the memory module. Therefore, users either have to spend more money on making their system Optane-friendly or buying a computer that comes already equipped with Optane itself.

  • Excessive power consumption

You might save money by going for Intel Optane instead of expensive drives, but in the long term, you’ll surely have to pay just as much due to the power consumption rate of Optane. Unfortunately, Optane even drains power when not being used. For laptop users, this can be a disaster.

  • Moderate storage capacity

As far as storage capacity is concerned, Intel Optane falls in the “just okay” category. With modern storage device standards constantly progressing as we speak, it remains unclear whether Intel Optane is the way to go for every user.

Optane is still on its way to becoming better. We’re quite sure this minor drawback will be taken care of by Intel in the years to come.

Price and availability of Intel Optane memory

When it comes to the factor of price and availability, we assure you have nothing to worry about as long as your workload demands are moderate. You can go for laptops that already come with Intel Optane memory or add the module to your current system if it is compatible.

So far Intel has introduced memory modules of 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB. The 16GB module costs $13, for 32GB the price is $81, the 64GB module is for $170, while the 128GB goes for $850.

As for the Optane-supported SSDs, they come in different models with seriously heavy price tags. The Optane 520GB 905P SSD, for example, can cost you around a whopping $1200.

The most recommended Optane memory module is none other than the 16GB one. For mainstream tasks like booting the system, scanning/installing programs, basic office work, the 16GB module will be enough. For slightly heavier tasks such as 3D animation, gaming, creating designs, the 32GB module is recommended.

As for users who work in collaboration and have massive workloads, the 64-128 GB modules should be the way to go. However, if you’re not bound by a budget, you can also go for Optane-powered SSDs and get the most out of this revolutionary tech.

System requirements for Intel Optane

It’s no surprise that Intel Optane memory only supports Intel platforms. We gave you a slight glimpse of the requirements needed for compatibility in the cons section above, but there are many more to enlist.

So, without further ado, let us show you the requirements for Intel Optane memory.

  • 7thGeneration (+) Intel Core processor (i3, i5, i7)
  • M.2 2280 slot
  • Intel Motherboard of 200-300 series chipset
  • 64-bit Windows 10 Operating system
  • Intel Rapid Storage Technology 15.5 (+)

As you can tell, a system having these exact pre-requisites is uncommon. In older systems, installing Intel Optane is everything but trouble-free. The process requires an update of BIOS configuration which an average user has no clue of.

Therefore, the best practice is to straight-up go for a computer that comes with Intel Optane. Laptop manufacturers such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo have brought Optane integrated laptops into the market over the years.

How to switch from Intel Graphics to Nvidia in Windows 10

Is Intel Optane worth It? Who should go for it?

What remains unaddressed is yet another question that would pop up in an average user’s mind, is Intel Optane worth buying? Simply put, it depends on one’s needs. For a gamer tight on a budget or a digital artist who waits as their designing program launches, Intel Optane is definitely recommended.

However, a user who is a bit behind on system specifications will have to switch to an Optane supported laptop, which might not fit their budget.

To summarize, the answer to this question varies from user to user. We have elaborated above the benefits and drawbacks a user would face with Intel Optane. Only a careful analysis between the pros and cons would help one find out whether Optane is for them or not.

Wrap Up

There could be a scenario in which your system is already equipped with the requirements for Intel Optane. If such is the case, we suggest you go for installing Optane 3D xpoint memory. Furthermore, there are many alternatives out there such as the FuzeDrive and AMD’s StoreMI tech. All of these memory components serve pretty much a similar purpose.

So, if this Intel’s component didn’t satisfy you, be sure to give its competitors some attention. If this article helped you learn a thing or two about Optane memory, sharing it with your friends might help them too. We hope this read has been informative.