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OCZ RD400 NVMe SSD Review

Conclusion

The new OCZ RD400 M.2 SSD is a double edge sword. On one side, we have the largest capacity NVMe-based M.2 SSD available today. On the other side, we have three capacity sizes that equal Samsung's SM951-NVMe and 950 Pro. The RD400's performance is equal to the competing drives that offer similar capacity, and even though these are premium products, pricing still plays a large role in the buying decision process.

OCZ has the first 1TB M.2 SSD using the NVMe protocol, but others will soon follow. Samsung briefed us on its new 48-layer 256 Gbit density flash in late 2015, and we were told to expect a 1 TB 950 Pro SSD in January. Samsung has obviously pushed the release back. Samsung has only delivered two products with 48-layer flash, the 850 EVO and T3 Portable SSD, and both utilize three-bit per cell (TLC) NAND.

This puts the RD400 in a unique position. The RD400 1TB costs roughly $400 less than the Intel SSD 750 1.2TB and can fit in new notebooks that work with the NVMe protocol and M.2 form factor. Under most workloads, the two products compare very well. Users would need to run write-intensive applications to spot a difference in performance. The Intel 750 is a better choice under very heavy conditions, but your workload would need to be borderline enterprise in nature to justify the difference in price.

The smaller OCZ RD400 SSDs deliver similar performance to the Samsung 950 Pro and SM951-NVMe SSDs. OCZ tagged the pricing very close to the Samsung SSDs, but we feel it may be a little too close. The 950 Pro SSDs give a little more value with the included software features, such as Magician, Rapid Mode, and the Data Migration Tool. The 950 Pro also gives users a little more performance in some corner cases in tandem with higher notebook battery life. We would like to see the RD400 priced a little lower to entice us to choose the OCZ option over Samsung's 950 Pro.

Pricing has played an increasingly important role for SSD shoppers over the last two years because manufacturers have pushed the entry-level market down to very low levels. 1TB value-focused TLC-based SSDs now cost as low as $209, and MLC-based products are close behind. Some products are dipping down to $270. We have reported that MLC flash prices are on the rise as production shifts to TLC and new 3D technologies.

Now is a good time to buy a high-performance SSD, but there is a price premium for NVMe and MLC flash. The two technologies together nearly double the price of premium SATA / MLC combination products like the SanDisk Extreme Pro 960 GB. Because of that, the OCZ RD400 1TB is a niche product, but it delivers a better value than other 1TB NVMe solutions shipping today.

Product / CapacityRD400950 ProSM951-NVMe
128 GB74 TBWNA75 TWB
256 GB148 TBW200 TBW75 TBW
512 GB296 TBW400 TBW150 TBW
1 TB592 TBWNANA

I noticed how fast the OCZ endurance meter was ticked down during our testing. Normally I do not give endurance much thought because extensive tests have proven that warrantied endurance has little to do with the actual life of an SSD. On the personal side, I do not write a lot of data in day-to-day use, and can pull a new drive off a shelf at any point. My cost is walking fifteen feet and 30 minutes of disk clone time.

Our testing writes a tremendous amount of data to the SSD sample in a short amount of time. The OCZ SSD Utility software does a very good job of real-time wear reporting, and it indicated that we burned through 20 percent of the warrantied flash writes on the RD400 256 GB in three days. The large 1TB model dropped 10 percent in the same amount of time. Users should not have a problem over the five-year warranty period under normal use.

If a user runs heavy performance tests, or expects to write a lot of data from a workstation-level application, they may exceed the endurance specifications before the warranty expires. If flash endurance is a factor due to a heavy write workload, the chart above will add some clarity to an often-overlooked performance metric.

Overall, we like the OCZ RD400 SSDs but think the Samsung 950 Pro is a superior product when the price is this close. OCZ did an exceptional job with the tools available at this time. But OCZ and parent company Toshiba made the same mistake Intel and Micron made with 3D flash. Samsung made a leap that is paying off while the other NAND flash manufacturers continued to walk to 3D flash. Toshiba missed the mark with the first version of 3D flash called BiCS. The company is working hard on its successor BiCS 2, but from this point forward, every product cycle without 3D just falls farther behind what Samsung has already delivered.

The products can match Samsung in corner cases but fail to match it in others. The only avenue to make up the difference is aggressive pricing, and OCZ did not accomplish that with the RD400. OCZ has a long history of aggressive pricing; the company even pushed prices down when it had a superior product. The question now is whether Toshiba will allow that to happen again. I'm not so sure that will happen because Toshiba is trying to make a profit, and OCZ had different motives for aggressive pricing in the past.

