As TLC-based SSDs come to the forefront of the consumer based value SSD segment, we have been inundated with emails from readers wanting to know what super low-cost TLC-based SATA SSD is the best bang for the buck. Our readers want to know primarily about planar-based TLC SSDs at the 480GB capacity point. Consumers are really interested in getting a half terabyte of fast storage for about a hundred bucks. To us, this seems like a fairly easy answer. Based on our testing, most notably our transfer testing, we feel that Phison S10-powered planar TLC SSDs in a 480GB capacity offer the best performance for around $100. However, a few of our readers wanted to know what we thought of SanDisk's SSD Plus and Z410 because they sell for roughly the same cost as S10-powered SSDs at similar capacity points.
It would be easy to just dismiss the SSD Plus and Z410 as inferior due to the fact that they are both DRAM-less designs and in all likelihood would not deliver Phison S10 level performance even though they sell for roughly the same price. That, and the fact that all of the SMI 2256 controlled drives we've tested to date have been underwhelming to say the least. That said, in reality we had no idea how the SSD Plus or Z410 actually perform, because SanDisk chose not to sample either to the review community. Is this because performance is that bad? Or, is it because they don't want to create competition within their own product stack?
To answer our readers' questions about the SSD Plus and Z410 we decided to purchase some of our own and find out first hand if either are viable options to the plethora of Phison S10 powered planar TLC SSDs on the market.
SanDisk pairs their own 15nm planar TLC (Triple-Level-Cell or 3-bit per cell) flash with SMI's 4-channel SM2256S TLC specific controller on both the SSD Plus and Z410. This version of SMI's controller allows for a DRAM-less design which lowers overall SSD production costs. We did not notice any physical difference in PCB components between the SSD Plus and Z410 480GB SSDs. Same flash, same controller, same PCB. We believe the only difference between the two drives is firmware. Both drives employ SLC caching to boost burst write performance. The SSD Plus comes with downloadable cloning software, SanDisk's SSD Dashboard and a stick-on plastic spacer. SanDisk states the SSD Plus is ideal for typical PC workloads and is sold as a "For Home" upgrade. The Z410 is targeted as a cost-efficient business solution that has been validated for several OEM platforms. The Z410 is sold as a drive only solution. Both SSDs are available as cased designs only; there is no M.2 variant. Both the SSD Plus and Z410 feature low cost all plastic enclosures, which in our opinion makes them seem of inferior quality.
All plastic enclosures certainly aren't a deal breaker; to us its more about performance so let's take a close look at SanDisk's super low cost planar TLC offerings.
Both the SSD Plus and Z410 are available in three capacities: 120GB, 250GB, and 480GB. SanDisk only lists sequential read/write performance for the SSD Plus: 120GB up to 530/400 MB/s, 240GB up to 530/440 MB/s, 480GB up to 535/445 MB/s. SanDisk backs the SSD Plus with a limited 3-year warranty.
SanDisk provides more detailed specifications for the Z410. 120GB: Sequential read/write up to 535/410 MB/s. Max 4K random read/write up to 36/54K IOPS at QD32. TBW 40TB, MTTF 1.75 million hours. 240GB: Sequential read/write up to 535/440 MB/s. Max 4K random read/write up to 36/66K IOPS at QD32. TBW 80TB, MTTF 1.75 million hours. 480GB: Sequential read/write up to 535/445 MB/s. Max 4K random read/write up to 37/68K IOPS at QD32. TBW 120TB, MTTF 1.75 million hours. SanDisk backs the Z410 with a limited 3-year warranty.
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