Transcend has been a market leader for years producing one of the most comprehensive storage lineups whether you want a flash memory solution for your camera, drone or PC or even a high capacity mechanical drive to handle backups.
Expanding into the macOS market, Transcend has deployed a series of JetDrive solutions to handle both the proprietary PCIe connection found from Late 13' through Mid-2015 and standard SATA solution used from 2008 through Early 13'.
The JetDrive 825 is made up of two components, a unibody aluminum enclosure with a non-removable Thunderbolt cable and a JetDrive 820 SSD in either a 240,480 or 960GB capacity depending on your needs.
For our review, Transcend sent over the 240GB solution which is capable of 700 MB/s read and 550 MB/s write in our Late 13' test system and up to 900 MB/s read if you have a Mid 15' MBPr with its Gen3 interface.
The JetDrive 825 is geared towards macOS users but is compatible with Windows systems with a Thunderbolt connection. Current MSRP of the 240GB solution in-house sits at $259.99 with a five-year warranty.
Packaging starts off with an image of the JetDrive centered with capacity listed at the top right.
The back goes into more detail with package contents at the top left.
Included in the box we have the drive to the far right followed by the installation guide and two screwdrivers.
Inside the enclosure, we have the JetDrive 820 SSD paired with a custom Thunderbolt powered PCB.
With the JetDrive 825, Transcend includes toolbox software.
This gives access to SMART data along with TRIM controls and wear level indicator.
For testing, I was able to pull my old Late 13' MacBook Pro out of retirement and run it with the JetDrive 825. With Black Magic, we saw 730 MB/s read and 581 MB/s write.
We then moved over to AJA to get a few rounds in. Here we reached 625 MB/s read and 485 MB/s write with the 1080p workload seen above.
Moving over to UHD, we see 733 MB/s read and 560 MB/s write.
It took quite awhile for Transcend to finally produce Apple upgrade solutions for devices that used the proprietary PCIe slot Apple introduced in Late 13'. As an owner of a Late 13 MacBook Pro, it's a welcomed addition to the very slim options we have to upgrade the internal drive.
For me, I configured my MacBook with a 512GB SSD from the factory so this 240GB solution isn't an upgrade regarding capacity but rather a slight bump in performance. Also, having the Thunderbolt enclosure is a bonus both for cloning your existing drive along with a place for your old drive to rest after the upgrade is complete.
Performance of the drive was on par with marketing claims of 700 MB/s read and 550 MB/s write but we were able to get slightly more at 730 and 580 MB/s in BMD. AJA produced similar results with the UHD workload at 730 by 560 and 1080p managed 625 MB/s read and 425 MB/s write.
The included toolbox software works great to check on the health of your drive, enable or disable TRIM and even check the wear level but its absolutely terrible for updating the drive. In the last week of having the drive I have attempted to upgrade the firmware three times and all three times the download was terribly slow reaching only 50% completion after 45 minutes and right after it would fail.
On top of this issue, the entire firmware upgrade process is messy consisting of formatting flash drives and loading images, rebooting etc. For the general consumer, this to me is way too much, especially when Windows machines can update firmware right within toolbox software.
Overall, the Transcend JetDrive 825 is a solid option for those that want a bump in performance or even capacity if your MacBook was originally configured with a small SSD. I think Transcend will iron out the firmware upgrade issues I mentioned above and after that this drive is certainly one to look at if you are in the market for an all-in-one kit to upgrade your old MacBook Pro.
Tyler's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z370 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i3 8350K (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB 4x8GB DDR4 3200 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro H115i (buy from Amazon)
- Case: Corsair Air 540 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM850x (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
- Wi-Fi NIC: ASUS PCE-AC88 (buy from Amazon)
- 10Gbe NIC: ASUS XG-C100C (buy from Amazon)
- Thunderbolt 3: ASUS Thunderbolt EX3 (buy from Amazon)
The Bottom Line: As an upgrade kit, Transcend has done a solid job with the 825, giving you a high performance drive and amazing aluminum enclosure with Thunderbolt connectivity making the upgrade process a dream.
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