A year after unveiling "blazing fast" solid-state drives for data centers and other users with high-performance memory and storage needs, Intel has launched new SSDs for mainstream consumers: the Intel Optane SSD 800P series, available with a capacity of either 58 GB or 118 GB.

Reviews so far praise the drives for their ability because they dramatically speed up processes on PCs and other devices. However, the reviewers point to the relatively low capacities and high prices of the SSDs -- $129 for the 58 GB version and $199 for 118 GB -- as drawbacks.

Like Intel's other recent solid-state drives for enterprise customers, gamers, and other users, the Optane SSD 800P series is built on 3D XPoint, a non-volatile computing memory technology developed by Intel and Micron Technology in 2015. The companies describe that technology as the first significant memory breakthrough since NAND flash memory was introduced in 1989.

Works with PCs, Laptops, 2-in-1s

Designed for users who need to manage heavy workloads with a low-power, small-form-factor client SSD, the Optane SSD 800P series helps speed up system boots, application launches, and multi-tasking, according to Intel. The company added that the new series provides "breakthrough" read and write speeds, and remains consistent in performance even as the drive's memory fills up.

"It is ideal for use as a standalone SSD, in a dual drive setup or in a multiple SSD RAID configuration (PCH-based or CPU-based), offering performance and flexibility to users," Intel said. "The drive also supports lower-power states, allowing it to operate in devices like laptops and 2 in 1 devices, as well as desktop systems."

Unlike the spinning-platter hard disk drives found in PCs, laptops, and other devices, solid-state drives provide non-volatile memory without moving parts. Intel said the Optane SSD 800P series is its first with an M.2 form factor for use as an internally mounted expansion card. Intel said it has tested the drive for compatibility with a wide range of Windows 10 motherboards as well as with motherboards for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu.

Intel's Goal: Break 'Data Bottleneck'

The company's goal with Optane SSD is to help users optimize storage and memory for today's data-centric computing needs, Rob Crooke, senior vice president and general manager of the non-volatile memory solutions group, wrote on Intel's IT Peer Network last month.

"As we enter 2018, our vision is clear: We must enable our customers to break the bottlenecks in real-time data access and to store more data in an affordable, easily accessible manner that creates value for their businesses," Crooke said.

In a review today, ZDNet noted that the Optane SSD 800P series represents a more affordable alternative to the $389-and-up, U.2 form factor Optane SSD 900P series released for professional users last year. However, Gizmodo said yesterday that the 800P series are "simply too pricey to be the only kind of storage in your computer." Intel's Optane 800P storage is likely some of the fastest storage users can buy, Gizmodo said.

PC Magazine, meanwhile, questioned the relatively small (58 GB and 118 GB) storage capacities of the new Optane drives. "These are shockingly low capacities in a world where even midrange ultraportable laptops now come with 512 GB SSDs, and a clean install of Windows 10 requires 20 GB or so," the publication noted, adding that Intel hasn't committed to higher-capacity drives yet but has said such products are an "obvious next step."