Got that new laptop or desktop and want to start the new year off right with a solid-state drive upgrade? Need an SSD that will theoretically outlive every system you will ever own for the duration of your lifetime? If that’s the case then you’ve come to the right place as Transcend has the drive for you.
Introduction; A Look At Transcend’s SSD370S SSD
With the holidays in full swing, new devices in need of a solid-state storage upgrade abound. Shoppers may not be familiar with Transcend as it isn’t one of the big names in the SSD market, but suffice to say it has been in the storage business for two decades running.
Transcend is a Taiwanese company that markets a wide range of flash storage and storage related products such as dashcams, and even operates brick & mortar locations in Taiwan. There was a time when Transcend even produced its own brand of motherboards for Intel and AMD processors!
Back to the present, the SSD370S is Transcend’s current flagship model SSD. Under the hood is a Transcend TS6500 controller, which is actually a Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller in disguise rolling a customized firmware. As prices declined and competition surged, companies were forced to either leave or tighten design costs, so the TS6500’s customized firmware is something rarely seen anymore in the solid-state drive space.
The TS512GSSD370S is a bit of a mouthful so we will stick to just SSD370S for the review. Interestingly the top half of the housing is aluminum with the smaller insert, plastic, which gives it a surprisingly solid feel and extra durability over the typical 100% plastic housing SSDs tend to use nowadays. This model features SanDisk 15nm 128Gb MLC flash, you won’t find any mention of 3D, V-NAND, 256Gb chips or TLC here. This is especially important to note due to the extremely high endurance ratings Transcend is giving these drives, which we will delve deeper into in our conclusion.
This drive includes the usual mounting screws and drive cloning software, but also includes an aluminum adapter bracket for quick 3.5″ bay mounting. Also included was the most detailed quick-installation guide we have ever seen included with any SSD that clearly had been intended for use by a human being. It even includes a short walk-through section for the drive cloning process as well as installation of the drive into a Mac.
As expected for any performance SSD Transcend is uses a 512MB DDR3 DRAM cache buffer for improved performance consistency. For data protection, the Silicon Motion SM2256EN controller utilizes the standard combination of LDPC and a form of NAND RAID parity checking for monitoring of data integrity and ECC support. DevSleep is also supported to save power when the drive is not in use.
Interestingly SSD-Z gets this one incorrect as our sample utilized SanDisk NAND; it appears Micron 16nm MLC is also used for some drives based on supply but Transcend promises both meet the listed performance and endurance ratings for the SSD370S family.
For utilities Transcend differs from most other manufacturers by incorporating its drive cloning and migration software as part of its SSD Scope toolbox. Although the tool has a basic interface, after some consideration I rather like this as it makes it much simpler for non-technical users to quickly swap a current OS install over to a new SSD. Enthusiasts that want a more powerful utility likely already have one or know where to find one of the free alternatives readily available.
Included are performance monitoring, easy firmware updates, secure erase functionality, drive status and a diagnostic scan option. The only thing missing that I would really like to see is an actual indication of total lifetime data written to the SSD. Most other toolkits show this value and it provides more information to the viewer than just a flat “wear out” indicator that has no context associated with it.
Last but not least is something I almost missed entirely. Transcend also offers the separate utility RecoveRx which as the name implies can search for and attempt to recover deleted files on any Transcend storage products, not just SSDs.
To ensure all drives have fair representation regardless of capacity we use IOMeter to conduct continuous file writes beyond twice the rated capacity of each SSD. This will make sure every block has been written to at least once including the unaddressable spare area present on all solid-state drives, ensuring all drives begin testing in a normalized “dirty” state.
SATA drives are tested on an Intel 6Gbps SATA port, while PCIe cards will use the PCIe Gen 3 x8 slot to the processor. M.2 drives will make use of a PCIe adapter card in this same slot to bypass the M.2 x2 interface bottleneck, allowing drives to utilize the maximum bandwidth (PCIe Gen 3 x4) that the M.2 interface supports. Where applicable we will ensure drives are using the NVM Express protocol.
The test system’s processor has had Intel’s Speedstep and Turbo Boost functionality disabled and all cores are locked to the same 3.7GHz frequency in order to ensure maximum consistency between test runs.