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OCZ Trion 100 480GB & 960GB SSD Review

AkG

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It is no secret that Crucial has been dominating the value end of the mainstream SSD marketplace since their MX200 and BX100 series were released. It should also come as no surprise that every other manufacturer has been thinking of ways to counteract the incredible value those drives brought to the table. While Intel has moved away from SATA controllers and into NVMe, Kingston has moved into more exotic form-factors, Samsung…well Samsung has done what they always do: change the market and use 3D NAND before everyone else. While each of those manufacturers have focused on enhancing the ability of high end SSDs, less expensive models have (for the most part) been left to languish. OCZ on the other hand has been relatively quiet and instead have taken the time to get their house in order before focusing on the entry level / 'budget' corner of the marketplace. The Trion 100 aims to change that in a big way.

Many enthusiasts have been paying close attention to OCZ since, under the tutelage of Toshiba they have the best chance of introducing some true competition in this critical corner of the marketplace again. In bygone years OCZ would have unleashed a torrent of different models aimed at counteracting the BX100 and MX200 series. The new lean and mean OCZ on the other hand have opted to split the difference and offer a single model that is not as expensive as the Crucial MX200, yet should offer more performance than the BX100.

The new Trion 100 hopes to capture consumers interested in both of those popular Crucial models by approaching things in a radically different manner than all previous Toshiba-backed OCZ drives. It is the first truly collaborative effort between Toshiba and OCZ, with OCZ doing the finalization, testing, and support for it. A lot has changed since OCZ approached launches in a scattershot way.


First and foremost amongst these changes is the fact that the Trion 100 series is not a MLC NAND based drive like many of its competitors but instead relies upon triple level cell (TLC) NAND. However, this new TLC NAND is not like the usual low end stuff attached to most other entry level drives. Instead this is premium grade Toshiba A19 Toggle Mode NAND featuring a triple cell design instead of the two cell A19 found in previous OCZ models. This in conjunction with Toshiba's proprietary - most likely Quadruple Swing-By Code (QSBC) - error correction abilities is why even though the Trion 100 series has a Total Bytes Written rating of 120 Terabytes for the 480GB model (110GB/day/3yrs), and 240TB (219GB/day/3yrs) for the 960GB model. Those are pretty good numbers for the market this SSD plays in.

Before we move on, OCZ are adamant that even though A19 NAND is nearly at the end of its product cycle, the Trion 100 will not be silently changed to Toshiba’s new A15 series. When A15 becomes available, and they decide to refresh the Trion 100 series, it will be given its own unique name.



This huge divergence from previous models in the NAND department is sure to grab consumers' attention but it is only the start of the changes. In a very interesting move OCZ hasn’t opted for an Indilinx controller. Instead of a Barefoot 3 variant, the Trion 100 is powered by a Toshiba controller which in its current form allows it to boast a 90K/64K rating for read/write IOPS.


Toshiba may not be as well known in the consumer marketplace but their controllers are highly respected in the professional sphere. Besides being potentially better at handling TLC NAND, the Toshiba’s chip also has much lower power requirements than the Barefoot 3, making the Trion 100 tailor made for mobile computing platforms.

The only potential hiccup with this TC58NC controller is that it is most likely only a four channel design (this is an educated guess since OCZ clammed up whenever we asked for details about its architecture). This may limit performance somewhat, but as this is an entry level drive aimed at first time SSD buyers the 90K/64K IOPS rating is more than acceptable.


In either case it is this combination of new NAND and a new controller that allows the Trion 100 to compete directly against both the BX100 and MX200 series for your hard earned dollar. In fact with an asking price of $185 for the 480GB model and $370 for the 960GB model this new series slots in nicely between those two competing lines.


From the exterior anyone would have a hard time telling this new TLC-based drive from previous MLC-equipped models. The Trion 100 uses an all metal enclosure that conforms to the newer 7mm z-height form factor. We can honestly say build quality is one area OCZ did not cut corners on.


Internally the Trion 100 shares more in common with Crucial's BX100 series than previous OCZ models or the Crucial MX200. Instead of a full sized PCB, OCZ has opted for a smaller layout which can only fit half the number of ICs. Of course, neither the 480GB nor the 960GB make use of eight NAND ICs. Instead they utilize four. These are extremely dense ICs (16 layers in the case of the 960GB capacity version) aren’t covered with heatpads so keeping them cool could be an issue during extended usage scenarios.

