Zotac Announces Premium Edition SSD With Mainstream Performance

Gamers are a prime group targeted by SSD manufacturers. Brand loyalty is strong with this group. Many purchase video cards, headphones, keyboards, mice and other peripherals from the same company based on preference and trust in product quality.

Zotac is one of the companies cashing in with an expanding product portfolio. A subsidiary of PC Partner, Zotac went from selling video cards to offering motherboards, small form factor PCs, external storage enclosures and as of late, solid state drives.

The new Premium Edition solid state drives are not the company's first entry into the SSD market. Last June, Zotac released the Zotac Speed in China, a 120 GB SSD with up to 521 MB/s sequential read and 170 MB/s sequential write performance. The drive shipped in only one capacity. The limited performance from just a few interleaved NAND die wouldn't have made this a popular product in more developed nations. SSDs that sell well in China usually have a very low cost. Some companies even sell very low-performing products based on controllers designed for cache use in SSD + HDD configurations as premium solid state drives.

The Zotac Premium Edition SSDs (yes that is the product name) appears to be a global product. Zotac will bring the Phison S10-controlled models to market in 240 GB and 480 GB capacities. The quad-core S10 processor offers a number of exciting features such as end-to-end data path protection, Smart ECC, Smart Refresh, host power fail protection, and dynamic wear leveling. You can read our preview of the Phison S10 for a detailed look at the controller and feature set.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Density480 GB240 GB
ControllerPhison S10Phison S10
Sequential Read520 MB/s520 MB/s
Sequential Write500 MB/s500 MB/s
Active Power4.86 Watts5 Watts
Idle Power0.62 Watts0.57 Watts
Endurance480 TBW214 TBW
Warranty3 Years3 Years

Initially, the Phison S10 controller was billed as a premium part that would compete with Samsung's 850 Pro and SanDisk's Extreme PRO. Corsair released the first retail-branded SSD with the controller, the Neutron XT.

I remember Corsair employees excited about the product's performance and potential performance. Early performance tests run with compressible data showed that the S10 could compete with the best from South Korea at the time. Moving over to incompressible data, though, put the S10 performance more in line with mainstream SSDs at the time. Phison promised a future firmware update that would increase sustained random write performance to 10,000 IOPS. A year after release, users have turned blue in the face, passed out, or at the very least grown more gray hair for an update that never came. Now, the Phison S10 has entered the mainstream market with products from Kingston, Mushkin, Patriot Memory, and others -- including the just-announced Zotac Premium Edition.

However, this isn't a product we're very excited about for a couple of reasons. Patriot Memory already has a very low cost model on the market with a razor-thin margin (the Torch Pro 240 GB at $79.99, 480 GB at $139.99), and it delivers higher sequential read performance (up to 560 MB/s). I don't see Zotac being able to compete on price with more established SSD providers with just two SSD product lines. The NAND flash is the most expensive component of any client-based SSD, and Zotac just doesn't have the purchasing power to buy on the same scale as companies with several SSDs on the market.

The new Premium Edition SSD should be a solid offering in terms of reliability, though. Phison develops the hardware, writes the firmware and manufactures the drives in Toshiba factories that are known to produce some of the most reliable SSDs sold today.

Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.
  • Blueberries
    Phison/MLC seems to be the new fad. Let's be honest though, nobody is really competing with Samsung, Intel and Micron at this point.
  • thundervore
    Again, Zotac is too late to the party just like with their GPUs. Samsung, Intel and Micron are killing the OEM market. Open any prebuilt off the shelf computer in any brick and mortar store and its either a Samsung, Intel or Micron SSD inside, not even Kingston, Corsair or Crucial can touch them.

    Even the consumer market, it is either Samsung or Intel so what makes Zotac think that the can compete?

  • Lutfij
    Zotac may have some nifty bells and whistles on a piece of paper but their QC department leaves a lot to be desired. Let some people buy it and see how they fare then I'll put my confidence in them.