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Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD Full Review - M.2 RevoDrive

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Toshiba (OCZ)

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

The OCZ RevoDrive has been around for a good long while. We looked at the first ever RevoDrive back in 2010. It was a bold move for the time, as PCIe SSDs were both rare and very expensive at that time. OCZ's innovation was to implement a new VCA RAID controller which kept latencies low and properly scaled with increased Queue Depth. OCZ got a lot of use out of this formula, later expanding to the RevoDrive 3 x2 which expanded to four parallel SSDs, all the way to the enterprise Z-Drive R4 which further expanded that out to eight RAIDed SSDs.

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OCZ's RevoDrive lineup circa 2011.

The latter was a monster of an SSD both in physical size and storage capacity. Its performance was also impressive given that it launched five years ago. After being acquired by Toshiba, OCZ re-spun the old VCA-driven SSD one last time in the form of a RevoDrive 350, but it was the same old formula and high-latency SandForce controllers (updated with in-house Toshiba flash). The RevoDrive line needed to ditch that dated tech and move into the world of NVMe, and today it has!

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Here is the new 'Toshiba OCZ RD400', branded as such under the recent rebadging that took place on OCZ's site. The Trion 150 and Vertex 180 have also been relabeled as TR150 and VT180. This new RD400 has some significant changes over the previous iterations of that line. The big one is that it is now a lean M.2 part which can come on/with an optional adapter card for those not having an available M.2 slot.

Read on for our full review of the new OCZ RD400!

Specifications:

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Specifications are fairly standard for current high performing NVMe parts and appear very similar to the Samsung 950 PRO, which we suspect the RD400 will be trading blows with throughout this review.

Packaging:

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Our RD400 sample came well packaged with the 'adapter card' option (also available as standalone M.2 for a bit cheaper). Also included was a half-height mount plate.


May 24, 2016 | 09:26 AM - Posted by Bri (not verified)

Glad to see more competition in this market, but gosh darn it those prices are still way too high.

May 25, 2016 | 08:23 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You may be able to find the OEM version for less: the Toshiba XG3.

May 24, 2016 | 09:56 AM - Posted by madison214

Allyn:

Am I wrong in thinking this is the first consumer M.2 (without adapter), MLC, NVMe, drive to offer anything above 512GB? And, I thought I'd read somewhere that Samsung was to have released 1TB+ version of the 950 Pro Series by this Spring (which hasn't happened).

Do you think Intel's U.2/PCI 750 Series NVMe drives will start back down in price since they'd gone back up around $300.00 each for the 1.2TB version?

May 24, 2016 | 02:30 PM - Posted by quest4glory

"Conclusion

PROS

Good overall performance.
First consumer M.2 available in 1TB capacity.
Available with or without M.2 to PCIe adapter."

May 24, 2016 | 03:44 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Yeah OCZ got there first, though Samsung should be ready to pull the trigger on launching their 48-layer VNAND 950 Pro. I suspect they were holding off due to lower demand at that capacity.

May 25, 2016 | 08:43 AM - Posted by Chaitanya (not verified)

Actually Sandisk X400 drives launched couple of months back was the first consumer ssd with 1TB capacity in M.2 form factor.

May 25, 2016 | 01:23 PM - Posted by madison214

I'm pretty sure the X400 is a SATA III based AHCI drive and not NVMe.

May 25, 2016 | 10:09 PM - Posted by JJ Chambers (not verified)

I have a raid 0 of 840 evo drives 2 500 GB where is the 2TB NVME drives at a reasonable cost. still see no point of upgrading.

May 24, 2016 | 10:19 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Too small, but otherwise interesting.

May 24, 2016 | 10:52 AM - Posted by Jann5s

The new weighted graphs are amazing, very educational.

May 24, 2016 | 08:59 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Thanks! Lots of work has gone into their implementation and testing, but I'm still working out a better / cleaner way to present these massive amounts of data.

May 26, 2016 | 12:31 PM - Posted by Matt (not verified)

The graphs can get busy at times, and I personally think the only way to mitigate that might just be to make it interactive, (eg, the ability to show/hide data, they can overlap so much), something you might have been avoiding...

It shows how much effort you and the other editors put into these reviews. Whenever a new storage product launches I look for your review.

May 24, 2016 | 10:52 AM - Posted by Jann5s

The new weighted graphs are amazing, very educational.

May 25, 2016 | 06:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is not so educational without power consumption or temperature measures...

Remember that Flash drives are NVM so the heat is important for the memory retention, furthermore for high density chips!

