Recently you’ve probably heard people talking about Intel’s Optane memory. In short, Optane speeds up your traditional hard drive’s performance -- have an HDD but want SSD speeds? Optane. You can learn all about it from our live stream with Intel.
It’s certainly interesting tech, but the question is how Optane performs in the real world, especially when a 16GB Optane M.2 card replaces a tradditional SSD+HDD combo found on most gaming rigs these days.
We received the Optane enhanced gaming rig from Cyberpower PC, a perfect opportunity to test out this new memory and see if Optane is a legitimate alternative to our standard SSD/HDD hybrid builds that we usually recommend for gaming.
The Cyberpower Machine
Our Cyberpower Gamer Xtreme S780 came with an i7-7700 CPU sitting in a Micro ATX MSI Bazooka, and a GIGABYTE GTX 1080 complete with a blower fan and a standard clock speed of 1632 MHz. It’s also got 16GB of Corsair DDR4 RAM, and a Thermaltake Smart 600 Watt PSU. The motherboard is a B250 model -- B250 is like the little brother of Z270 -- still Kaby Lake chipset, but you need that "Z" for overclocking. If you're going stock, then"B" is a more budget-friendly choice.
Storage is where things get interesting. This Cyberpower build is rocking a 2TB Toshiba HDD and 16GB of Optane memory instead of a standard SSD. Really, the benefit of having one drive is not small -- it just makes life easier.
This is a high end gaming PC for sure, but it’s no frills; no liquid cooling or RGB LEDs. The CPU cooler is similar to the stock model, but slightly upgraded. We haven't had it long enough to see what the fan noise situation is like but it seems to be a basic model that'll get the job done for long sessions.
The windowed case looks good, though this is a budget enclosure, so no tempered glass and the buttons were a bit wonky.
Storage performance is what’s going to make or break this system, so we got down and dirty in the battlefields of World War 1 to see how Optane performed.
We booted up Battlefield 1, because A) It’s awesome, and B) It has large maps that are a good rendering speed test, and C), it’s fairly resource intensive so it’s a good performance barometer.
The GTX 1080 had no trouble whatsoever running the game at Ultra settings in 1080p. Not surprising.
We tested map load speeds on a variety of levels, and there was definitely a difference when Optane was enabled.
During our Battlefield 1 tests, we saw that the 2TB hard drive felt more like an SSD with Optane installed and running. That’s really the purpose; to enhance the performance of what you’ve already got without having to drop the cash on a brand new SSD. If that’s what you're looking to do, Optane is a no brainer.
You’re never going to duplicate the performance of an NVMe SSD via Optane and a spinner drive, but if you’re looking for a less expensive alternative to an SSD, this could be the ideal solution.
Less lag, faster loading times. Never a bad thing.
This CyberpowerPC Xtreme S780 Optane system may not be the fanciest looking rig we’ve seen, but it’s got some interesting and powerful new tech under the hood. At $1449, it's a really compelling option for a budget, no-frills PC that does just about everything right. Sure, it doesn't glow like a RGB unicorn disco, but, hey, it's $1449 for an i7+1080+Optane gaming rig. Pretty legit.