Optane Memory Vs RAM: Everything You Should Know

Optane Memory Vs RAM

Unless you have a tip-top desktop or a $1000 laptop, the only thing you yearn for is proper PC performance.

On a budget that is. The most common question is – How to make my computer faster?

Whether you’re a gamer or if you still prefer a work-only PC, zero stuttering and performance lag is what you want.

But how?

You may have a powerful graphics card, a benchmark card that would’ve fetched top dollars 2-3 years ago.

Not helpful really. Or you may have sufficient RAM, 8 GB upwards. Again, adding even more RAM may not be the best foot forward.

Thing is –

Performance is about how fast data is read and written, and we are talking about very specific data.

The most common culprit is your hard drive. That includes SSDs as well.

The standard hard drives installed with most computers today are a bottleneck in almost every simple computing task that you want to do fast, quick in, and quick out.

Be it loading programs, or booting windows, loading large files like DSLR images. Such operations are much slower on a mechanical hard drive.

This is where Intel Optane Memory comes in. Developed using the name 3D cross point, it is a non-volatile memory (NVM) technology developed by cooperation between Intel and Micron Technology.

What is Optane Memory?

What is Optane Memory

Your conventional RAM or as the name suggests Random Access Memory, functions as a volatile user data storage device.

The term ‘Volatile’ is often used with RAMs as they cannot retain data in absence of power. It loses all the data just as your system shutdowns.

To understand Optane Memory, it is important to learn the functional difference between a RAM and a Storage drive.

Having higher RAM will allow you to open more applications and software simultaneously. But having a faster storage drive will mean that all those applications and software load up faster. This is where Optane Memory helps.

The important thing to note here is that Optane Memory was not developed as a replacement for either a hard drive or RAM.

So, trying to settle the Optane memory vs RAM debate is unnecessary. They are, in essence, complimentary tech meant to enhance PC performance, and Optane memory plays a major role in it.

Instead, it was developed as an addendum to hard drive performance. There are algorithms with Optane memory that run in the background, constantly analyzing the most used files and software.

The most consistently used software such as Windows, Adobe, etc. is cached, memorized in their basic functions, to the Octane memory module. This step massively speeds things up without hampering your storage capacity.

Bottom line –

Optane Memory is neither random access memory nor a storage suite. It sits between, like a memory cache.

But there are a few things you need to know about Optane Memory actually works.

How to Check Optane Memory on Laptop?

Check Optane Memory on Laptop

You can easily check for Optane Memory on laptops or PCs.

  • Open Device Manager 
  • Locate and Expand Disk Drives
  • The one’s having Optane Memory will be displayed under Disk Drives as shown in the image above.

How does Optane Memory Work?

How does Optane Memory Work

Optane memory doesn’t offer a huge performance and responsiveness boost just out of the box.

It needs time to analyze your activity and identify the different applications, files, and programs that you use on a regular basis.

The idea here is to make your system go faster over time. Optane memory self-optimizes, in contradiction to the traditional process where the system tends to get slower over time.

Optane memory is a unique memory system with no competitors as of yet.

It is capable of delivering a personalized experience, reducing minimum lag, and providing rapid access to frequently used files as well as better responsiveness to tasks you tend to repeat.

With the change of your computing habit, Optane learns and adapts to new requirements for a faster user experience.

Another benefit of Optane memory is background power drain as Optane focuses only on the applications, files, and software that you need.

It re-directs both power and data to the most frequently used programs with remarkable responsiveness.

The final verdict here is that Optane provides the fastest speeds for higher hard disk drives.

A 4 TB Barracuda Hard drive, priced at $80 is 10 times cheaper as compared to a 4TB SSD which is priced at $745.

It is not practical for everyone to buy a higher storage SSD. Instead, they can combine their HDD with a 64 GB Optane memory, which is priced at just $162.

This combination provides bigger and faster storage for just 30% of the cost.

Download different Tools, Drivers, and Softwares for Windows from here.

Optane memory vs RAM: We Have a Verdict!

Optane Memory Vs RAM

This analysis helps Optane in caching the memory for recently used files and Operating systems to offer better load speeds with time.

As a memory cache, it works as a bi-layered connection between RAM and storage, promoting rapid data transfers between the memory, storage, and processor. 

Optane Memory is a Non-Volatile memory like normal SSDs but can deliver a performance like volatile memory, similar to DRAM sticks.

This means you can potentially get the capacity of a NAND SSD with a low latency speed of DRAM.

Hence, without getting much into technical functionality, let us compare Optane memory vs RAM on the specifics that matter.

Volatility

The capacitors responsible for storing information in RAM need a constant power supply. RAM sticks are volatile in nature, meaning they work only when powered on.

As soon as the system is shut down, the RAM loses all its memory. In such cases, the system takes more time to load Windows or different applications.

On the other hand, Optane Memory is Non-Volatile.

It can offer a personalized performance by saving the most-used files and applications in its cache memory and use this memory to load the files and applications faster than RAM.

