OCZ’s Trion 150 SSD reviewed

When we reviewed OCZ’s first SSD built with triple-level-cell (or TLC) flash, the Trion 100, we found its performance a bit wanting. OCZ went to work behind the scenes to improve the performance of its budget SSD, and last month, the company announced a follow-up to the Trion 100. This latest drive uses Toshiba’s newer 15-nm TLC NAND and brings 50% more Trions to the table. Say hello to the Trion 150.

Just like the Trion 100 before it, the Trion 150 comes in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB flavors. OCZ claims that this drive delivers “increased real-world performance” over its predecessor, but it doesn’t claim higher specs for the newcomer. The official performance numbers are all the same as the Trion 100’s.

OCZ Trion 150
Capacity Max sequential (MB/s) Max random (IOps)
Read Write Read Write
120GB 550 450 79k 25k
240GB 550 520 90k 43k
480GB 550 530 90k 54k
960GB 550 530 90k 64k

We’ve got the Trion 150 480GB on hand for our review. We originally tested the Trion 100 480GB drive, as well, so it’ll be easy to compare the new drive’s performance figures to the old one’s. Let’s open it up and see what’s changed apart from the stylish new sticker.

As we already knew, what’s changed is the NAND. The Trion 100 used Toshiba’s A19 TLC flash, but its successor leverages Toshiba’s 15-nm TLC. The controller inside the Trion 150 hasn’t changed at all—it’s the same Toshiba TC58 we saw in the Trion 100. We’ll have to credit the majority of any performance increases we see to the new NAND. Maybe the process shrink will at least partially make up for the fact that we’re still looking at planar TLC.

The non-technical specs haven’t changed either. All versions of the Trion 150 come with three years of OCZ’s ShieldPlus rapid-exchange warranty coverage. And just like the Trion 100 480GB, the Trion 150 480GB is rated for 120TB of total bytes written, spread out across 110GB per day. Since this is an entry-level drive, it doesn’t come with fancy extras like encryption acceleration in the controller.

The 480GB drive we’re looking at sells for $129.99 on Newegg right now. The 120GB version will set buyers back $45.99, while the 240GB version rings in at $69.99 and the 960GB drive sells for $269.99. Those numbers are all solidly in the entry-level SSD pricing tier.

Now that we’ve seen the basics of the Trion 150, it’s time to see what Toshiba’s 15-nm TLC can do.

 

IOMeter — Sequential and random performance

IOMeter fuels much of our latest storage test suite, including our sequential and random I/O tests. These tests are run across the full capacity of the drive at two queue depths. The QD1 tests simulate a single thread, while the QD4 results emulate a more demanding desktop workload. For perspective, 87% of the requests in our old DriveBench 2.0 trace of real-world desktop activity have a queue depth of four or less. Clicking the buttons below the graphs switches between results charted at the different queue depths.

Our sequential tests use a relatively large 128KB block size.



Wow. Perhaps it’s because the Trion 100 set the bar rather low, but the Trion 150 come out of the gate looking quite good. Somehow, it sets a record as the highest-ranked SATA drive in our sequential read test at QD1. Eat your heart out, MLC.

Well, not quite. The Trion 150’s sequential write performance isn’t as stellar as its reads, but this drive is still vastly better than the Trion 100. The Trion 150’s planar NAND handicap doesn’t stop it from edging out the V-NAND-equipped 850 EVO 250GB, either. To be fair, that’s not an entirely apples-to-apples comparison, thanks to the capacity and cost differences between these drives. It’s still an impressive result, though. 

Next, we’ll turn our attention to performance with 4KB random I/O. The tests below are based on the median of three consecutive three-minute runs. SSDs typically deliver consistent sequential and random read performance over that period, but random write speeds worsen as the drive’s overprovisioned area is consumed by incoming writes. We’ve reported average response times rather than raw throughput, which we think makes sense in the context of system responsiveness.



It just couldn’t all be good news, could it? The Trion 100’s read response times were already at the bottom of the rankings, but the Trion 150 manages to turn in a slightly worse performance yet. To put things in perspective, though, these are all sub-millisecond response times, so it’s not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Random write response times are smack in the middle of the pack, so no complaints there.

The Trion 150’s improvements over the Trion 100 are encouraging thus far. We’re cautiously optimistic that the newer drive will continue to come out ahead in our other tests. Let’s see if that’s the case.

