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OCZ Trion 100 review: An affordable SSD with a problem

Jon L. Jacobi | July 24, 2015
OCZ's new Trion SATA 6Mbps SSD is the NAND equivalent of a combo drive: It uses slow but dense 19nm TLC (Triple Level Cell) for the majority of its storage, and a cache of much faster SLC NAND to increase performance. It's not the only drive on the market that uses the fast/slower NAND model, but in the Trion's case, the TLC is slow, and there's not nearly enough SLC cache to maintain performance during even modestly large file transfers. Especially in the lower-capacity models.

trion laying port

OCZ's new Trion SATA 6Mbps SSD is the NAND equivalent of a combo drive: It uses slow but dense 19nm TLC (Triple Level Cell) for the majority of its storage, and a cache of much faster SLC NAND to increase performance. It's not the only drive on the market that uses the fast/slower NAND model, but in the Trion's case, the TLC is slow, and there's not nearly enough SLC cache to maintain performance during even modestly large file transfers. Especially in the lower-capacity models. 

Note that this is the first pure Toshiba product marketed under the acquired OCZ brand name, a company with an excellent reputation for performance. I feel for OCZ.

Performance

Other drives that use the faster cache/slower-NAND model generally offer relatively large 32GB or 64GB caches, so you'll hardly ever notice a real slowdown. However, the cache on the 120GB and 240GB Trions is a measly 3GB, and even the 960GB model's reservoir is a smallish 15GB. I have movie files larger than that.

In my tests with the 480GB Trion and its 7GB cache (using a fast-as-main-memory RAM disk on the other side), it took 2 minutes and 25 seconds to write the single 20GB RAR file, and two minutes, 49 seconds to write a 20GB mix of smaller files and folders. That's a paltry 137MBps and 118MBps respectively--not what I want when I'm backing up large amounts of data. I didn't have the opportunity to test the other capacities, but my chat with an OCZ product manager confirmed that the same drop-off will occur the minute the SLC cache fills on any Trion.

I also ran AS SSD, CrystalDiskMark 3.04, and CrystalDiskMark 4.1. AS SSD rated the Trion at 512MBps while reading and 479MBps reading during its 1GB test--quite good. When I upped that to 10GB, the read speed remained decent at 464MBps, but the write speed dropped to a hard drive-like 161MBps. CrystalDiskMark 4.1 showed a similar pattern, but not to the same degree. CrystaldiskMark 3.x doesn't write enough data to reveal the phenomenon.

While the large-file performance drop-off is a serious issue, you're only going to take the performance hit once in a while unless you're constantly writing larger amounts of data. Most of the time the Trion will perform quite nicely booting, during normal Windows operation, surfing, streaming, etc. 

Controller

There's a bit of a mystery surrounding the controller in the Toshiba--err--excuse me, OCZ Trion. It's new, and Toshiba claims the controller as its own. Toshiba has partnered with other companies for controllers, but so do other SSD vendors, and they're equally as obstinate in calling them their own. Kind of like famous people writing their "autobiographies." Sure. Whatever the case, it's impossible to judge its efficiency because of the issues when transferring large blocks of data.

 

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