Performance comeback, price fail.
It would appear that after several years of acquiring the OCZ brand, Toshiba is finally resigning it to the sidelines. Known as the Toshiba OCZ VX500, the branding on this box is first and foremost all about Toshiba – if it weren’t for the tiny OCZ in the bottom right corner we’d have no idea it contained any OCZ history at all. This 2.5-inch SSD might seem a little dated amongst today’s hyper-fast PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs, yet there’s obviously still a very strong market for traditional 2.5-inch SSDs.
Due to the 2.5-inch form factor, Toshiba is tied to the SATA 6 Gbit/s interface that all 2.5-inch drives use. As you many of you will know, maximum sequential read speeds through this interface are around 550MB/sec – it’s the random I/O performance that separates the best from the worst. A quick glance at the official specs claim a sequential read/write performance of up to 550/515 MB/sec, which puts it in the top tiers of these 2.5-inch SATA drives. It also claims random/read IOPS up there with the best of them, at up to 92,000/65,000 IOPS when handling 4KiB files. This figure is the important one for desktop and multi-application users, as it shows how quickly the drive can get around to the various files required to run multiple apps at once. Where this thing absolutely shines though is its lifespan. Toshiba claims up to 296TB written for the 512GB model, which is rather impressive to say the least. This works out to 162GB per day over a five year period, more than enough for most users. There’s also a long five year warranty to back this up, and Toshiba’s Advanced Warranty program is second to none. If the drive does go kaput, the owner simply needs to send the serial number to OCZ, who will send out a replacement drive within a day or two – no receipt necessary. They’ll also include return packaging for the dead drive, making this the simplest return policy we’ve ever seen. The drive also comes with Acronis True Image 2016, making it a breeze to transfer your existing OS over to the new drive. There’s also an application called “SSD Utility”, which allows you to update the firmware, perform drive erases and monitor performance.
So just how has the company achieved such a long lifespan? For starters, it’s now using an updated Toshiba controller, though Toshiba hasn’t revealed which one, along with 512GB of Toshiba 15nm MLC memory. This is spread out across eight NAND flash memory chips. What’s most interesting is that most drives that use MLC memory also use DRAM as a cache to help speed up MLC’s mid-range performance, yet the 512GB and smaller versions of the VX500 don’t appear to use any DRAM caching. Yet performance doesn’t seem to have suffered without the inclusion of a DRAM cache, as our benchmarks will attest.
When it came time to test the drive, our first tool was the ever popular CrystalDiskMark 5, which measures read and write speeds. Using a 1GB file size, the VX500 measured a sequential read speed of 543MB/sec, while sequential write speeds hit 511MB/sec. This puts it up there with the best of them when it comes to large file sizes. It also performed well in the 4K QD32 test, reaching 383MB/sec read and 262MB/sec write, placing it near the top tier of drives in this price range.
Our next benchmark was AS SSD, which runs very similar tests to Crystaldiskmark but disables any form of data compression, and the drive posted very similar results, with a sequential read speed of 520MB/sec and sequential write of 489MB/sec. The final test we used was Anvil’s Storage Utilities, which measures the IOPS of the drive at various file sizes. The figure we usually focus on here is the 4K QD16 results, which measures how fast the drive is at accessing smaller file sizes. Clocking in at 73,731 IOPS Read and 64,437 IOPS, these definitely aren’t shabby speeds… but then we have to factor in the price.
At $329 for 512GB, this drive is only $100 cheaper than WD’s Blue SSD. Yet it’s half the capacity, and the slower of the two when it comes to random IOPS. Toshiba has definitely made some ground in the performance stakes, but it’ll need to rethink its pricing to be truly competitive.