 

Sustained and scaling I/O rates

Our sustained IOMeter test hammers drives with 4KB random writes for 30 minutes straight. It uses a queue depth of 32, a setting which should result in higher speeds that saturate each drive’s overprovisioned area more quickly. This lengthy—and heavy—workload isn’t indicative of typical PC use, but it provides a sense of how the drives react when they’re pushed to the brink.

We’re reporting IOps rather than response times for these tests. Click the buttons below the graph to switch between SSDs.


To show the data in a slightly different light, we’ve graphed the peak random-write rate and the average, steady-state speed over the last minute of the test.

The Trion 150’s peak speeds are on par with the Trion 100’s. The newer drive’s steady-state speeds are much improved, showing about a 75% increase over the the older model’s. Even so, the Trion 150 is solidly in the slower half of our results. The 850 EVO’s steady-state performance, for example, is half again as fast as the Trion 150’s.

Our final IOMeter test examines performance scaling across a broad range of queue depths. We ramp all the way up to a queue depth of 128. Don’t expect AHCI-based drives to scale past 32, though—that’s the maximum depth of their native command queues.

For this test, we use a database access pattern comprising 66% reads and 33% writes, all of which are random. The test runs after 30 minutes of continuous random writes that put the drives in a simulated used state. Click the buttons below the graph to switch between the different drives. And note that the P3700 plot uses a much larger scale.


We never really expect budget SATA drives to exhibit much scaling. The database access pattern used for this test is certainly not the intended use case for a low-cost TLC drive like this one. Therefore, it’s no shock that the Trion 150 doesn’t seem to scale much more or less than the Trion 100 before it. IOps took a strange dive at QD4, but performance is roughly flat otherwise. The next graphs break down the results further and add some points of comparison. Click to toggle between read, write, and total IOps.


Something is definitely wonky here. Our write results demonstrate a weird bounce up and down as the test proceeds along from queue depth two to queue depths four and eight. We did a few extra runs of our scaling test, but got the same strange peaks and valleys each time. We’ve contacted OCZ to see if it can shed some light on what exactly is going on here, and we’ll post an update if we get any answers.

That’s it for synthetics. Up next is our suite of real-world performance tests. Let’s see if the Trion 150 continues to distance itself from its predecessor.

 

TR RoboBench — Real-world transfers

RoboBench trades synthetic tests with random data for real-world transfers with a range of file types. Developed by our in-house coder, Bruno “morphine” Ferreira, this benchmark relies on the multi-threaded robocopy command build into Windows. We copy files to and from a wicked-fast RAM disk to measure read and write performance. We also cut the RAM disk out of the loop for a copy test that transfers the files to a different location on the SSD.

Robocopy uses eight threads by default, and we’ve also run it with a single thread. Our results are split between two file sets, whose vital statistics are detailed below. The compressibility percentage is based on the size of the file set after it’s been crunched by 7-Zip.

  Number of files Average file size Total size Compressibility
Media 459 21.4MB 9.58GB 0.8%
Work 84,652 48.0KB 3.87GB 59%

The media set is made up of large movie files, high-bitrate MP3s, and 18-megapixel RAW and JPG images. There are only a few hundred files in total, and the data set isn’t amenable to compression. The work set comprises loads of TR files, including documents, spreadsheets, and web-optimized images. It also includes a stack of programming-related files associated with our old Mozilla compiling test and the Visual Studio test on the next page. The average file size is measured in kilobytes rather than megabytes, and the files are mostly compressible.

RoboBench’s write and copy tests run after the drives have been put into a simulated used state with 30 minutes of 4KB random writes. The pre-conditioning process is scripted, as is the rest of the test, ensuring that drives have the same amount of time to recover.

Let’s take a look at the media set first. The buttons switch between read, write, and copy results.



As always, the media set is a pretty good real-world analogue to our IOMeter sequential tests. Again, the Trion 150 dazzles us with its reads, nestled proudly among the highest-performing SATA drives in our result set. And again, the writes aren’t quite as good as the reads, but nonetheless more than double that of the Trion 100.



The work set, on the other hand, is sort of a mirror of our IOMeter random tests. It should be no surprise, then, that the Trion 150 posts sluggish read speeds here. The good news, if it can be called that, is that the newer drive doesn’t do any worse than the Trion 100. The Trion 150’s RoboBench writes, while not record-beating, are a 30% improvement over the Trion 100’s, so we’ll consider that a victory.

“Increased real-world performance” was no idle boast on OCZ’s part. In most regards, the Trion 150 has made great strides over the Trion 100.

 

Boot times

Until now, all of our tests have been conducted with the SSDs connected as secondary storage. This next batch uses them as system drives.

