Transcend SSD320 & SSD720 (256GB) Reviewby Kristian Vättö on January 25, 2013 11:31 AM EST
Transcend is a Taiwanese company specializing in memory and flash storage solutions. While Transcend may not be the first company that comes to mind about NAND flash, it has been in the industry since the late 80's. Transcend's USB flash sticks and SD cards are actually rather popular at least here in the northern Europe, but they aren't exactly known for their SSDs.
Transcend's lineup consists of two SSDs: SSD320 and SSD720. Both are (unsurprisingly) based on SandForce's SF-2281 controller, which has been the choice of many smaller SSD OEMs. SandForce's licensing strategy is ideal for small OEMs who lack the resources to design their own controller or firmware, so by going with SandForce the OEM only needs to assemble the drive (and of course market, distribute etc).
|Capacities (GB)||64, 128, 256||64, 128, 256, 512|
|Form Factor||2.5" 7mm|
|NAND||Micron 25nm asynchronous MLC||SanDisk 24nm Toggle-Mode MLC|
|4KB Random Read||49K IOPS||47K IOPS|
|4KB Random Write||87K IOPS||93K IOPS|
Transcend's lineup is fairly typical when compared to other SandForce OEMs. There is a low-end budget model with asynchronous NAND (similar to OCZ's Agility 3), while the high-end market is catered by a Toggle-Mode equipped SSD720. Both models come with a 3-year warranty, which is normal but many high-end SSDs (such as Samsung SSD 840 Pro, Intel SSD 520, Plextor M5 Pro) carry a 5-year warranty nowadays, so the 3-year warranty in SSD720 is a bit disappointing.
RAISE (SandForce's NAND redundancy feature) is disabled on both SSDs, which results in slightly higher capacities than we usually see with SandForce based SSDs. SandForce has said that RAISE is not necessary for client workloads, so disabling it makes a lot of sense and there are other manufacturers who do it as well. For more thorough explanation on RAISE and SandForce capacities, I recommend reading this article.
|Price Comparison (1/25/2013)|
|Corsair Neutron GTX||$135||$225||$470|
|Corsair Force GS||N/A||$220||$440|
|Plextor M5 Pro||$130||$210||$420|
|Intel SSD 520||$145||$260||$500|
|Intel SSD 330||$125||$200||N/A|
|Samsung SSD 840 Pro||$140||$200||$520|
|Samsung SSD 840||$110||$180||$355|
|Mushkin Chronos Deluxe||$120||$180||N/A|
Pricing wise both the SSD320 and SSD720 are average. Neither of them is cheap but on the other hand, neither of them is among the most expensive drives. As always, take the prices in the table with a grain of salt because pricing is highly fluctuating, the prices you see today may be totally different tomorrow or next week.
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Rick83 - Friday, January 25, 2013 - linkI have two SSDs that were reasonable unique when I got them, both from Transcend, so I am not sure how you can complain about that.
One is an IDE Flash module, and the other is a 44pin IDE 2.5"SSD. Both use SLC flash.
They were in the industrial/module market quite early, and quite strongly.
Adding some cheaply implemented Sandforce drives allows them probably to sell more volume, and thus get better pricing on flash. I'm not sure if that is their main market though.
Meanwhile, there is slightly more competition in IDE SSDs, but then that market is also not going to grow very much. Of course there are also SSD and USB modules available, so that's also an interesting niche, where there is a different market situation, than for "mainstream" SSDs.
Finally, I consider the Transcend brand to be relatively strong in the flash memory market, they've been present for quite a while.
Customer support in Europe is also reasonably good.
Kristian Vättö - Friday, January 25, 2013 - linkI'm aware that Transcend has "niche" products that are aimed for very specific uses. What I meant, however, was that their mainstream (mainly 2.5" SATA) lineup is not very special. Like I said, there are probably a dozen manufacturers with similar SandForce SSD lineups.
The final part of the article was merely a general observation of the current SSD market, I didn't aim it specifically at Transcend (it's something I've been wanting to say for a while). Transcend does have fairly large presence in Europe (I'm from Finland myself) when it comes to SD cards and USB sticks, but not really in SSDs (then again, SSDs aren't everyday items yet, so that matters too).
Overall I'd just like to see more non-SF SSDs. You can't really gain any major market share with SandForce drives anymore, there are too many competitors.
kmmatney - Friday, January 25, 2013 - linkIt is nice that they include a toolbox. I have a few SSDs in Windows XP machines at work, and I like being able to manually TRIM the drive. I buy Samsung and Intel SSDs just for the toolboxes they provide, but this would be a viable option now as well.
Kristian Vättö - Saturday, January 26, 2013 - linkKeep in mind that the TRIM or secure erase functions in the toolbox do not work, like I mentioned in the article.
Death666Angel - Friday, January 25, 2013 - linkIt's really sad that most of these SF based drives aren't even that much cheaper (if at all) compared to the big brand names you mentioned.
Samus - Saturday, January 26, 2013 - linkRight. There's no logical reason to buy a sandforce drive when the Samsung 830/840 and Crucial M4 have the same (or lower) price with superior reliability and relatively identical performance.
Then there is the 840 Pro which has ridiculous performance and presumably excellent reliability.
Don't get me wrong though, I think the Intel SSD 330/335 is a great value and it is the only Sandforce drive I'd buy. Every OCZ SF drive I, my family, or friends, have ever had, has inexplicably failed.
speculatrix - Saturday, January 26, 2013 - linkHaving experienced OCZ technical support when trying to resolve linux driver problems with their Revo cards (ongoing for 3 months with tgem holding onto $1000's of worth of cards) I shall never buy an OCZ product ever again.
They fail to communicate or use their own ticketing system effectively, pronounce testing done when it hasn't, and generally all we feel is that our time and money has been wasted.
embzyk - Sunday, January 27, 2013 - linkI see write amplification less than 1.0 a logical reason, and the reason why every SSD I buy is sandforce based. The first one I ever bought died, but its replacement and 7 others are going strong - including 4 from OCZ.
twotwotwo - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link"The client SSD market currently has more manufacturers than it can feed in the long run."
If the fixed costs are low enough, it may take the small ones a long time to go away--if everyone pays the sameish rate for NAND, controller licenses, etc., they may be more like PC builders than HDD makers.
If that changed significantly--say, if SandForce and other competitive controllers were bought by certain makers who used them exclusively--that math could change quickly.
hfm - Friday, January 25, 2013 - linkI bought one of the 512GB SSD720 a while back because it was the cheapest 500MB/s 512GB SSD at the time I bought it (paid $399, walked to B&H to get it). I have been extremely happy with it. The Samsung 512GB drive was much more expensive at the time. My primary use case for it is gaming laptop, so I felt the cost increase for a better drive would see a negligible boot/load time increase.
Of course I keep it backed up by cloning to a second spinner in the laptop and then again to my nas, so I don't completely trust it's long term reliability. It's been bullet proof and screaming fast so far.