We'll let the performance charts do most of the talking about the TR200's performance. We can’t ignore the DRAMless market as a whole, but these products promised to deliver in two key areas; lower prices and reduced power consumption. It's obvious they don't deliver on those promises.
Removing the expense of one or two DRAM packages provides minimal cost savings. DRAM prices are up, just like NAND, but companies like Toshiba buy the components on a large scale, so they shouldn't bat an eye at the expense. The results do not justify the means, even with a $10 decrease in component expense. The only price that users care about is what they pay, and DRAMless SSDs are not cheaper than products already on the market.
Surprisingly, DRAMless SSDs do not reduce power consumption. A single picture doesn't tell a complicated story. You could argue that less power consumption in a snapshot is better, like during a test while the SSD is at idle or under heavy load, but SSDs are complex and dynamic instruments. Our battery life tests are a better measure of real-world power consumption, and the TR200 trailed the competing products.
For the most part, DRAMless SSDs have failed to deliver a single benefit to end users. Dollar for dollar we struggle to find a viable reason to even consider this product class. We have to question why companies would bring these SSDs to market given the current competition and pricing, especially the existing models that have dominated the landscape for years.
The next generation of DRAMless products promises to address many of these issues. DRAMless NVMe SSDs technically do not have DRAM, but the protocol supports using your system memory as a buffer for the physical-to-logical address map. It's a great theory, and it might even work in the mass market. Companies keep displaying the promising technology at trade shows, but they aren’t releasing samples or products. That leads us to believe it may have issues under the surface that we don’t see on the trade show floor.
The TR200 series is an odd bird. With most SSDs you pay for larger capacities and increased performance. With this series, you pay for more capacity but don't receive increased performance. It’s not much of an issue with the 240GB model, but we feel like users are getting shortchanged as prices increase with the 480GB and 960GB models. The money is there, the capacity is there, but the performance is stagnant.
Toshiba made sure to price the 960GB well below the Samsung 850 EVO 1TB, but the other two capacities are only $10 less. We don't think the 240GB and 480GB are worthy of consideration at launch pricing. They are not even on the list of SSDs to investigate, at least until pricing drops.
The TR200 960GB at $289.99 is roughly $45 less than the 850 EVO 1TB. For some readers that may be enough to take a closer look at this product. I don't think it's a large enough difference for you to actually roll the dice.
When it comes to gambling, Toshiba put quite a bit on the line with this release. The company sent out samples of the XG5 NVMe SSD to show off BiCS NAND, which was a very good move. If the TR200 was our first taste of BiCS we would quickly draw similarities to Micron's first generation 3D NAND. In contrast, at least we know that BiCS has potential. It just fell flat in a DRAMless configuration.
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