Speaking of that TLC NAND, as Samsung does with their TurboWrite technology, OCZ segments a portion of the NAND to act in a quasi-SLC caching mode. In this scenario all of the downstream information gets shunted off towards the cache partition, at least initially. However, once the buffer reaches capacity writes will go directly to the slower TLC portion.

For those interested in such things, calculating the absolute largest possible size for the SLC cache is fairly simple. Simply take the true capacity, subtract the rated capacity, and then divide that amount by three (as SLC caching requires a full TLC cell be converted to 'SLC'). For example the 480GB is in reality a 512GB drive, and the 960GB is a 1024GB drive. This means the SLC on the 480 is at the most 10.6GB and the 960GB's is 21.3GB. This may be us being overly generous since OCZ doesn't come out and state how much they use. However it will get you in the right ballpark when comparing it to Crucial's DWA which can be half the rated capacity, thus providing much better flexibility.

On the positive side the 480GB has a rather large NANYA branded DDR3 256MB RAM IC for additional caching purposes. The 960GB capacity version doubles this to 512MB via two of those RAM ICs with the second being located on the PCB’s back.


Another thing missing is any form of power loss data protection. In this critical area the Trion does one-up the BX100 and but can’t compete against the MX200 which does feature advanced fail-safes. This will be a deal breaker for many consumers and certainly explains the $10 differences in price versus the MX200. However, that is ten dollars of savings that many will not want to make. We were not expecting true Flush In-Flight abilities, but even OCZ's PFM+ abilities found in their other would have been welcome.

It’s also important to mention OCZ’s warranty since it does add to the overall value of the Trion series. The 3 years is pretty standard but with OCZ’s ShieldPlus RMA shipping costs are covered by OCZ) and advanced SSD replacements are available through cross-shipping. That’s a pretty big deal compared to the competition. But is it enough?

 
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AkG

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Test System & Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing a drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs & HDDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for drives to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our test-bed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what you the end user’s experience will be like.

Even when the hardware issues are taken care of the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup; however, just like with the hardware solution most people are not going to do this. For this reason our standard OS setup is used. However, except for the Windows 7 load test times we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive. With the main drive being an Intel DC S3700 800GB Solid State Drive.

For synthetic tests we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HD Tune, Crystal Disk Benchmark, IOMeter, AS-SSD, Anvil Storage Utilities and PCMark 7.

For real world benchmarks we timed how long a single 10GB rar file took to copy to and then from the devices. We also used 10gb of small files (from 100kb to 200MB) with a total 12,000 files in 400 subfolders.

For all testing a Asus Sabretooth TUF X99 LGA 2011-v3 motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition. All drives were tested using either AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers, or NVMHCI using Intel NVMe drivers.

All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.

In between each test suite runs (with the exception being IOMeter which was done after every run) the drives are cleaned with either HDDerase, SaniErase or a manufactures 'Toolbox' and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.

Processor: Core i7 5930K
Motherboard: Asus Sabretooth TUF X99
Memory: 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR4
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
Hard Drive: Intel DC S3700 800GB, Intel P3700 800GB
Power Supply: XFX 850

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB: 1.33
Vertex 460 240GB: 1.0
Intel 7230 240GB: L2010400
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB:DXM06B0Q
Plextor M6e 256GB: 1.03
AMD R7 240GB: 1.0
Crucial MX200: MU01
G.Skill Phoenix 480GB: 2.71
Intel 750: 8EV10135
Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB: 0C34L5TA
Kingston HyperX Savage 240GB: SAFM00.r
OCZ Trion 480GB & 960GB: SAFM11.1

Toshiba TC58 controller:
OCZ Trion 480GB & 960GB - Custom firmware w/ 19nm Toggle Mode TLC NAND

Samsung MDX controller:
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB- Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

SandForce SF1200 controller:
OCZ Vertex 2 - ONFi 2 NAND

SandForce SF2281 controller:
G.Skill Phoenix 480GB - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND

Marvell 9183 controller:
Plextor M6e 256GB- Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 9189 controller:
Crucial MX200 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND

Marvell 9293 controller:
Kingston HyperX Predator - Custom firmware w/ 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

Barefoot 3 controller:
AMD R7 (M00) - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND w/ custom firmware
OCZ Arc 100 (M10) - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

Intel X25 G3 controller:
Intel 730 - Custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND

Intel NVMe G1 Controller:
Intel 750 - Customer firmware w/ MLC 20nm NAND

Phison PS3110 Controller:
Kingston HyperX Savage 240GB - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND
 
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AkG

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Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture. We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and thus we no longer included it. The most important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.