We’ll start with boot times measured two ways. The bare test depicts the time between hitting the power button and reaching the Windows desktop, while the loaded test adds the time needed to load four applications—Avidemux, LibreOffice, GIMP, and Visual Studio Express—automatically from the startup folder. Our old boot tests focused on the time required to load the OS, but these new ones cover the entire process, including drive initialization.

The Trions both are on the bottom end of the boot time rankings, but that only means there’s a two-second gap between them and the fastest booters. The Trion 150’s boot speed is virtually no different than the 100’s.

Load times

Next, we’ll tackle load times with two sets of tests. The first group focuses on the time required to load larger files in a collection of desktop applications. We open a 790MB 4K video in Avidemux, a 30MB spreadsheet in LibreOffice, and a 523MB image file in GIMP. In the Visual Studio Express test, we open a 159MB project containing source code for the LLVM toolchain. Thanks to Rui Figueira for providing the project code.

No surprises here. There are no appreciable difference in how long it takes any of these drives to load our productivity applications. Last up is a quick look at game loading times.

The Trion 150 loads all three games about as fast as Samsung’s 950 Pro, a PCIe monster with much higher specs. If you haven’t picked up on this trend yet, I’ll be blunt: if your use case is primarily gaming, don’t scrimp and save so you can shell out for a high-end SSD.

Across our boot and load testing, the Trion 150 put on a similar showing to the Trion 100 (and all the other drives, for that matter). The real-world performance increases that OCZ touts are a bit less tangible here than they were in our RoboBench tests.

That’s it for performance testing. Read on for a breakdown of our hardware and test methods.

 

Test notes and methods

Here’s are the essential details for all the drives we tested:

  Interface Flash controller NAND
Crucial BX100 500GB SATA 6Gbps Silicon Motion SM2246EN 16-nm Micron MLC
Crucial BX200 480GB SATA 6Gbps Silicon Motion SM2256 16-nm Micron TLC
Crucial MX200 500GB SATA 6Gbps Marvell 88SS9189 16-nm Micron MLC
Intel X25-M G2 160GB SATA 3Gbps Intel PC29AS21BA0 34-nm Intel MLC
Intel 335 Series 240GB SATA 6Gbps SandForce SF-2281 20-nm Intel MLC
Intel 730 Series 480GB SATA 6Gbps Intel PC29AS21CA0 20-nm Intel MLC
Intel 750 Series 1.2TB PCIe Gen3 x4 Intel CH29AE41AB0 20-nm Intel MLC
Intel DC P3700 800GB PCIe Gen3 x4 Intel CH29AE41AB0 20-nm Intel MLC
OCZ Arc 100 240GB SATA 6Gbps Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 A19-nm Toshiba MLC
OCZ Trion 100 480GB SATA 6Gbps Toshiba TC58 A19-nm Toshiba TLC
OCZ Trion 150 480GB SATA 6Gbps Toshiba TC58 15-nm Toshiba TLC
OCZ Vector 180 240GB SATA 6Gbps Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 A19-nm Toshiba MLC
OCZ Vector 180 960GB SATA 6Gbps Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 A19-nm Toshiba MLC
Plextor M6e 256GB PCIe Gen2 x2 Marvell 88SS9183 19-nm Toshiba MLC
Samsung 850 EV0 250GB SATA 6Gbps Samsung MGX 32-layer Samsung TLC
Samsung 850 EV0 1TB SATA 6Gbps Samsung MEX 32-layer Samsung TLC
Samsung 850 Pro 500GB SATA 6Gbps Samsung MEX 32-layer Samsung MLC
Samsung 950 Pro 512GB PCIe Gen3 x4 Samsung UBX 32-layer Samsung MLC
Samsung SM951 512GB PCIe Gen3 x4 Samsung S4LN058A01X01 16-nm Samsung MLC
Samsung XP941 256GB PCIe Gen2 x4 Samsung S4LN053X01 19-nm Samsung MLC
Transcend SSD370 256GB SATA 6Gpbs Transcend TS6500 Micron or SanDisk MLC
Transcend SSD370 1TB SATA 6Gpbs Transcend TS6500 Micron or SanDisk MLC

All the SATA SSDs were connected to the motherboard’s Z97 chipset. The M6e was connected to the Z97 via the motherboard’s M.2 slot, which is how we’d expect most folks to run that drive. Since the XP941 and 950 Pro requires more lanes, they were connected to the CPU via a PCIe adapter card. The 750 Series and DC P3700 were hooked up to the CPU via the same full-sized PCIe slot.

