Toshiba TR200 SSD Review

Toshiba first unveiled the TR200 in August at a pair of industry trade shows including GamesCon. After a few months of fiddling with programming and firmware, the series is finally ready for retail. Surprisingly, the TR200 will be Toshiba's only new SATA SSD in 2017.

The Toshiba TR200 marks the beginning of several major trends that you need to be mindful of. The most obvious is that Toshiba's 3D BiCS NAND technology is finally coming to retail products. BiCS (Bit Cost Scalable) is the company's codename for its 3D vertical NAND technology, much like Samsung’s V-NAND branding. The new NAND features charge trap technology that allows Toshiba to increase die density without sacrificing quality (as measured by endurance). Naturally, that reduces cost.

Toshiba's marketing material reveals the other new trend. Inside, an entry states:

[The TR200] will be the only SATA-based retail released by Toshiba...

There is a little more to the statement, but it says that the TR200 will be Toshiba's only new retail SATA SSD in 2017. The TR200 is a low-performance DRAMless model, so the shift means Toshiba will move mainstream and enthusiast class products to NVMe from this point forward. I can't imagine any company fully moving away from SATA this early, but the next SATA SSD from Toshiba will most likely come with some type of legacy branding.

For many of our readers, SATA SSDs are already legacy products. Low-cost NVMe SSDs like the Intel 600p, MyDigitalSSD BPX, and upcoming DRAMless products are already the new entry point for enthusiasts.

DRAMless SATA SSDs have carved out their place in the market. There is always a need for low cost components for various applications, but those may be outside of your own personal workload. The TR200 certainly isn't an incendiary enthusiast SSD, and it's not even a tamed mainstream drive, but not every computer has to spit fire. Toshiba went conservative with its first retail BiCS SSD. 

Specifications

The new TR200 series will come to market in 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB capacities. It's rare to see a 1TB class entry-level SSD of any variety in the NAND shortage era, but 1TB DRAMless models are even rarer because the design presents multiple technical challenges.

Toshiba has released several DRAMless SSDs over the last several years with varying degrees of performance and market success. The company has the most experience with this type of product, but most of its DRAMless SSDs are firmly tucked away in OEM systems. The TR200 will follow a long line of reliable products, and that's the number one concern we always have with entry-level SSDs; reliability is the most important feature.

On paper, the TR200 features very respectable performance numbers for all three capacities. Sequential read performance comes to 525 MB/s, and Toshiba claims sequential write performance spans up to 525 MB/s. Our early preview of BiCS NAND with the OEM-focused Toshiba XG5 proved the flash is more than capable of sustaining this high level of sequential write performance.

Random performance is the dividing line between mainstream and entry-class SSDs, and the TR200's random performance is down compared to the mainstream-class products we've tested in the past. This series can push 80,000/87,000 random read/write IOPS, but those are the infamous up to numbers that we hoped would vanish in the new 3D era.

The TC58NC1010GSB controller is new to Toshiba's retail product line. It's similar to Phison's new S11, and the two may even share the same silicon. Toshiba is very protective of the finer architectural details, so we don't have an expansive knowledge of the controllers' feature set.

Pricing & Warranty

Toshiba's MSRP for the TR200 series is $89.99 (120GB), $149.99 (480GB), and $289.88 (960GB). The two smaller models are just $10 less than the comparable Samsung 850 EVOs. The 850 EVO 1TB currently sells for $334.99 at Newegg, which Toshiba undercuts by $45.

Toshiba backs the new TR200 series with a limited three-year warranty. The "limited" designation stems from the endurance rating, which quantifies the amount of data you can write to the drive before the warranty expires. Toshiba gives you 60 TB (120GB), 120 TB (240GB), and 240 TB (960GB) of warrantied data writes.

Software

The OCZ team has been fully integrated into Toshiba, so the company retired the OCZ Guru software. The newly-renamed SSD Utility still delivers a full-featured experience.

Packaging

The integration has brought some color and life into the Toshiba consumer SSD lineup. The TR200 packaging looks great; it doesn't give away the fact that this is an entry-level SSD.

A Closer Look

The Toshiba TR200 uses the same standard entry-level case we've seen a hundred times before. The tabbed system is devoid of screws and built for economics over aesthetics. The metal structure acts as a heatsink to pull the heat away from the controller.

Internals

The 3D BiCS NAND is the only thing of interest we found inside the new TR200 DRAMless SSD. Unlike the XG5 we previously tested that used a ball grid array mounting scheme, this drive uses TSOP connections. That's visible as the little "fingers" on the side of the NAND package.

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