Question Transcend vs. Samsung vs. SanDisk

May 12, 2020
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This question asks for experience reports from experienced system administrators and technicians in using various 1TB SSD SATA III 2.5" drives as the primary internal laptop drives. For the purpose of this question, we do care more about the reliability rather than the speed. The drive is expected to stay alive for the next, say, 10 years or so, under small load (boot the laptop, do some word document processing, surf a bit, read and write e-mails, do a Skype call, do a bit of CAD).
  1. Which of Samsung, SanDisk, and Transcend produce most reliable SSD drives in general?
  2. Can you compare
    • Samsung 860 QVO MZ-76Q1T0BW,
    • Transcend SSD370S, and
    • SanDisk SDSSDA-1T00-G26
in terms of reliability?
 
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Considering 860 QVO: it has the same or better reliability specs than my old Samsung SSD bought in 2012 (which never failed). Should I really strive for something even better (860 EVO) for roughly 50% more price? You know, perfection never ends...
Moreover, any opinion on the other two brands?
 

USAFRet

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I also have a couple of Samsungs (840 EVO) going back several years. No issues at all.

What are the actual prices in your market?
What other models are available?

Sandisk, maybe.
Transcend? I wouldn't.
 
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The three models cost around 110 € till 210 € at the place I live in, depending on whom you buy from and are the cheapest available. All the other models are more expensive, and there are dozens of them (I can't list them all).
 

USAFRet

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"The drive is expected to stay alive for the next, say, 10 years or so "
and
"the cheapest available "

...do not really go together.

But..of those 3, in this order, descending:
Samsung
SanDisk
Transcend

As always, don't depend on a single drive lasting for X years, no matter what make and model.
Always have a known good backup.
 
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Well, a Samsung SSD that is less reliable according to its spec than any of these drives worked 8 years already without any sign of deterioration. My claim is not statistical, though. You understand.
As for your order: is it the order of brands in general or of the particular models?
Concerning backup: yes, of course, naturally.

As for "the cheapest available", I wish the cheapest available among the SSDs that would run 10 years. If those three models won't do it despite great specs, ... well, then, several new suggestions would be appreciated.
 

USAFRet

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As said, I wouldn't trust any single drive to go "10 years". It might, it might not.
All you can go by is basic reputation. There, the Samsung wins.

Other suggestion? The aforementioned Samsung 860 EVO, or a Crucial MX500.
 

Maxxify

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Well, I mean, you're comparing a QLC-based drive (860 QVO) and DRAM-less TLC-based drive (SSD Plus) to a drive with MLC and DRAM (SSD370S). Of those three, it's pretty obvious which is the most reliable.
 
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It might be “pretty obvious" to @Maxxify. To me, these are just letters. You can also make even low-quality storage technology competitively reliable by using redundancy (recall RAIDs in the past); so, the technology name alone doesn't say much. So, if you are durn sure, which one is the most reliable? I am not that much into hardware.
 
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Maxxify

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In general, MLC > TLC > QLC in terms of endurance. That isn't 100% valid but in general. Likewise, DRAM-less drives have less endurance than ones with DRAM due to write amplification mitigation (less NAND wear w/DRAM). Therefore, MLC + DRAM is going to be the best. But it depends on the specific drives and types of usage, the Transcend is obviously of a different generation, so I'm not sure how relevant the question is. It'd better to ask what to look for on a modern drive, which would be TLC w/DRAM, all else being equal.

Yes, drives use RAIS(E)/RAIN for RAID-like redundancy and there have been many other improvements as well, like moving to LDPC over BCH for soft-sensing. For that reason good 3D TLC can have endurance in the ballpark of the worst 2D/planar MLC. But I can be pretty confident in saying the QVO with QLC and the DRAM-less SSD Plus wouldn't endure as well as the Transcend. Performance is a different question.
 