We used the following system for testing:

Processor Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz
Motherboard Asus Z97-Pro
Firmware 2601
Platform hub Intel Z97
Platform drivers Chipset: 10.0.0.13

RST: 13.2.4.1000

Memory size 16GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Adata XPG V3 DDR3 at 1600 MT/s
Memory timings 11-11-11-28-1T
Audio Realtek ALC1150 with 6.0.1.7344 drivers
System drive Corsair Force LS 240GB with S8FM07.9 firmware
Storage Crucial BX100 500GB with MU01 firmware

Crucial BX200 480GB with MU01.4 firmware

Crucial MX200 500GB with MU01 firmware

Intel 335 Series 240GB with 335u firmware

Intel 730 Series 480GB with L2010400 firmware

Intel 750 Series 1.2GB with 8EV10171 firmware

Intel DC P3700 800GB with 8DV10043 firmware

Intel X25-M G2 160GB with 8820 firmware

Plextor M6e 256GB with 1.04 firmware

OCZ Trion 100 480GB with 11.2 firmware

OCZ Trion 150 480GB with 12.2 firmware

OCZ Vector 180 240GB with 1.0 firmware

OCZ Vector 180 960GB with 1.0 firmware

Samsung 850 EVO 250GB with EMT01B6Q firmware

Samsung 850 EVO 1TB with EMT01B6Q firmware

Samsung 850 Pro 500GB with EMXM01B6Q firmware

Samsung 950 Pro 512GB with 1B0QBXX7 firmware

Samsung XP941 256GB with UXM6501Q firmware

Transcend SSD370 256GB with O0918B firmware

Transcend SSD370 1TB with O0919A firmware

Power supply Corsair AX650 650W
Case Fractal Design Define R5
Operating system Windows 8.1 Pro x64

Thanks to Asus for providing the systems’ motherboards, to Intel for the CPUs, to Adata for the memory, to Fractal Design for the cases, and to Corsair for the system drives and PSUs. And thanks to the drive makers for supplying the rest of the SSDs.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

Some further notes on our test methods:

  • To ensure consistent and repeatable results, the SSDs were secure-erased before every component of our test suite. For the IOMeter database, RoboBench write, and RoboBench copy tests, the drives were put in a simulated used state that better exposes long-term performance characteristics. Those tests are all scripted, ensuring an even playing field that gives the drives the same amount of time to recover from the initial used state.

  • We run virtually all our tests three times and report the median of the results. Our sustained IOMeter test is run a second time to verify the results of the first test and additional times only if necessary. The sustained test runs for 30 minutes continuously, so it already samples performance over a long period.

  • Steps have been taken to ensure the CPU’s power-saving features don’t taint any of our results. All of the CPU’s low-power states have been disabled, effectively pegging the frequency at 3.5GHz. Transitioning between power states can affect the performance of storage benchmarks, especially when dealing with short burst transfers.

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1920×1080 at 60Hz. Most of the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

 

Conclusions

Before drawing any conclusions, let’s look at the Trion 150’s relative overall performance compared to other drives in our labs. We distill the overall performance rating using an older SATA SSD as a baseline. To compare each drive, we then take the geometric mean of a basket of results from our test suite. Only drives which have been through the entire current test suite on our current rig are represented.

Well, there you have it. OCZ accomplished what it set out to do. Instead of languishing in the dubious company of Crucial’s BX200 480GB, the Trion 150 480GB is nipping at the heels of higher-performance drives like the 850 EVO 250GB and the Crucial BX100. OCZ coaxed more than a 20% increase over the Trion 100 480GB in our overall performance metric simply by swapping NAND.

We’ll also quantify the Trion 150’s value proposition by considering its performance against its price per gigabyte. In the scatter plot below, the most compelling positions are toward the upper left corner, where the price per gigabyte is low and performance is high.

As value goes, we think the Trion 150 480GB is in a excellent spot. Newegg is selling it for $129.99, or $0.27 per gigabyte. The Trion 100 and BX200 are still selling for the same price, despite being noticeably slower. We’d guess that Samsung’s 850 EVO 500GB would deliver somewhat better performance, but that drive is $30 to $40 more expensive on Newegg right now—no small potatoes. The Trion 150 is a great candidate for anyone looking for a reasonable amount of SSD at a low price.

