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Circuit Breaker

Intel's new budget SSDs offer more performance for the same price

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If you typically buy your computers pre-built, it might surprise you to learn that a 512GB SSD isn't 4 million dollars. You can get a good 500-ish GB SSD from Samsung or Crucial for around $150. But Intel just showed up with some new first-to-the-market tech that might shake things up a bit. Its new SSD 545s is based on 64-layer TLC 3D NAND technology, which means it can squeeze more data onto fewer chips. That makes fast SSDs with big capacities and pro-level performance presumably more affordable.

Intel’s intro 545s model is a 512GB drive with a $179 price tag. The drive's main win over Intel's similarly priced 540s model is sustained write speeds. Since this is a SATA drive, the drive is mostly capped by SATA speeds in the real world. An M.2 NVMe version is supposed to arrive later this year and then we'll see what it can really do. If you’re looking for benchmarks on the SATA version, Anandtech can hook you up.

For now, a $30 premium for 64-layer 3D NAND bragging rights seems steep, but hopefully these drives can eventually compete with Samsung and Crucial on price. Or maybe Toshiba’s QLC tech will show up soon and destroy them all.