Write Performance


For this benchmark HD Tune Pro was used. To run the write benchmark on a drive, you must first remove all partitions from that drive and then and only then will it allow you to run this test. Unlike some other benchmarking utilities the HD Tune Pro writes across the full area of the drive, thus it easily shows any weakness a drive may have.


A certain amount of explanation of the above results is necessary. First and foremost is when testing this drive you will see two separate and distinct performance levels: good and terrible. At first you will see performance that is every bit as good as - and even better than - the typical MLC drive. This is due to the drive's integrated SLC cache which allows Toshiba controller to act like a high performance 8 channel design.

Once the cache is exhausted, the write performance plummets to SATA 2 levels. Crucial managed to figure out the secret to making drives with 'cache' work: make the cache size variable based on free space. As a result their BX100 and MX100 outperform the Trion by a wide margin in write speeds.

Luckily this issue only impacts write performance in some tests, and read throughput is very similar and quite consistent on all Trion 100 models. It is also worth pointing out that OCZ is hard at work at fixing this problem. The best they can do is 'tweak' the size by robbing from the back-up overprovisioning…which means fewer replacement NAND cells and thus impacting long term write durability.
 
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AkG

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ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO Disk Benchmark


The ATTO disk benchmark tests the drives read and write speeds using gradually larger size files. For these tests, the ATTO program was set to run from its smallest to largest value (.5KB to 8192KB) and the total length was set to 256MB. The test program then spits out an extrapolated performance figure in megabytes per second.



Synthetic tests by their very nature only test the SLC-cache portion of this drive. Thus these results are being overly generous, but do point towards what the typical entry level consumer will encounter. Put simply, few of the intended consumer base will ever 'run out' of SLC cache space before it can be refreshed. As such these results are pretty darn decent given the low asking price of the drive.
 
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AkG

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Crystal DiskMark / PCMark 7

Crystal DiskMark


Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows you to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5 and size at 100MB.




PCMark 7


While there are numerous suites of tests that make up PCMark 7, only one is pertinent: the HDD Suite. The HDD Suite consists of numerous tests that try and replicate real world drive usage. Everything from how long a simulated virus scan takes to complete, to MS Vista start up time to game load time is tested in these core tests; however we do not consider this anything other than just another suite of synthetic tests. For this reason, while each test is scored individually we have opted to include only the overall score.


Once again the SLC cache does boost performance to tolerable levels, and while no one will ever confuse the Trion 100 with the Vector series, for the price it does offer a very nice blend of read and write performance. With that being said a similarly sized MX200 drive is faster, and given the fact the Crucial MX200 is only ten dollars more, well that is certainly not helping the Trion 100 justify its exotic configuration.
 
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AkG

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AS-SSD / Anvil Storage Utilities Pro

AS-SSD


AS-SSD is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and small 4K read/write speeds as well as 4K file speed at a queue depth of 6. While its primary goal is to accurately test Solid State Drives, it does equally well on all storage mediums it just takes longer to run each test as each test reads or writes 1GB of data.




Anvil Storage Utilities Pro


Much like AS-SSD, Anvil Pro was created to quickly and easily – yet accurately – test your drives. While it is still in the Beta stages it is a versatile and powerful little program. Currently it can test numerous read / write scenarios but two in particular stand out for us: 4K queue depth of 4 and 4K queue depth of 16. A queue depth of four along with 4K sectors can be equated to what most users will experience in an OS scenario while 16 depth will be encountered only by power users and the like. We have also included the 4k queue depth 1 results to help put these two other numbers in their proper perspective. All settings were left in their default states and the test size was set to 1GB.



Once again the Trion 100 posts good numbers given its asking price. It however goes without saying that this level of performance is predicated on the idea of having more than enough SLC cache to boost performance to this level.
 
