Product Listing

OCZ Trion 100 SSD: Bringing flash performance to the masses

By Kenny Yeo - 15 Jul 2015
Launch SRP: S$135


A New TLC Entry

Prices of SSDs have fallen to new lows and there has never been a better time to upgrade. Over a year ago, a 120GB or 128GB SSD would have set you back roughly S$140. Today, a 240GB or 256GB SSD can be had for almost the same amount. Prices have halved. The reason for this is two-fold, fierce competition from SSD and NAND manufacturers and also improved technology and processes in manufacturing NAND memory.

Currently, there are three main types of NAND memory employed in SSDs - MLC NAND, TLC NAND, and 3D V-NAND. 3D V-NAND is the most cutting edge as it stacks memory cells on top of each other to solve the fundamental problems of existing 2D planar architecture. We talked about this in detail in our review of the Samsung SSD 850 Pro. However, it also commands a sizable premium. Presently, only Samsung is shipping consumer 3D V-NAND drives.

The OCZ Trion 100 SSD is only the second consumer TLC NAND SSD to hit our market.

Beyond 3D V-NAND, there are MLC and TLC NAND, which can be said to represent two schools of thought. We have elaborated about this in our initial review of the Samsung SSD 840 Evo, but for those who are not familiar with that review and the SSD 840 Evo, let us recap here briefly.

In the chase to increase affordability of MLC NAND, manufacturers have been trying to increase storage density by cramming more bits of data onto memory cells. On way to do so is to rely on smaller process nodes and smaller memory cells. This allows data to be stored on increasingly smaller areas on the die. But there’s a limit to this, and we are fast approaching it.

The second way is TLC NAND, which increases the amount of data stored in a single cell. As its name suggest, TLC NAND stores 3 bits of data per cell as opposed to MLC NAND’s 2 bits per cell. You can’t have your cake and eat it, however, and TLC NAND suffers from poorer performance and endurance. Fortunately, its shortcomings can be mitigated by clever caching technologies and firmware.

Before today, there were only two brands that was offering TLC NAND drives to consumers and they are Samsung and Sandisk, with the former being the more aggressive of the two. It proved to be a smart move and its SSD 840 Evo drive was exceedingly popular, which is not surprisingly at all once you consider its price and performance characteristics. Now, however, there’s a new challenger in town and that’s the drive here, OCZ’s new Trion 100 SSD.


The Trion 100

When Toshiba acquired OCZ early last year, we were excited about what it could mean. Apart from Samsung, Intel and Micron, Toshiba was the only other SSD manufacturer in the business to own its own NAND production facilities. And this coupled with OCZ’s expertise in developing high-end controllers, could potentially bring about more exciting drives. And thus far, what we have seen from OCZ - Vertex 460 and the more recent Vector 180 - were just minor refreshes to their existing lineup, which is why the Trion 100 SSD is so exciting.

The Trion 100 SSD is now OCZ's most affordable drive.

To better understand the Trion 100 SSD, it’s necessary to know where it sits in OCZ’s current lineup of drives. In a meeting with folks from OCZ, we were told that the Trion 100 SSD will be OCZ’s most basic entry-level drive and will come in below the ARC 100. The two drives will continue to coexist as the ARC100 is sufficiently different in performance and pricing to warrant that. In essence, the Trion 100 SSD is OCZ’s most affordable drive, while the ARC 100 will continue to offer users the option if they should want a little more zing in their drives, but are not quite willing to open their wallets up to a Vector or Vertex drive.

Apart from being the first all-new drive to be released after the acquisition, the Trion 100 is also the first OCZ drive to employ the use of TLC NAND, specifically Toshiba’s new A19nm TLC NAND, which is manufactured using a 19nm process node. There are also plans to shift to Toshiba’s newer 15nm process, once production ramps up and yields are high enough.

The OCZ Trion 100 SSD uses a SATA 6Gbps interface.