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

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  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    I believe Toshiba should just kill the OCZ brand name. As the author mentions, a lot of people have bad reactions to OCZ products. For every user who had good memories, there are at least 3-4 others who don't. So make a clean break - kill the OCZ brand name & either create a new one or just use Toshiba.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    I believe Toshiba should just kill the OCZ brand name. As the author mentions, a lot of people have bad reactions to OCZ products. For every user who had good memories, there are at least 3-4 others who don't. So make a clean break - kill the OCZ brand name & either create a new one or just use Toshiba.
    I mean... have you ever used a Toshiba laptop? You think people have bad memories of OCZ! At least the OCZ issues only poisoned the cheap enthusiast market. Toshiba's own bad name is far more broad reaching.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    My own expierence with OCZ was hit and miss. Their great products were fantastic and cheap, while their crap was really truly crap. 3-4 years ago when I was upgrading to SSDs I bought all OCZ products simple because there was nothing else that was affordable at the time. A lot of their gen2 products were pretty scarry, but their 3rd gen Agility lineup was pretty reliable, and came in much MUCH cheaper than anyone else. I had a Solid 2 and Agility 2 that died on me, which were replaced by an Agility 3 and Vertex 3 (both under warranty). So my expierence was not too terrible.
    But then again, you get what you pay for. Any time a new tech comes in that much cheaper than the competition you have to expect failures.

    Not to mention, some of their PSUs were fantastic! After they bought PC Power & Cooling you could get essentially a PCnP PSU for $50 less as an OCZ rebrand! I have a 750W 80+Silver OCZ rebrand and it has been running 24/7 for almost 5 years without so much as a hiccup! Granted, their in-house OCZ PSUs were crap... but that's why you do a bit of research before buying.
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    I believe Toshiba should just kill the OCZ brand name. As the author mentions, a lot of people have bad reactions to OCZ products. For every user who had good memories, there are at least 3-4 others who don't. So make a clean break - kill the OCZ brand name & either create a new one or just use Toshiba.
    I mean... have you ever used a Toshiba laptop? You think people have bad memories of OCZ! At least the OCZ issues only poisoned the cheap enthusiast market. Toshiba's own bad name is far more broad reaching.

    So you're saying you would go for the new brand name option. ;)

    Actually, I have used several Satellite Pro laptops back in the day; they weren't too bad. Even you really want to go back, I've used Toshiba FDDs (floppy disk drives) w/no problems. I also have a number of Toshiba enterprise drives, both HDD and SSD. So I guess for me, Toshiba has much better brand equity in my mind than OCZ.
    Reply
  • Krom_121
    Mine experience was horrific and I agree the name should have been changed.
    Reply
  • erendofe
    the only thing I bought of OCZ was a 2 power supplies (700W)... I guess its kinda hard to completely screw them up because both work great. must be lucky
    Reply
  • 3ogdy
    "We, and other sites, notice the proliferation of negativity about OCZ in the comments section of every OCZ news post or product review. Undoubtedly, even before reading beyond this point, some are already reaching for their keyboards to pen a chilling tale of a poor product, support or warranty issue.

    In the past, OCZ would flaunt a prototype fresh off the production line at a trade show and we would see retail products within a few months. Times have changed and OCZ is now part of Toshiba, which is renowned for its extensive testing, longer development cycles and true tier 1 status."

    I'm glad people like you are aware of this. I'm sad people like OCZ might not be. Well, after how successful they ended up being (/irony) they probably know it too.
    How about making this cursed name disappear from the market? It just doesn't matter if Toshiba, Samsung, Microsoft, Bill Gates the man himself, God or an alien aliance bought OCZ. We all remember how they treated their customers and how disastrous their products were. I'm gonna stop talking about it here because you ALL know what's up with OCZ. Toshiba, be smart about it...get rid of that name.

    It seems very strange that they decided to put their tech under that crappy brand's hood and market those when they already knew what the problem was. Buying one of those products was like buying a lottery ticket.

    Dog gamn, even dictionaries from the Roman era had taken notice of this lousy company's products before they went downhil. I'm surprised there are no comments on how OCZ would destroy their own products through the release of updates that bricked their customers' drives for free? (do I see a pattern here? Oh...right, it's OCZ) l:
    Reply
  • crenwelge
    I got great customer service out of OCZ, they promptly replaced an SSD for me that I mistakenly thought was bad. Turns out, the problem was with my Asrock hardware. Asrock is either the stupidest or most dishonest company I've ever dealt with. After 5 RMA's I finally gave up on Asrock. I diagnosed and paid for a replacement out of my own pocket.
    Reply
  • Virtual_Singularity
    The listed numbers look promising for the RD400, no doubt. It may be worth noting that of the top 3 performers we see in the charts, only Samsung at least offers a basic level of data security via their AES 256-bit for User Data Encryption. I thought Intel's 750 series would surely at least include the same, and was a tad surprised to find out they don't.
    Reply
  • LordConrad
    I have two Vertex 2 drives and one Vertex 3, and never had any problems with them.

    I prefer Samsung drives these days because of the V-NAND endurance but the RD400 is a good drive, I would buy one if the price was right.
    Reply