Optane Memory becomes faster and will adjust to your changes in computing behavior.

Storage

RAMs cannot store any information or data, because of their volatile nature, and comes in the sizes of 1 GB to 16 GB, while Intel Optane Memory can be used to store information and data and comes in three sizes 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB.

Comparing the price and size of 16 GB variants or calculating the cost per GB. A 16 GB variant of Optane Memory is available for around $23 while a 16 GB RAM stick costs under $90.

RAM

Even though Optane Memory is cost-effective when compared to RAMs, they are more expensive than a similar-sized SSD when calculating the cost per GB.

RAM/OptaneSamsung 970 EVO(SSD)Intel Optane Memory Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro (RAM)
Size250 GB16 GB16 GB
Price$ 70$ 23$ 86
Price per GB0.281.435.37

Can you Install Optane Memory separately?

Optane Memory can be installed on laptops and personal computers if they have the specifications needed by Optane memory to function.

There are some fairly hefty restrictions on its operations. Optane Memory only works with the following hardware and software –

Hardware

  • 64-bit Windows 10 operating systems
  • 7th generation Intel Core i3 processors and above
  • SATA-based drive
  • M.2 PCIe/ NVMe socket
  • An Optane compatible motherboard

Software

  • Intel Optane Memory ready BIOS
  • Latest Intel Rapid Storage Technology, (Intel RST) package

Intel Optane Memory Installation Process

Hardware process –

  • Make sure the battery is removed and the system is turned off. Open the access door in case of laptops or remove the side panel in case of PCs.
  • Locate the Optane Ready M.2 slot on your motherboard. If unsure whether your system supports Optane memory or not, check here.
  • Remove the screw from the M.2 slot and hold your Optane Memory by the sides. Align the notches with the motherboard and wait for the click sound to affirm a solid fit. Press the memory down gently and carefully screw it in.

Software process –

  • Power on your system and check for the latest BIOS update. Visit your motherboard vendor’s website directly to find it. After installing the latest BIOS update, it is time for the next step.
  • Download Optane memory software here, get the latest Intel Rapid Storage Technology (Intel RST) or check here. After downloading, follow the prompts to install the RST software.
  • Select Restart your computer and finish at the end step for a smooth transition.
  • Depending upon the BIOS setting. this process may need more than one restart. Remember, patience is the key!
  • Once the process is completed you will get a pop-up window asking you to finish the setup process. Select yes and wait for the process to complete!
  • After clicking yes, the Intel Optane Memory application will open up. Select Setup and Click on Enable and again select Continue.
  • After you get notification of Intel Optane Memory Was Successfully Enabled, Select Restart.

Conclusion

Optane Memory is a breakthrough in efficient and powerful computing performance. Although it works like a memory cache, Optane Memory self-optimizes what data to store up for future usage based on your usage. Whereas cache memory generally stored data as per apps for ease of startup.

That said, Optane Memory is not a ready replacement for RAM. You will still need RAM for your processor to manage the numerous background applications other than the data required for processing your inputs or software functions.

However, that said, perhaps we are moving towards a future where the RAM will self-optimize to cache data as per the user’s functions and tasks, i.e. like Optane Memory.

Either way, to dole out the final verdict on Optane memory vs RAM, you need both. But instead of increasing RAM, buy or add an Optane memory module to your PC.

FAQs

Which is better: Optane Memory or RAM?

Both Optane Memory and RAM have different functions and advantages. While any system would need RAM to boot up, the same is not true with Optane Memory.
The reason being RAM is of different kinds from 800 MHz to 4000 MHz and has compatibility with all kinds of motherboards. The same is not true in the case of Optane Memory, its prerequisites are higher and it currently works only with Intel software or related support software like the Intel Rapid Storage Technology (Intel RST.)

Can Optane Memory replace RAM?

Currently, Optane Memory was launched with the intention of helping the RAM to perform better. In any booting process, the RAM basically reads the files or data from the storage drives. In case of HDDs, the reading speed is slower as compared to NVMe SSDs, just why the former takes more time to load up files or apps. This is where Optane Memory kicks in. It caches frequently used software and related data allowing faster loading by the RAM. Optane Memory price is lower than a Windows-ready SSD which needs to be at least 200 GB.

Is Optane Memory better than DDR4?

DDR4 RAMS with 2133 MHz clock speed offers a transfer speed of 17 GB/seconds, while a 3200 MHz clock speed RAM offers a data transfer speed of up to 25.6 GB/seconds. These transfer speeds are way faster and better than that of Optane Memory, which offers a measly 2.5 GB/seconds of transfer speeds. But consider this, Optane Memory is the closest technology to replace RAM, which might even be possible in the future.

Should I Buy Intel Optane?

Optane Memory with SSD doesn’t offer a performance boost as compared to the combination with an HDD. The basic idea here is to save money on upgrading to a high-capacity SSD. You can get higher loading speeds, without upgrading to an SSD by spending a few dollars on an Optane Memory module. A 16 GB module costs around $23.