Intel's Optane Memory finally supports Celeron and Pentium budget PCs that need the most boost

A recent Optane Memory driver update does the trick.

Credit: Intel

Two long years after Intel debuted its radical—and awesome—Optane Memory caching SSDs, the company has finally decided to embrace the processors that could appreciate the technology’s benefits the most. A recent Optane Memory driver update added support for Intel’s budget-friendly Celeron and Pentium CPUs, as Anandtech noticed this weekend.

Optane Memory gives pokey mechanical hard drives a shot of SSD-like speed by intelligently caching your most-used programs and files to speed up access. You install an Optane Memory drive in an M.2 slot on your motherboard, and Windows sees it and your hard drive as a single combined storage pool. Intel’s software delegates which data should go on which drive. When you open a commonly used program that’s stored on the Optane Memory, speeds drastically increase. It makes a world of difference in terms of raw performance.

Better yet, Optane Memory modules fit into budget builds, costing just $33 for a 16GB drive or $60 for a 32GB cache on Amazon.

That should make Optane Memory a juicy upgrade for budget big-box desktop PCs filled with spacious hard drives, right? Wrong—at least until now. Intel made the baffling decision to limit Optane Memory compatibility to systems configured with pricier Core processors. Those machines tend to come loaded with native solid-state storage that don’t need Optane Memory’s benefits. Now that the technology plays nicely with processors that actually come paired with mechanical hard drives on a regular basis, it makes a lot more sense to invest in an Optane Memory stick.

Hopefully the shift didn’t come too late for the futuristic storage tech. In January, Intel killed “Core+”-branded computers that pair its processors with Optane Memory, claiming that desktop buyers choose to buy their processor and Optane Memory modules separately. The bundles persist for laptops.

Buyer beware: If you’re interested in giving your hard drive more pep in its step, be careful about the Optane solution you’re buying. The affordable Optane Memory modules discussed here act as a caching solution that augments spinning drives, while pricier products like the Intel Optane 905Pour pick for the fastest SSD available—are a more cutting-edge take on standalone solid-state storage, instead.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?