Toshiba OCZ TR200 480 GB SSD Review

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Up today is Toshiba’s OCZ TR200 480 GB SSD, a 2.5″ 3D TLC NAND drive featuring Toshiba’s 64 layer BiCS3 technology. What does all that mean you ask? I’ll touch on this a bit later but for now, it allows Toshiba to produce lower cost, higher density SSDs.  Improving the cost/GB and opening the door to the entry-level consumer market by offering an affordable, high-performance alternative to traditional hard disk drives.

Specifications and Features

Toshiba is using an updated version of its TC58NC micro-controller to organize the eight TLC 3D NAND ICs of differing density depending on the size of the drive. They list the performance at 555 MB/s sequential reads and 540 MB/s sequential writes. Random 4K IOPS come in at 82K and 88K respectively.

The TR200 is a 2.5-inch form factor SSD with the SATA3 interface, compatible with nearly every PC out there at the moment.

The drive has a rating of 1.5 million hours MTBF to go along with 120 TB TBW (total bytes written) for the 480 GB drive. With that, Toshiba offers a 3-Year warranty for the drive.

Full specifications are in the table below.

OCZ TR200 480 GB SSD Specifications
Capacity 480 GB (also 240 GB and 960 GB)
Interface Serial ATA (SATA III) 6 Gbit/s
Controller Toshiba TC58NC
Flash Toshiba 256Gb 64L BiCS3 3D TLC
Form Factor 2.5″ drive bay
Dimensions 100.45 x 69.85 x 7.00 mm
MTBF 1.5M hours / 120 TB TBW (480 GB)
Sequential Read/Write Speeds 555/540 MB/s (480GB) 82K/88K IOPS (4K random)
Service & Support 3 Years
Pricing 480GB  MSRP $149

BiCS 3D NAND

Ok, so what makes BiCS different than other TLC 3D NAND technology? The short answer is the type of gate used on the cells to control the read and write processes. I’m not going into too much detail on NAND technology since it’s all out there on the internet, it’s fairly extensive and would easily be a full article on its own.

Toshiba has been working on their BiCS technology for many years to try and alleviate some of the “shortcomings” of traditional TLC NAND.  The concept for the new gate (charge floating trap) isn’t new but it’s very difficult to design and produce. After years of research, we now have the third generation of BiCS which is ready for the consumer market. Below are some of the benefits of BiCS3 from Toshiba.

Higher Density and Capacity

Our 3D flash memory stacking technology gives BiCS FLASH far higher die area density compared to 2D NAND. BiCS FLASH reduces the chip size by optimizing both circuit technology and the manufacturing process.

Faster Programming

The spaces between memory cells in BiCS FLASH are much wider than those in 2D NAND flash memory. The result? Programming speed is improved (by increasing the amount of data for a single programming sequence).

More Reliable

BiCS FLASH reduces cell coupling and improves reliability when compared to 2D NAND flash memory.

Uses Less Power

BiCS FLASH reduces the power consumption per unit of programming data by increasing the amount of data for a single programming sequence (when compared to 2D NAND flash memory).

Packaging/Product Tour

The retail packaging for the TR200 is a small cardboard box with a picture and capacity of the drive on the front. The back has a few more features listed such as TRIM support, form factor, and warranty period. The drive itself is encapsulated in a plastic sleeve which buffers it from the edges of the packaging to help prevent any accidental damage during shipping. Inside there are a couple of leaflets with warranty information and an installation guide. Toshiba hasn’t included any cloning software such as Acronis or any other accessories with this drive, keeping the costs as low as possible.

Retail Packaging – Front

Back

Inner Packaging

The Drive

Below we see some pictures of the Toshiba TR 200 inside and out. On the outside, it has your typical 2.5″ SSD appearance with the SATA power and data interface.  On the inside things are a bit more interesting. The first thing that caught my eye was the PCB which is about three quarters the length of the SSD case leaving some room for expansion and cutting the cost of the current model. In total there are eight BiCS3 NAND ICs, four on each side of the PCB and the revised TC58NC controller. What you won’t find is any external RAM, so the drive relies solely on the controller and firmware to prevent any data loss in the event of a sudden power outage.

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Software

The slideshow below shows the OCZ SSD Utility which can be downloaded from the OCZ Downloads page. The utility itself is pretty straightforward and well organized with a menu bar across the top and sub-menus on the left. The utility has its own benchmark and monitoring pages. There’s also a tuner page for setting overprovisioning, there’s a help page and a firmware update section. I did find that the secure erase function would not work on my system and prompted me to make a bootable media SSD Utility to erase it in DOS, fortunately, the utility also has a section for that under maintenance and will create the DOS bootable utility for you with the proper media.