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AkG

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IOMeter

IOMETER


<i>IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server end of things, and since we here at HWC are more End User centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD (1,4,16,64,128 queue depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min w/ an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k,4k,8k,16k,32k,64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that reports each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular queue depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/TRION_100/iom.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

IOMeter is <I>tough</i> on any drive and as you can see it is especially hard on TLC NAND drives. Put simply this drive does not act like a new model released in 2015, instead it acts like one that was released in 2012. This is because the SLC cache is quickly exhausted and we can see even <I>sixteen</i> way NAND interleaving and a massive RAM cache is not enough.

Luckily for the Trion 100 such scenarios are well outside its intended role. This however is no excuse. This drive is seemingly rated for a massive number drive writes per day - which is also well outside the typical home user scenario, and as such the controller should be able to handle constant I/O requests better than it does. The only real saving grace is the Crucial BX100 is even worse.
 
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AkG

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Windows 8 / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 8.1 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance


<i>When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. We have chosen Windows 8.1 64bit Pro as our Operating System with all 'fast boot' options disabled in the BIOS. In previous load time tests we would use the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line; this however is no longer the case. We have not only added in a secondary Anti-Virus to load on startup, but also an anti-malware program. We have set Super Anti-Spyware to initiate a quick scan on Windows start-up and the completion of the quick scan will be our new finish line. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/TRION_100/boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Adobe CS5 Load Time


<i>Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, and while the latest version is actually pretty decent, when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit fared in the newly updated Adobe crucible. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/TRION_100/adobe.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

As with the synthetic test results both Trion 100 models have reasonable performance levels. Neither are in danger of capturing part of the Vertex consumer base, but both should provide a very decent introduction to SSDs for first time consumers. With that being said we would obviously choose the 960GB model over the 480GB, and would take a 480GB over the 240GB as this series needs as much interleaving - and RAM cache - as it can get. In this way it is more like the Crucial BX100 series than the Crucial MX200 series.
 
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AkG

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Firefox Performance / Real World Data Transfers

Firefox Portable Offline Performance


Firefox is notorious for being slow on loading tabs in offline mode once the number of pages to be opened grows larger than a dozen or so. We can think of fewer worse case scenarios than having 100 tabs set to reload in offline mode upon Firefox startup, but this is exactly what we have done here.

By having 100 pages open in Firefox portable, setting Firefox to reload the last session upon next session start and then setting it to offline mode, we are able to easily recreate a worst case scenario. Since we are using Firefox portable all files are easily positioned in one location, making it simple to repeat the test as necessary. In order to ensure repetition, before touching the Firefox portable files, we have backed them up into a .rar file and only extracted a copy of it to the test device.




Real World Data Transfers


No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it cannot really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 20.00GB contiguous file and a folder containing 800 subfolders with a total 24,000 files varying in length from 200mb to 100kb (20.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, using MS RichCopy and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found.




As you can see once the Trion 100 SSD runs out of SLC Cache, it also runs out of gas. Users will have to be careful with exactly how much data they write to the drive at a time, as not only does performance drop but the NAND longevity tanks as well.
 
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AkG

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Partial and Full Drive Performance

Partial and Full Drive Performance


While it is important to know how a drive will perform under optimal conditions, more realistic scenarios are just as important. Knowing if a solid state drive will behave differently when partially or even nearly full than when it is empty is very important information to know. To quickly and accurately show this crucial information we have first filled the drive to 50% capacity and re-tested using both synthetic and real world tests. After the completion of this we then re-test at 75% and 90% of full capacity.

Synthetic Test Results

For our synthetic testing we have opted for our standard PCMark 7 test.


Real World Results

For a real world application we have opted for a modified version of our standard Windows 7 Start Up test. Unlike our standard Windows 7 image this image is based on a working system that has been upgraded numerous times over the past few years and represents an even more realistic real world test.




What we see here is an interesting study in contrasts. While a synthetic test like PCMark shows the Trion series dropping less than Crucial's competing solutions from a purely percentage standpoint, the more critical Widows load shows OCZ's drives dropping like proverbial stones.

Ironically, if there was one area you could count on OCZ drives it was in full drive performance. The Barefoot 3 may have been old but it had performance consistency down pat. Whether it is an under powered Toshiba controller, the TLC NAND, immature firmware, or a combination of thereof the end results are the same: a noticeably massive performance loss in boot times. One thing we do have to mention is the BX100 had the same issue but that drive not only offers more capacity (1TB versus 960GB) but it also costs less.
 
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