USAFRet

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And I recommended the Samsung, strictly due to overall corporate reputation.
In the overall fleet, the Transcend might 'last longer'. But fleet wide stats are not useful for a single instance of a device.
At the 2 year point, Company A has a 4% fail rate, Company B has a 3% fail rate.
Means nothing if your single instance drive is in that 3 or 4%.

Likewise Sandisk.
My former Sandisk 960GB Ultra3D died at 33 days past the 3 year warranty. Sudden death, no possibility of bringing it back.
I knew it was over the warranty, Sandisk knew it was over the warranty...they gave me a new one anyway.
I had zero expectation of them doing that. I have no special relationship with the.

Would Transcend do the same?

None of them have a 10 year warranty.

Use it until it dies. Replace.
Free if still under warranty, $$ if past the warranty.
 
I'd add the Crucial MX500 to the list, normally less expensive than the 860 EVO, but, pretty much darn near as fast. (Seeing folks' faces/reactions upon being greeted with 10-15 second bootups compared to 60-70 seconds is always humorous.)
 
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In general, MLC > TLC > QLC in terms of endurance. That isn't 100% valid but in general. Likewise, DRAM-less drives have less endurance than ones with DRAM due to write amplification mitigation (less NAND wear w/DRAM). Therefore, MLC + DRAM is going to be the best. But it depends on the specific drives and types of usage, the Transcend is obviously of a different generation, so I'm not sure how relevant the question is. It'd better to ask what to look for on a modern drive, which would be TLC w/DRAM, all else being equal.
Thank you. I did a tiny bit of catch up thanks to your post and other information. What I don't quite get is this: if MLC + DRAM is the best as you say (probably in terms on endurance), why would I look for TLC with DRAM? Here, I assume that MLC means that two bits per cell are allocated, TLC means that 3 bits per cell are allocated, and QLC means that 4 bits per cell are allocated.
 

Maxxify

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Thank you. I did a tiny bit of catch up thanks to your post and other information. What I don't quite get is this: if MLC + DRAM is the best as you say (probably in terms on endurance), why would I look for TLC with DRAM? Here, I assume that MLC means that two bits per cell are allocated, TLC means that 3 bits per cell are allocated, and QLC means that 4 bits per cell are allocated.
Pretty simple - they don't make consumer MLC drives anymore. I mean, yes, the 970 Pro exists, but it's expensive. There are some budget drives with 2D/planar MLC, usually at lower capacities, like the HP M700 (which is DRAM-less!), also ones with outdated controllers like some Mushkin Reactor variants, but by far and large the TLC options are cheaper and almost as good. Actually, TLC drives in SLC mode are faster than MLC. Endurance doesn't really matter since you aren't going to get anywhere near the amount of writes required to kill the flash. We're talking PB. Yes, by MLC I mean 2-bit MLC.

If you're looking for reliability/consistency you need to look at enterprise/datacenter, OEM, or client drives. There are some retail/consumer client-based drives as well. Usually these will have static SLC only, like in the WD NVMe drives (SN500, SN550, SN750) or WD's SATA drives (WD Blue/SanDisk Ultra 3D). Some budget drives do, too, like the Hynix S31 Gold (denser flash, so best at 1TB), the L5 Lite 3D (uses second tier flash so not as reliable), etc. Drives with large, dynamic SLC are not ideal for steady state, consistency, and such SLC can be additive to wear if you do a lot of writes.

It's unfortunately often a mistake people make to assume SLC/MLC/TLC/QLC are basically the same but different "levels." That's not the case - they are fundamentally different. TLC in SLC mode is not SLC, for example. QLC is not "worse" TLC. You can have native TLC or fake TLC (2-bit MLC with 3-bit cells). My point being that 2-bit MLC existed back when that's all they could make but it was overkill for most applications. TLC makes far more sense once you get LDPC and SLC caching. QLC is great for WORM (enterprise demand for it is through the roof). Etc. There's just no reason to relegate MLC to consumer usage, it's a waste, people don't write even 10% of it within the warranty period, they don't write enough to enjoy the steady state performance, it's more expensive per bit, etc.