May 27, 2016 | 12:33 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It draws ~the same power as a 950 Pro (~6 watts). With such a small draw with such a small surface area, temperatures vary *wildly* based on installation. If airflow is an issue, a single thermal pad to any adjacent component is more than enough to prevent possible thermal throttling.

Higher temps impact retention, but higher temps also make flash programming less damaging, meaning it is actually better to run your SSDs on the warmer side (to minimize wear effects) and store them at cool temperatures (to minimize leakage).

May 27, 2016 | 06:41 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Higher temperature usually makes material less resistive thus requiring less energy to write on Flash memory/PCM/etc but it also makes the storage less reliable.

You can't just "store" an SSD at cool temperature when operating in read/write cycles...

May 27, 2016 | 06:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Actually the Curie temperature of alloys used to make HDD platters is so high that it makes any HDD more reliable than the best SSD on the market.

May 24, 2016 | 10:58 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I prefer a good old HDD because its reliability cost less than the electronic Joule effect on SSD...

I'm still waiting WDC to fill its Velociraptor with Helium!

However I think WDC overpaid SNDK since the future of NVM would be the PCM technology and this would make obsolete the Flash memory.

May 24, 2016 | 11:25 AM - Posted by Gunbuster

So instead of using fast SSD storage and having a backup plan you choose HDD because in your mind it's more reliable (yet still fails)? Tell us how that order of magnitude higher access time is working out for you?

May 24, 2016 | 12:23 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Fast failure isn't worth the extra pennies for SSD. ;-)

If you consider to rebuild your system twice a month to be a feature then the SSD is for you...

From the maintenance POV I consider the MTTR and for my use the short access time and the built-in obsolesence of SSD (or Flash memory) aren't profitable compared to the overpriced ticket.

May 24, 2016 | 01:11 PM - Posted by Gunbuster

Having to rebuild a desktop every 15 days on account of SSD failure? You're doing it wrong.

May 24, 2016 | 12:31 PM - Posted by Jann5s

I propose you resist, cause if you try an ssd once you're addicted and can never go back. There is no ssd detox program.

Edit:reply was supposed to be one level up

May 24, 2016 | 03:48 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

That's what I've told people since the X25-M - if you're not ready to buy one, don't sit at an SSD-equipped PC, because once you do, you'll want one *yesterday*.

May 25, 2016 | 12:42 PM - Posted by madison214

Boy, that's the truth!

June 1, 2016 | 03:50 PM - Posted by Derek_A (not verified)

That is absolutely correct. I got an SSD at my work computer several years ago...I couldnt stand to use my home PC's anymore. I eventually had to go through and upgrade one by one my home PC's to SSD. Then at work I got a 4K monitor....I couldnt stand to look at the "fuzzy" text at 1080p any longer, had to bite the bullet and upgrade one of my home PC's to 4K (which required a new graphics card too).

May 24, 2016 | 06:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That's why I never stated to smoke sh!t... because it could damage my brain. :o)

May 24, 2016 | 06:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

edit: started

May 24, 2016 | 03:13 PM - Posted by Stangflyer

I purchased my first SSD 4 years ago and have a total of 5 that I currently own. Have another 20-25 in builds for other people. Only failure was due to a lightning storm. Once you use ssd's you cannot use a mechanical drive anymore except for mass storage. I am probably a year away from my NAS to be all ssd's also.

May 26, 2016 | 12:56 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A total of 5 SSD (for operating systems) in 4 years and you pretend this to be reliable...

I assume you own a home supercomputer. :o)

May 27, 2016 | 12:34 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

He probably has a RAID or is using more of them in additional systems.

May 27, 2016 | 12:08 PM - Posted by Gunbuster

/Cant tell if troll or just terrified of SSD's

I have three SSD's in my desktop. Doesn't mean two of them failed for me to get there.

May 27, 2016 | 12:27 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So tell me why do you need so many unreliable data storages? :o)

One PCI-E Flash drive should be enough to win the top speed race!

May 24, 2016 | 06:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Great, but where are the real world benchmarks?

How much faster does it load battlefield?
Load office?
Speed up my photo editing?
How long does it take to get into windows?

Its great I can copy a file to it at 1.5gps but where am I getting that file from?

May 24, 2016 | 06:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Too bad, an SSD could write fast big data (movie capture for example) but it's overpriced per Gigabyte and unreliable due to overheating chips...

May 24, 2016 | 07:23 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I would probably still just buy a Samsung 850 evo at the moment. I doubt most people would notice that much difference between an 850 evo and one of the pci-e, NVMe drives. Even if you do notice the difference, how much are you willing to pay for it? The difference in real world feel between a hard drive and a cheap SATA ssd is much larger than the jump from a SATA ssd to a pci-e, NVMe ssd.

