OCZ Trion 100 480 GB Review 9

OCZ Trion 100 480 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The OCZ Trion 100 480 GB is expected to retail for $185.
  • Excellent price per GB
  • Good read performance
  • Good MySQL Enterprise performance
  • 7 mm thin—ultrabook compatible
  • 3 year warranty
  • Drive hangs during write operations
  • Write performance, especially sustained, is reduced
Toshiba's new Triple-Layer-Cell (TLC) flash chips are just fresh out of the factory and OCZ is the first company to release a solid-state drive that uses them since OCZ is a part of the Toshiba Group. The OCZ Trion 100 comes in capacities of 120 GB, 240 GB, 480 GB and 960 GB; we just reviewed the 480 GB variant.
Unlike other recent drives from OCZ, the drive uses a Toshiba controller instead of OCZ's own Indilinx controller, which probably has to do with TLC support being required in the controller and firmware. The drive is targeted at read-heavy consumer workloads, with the main focus on those who upgrade from a traditional HDD to an SSD for more performance without it breaking the bank.

When I started reviewing the Trion 100, it exhibited very large performance swings between each of our real-application benchmark runs. After some testing I realized that this is due to the way the TLC memory is organized. The drive has a small 9 GB portion of its capacity working in SLC mode, which is very fast to read and write, but once its capacity is reached, the drive will either have to shuffle data from its SLC into TLC, or write to TLC directly, which is much slower. As a result, the drive will completely stop accepting new data during prolonged periods of disk activity, stalling all writes, which usually also means that task switching in Windows will hang because most programs will cause a bit of disk activity the Trion cannot complete right away
For our benchmarks, I've improved the situation by adding a 180-second delay between each of our tests, which is not an unreasonable assumption for consumer-oriented workloads. The only test that still shows huge issues is our data compression test, which unpacks an archive with lots of small files. In this scenario, the drive will hang roughly every four seconds for around 10 seconds, causing the whole OS to slow down or freeze. It gets even worse when you delete or unpack files as the whole OS freezes for around two minutes. I understand the argument that most consumers won't conduct intensive disk operations, but the whole system freezing up because of starved disk activity suggests some kind of firmware issue to me; maybe read/write operations aren't prioritized properly, and most consumers will interpret a hanging drive to mean a broken computer, which could be an issue as these are less tech-savvy people who will either end up cursing SSDs in general or make RMA claims with OCZ.

What I do want to highlight is the drive's excellent MySQL Enterprise performance at low thread counts, which could make it an option for a database or webserver. Our other tests show decent performance that is just a few percent slower than competing drives. The fastest drives in our test group end up 20% faster, though, even with the compression test excluded.

With an MSRP of $185, the Trion 100 480 GB is one of the cheapest SSD's per gigabyte, together with the Crucial MX200 and BX100, so it could be of interest to buyers who want the absolute lowest price. However, given the BX100 is cheaper, significantly faster and has no stalling issues, the BX100 would be my drive of choice if price were to matter. If you are wiling to spend a few more bucks, the MX200 is definitely the best drive on the market right now.
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