The Seagate Nytro 141 client SSD appeared online just days before our sample arrived. The original news item we posted obviously made some nervous because the selling price is lower than the cost of the flash inside the 256GB drive. Seagate reached out to us for clarification, and we learned quite a bit from the conversation.
Seagate built the Nytro 141 for a large customer to use as a server boot drive. Seagate didn't advertise the drive or even list it on its website. From what we can see, Seagate didn’t intend the client drive for the channel, wide distribution, or even a public acknowledgment. We're not sure why the drive trickled into the channel, but we suspect the original customer didn't purchase all the custom SSDs produced. Instead of holding the drives, either Seagate or the original buyer dumped the drives into the channel below market value to recoup some of the expense.
None of that really matters to shoppers. These drives are for sale and relatively cheap considering their components and capabilities. Computer Upgrade King (CUKUSA), a reputable system builder that also sells components at low prices, provided us an SSD for this review. Credit goes to them for finding the Nytro 141, and also for selling the 256GB drive for just $89.99.
The $90 price point is interesting because that's comparable to DRAMless 256GB SSDs with heavy overprovisioning. The hefty overprovisioning reduces the amount of usable capacity, but it improves performance. In contrast, the Nytro 141 uses a familiar combination of components. Seagate rebranded the Phison PS3110-S10 SATA 6Gbps controller and paired it with DRAM and Toshiba's 15nm TLC planar NAND. Similar SSDs retail for quite a bit more than the Nytro 141, so it is a good value for a mainstream SSD, but it won't last very long.
In our meeting with Seagate, we learned that this drive came to the channel in limited numbers and likely will never return. There are a few thousand drives available, so it won't sell out in a few days. However, it will never enjoy the same level of sales as the other SSDs we review. It also means that the Nytro 141 will not be the long-awaited successor to Seagate's 600 series SSDs that came to market in mid-2013 with the Link_A_Media controller.
We've seen the Seagate Nytro 141 256GB listed for sale, but the specification sheet outlines several configurations. Seagate stated the Nytro shipped "to select customers," so the specification sheet outlines either what was offered or what customers requested -- not what the company produced. Seagate sent us a statement about the Nytro 141 series:
"Seagate is currently shipping to select customers the Nytro 141 SATA SSD. This will be the first of Seagate's Data Center Value SSDs. The Nytro 141 SATA SSD is designed specifically for Data Center customers that require an entry level, low-endurance SSD designed for server boot volumes, application servers, content storage, and media servers. This read-intensive SSD can also be used in personal compute, workstations, and home NAS devices where write workloads are extremely light.
While the new Nytro 141 SSD can be used in a wide range of applications, Seagate designed this drive specifically for Data Center customers who require read intensive workloads. This product will have limited availability since we are targeting a handful of customers that have these specific requirements."
The Nytro series ships in two distinct configurations with three capacities each. Overprovisioning is the differentiator. Drives with overprovisioning come in 960GB, 480GB, and 240GB capacities. The Seagate Nytro 141 specification sheet lists sustained performance ratings for the overprovisioned drives, but not for the other subgroup. The second set of drives come to market with the full complement of NAND dedicated to usable capacity, which yields 1024GB (1TB), 512GB, and 256GB models. These models give you more capacity, which lowers the cost per usable gigabyte.
SSDs will use any available space for background activities, so the performance delta between an overprovisioned SSD and a model that uses the full raw NAND capacity shouldn't mean much unless you fill the drive.
Seagate re-badged the Phison PS3110-S10 four-core eight-channel controller. This controller uses a DRAM buffer and performs well with Toshiba 15nm TLC flash. This is a configuration we've seen before several times with many different brand stickers on the case. Seagate used a custom firmware and revision numbering scheme, so we can't decode the firmware to determine if we tested a similar product in the past.
We have the Nytro 141 256GB that Computer Upgrade King shipped from Virginia. The company plans to use the drives for system builds, but it also offers them to the public. Sequential read/write performance comes in at 560/530MB/s while random performance reaches 92,000/88,000 read/write IOPS. The Nytro series uses an aggressive SLC buffer to increase random write performance, and direct-to-die technology increases sustained write performance once the SLC buffer is saturated.
Seagate outlines the features in its documentation.
- Every computing application may have different performance and endurance requirements, but every IT buyer is pushed to minimize costs. The Nytro 141 SSD offers two sets of cost-effective finely tuned configurations that deliver specific SSD benefits for a wide range of read-intensive applications, from entry-level data centers to personal computing.
- Configuration 1 provides higher sustained performance with an endurance boost when the application demands more aggressive mixed workloads. By precisely tuning the exact amount of available over-provisioning (distributed writes and erases across the NAND media) the Nytro 141 delivers consistent performance, value endurance, and high reliability, which is ideal for accelerating entry-level data center applications.
- Configuration 2 enables maximum capacity with peak performance, low power, and high reliability. The Nytro 141 SSD provides the most value for your dollar with the highest capacity SKUs, giving you the storage you need and keeping you closer to your personal data.
- Both Nytro 141 SSD configurations are built with advanced data protection, including end-to-end data path protection, SmartECC and a data-coherence mechanism for solid reliability. The Nytro 141 SSD is also backed by a five-year warranty from Seagate.
Configuration 1 (Sustained Performance with Endurance)
- Servers with read-intensive workloads
- Server boot volumes
- Video/media streaming
- Cloud application servers
- Content storage/warehousing
- Web/social media servers
Configuration 2 (Cost Competitive Capacity)
- Workstation and personal computer
- Personal NAS storage
- All-in-one enclosures
We're more concerned with Configuration 2 specifications because you can actually purchase that model. For the most part, the full capacity drives are general-use SSDs and will be fine in a desktop environment. We'll talk about notebook use later in this review.
Pricing, Warranty & Endurance
Computer Upgrade King is excited about this low-cost model because it offers users access to the full capacity at a great price point. CUKUSA offers the Nytro 141 256GB for $89.99 at the time of writing.
Seagate lists the Nytro with a five-year warranty that has an endurance rating limitation. The 256GB model we're testing carries a 72 TBW rating.
A Closer Look
The Seagate Nytro 141 uses a thin metal housing to hold the PCB. This is an OEM drive, so there isn't anything fancy. You won't receive a branded package because these drives ship to resellers in bulk package trays.
The orange printed circuit board is a unique touch for the older design that we've seen countless times before. Phison designed the PS3110-S10 controller for a dual role: it powers high-performance SSDs with MLC flash and also low-cost general-use TLC SSDs.
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