There are a few applications where the pci-e, NVMe drive may be preferred though. Most consumer applications are not IO bound at all, but some professional applications may be. It would be nice to get opinions from people who use these SSDs in such a manner, but usually the best solution for such applications is to just use a lot of RAM and maybe a RAID array if you need the bandwidth. If you push a machine into using swap space for the working set, it will still slow to a crawl, even if you are swapping to an SSD and not a hard drive. For most consumers, these SSDs are in the high-end range where you pay a lot extra for a small performance gain. They do perform significantly better than SATA devices in benchmarks, but it just isn't going to make that much of a difference for most consumer applications.

May 24, 2016 | 08:51 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

That's the point of the latency percentile testing. If the plots stretch across to the right and act like HDDs, then the system will feel more like a HDD for that remaining percent of the time. Boot times are impacted by too many other items unrelated to storage to matter - a clean windows install boots within a second delta between SATA SSD and NVMe, compared to the other 10-20 seconds it takes to get through UEFI/BIOS. The bigger thing that these NVMe drives can handle better is heavier multitasking workloads. Individual application tests don't really demonstrate this - it's when you've got multiple things going on where they really start to shine. If there was a consistent mixed simultaneous workload test then I would use it. PCMark doesn't cut it for the same reason we shifted to Latency Percentile testing - SSD stutters that would be painfully obvious to an actively engaged user are simply lost in the average of the trace test results.

Oh yeah that whole 'where are you gonna get that file from' is a mantra of mine, but the increased speed does translate to reduced latency (provided the controller is good, which is why we test that in such detail). Reduced latency translates to an overall snappier system, especially if the controller is mature and latencies are not only low but consistently low for more of the time and even under load.

May 25, 2016 | 01:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Well Toms hardware did do some realworld of the 850 vs 950 pro. I put their numbers in excel from some perspective.

World of Warcraft 0.88% Faster
BF3 1.38% Faster
Photoshop Light 3.48% Faster
Photoshop Heavy 3.38% Faster
Aftereffects 3.09% Faster
Adobe Illustrator 1.42% Faster
Word 1.44% Faster
Excel 1.11% Faster
Power Point 2.25% Faster

Average 2% faster......

2% for something that cost 50% to 300% more than a normal SSD. Better to put the money in CPU, GPU, or just plain more SSD space.

I get that under super heavy workload this will start to shine (maybe) but for 90% of enthusiasts let alone the average consumer money is better spent else where or not at all.

I know you often bring up that mantra on the podcast and I was quoting you a little when I brought it up. I would like to have you guys bring up these points I made in the podcast and see what everyone thinks.

May 24, 2016 | 07:59 PM - Posted by djotter

Methinks PC Per File Copy Test needs a few more files in it. Six of the contenders within 1.5 seconds of each other, maybe a longer test would give a better observable spread and minimise systematic errors.

May 24, 2016 | 08:53 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The test is already pretty long and repeats 3x / averages the results, but I do see your point. I'm working on morphing this test into something that better shows the actual throughput seen in file creations and copies (with better tools).

May 25, 2016 | 02:25 AM - Posted by VeixES (not verified)

Give Allyn a raise! Since introducing the Latency percentile testing, pcper is the 1# place for SSD reviews and offers more insight about SSD-s than all other review sites combined.

May 25, 2016 | 01:03 PM - Posted by madison214

Agreed! Always has been...

May 26, 2016 | 10:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Looks like really crappy choice compared to 950pro - you are trading 40 (or was it 50) nm V-NAND MLC for 15nm planar NAND for few bucks savings.

Also while everyone is writing about 1TB SKU being advantage I'd say that 128GB is what makes this drive interesting since it makes very nice OS drive for few bucks

May 27, 2016 | 12:36 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

True, but remember that 128GB will also have a fraction of the dies and should see decreased performance (especially on writes) due to the reduced parallelism.

May 26, 2016 | 12:02 PM - Posted by Leo (not verified)

Can these be used as boot drives with older motherboards? What do they appear as to the bios?

May 27, 2016 | 12:39 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

You have to have a system / BIOS that supports NVMe boot. X99 should all have support, Z97 *might* support it, and Z170 should all have support.

The reason this is different than in the past is that NVMe devices carry their own driver which the UEFI/BIOS must be aware of and read prior to being able to initialize the NVMe SSD for boot.

June 7, 2016 | 12:25 AM - Posted by genghisnico13 (not verified)

Excellent work Allyn this new testing methodology keeps getting better.

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