As for endurance, OCZ is quoting daily writes of up to 55GB a day or 60TB total writes for the 240GB version. As we have mentioned in the past, 55GB a day is plenty for mainstream users as consumer workloads typically vary between only 10GB to 30GB a day. For comparison, Samsung is quoting 75TB total writes for its 240GB SSD 850 Evo drive, but remember, this drive is based on the latest 3D V-NAND architecture which purports to offer much higher endurance.

For the controller, OCZ is turning to parent company Toshiba and the Trion 100 is the first OCZ drive in a while to not use OCZ’s own Barefoot 3 controller. Since the controller is from Toshiba, we were not able to get much details, so at this point we are unsure if it makes use of any caching technologies to help boost performance. What we do know however is that the decision to go with a Toshiba controller is mainly because of the Barefoot 3’s inability to properly support TLC NAND. But beyond that, the new controller also offers some improvements.

One key improvement that this new controller brings is support for more aggressive DevSleep and power saving modes. In DevSleep and idle modes, we are looking at figures of just 6mW and 830mW respectively. OCZ drives based on the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller could only muster idle power consumption figures in the region of 0.6W at best. These improved figures would benefit notebook users greatly. Unfortunately, the new controller does not support hardware encryption, which is a pity because it a feature that we are seeing being implemented on more entry-level drives lately.

OCZ's SSD Guru utility makes it easy to update the drive's firmware and also check on its status.

In terms of packaging, unlike its more premium Vertex and Vector siblings, the Trion 100 does not come with any accessories or utilities. On top of this, OCZ has also revised the drive chassis, so that it is less heavy than older OCZ models. This should be good news to notebook upgraders who found OCZ's older drives unnecessarily heavy. The Trion 100 is also compatible with OCZ's new SSD Guru management utility, which makes it easy to update the drive's firmware, check its health status and more.

In marketing speak, we believe this is called brand synergy.

All in all, the new Trion 100 SSD is really a OCZ-branded Toshiba drive. In fact, in press materials we were sent, the Trion 100 SSD has been marketed as a “100% Toshiba drive” with “100% validation by OCZ”. It seems to us then that Toshiba wishes to leverage OCZ’s heritage and strong branding in the consumer SSD space to gain a larger share of the mainstream consumer market. And in all honesty, there’s nothing wrong with that - after all, this was perhaps one of the key reasons why Toshiba acquired OCZ in the first place.

Test Setup

The OCZ Trion 100 will be tested on our dedicated storage testbed:

  • Intel Core i5-2500K (3.3GHz)
  • ASUS P8Z77 Pro Thunderbolt (Intel Z77 chipset)
  • 2 x 2GB DDR3-1600 memory
  • MSI GeForce 8600 GTS
  • Windows 7

Our revised benchmark ditches older benchmarks such as HD Tune and also includes an all new timing test to better evaluate the drive’s real world performance. The list of benchmarks used are as follows:

  • AS-SSD benchmark 1.7.4739
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1
  • PCMark 7 (Storage suite)
  • Iometer (version 2006.07.27)
  • Timing Tests (Cold start, Reboot, Apps Launching)

Since the OCZ Trion SSD employs TLC NAND, we will be looking at how it compares against similar offerings from Samsung, specifically the SSD 850 Evo and SSD 840 Evo. Additionally, we are interested to see how it matches up against other entry-level offerings such as the OCZ ARC 100 and Corsair Force LX.

Here is the list of drives tested:

  • OCZ Trion 100
  • OCZ ARC 100
  • Samsung SSD 840 Evo
  • Samsung SSD 850 Evo
  • Crucial MX100
  • Plextor M6S
  • Corsair Force LX
  • Samsung SSD 850 Pro
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  • Performance 7
  • Features 6.5
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Very compelling price
Respectable read performance
SSD Guru management utility
Good endurance for a TLC-based SSD
The Bad
Poor write performance
No accessories
ShieldPlus is great, but not available locally
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