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Toshiba OCZ's TL100 review: A budget SSD that's not a bargain

Jon L. Jacobi | Nov. 3, 2016
This drive takes the shortcomings of TLC NAND to a whole new level.

There are two types of products that send the PCWorld lab into retest mode: those that perform better than expected, and those that perform worse. Toshiba’s 2.5-inch, TLC NAND-based, OCZ-branded TL100 definitely falls into the latter category. As a matter of fact, after seeing a sustained write speed of less than 100MBps, a far cry from the “up to 530MBps” you’ll see advertised, we started kicking tires with particular energy.

Three TL100’s were tested on four separate PCs and three different operating systems (Windows 7, 8.1, and 10) to confirm that the bad write numbers it was pulling weren’t somehow related to our MO or hardware. Results varied only slightly. The drive will write around 500MBps, but only for a few seconds, then speeds decline precipitously to the 100MBps level and stay there.

drive
There’s no nice way to say this: Unless priced ridiculously low, buy something else.

HD Tune, CrystalDiskMark, and several other benchmarks not normally used were also run to make sure it wasn’t an issue with our usual go-to, AS SSD. CrystalDiskMark didn’t see a problem with the drive in its 1GB test, but beyond that, it was the same slow-sustained-write story.

Still faster than a hard drive

To be fair, read speed and read random-access have more to do with the apparent speed of a system than write speeds, because they are what you experience when the operating system and programs load. In that regard, while the TL100 isn’t the fastest SSD we’ve tested, it is indeed an SSD; replacing the hard drive in your system with one will make it seem like you just strapped a rocket to it. Okay, a bottle rocket. However, the first time you copy an even moderately large file to it, you’re going to wonder if you somehow broke it.

The TL100 might’ve gotten more love around here if it had hit the market at 10 or 15 cents per gigabyte. But it showed up at $45 for the 120GB version and $68 for the 240GB version, or around 35 and 28 cents per gigabyte, respectively. That’s inexpensive, but a dollar or two in savings is not enough to offset a four-fold drop in sustained write performance. Not nearly.

ocz tl100 enlarged
We were a bit stunned by the TL100's performance: The preceding Trion 150 was a great improvement over the original Trion 100. This drive is two steps backwards. 

At first, as the write speeds declined so quickly, we suspected a lack of cache. After consulting OCZ/Toshiba, the company explained that there indeed is cache in the drive, but it’s used differently than with previous drives in an attempt to smooth performance. It didn’t work, unless you consider 60MBps to 100MBps in our real-world tests a successful levelling.

 

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