Back when we reviewed the Trion 100, we were let down by that drive’s rather mediocre performance, even given its entry-level price tag. The Trion 150 has turned that situation around. We have few complaints with this drive. It’s priced competitively and its overall performance is much improved over its predecessor. It feels like the drive that the Trion 100 should have been off the bat. I would only avoid the Trion 150 for latency-sensitive use cases with highly random workloads. That one limitation aside, I can recommend it with no hesitation to the average consumer. Whether as a boot drive, media drive, or game library drive, the Trion 150 will serve regular folks well.

Comments closed
    • FrankJR
    • 4 years ago

    Not a fan of OCZ, got burned like a lot of people. Never again.

    • dragosmp
    • 4 years ago

    Nice review, I like the comparison with the X25m as for me it’s still the 1st really good SSD and it shows the evolution along the years

    • DrDominodog51
    • 4 years ago

    Thanks for the review. There was two small typos with the boot time graphs. Seconds should be in the place of title on the label on the x-axis.

      • weaktoss
      • 4 years ago

      Hmm—that was noticed and fixed, but somehow got unfixed. Thanks, it’s fixed again.

    • Chrispy_
    • 4 years ago

    Nice review. TR’s SSD reviews started off behind Anand’s but with Anand passing over the baton and Tony’s stuff reading well I’m confident that’s no longer the case.

    In other news, I’m not surprised OCZ’s (I just read that as “consumer Toshiba”) second attempt at TLC NAND is better. I would expect the firmware to be different even if the controller is not, since the firmware is probably the most important part of an SSD these days.

    I’m also considering buying a few of these to see how they fare – at the moment I’m using Ultra II drives in workstations but stocks of those are drying up fast and the 150 is cheaper.

    • ccipher
    • 4 years ago

    Thanks for the review!

    1 spelling error caught my eye on page 7 paragraph 3 – “prive”

      • weaktoss
      • 4 years ago

      Prive per gigabyte is the hottest new metric! Thanks, it’s fixed now.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 4 years ago

        I love the latest in hot new metrics!

    • Takeshi7
    • 4 years ago

    Can you add tests for the SATA drives in UDMA mode for people like me who are using SSDs without AHCI?

      • TheMonkeyKing
      • 4 years ago

      Don’t know why this person was down-voted. I would say the majority of regular folks would buy these SSDs thinking that they can save a buck or two by installing these into their systems. Some may have AHCI in their BIOS but never enacted because their HDs were not supported. And if you search out there, there is a ton of instructions and suggestions of how to switch to ACHI without performing a fresh installation.

      I know because one of my systems is exactly like that and I’ve tried to switch to AHCI but I’ve never been successful with this one box.

    • w76
    • 4 years ago

    Nice performance these days for around $.25/GB, a little less on sale. The weird behavior at different query depth scares me off a bit, though. Makes me worry about the quality of the firmware. Seems sloppy, they know these disks are going to be tested in exactly such a manner and they don’t make sure the tests will be consistent?

    Also, love the value scatter plot!

    • derFunkenstein
    • 4 years ago

    Nice review, and it’s excellent to see that decent performance can be had at budget prices now. I have clung to my BX100 250GB drive, but I could really use more flash storage on the cheap in a few places – a game drive in my desktop and I’m even pondering an SSD in the PS4. OCZ might be able to accommodate that now in a way that Crucial doesn’t right now.

      • Takeshi7
      • 4 years ago

      I put an SSD (Sandisk Ultra II) in my PS4, but it’s not recommended because the PS4 doesn’t support TRIM. I have noticed performance degradation over time. Sometimes (very rarely) I have even noticed the SSD loads slower than the 500GB Hard drive the PS4 came with. If I were to do it again, I would go with an SSHD. Seagate just released a new version of their SSHD with 32GB of flash.

      Disclaimer: I’m a Seagate employee, but these views are my own.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 4 years ago

        Hmm, good point about TRIM. Guessing that Sony never felt the need to implement it since the hardware out of the box doesn’t support it.

          • Takeshi7
          • 4 years ago

          The HDD in the PS4 is apparently hooked up through a USB to SATA converter. That makes it impossible to support TRIM, even if Sony wanted to.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 4 years ago

            didn’t know that, either. So it’s probably limited to USB 3.0 (3.1 Gen1 *barf*) speeds maxed out at 5Gbps, something an SSHD isn’t going to really be bothered by too awful much. Useful info throughout these comments, thanks.

            • auxy
            • 4 years ago

            Seriously? What junk hardware. Unbelievable. (´Д⊂ヽ

            • Takeshi7
            • 4 years ago

            Actually in my opinion it makes a lot of sense because USB is more flexible than SATA. It can allow Sony to adopt new technology in future PS4 iterations.

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