If hard drives are too slow and SSDs are too expensive, there has been another option for a number of years: hybrid hard drives. They include a small amount of flash memory to act as a cache to speed up your most common data operations. With the introduction of Optane memory, Intel is offering that cache separate from the hard drive. Now MSI is preparing to ship motherboards bundled with a 16GB stick of Optane included for free.
Optane promises to be better than hybrid drives. Flash memory is now faster, the accompanying software handles caching intelligently and automatically, and the performance increase according to Intel is up to 28 percent. It also gives you the choice of which hard drive to buy and pair with it.
MSI is including a 16GB stick of Optane pre-installed on three new motherboards, which represents a $50 value. The three motherboards in question are the Z270 Tomahawk OPT BOOST, B250M Bazooka OPT BOOST, and B250M PRO OPT BOOST.
Although only confirmed on two of the above mentioned boards, it seems likely that all three will ship with two M.2 slots. One will be occupied by the Optane memory, while the other remains free for an M.2 SSD.
Pricing for the motherboards has yet to be revealed, but they all support the latest Intel processors using the 1151 socket, have dual memory channels for up to 64GB DDR4 RAM, and include USB 3.1 support. The Tomahawk board is full ATX and clearly aimed at the overclocking and desktop gaming crowd, where as the Bazooka is a micro ATX for building a smaller, or more portable system.