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Toshiba's OCZ RD400 512GB SSD reviewed

NVMe inches towards attainability

Back when Samsung's 950 Pro SSD debuted last year, it marked a turning point in the ongoing storage revolution. While Intel's 750 Series SSDs paved the way for next-gen SSDs on the desktop, the 950 Pro made the M.2 2280 form factor popular for retail storage devices. It didn't hurt that Intel's Skylake platform brought an abundance of of PCIe lanes to the masses, and the NVMe protocol promised a major advance in performance versus the older AHCI, too. Ever since the 950 Pro hit the shelves, though, the market landscape for modern, high-end consumer SSDs really hasn't changed all that much. The winds of change may finally be upon us, though, as Toshiba is joining the NVMe fray.

Feast your eyes on Toshiba's OCZ RD400, née the OCZ RevoDrive 400. We first heard about this drive at IDF back in August, and we've been excited ever since at the prospect of a true competitor to Intel's 750 Series SSDs and Samsung's 950 Pro. Make no mistake, this is a full-fat PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe, M.2 2280 drive. It comes in a few capacities, each of which can be optionally bundled with a PCIe-to-M.2 adapter.

Toshiba OCZ RD400
Capacity Max sequential (MB/s) Max random (IOps)
Read Write Read Write
128GB 2200 620 170k 110k
256GB 2600 1150 210k 140k
512GB 2600 1600 190k 120k
1TB 2600 1550 210k 130k

So what's with the RD400 name? Recently, Toshiba rebranded many of its OCZ consumer products under the Toshiba OCZ umbrella. The Trion 150 became the TR150, the Vector 180 became the VT180, and the as-yet-unreleased RevoDrive 400 became the RD400. Toshiba has done some great work rescuing the OCZ brand from its association with unreliability and bankruptcy, so it makes sense that they're keeping the name around. Under the Toshiba umbrella, OCZ released some great products—the Arc 100 and Trion 150 even earned TR Recommended awards.

The marketing materials and spec sheets for the RD400 are a bit light on technical details, so all we know officially is that the drive packs a Toshiba controller and Toshiba MLC NAND. An unfortunate side effect of the Toshiba acquisition has been a steadily increasing unwillingness on OCZ's part to discuss the guts of its products, but we'll forgive the company its reticence if its drives continue to impress.

We can infer that the MLC flash in the RD400 is fabbed on Toshiba's 15-nm process, as 15-nm NAND is all the company has been shipping recently. And you can be sure that if the company had something newer, smaller, or faster, it would have been a prominent bullet point on the drive's feature list. Inscribed on the controller chip are letters and numbers starting with "TC58." TC58 was how Toshiba referred to the controller inside the Trion 100 and 150-series drives. too. We can guess that Toshiba took that controller as a baseline and added some NVMe support into it before slapping it on the RD400.

When it comes to endurance and warranty information, though, Toshiba is happy to share. The 512GB drive is rated for 296 terabytes written, and it's guaranteed under a five-year advance-replacement warranty program. Toshiba's suggested price for the 512GB unit is $309.99 for the bare drive or $329.99 with the bundled PCIe adapter card, and both Amazon and Newegg seem to be respecting those prices. Those tags position the RD400 just a tad below the price of a bare Samsung 950 Pro 512GB drive, but you'll have to live without the Samsung drive's encryption features if you want to reap those savings.

Before we begin our testing, it's worth noting that we received an RD400 with Toshiba's own adapter card. This card comes with a thermal pad that bonds the underside of the drive to the body of the adapter card. We carried out our testing using OCZ's card, but we also double-checked our results with the Asus adapter card we usually test M.2 SSDs with to make sure the thermal pad wasn't giving the RD400 any unfair advantages. The drive's performance doesn't change appreciably whether it's mated to a thermal pad or to a regular adapter card, so we went ahead and used OCZ's adapter for the RD400 for our tests.

On to testing. Let's see if the first OCZ-branded NVMe drive has what it takes to roll with the heavyweights of the industry.