Intel Sneaks Out Core+ Processors With Bundled Optane Drives

Intel’s recent eighth-gen processor launch found the company adding yet another hieroglyphic to its product naming convention in a bid to “simplify” its product stack. Intel’s latest branding effort comes in the form of the “Core+” branding, which the company told us indicates the processors, or the devices they are installed in, support Optane memory. Now it turns out that the company is also offering CPUs with a bundled 16GB Optane memory module.

Intel’s Optane memory is a collection of software and hardware, such as 3D XPoint memory, that leverage the power of next-generation memory to boost storage performance. The Optane modules come as both cache and normal bootable SSDs that fill the good, better, best verticals. As we covered earlier, Intel now also supports using Optane caching with a secondary storage volume. Unfortunately, the speedy new devices aren’t compatible with all Intel processors and platforms.

Intel plans to clear up the confusion about which processors and OEM devices, like notebooks, support the technology by adding a “+” to certain Core i5, i7, and i9 badges. Of course, this doesn’t help much for the average consumer that has no idea what the new symbol represents. In fact, it is likely even more confusing.

It turns out that the new branding also marks the debut of new CPU bundles that come 16GB Optane Memory modules, meaning you can use the small M.2 SSD to boost your storage performance. Nothing comes for free, though.

Kit Bundle With 16GB Optane (CAD) Processor Only (CAD) Part Number
Core i7-8700 $457 $403 BO80684I78700
Core i5-8500 $312 $261 BO80684I58500
Core i5-8400 $285 $236 BO80684I58400

The first news of these kits popped up in Japan yesterday, where they are already at retail, but we’ve managed to find a few of the new products at PC-Canada. The online retailer lists the prices in CAD. As we can see above, we are looking at a ~$50 (CAD) premium for the Optane bundle. PC-Canada doesn’t sell Optane modules separately, so we can’t provide a direct comparison with CAD pricing. After conversion, it appears that the extra charge is roughly equivalent to the $39 retail price of the 16GB Optane module.

Curiously, it appears that the new bundles don’t come with a discount. Intel updated its CPU price list recently, but it doesn’t include any Core+ models. PC-Canada lists the new bundles as backordered for 1 to 2 weeks (see screenshots below), which may indicate the timing of Intel’s launch. We’ve reached out to Intel for official pricing and U.S. availability.