It's difficult to determine the overall value of the 512GB Team Group T-Force Cardea II we tested today without retail pricing. The previous Cardea didn't carry a large premium over the model sold without the heat sink. For the first time, Team Group has three tiers with an NVMe SSD with the MP34 (base model), Cardea II, and the recently announced Cardea Liquid (flagship model). With low SSD prices and shoppers unwillingness to splurge on storage, we see the MP34 and Cardea II very close in price.
For most users, the heat sink will offer little value under daily usage. Gamers will not see a noticeable improvement in load times, but can expect reduced game installation times when the drive reads and writes downloaded files while compiling the folder directory (installing the game). For most gamers, this is the most intensive task performed on the PC, and saving a few seconds to a few minutes for triple-A titles is a nice benefit.
The original Cardea was one of my favorite drives that came to market in 2017. The Phison E12 doesn't generate as much heat as the E7, but it never hurts to cool your SSD if the additional cost is reasonable. Drive that sit under video cards that reduce airflow to the SSD benefit the most from having a heat sink. That encompasses most gamers these days. Casual gamers can save a few dollars, but if you want to shave some time from your long installation times, spend a few dollars more for the Cardea II.
The Bottom Line
The Team Group T-Force Cardea II is a great SSD for gamers and power users. The heat sink is a little over the top, but that's the way we like it.