Nevertheless it is true that older MLC-based (2-bit) SATA drives are pretty darn good. I still use MLC where I can. But it's not something you can casually pick up at Best Buy anymore.
 

USAFRet

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it's a waste, people don't write even 10% of it within the warranty period, they don't write enough to enjoy the steady state performance, it's more expensive per bit, etc.
Exactly.
All 7 of my drives in this system combined, some going back to 2014, just barely add up to the warranty TBW of the oldest and smallest single drive.

And this system is on 24/7, in use a LOT. CAD, 3D printing, 5k-8k photos per year...

People way underestimate how large the warranty TBW actually is.
In normal consumer use, the difference between 400TBW and 1200TBW is irrelevant. You'll never see either.

Now...if you're running a database off one, with thousands of hits and data entries per hour, that's a whole different story. And you would not be looking at "the cheapest".
 

USAFRet

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That site also mentions 1.8 million hours (MTTF) for Crucial MX500. We can't meaningfully compare it with 1.5 million hours of Samsung drives' MTBF, can we?
360TBW.
Which you will never see.
Well, not quite. If your laptop is a mobile workstation and has 32 GB of RAM, and you close the laptop lid four times a day (before breakfast, before lunch, before dinner, before sleep) for hibernation, you will write at least 32×4×365.25×10 GB = 467.52 TB > 360 TB in 10 years, not counting real work. But if you say it is an overexaggerating calculation, I'd happily agree.
So, then for what reasons do the SSD drives fail before they reach the magnitude of their TBW count, i.e., way before their cells wear out? (As for HDDs, the reason is often mechanics: if you push it too much while it works, the drive wouldn't like it, even if accelerometers detect it. But what about SDDs?)
 

USAFRet

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sigh...I've had people make that same assertion "You don't use your system very much!"

This is my main use desktop. I do a LOT on this system, CAD, photos, video, games, software dev, runnng at least one usually two VMs continuously, blah de blah.

So, adding up as reported by CrystalDiskInfo:
7 physical drives, some first installed in Nov 2014.

Cumulative 60.9TBW
Cumulative 205,386 running hours.
23.44 years.

For a standard desktop system that is running 24/7, for years.

This is the Samsung drives in the system, with the month/year they were installed.
All still performing almost exactly as brand new.



A couple of endurance tests have shown regular consumer grade SSD's to last into the petabyte range.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/7173/samsung-ssd-840-evo-review-120gb-250gb-500gb-750gb-1tb-models-tested/3
 
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"You don't use your system very much!"
I agree. You don't, I don't, and probably none of us humans does. But Windows does it when it hibernates. This happens more often on my laptop than on your desktop. Anyway, you don't have to prove that I exaggerated in my calculations, I know this. :) If I would have 32 GB RAM, I'd turn the swap file off and would let the laptop hibernate just once a day, for lunch time (which would lead to 32×365.25×10 GB = 116.8384 TB < 360 TB in 10 years for hibernation and a small positive summand for real work.) So, forget it. Btw., thx for the link to anandtech.

What I'm more interested in is this: if an SSD dies (and it does it typically before it wears out), why does it usually die?
 
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USAFRet

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Don't turn the page file off completely, even with 32GB RAM or more. Some functions need for it to exist.

And given sufficient RAM, the pagefile isn't used much, so it doesn't factor into drive use.

How and why do drives die? Could be a lot of things.
I had one die in Dec 2018. 960 GB Sandisk. I had turned the system off, came back 10 minute later and turned it on....the drive was nowhere to be found. Nothing I did could make it appear.

Why did it die? No idea. But mostly, don't care. Put in a new drive and recover the whole contents from the nightly backup.
Maybe Sandisk figured it out when I sent it back.
It was 33 days past the 3 year warranty. Sandisk gave me a free replacement anyway.

But I don't know anyone who has used their drive so much it is nearing the actual wear limit. Not the warranty TBW number, but rather what the physical drive is going to do.
Have you heard of any consumer usage like that?
 

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