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Close to the Metal Ep. 40: The Optane Difference

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After a seriously long build-up, the first Intel Optane powered storage devices are making their way into consumers’ hands. Unfortunately, they aren’t exactly groundbreaking either. The first iteration is Intel Optane Memory, available in 16 or 32 gigabyte capacities, which act as a cache drive, accelerating even the slowest SATA HDDs into a new world of speed and low latency.

In order to take advantage, users will need a system with a Seventh Generation Intel Core processor and compatible motherboard, locking older systems, Intel Optane Memory’s most relevant demographic, completely out of the market. Users won’t be able to use the drives to upgrade their old systems, and with most modern units including an SSD of some sort, demand may not be very high.

Still, at just $44 for the 16GB version, and $77 for the 32GB version, there’s a chance Optane Memory could make a name for itself in mainstream, pre-built systems, where OEMs have turned back to HDDs to reduce costs and keep users happy with more space for files. We’ve been advising users again slower mechanical drives for quite some time now, so the chance of an alternative option is certainly appealing.

That’s a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” for a product that’s demanding so much attention right now, and our review goes in-depth with exactly the scenarios where Optane Memory shines, and where it proves dull. On this week’s episode of Close to the Metal, we’ll talk about whether users should be looking to take advantage on their next build, or whether they should hold out for something a little more advanced.

Close to the Metal is a podcast from Digital Trends that takes a deep dive into computing and PC gaming topics. Each show, we’ll focus in on one topic, and leave no stone unturned as we show off the latest in hardware and software. Whether it’s the latest GPU, supercomputers, or which 2-in-1 you should buy,  we break down the complicated jargon and talk about how user experience is affected in the real world. Please subscribe, share, and send your questions to We broadcast the show live on YouTube every Tuesday at 1pm EST/10am PST.

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