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Testing Method and Test System

Typically each SSD is Secure Erased (SE) using the included utility to make sure we get the best results possible. We do this before each and every test run to give the comparison samples the best environment possible for testing.  In this case, since that wasn’t possible for me through Windows I formatted the drive between each test. Below are the tests we run with a brief description.

  • Crystal Disk Mark – Run at Default Settings (5 Pass)
  • AS SSD – Run at Default Settings
  • ATTO – Run at Default Settings except for the QD Set to 10
  • Anvil Storage Utility Benchmark – Default Settings
Test System Components
Motherboard ASUS ROG Maximus IX Apex
CPU Intel i7 7700K @ Stock (4.5 GHz for this motherboard)
Memory GSkill Trident Z 2x8GB DDR4 3600 CL 17-18-18
SSD Samsung 950 PRO NVMe
Power Supply Superflower 1000 W
Video Card ASUS GTX 1080 Ti Strix

Performance/Results

CrystalDiskMark

On to the benchmarks! Our first stop is with CrystalDiskMark and its random reads and writes. For reads, we can see the Toshiba TR200 falls in line with the others, for the most part, nothing too out of the ordinary.  Trading blows with the rest of them aside from the 4K single and 32QD where the 850 EVO is the obvious victor.

Moving on to writes, we see solid performance in the sequential tests stacking up well against the others. The 4K single writes were the lowest of the group here but the added queue depth in 4K 32QD has it barely trailing the Samsung.

CrystalDiskMark – Reads

CrystalDiskMark – Writes

AS SSD

AS SSD is considered one of the toughest benchmarks available for solid state drives. It relies solely on incompressible data which translates to a “worst case scenario” for data transfer.  Reads are showing similar to above except in the 4K read where the Toshiba takes a decisive lead over all the drives shown.

Moving on the writes it appears the extended QD really helps the Toshiba in the 4K file transfer size again pushing it to the front of the pack.

AS SSD – Reads

AS SSD – Writes

 

In this next set of tests, everything seemed about normal for a typical TLC NAND drive except for the write access time. I ran the test numerous times, formatting, fresh boots etc.. nothing seemed to change the excessively high write access time. The read access time looks great but the write is four times what you would expect. I did a bit of surfing and found that the anomalous score wasn’t me it is the TR200 with other sites reporting nearly identical results. Even so checking the scores from AS SSD it doesn’t appear to affect the ability of the Toshiba to trade blows with the rest of the pack.

n AS SSD – Access Times

AS SSD – Total Score

ATTO

ATTO works off the “best case scenario” for SSDs which is likely why it’s popular with the manufacturers. In this sequential, highly compressible benchmark, the TR200 does very well throughout the testing particularly in the 4K segment where its read speeds were well above the competition. The results even top Toshiba’s reported 555 MB/s rating.

ATTO – Reads

Writes are showing the same thing with this drive maxing out at nearly 540 MB/s. The 4K results are similar to above as well with the TR200 in the lead.

ATTO – Writes

Anvil Storage Utility

Last up, Anvil Storage Utility. This application goes through several different tests giving one an idea of all-around performance. The Toshiba seems to score a bit low in this benchmark compared to other drives like the OCZ Trion 150 which hit 4419 for an overall score that’s a 15% difference.  When compared to other benchmark results shown in the graphs above the Anvil Storage benchmark still comes in low.

Anvil Storage Utility Benchmark

Conclusion

The Toshiba OCZ TR200 is a well-rounded SSD aiming at the entry-level storage market, a market which is currently saturated with choices. The performance is there and for the most part was on par or even better in a few instances than the Samsung 850 Evo. That being said I don’t feel that’s enough to turn people in their direction. Toshiba offers a 3-year limited warranty which is great,  but others offer 5-year warranties with a better MTBF. With an MSRP of $149.99, this places them near the top of the pricing in an already crowded segment. Dropping the price per GB would go a long way towards attracting more sales in my opinion. When I build a system unless I’m concentrating on performance, then the cost is my main concern and if the Toshiba TR200 drive was $20.00 less it would be an obvious choice for me.

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Shawn Jennings – Johan45

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Discussion
  1. Thanks Shawn. You're correct, at $0.25/GB this drive would be more attractive. It's kind of silly speaking like this when 6-8 years ago, in the infancy of consumer SSDs, the going rate was $3.00/GB for slightly less performance, and certainly 480GB drives were untouchable.