One of the more interesting recent developments in PC components is Intel’s Optane storage system, which is built using advanced 3D XPoint memory technology that Intel co-developed with memory maker Micron. Not only does Optane make for some outrageously fast solid-state drives (SSDs) but it also helps speed up slower spinning hard- disk drives (HDDs).
The version of Optane that helps HDDs perform more like speedier SSDs has arrived by way of 16GB and 32GB add-on products that plug into supported motherboards. It is an effective way to add speed while saving some money, and motherboard maker MSI is offering new motherboard bundles that throw in the 16GB Optane module for free.
According to our own tests, Optane can provide some noticeable performance improvements for reasonable prices. The 16GB version has a retail price of $44 and the 32GB version costs $77. While buyers can purchase Optane and plug it into a supported motherboard themselves, MSI is making the process easier — and less expensive — by simply including Optane out of the box.
Obviously, the motherboard bundles include MSI’s most recent options that provide the required Intel Z270 and B250 chipset support along with the M.2 connections that the Optane modules utilize. MSI is offering up three motherboard options, including the Z270 Tomahawk Opt Boost, the B250M Bazooka Opt Boost, and the Pro Series B250M Pro Opt Boost.
Each of these motherboards offers the kind of performance high-end users are looking for, including USB 3.1 Gen2 support, Turbo M.2 to squeeze out full performance from the PCI-E Gen3 x4 architecture, and support for the latest seventh-generation Intel Core processors known as Kaby Lake. Note that Intel Optane also requires Kaby Lake CPUs.
In addition, all of MSI’s 200 Series motherboards can support Optane via the latest BIOS updates. Go grab the latest BIOS update for supported MSI motherboards before you plug in that Intel Optane module.
MSI has not yet provided pricing or availability information for any of the Optane-equipped Opt Boost motherboards. However, rest assured that whichever model you choose, you will be getting the extra benefit of faster HDD performance without additional expense or hassle.