Transcend MTE850 - 06

Transcend first announced its first 3D MLC NAND flash-based SSD, the MTE850 back in April 2017, with an amazing performance of up to 2500MB/s sequential read and 1100MB/s sequential write.

We managed to get a unit of the 512GB MTE850 SSD from Transcend, months after the announcement. There’s no doubt that it’s 4 times faster than our usual SATA SSD, but just how can we actually benefit from the speed?

Transcend MTE850 Specifications

Interface NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4
Capacity 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Storage Media 3D MLC NAND flash memory
Maximum Performance Sequential read: 2500MB/s
Sequential write: 1100MB/s
Operating Temperature 0°C (32°F) ~ 70°C (158°F)
Warranty Three-year Limited Warranty (Warranty does not apply when SSD Scope’s wear-out indicator displays 0% within 3 years.) Please access here for more information about the Transcend Warranty Policy.
Note Speed may vary due to host hardware, software, usage, and storage capacity.

Unboxing

Transcend MTE850 - 01

Starting off with the packaging, rather than the usual red-white packaging, the Transcend MTE850 ships in an aggressive looking black-red packaging. At the front of the box, you’ll find highlighted features of the product itself i.e 3D MLC NAND Flash, NVMe Rev. 12 performance, etc.

Transcend MTE850 - 02

At the back of the box, you’ll find the product specifications and the installation procedure of the SSD itself.

Transcend MTE850 - 03

Content-wise, you’ll find some product catalogues and warranty card as usual, and the MTE850 SSD itself. There are no extra accessories such as screwdriver provided in the box, so you’ll have to prepare your own for the installation.

Transcend MTE850 - 04

Since Transcend never really advertise it as a gaming product, the MTE850 SSD looks just like most generic M.2 SSD you’ll find on the market. Aesthetics aside, we can see that Transcend is using the SM2260 controller from Silicon Motion for the MTE850.

The SM2260 is commonly seen on SSD that implements the NVMe 1.2 protocol and uses PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. The controller packs a dual-core ARM Cortex-R processor and it supports LDPC error correction.

Transcend MTE850 - 05

From the product sheet, we can see that the MTE850 has a built-in SLC caching technology for faster transfer speed. The cache chip used was a 2GB (256MB) Samsung RAM label K4B2G1646F-BYKO, one found on each side of the PCB.  This is exactly the same chip used on the SSD230S for SLC caching as well.

The MTE850 has a total of four flash memory chips. Just so you know, the 512GB variant we have here uses Transcend’s own TIGMN1B-2Q04 T1725 D78962 memory chips.

SSD Scope Software

The SSD Scope is Transcend’s free, proprietary software made for Transcend SSD. Useful features which you can find in the SSD Scope includes SSD Status, Tools, System Clone and FW Update.

If you’re upgrading your system to the MTE850, the System Clone function on the SSD Scope will definitely make your life easier. The System Status and Tools, however, doesn’t really do much unless you’re looking for some in-depth information on your SSD.

Transcend MTE850 Performance Benchmark

CrystalDiskMark

Developed by a Japanese coder that goes by the nickname Hiyohiyo, CrystalDiskMark is one of the most frequent used SSD Benchmark utility to measure SSD’s read and write performance. There’s 2 option for the test data used, compressible (0 fill) and incompressible (1 fill).

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The most frequently used benchmarking utility by many manufacturers for performance specification. As ATTO Disk Benchmark uses compressible data rather than incompressible data, it results in higher benchmark scores.

The result shows that the MTE850 can indeed perform as advertised, but there’s a clear difference in the write performance when the drive is filled up to 90% or more. Sequential read isn’t really affected by this, as it remains in the range of ±2500MB/s. The sequential write, however, decreased from the ±1100MB/s mark to as low as 383MB/s in ATTO Disk Benchmark.

File Transfer

We’ve conducted file transfer test with almost 90% capacity occupied. The test data used consists of large and small files, both compressible and incompressible.

For the first set of test, we transferred the test data back and forth a SATA SSD just to see how well will it perform. Both read and write speed is just as expected – it’s fast indeed, but there’s a clear performance bottleneck caused by the SATA SSD.

The second set of test is done by transferring the test data back and forth another PCIe SSD. Then again, performance bottleneck can still be observed, especially on the write speed.

Final Thoughts

There’s not really much complaint about the performance and the ease of migration is definitely worth to mention. It takes very little effort to migrate from your old system to the MTE850, which is actually a good thing. System cloning, SSD firmware update, etc is made a lot easier with SSD Scope.

Despite being 4 times faster than most generic SATA SSD, the Transcend MTE850 is affected by the same issue when it’s filled to 90% above. A significant decrease in write performance can be observed when it comes to some compressible data. It is recommended that you leave 10% to 20% of the drive unallocated for the best performance possible.

As most of you would have already known, 3D NAND is developed to break through density limitations of the 2D planar NAND. Since the greater level of performance and endurance can be delivered with 3D TLC NAND flash, you can try to imagine how long with 3D MLC NAND flash last.

The Transcend MTE850 is retailed at RM 1285, which we find it still pretty reasonable given the fact that it’s using 3D MLC NAND flash instead of TLC NAND flash.

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB
  • Bundled software is simple, well featured and easy to use
  • Backed by 3-year limited warranty from Transcend

Cons

  • Write performance on some compressible data is decreased almost by half when the SSD is filled to 90% above

Tech Critter Silver