This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of HWM.
With prices of SSDs at an all-time low, there has never been a better time to upgrade your storage to an SSD. A great deal of this has to do with the proliferation and widespread adoption of TLC NAND.
Triple-level cell (TLC) NAND allows NAND foundries to create higher density and more affordable memory chips. But adoption of this type of NAND was slow because of fears of poorer endurance. Fortunately, improvements in the manufacturing process, controller and firmware technology, have made it possible for TLC NAND to be accepted for mainstream consumer use.
The SanDisk X400 was announced earlier this year at CES 2016 and employs the use of TLC NAND. Although the X400 is targeted mainly at OEMs, retailers will also offer the X400 as a mainstream level SSD for consumers who are first time upgraders or who are seeking a larger capacity SSD at an affordable price.
Inside, the SanDisk X400 is powered by Marvell’s 88SS1074 controller and utilizes its SanDisk’s very own second-generation TLC NAND. For users concerned about security, the X400 will support hardware-based 256-bit AES encryption and TCG Opal 2.0. The X400 will be available in four capacities - 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB - and it will also come in two form factors - the more typical 2.5-inch form factor and M.2 2280. Both form factors will support the SATA 6Gbps interface.
We tested the 1TB version of the SanDisk X400 and found its performance to be very respectable. Thanks to its second generation nCache buffering technology, which dedicates portion of available space to work like super-fast SLC NAND, its performance was very respectable. Its sequential read and write speeds were what we have come to expect from a drive of its positioning and capacity, and its random access performance was very decent too. Overall, it’s more than a match against comparable TLC NAND-based SSDs like the OCZ Trion 150 SSD and Samsung SSD 750 Evo.
For users concerned about endurance, the SanDisk X400 enjoys a 5-year warranty and the rated TBW of the smallest capacity 128GB drive is 72TB written. Over 5 years, that translates to 40GB a day. Bearing in mind that most users would only struggle to consumer more than 20GB of writes per day, we would say that endurance is likely to be a non-issue for most mainstream users.
However, if that doesn't allay your fears, SanDisk's SSD Dashboard utility allows users to quickly check on their drives' health and performance. The utility also also makes it easy for users to upgrade their drives' firmware.
Overall, the SanDisk X400 is a good drive for mainstream users, offering a decent blend of performance and features. And at S$483 for the 1TB version tested, this means it is attractively priced and is one of the most affordable 1TB SSDs in the market right now.