It's likely not a coincidence that Intel timed the retail launch of its Core i7+ and Core i5+ processors to coincide with the preorder availability of AMD's second-generation Ryzen lineup. Either way, the new parts are here, and they come bundled with 16GB Optane Memory modules.
The inclusion of Optane Memory in the box is all that makes the Core i7+ and Core i5+ SKUs different than the non-plus variants. Well, that and the price—they cost a bit more to account for the Optane Memory. Otherwise, you're getting the exact same processor.
As of this writing, there are three SKUs available. They include the following:
- Intel Core i7+ 8700 (BO80684I78700)—$340
- Intel Core i5+ 8500 (BO80684I58500)—$240
- Intel Core i5+ 8400 (BO80684I58400)—$215
Optane Memory works as drive caching for your primary storage device to speed up performance. It makes the most sense to pair them with a mechanical hard drive drive—Intel's pitch is that you can have the responsiveness of an SSD with the price and capacity advantages of an HDD.
There's not really any price saving to be had on the above bundles, at least with the current pricing. The Core i7+ and Core i7+ chips cost around $35 to $40 more than their non-plus counterparts, whereas on Amazon you can pick up a 16GB Optane memory module for $36 (or 32GB for $59).
Note that Core i5+ and i7+ doesn't specifically require Optane Memory. Any system with an Intel Optane drive, including the Optane 900P and Optane 800P, can also get the plus. Basically, the plus means you're using some form of Optane drive with an Intel processor.
Disk acceleration is something that Intel and AMD are both pushing. AMD built its StoreMI technology into its new X470 chipset, which is similar to Optane Memory but works with any size and type of SSD. We'll be looking at that more later this month when AMD's new parts launch, but at least on paper StoreMI is far more flexible.