T-Force Vulcan SSD

TeamGroup’s Vulcan gaming solid-state drive line is geared toward the gamer who must have the fastest read times possible from a SATA SSD.  The goal is to achieve faster game loading times, and faster game level or asset loading while inside the game.  TeamGroup has focused on providing an SSD that can theoretically achieve a read speed of up to 560 MB/s.  It does this with the Silicon Motion SM2258 controller and its 64-Layer 3D NAND TLC flash memory.  The write speed isn’t too shabby either, rated at a theoretical maximum of 510 MB/s. 

What’s more, it does this all in a nice and good looking form factor and case. This is a 2.5-inch drive with 7mm in height SSD. There are no RGBs here, just a clean, classy industrial look. The case feels solid in the hand, and it has a textured surface with sleek eloquent silver lines and branding. It is the kind of SSD you want to show off in the front of your case on the windowed side. Putting this SSD on the backside of the case with the back panel covering it up would be a shame.

Rated Speed

The speed is also determined by the size of the drive.  The Tforce VULCAN Gaming series SSD comes in either 250 GB, 500 GB or 1 TB sizes.  For the 250GB SSD, the actual write speed is reduced to 500 MB/s, instead of 510 MB/s on the 500GB and 1TB models.  However, across all three sizes, 560 MB/s theoretical maximum is quoted. 

The driver we have to review today is the 500GB model which is Team P/N T253TV500G3C301.  As we all know transmission speeds do vary according to hardware and software, so we will see how close we can come to these results in all of our benchmarks.

The 250GB drive can support up to 60TB written, the 500GB can support up to 120TB written and the 1TB up to 240TB written.  These TB written numbers are based on the JEDEC standard definition.  They all three have a MTBF of 1,000,000 hours. 

Under the Hood

Under the hood is Silicon Motion’s SM2258 controller (Link to PDF).  This controller has been out for a while, but over the years it has gained a lot of optimizations that make it a great performer with 3D TLC NAND today.  It also has a good reputation for reliability and providing low-cost designs.  It is based on a 32-bit RISC CPU and a high-efficiency 64-bit system bus.  The controller supports a 4-CH flash interface and DDR3 and DDR3L DRAM.  It supports direct-to-TLC and SLC caching.

The memory onboard is branded TeamGroup and is a 64-layer TLC 3D NAND technology flash.  There is a DRAM cache using 4GB of DDR3 and a pseudo-SLC write cache.  The DDR3 is SK Hynix H5TQ4G63EFR DDR3 SDRAM which is 4GB in capacity.  The part number on ours seems to indicated “RD” which according to the SK Hynix webpage means its running at 1866MHz at a timing of 13-13-13.  That’s next to the fastest SKU available with this RAM.

Other Specifications

Other specifications include operation voltage of +5V and operation up to 70c.  They all three support SATA III 6Gb/s protocol for high speed transfer.  The physical dimensions of the drive are 3.9 inches in length, 2.7 inches in width, and only 0.27 inches (7mm) in thickness.  TeamGroup makes it a point to point out the only 7mm in height size of the SSD, it is very thin and light.  The case is made out of aluminum alloy.

The drives support S.M.A.R.T. technology for monitoring hard drive status, and the TRIM function to keep it operating well over time.  It also supports NCQ and a built-in smart algorithm management mechanism with wear-leveling technology and ECC.  TeamGroup also provides its SSD ToolBox software to monitor the SSD and provide firmware updates.  However, at the time of review, this software was unavailable for us to test. TeamGroup also offers a 3-year warranty on this SSD.

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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4 Comments

  1. "There is no reason to have a mechanical drive anymore with prices like this. 500GB is plenty for a boot drive, or as your only drive."

    Uhh, not with 50+GB game downloads it’s not. Boot drive / laptop upgrade maybe.

    I have a $100 Toshiba 5TB hdd for my game drive / steam library. I look forward to that price for a huge SSD, 5+ years from now. But by the time that happens, the $100 hdd will probably be a 10+TB one.

  2. Nice to see a large amount of test programs used in the review. TeamGroup seems to have some of the better options for price/perf these days for sata drives. Happy so far with mine.

    I agree with Burt though, 500gb is my standard now for a boot drive and maybe 1-2 games. Everything else on dedicated ssd’s or hdd. 250GB is workable but getting too small and for quality brands it seems worth it to just jump to 500gb at $50-65 over a $30-40 250gb.

  3. Oops, missed this review. Adding some extra detail.

    Very good drive – basically a Crucial MX500 clone. The MX500 often comes with 96L flash now (which is also denser, but has twice the planes). Team’s coding here is clearly from Intel/Micron with the "01T" meaning 1Tb packages (x4 = 512GiB). This is in contrast to the similar L5 Lite 3D and drives like it – SU800, X3, S280, etc – which use inferior flash. Much like the L5 Lite 3D, it has static SLC – ~6GB at this capacity – which makes for uniform performance (can see this in HD Tune); the MX500 has a significantly larger, dynamic cache that is slower outside SLC at this capacity. Warranty is of course lackluster, but if you want a top-tier SATA drive this is among them in terms of performance.

    The firmware revision matches typical SM2258 encoding which usually refers to the type of flash it’s using. For example you common see Qx6/7xxA in the cheaper drives using second-tier Samsung TLC, Hynix’s 72L TLC (which isn’t great), inferior BiCS (SanDisk/Kioxia), older Intel/Micron 32L TLC, etc. Older revisions were for the 32L/384Gb IMFT TLC. In any case, R/S is for the newer and better flash products, e.g. B16A/B17A which is 64L Intel/Micron TLC (B17A is double the density but also double the planes, so same interleaving).

    My only advice for reviewing is that FIO is a strong option for benchmarking, whether on Linux or Windows, although ultimately you would require Linux for full utility. I’ve posted on Reddit about using FIO and also making a dedicated Linux benchmarking USB drive, I haven’t posted about getting these tools working on Windows – it is possible, I have it working in Visual Studio (direct) or Cygwin (indirect), but it’s fairly limited and a pain to work with in contrast to nvme-cli for example.

  4. I should add that I’ve seen reviews of it like TPU’s showing MLC and in fact I had someone with one show me one with MLC – 48L from Samsung, to be specific. And TPU also had 64L TLC from Samsung I believe. That type of older/inferior flash is often found in the L5 Lite 3D and other budget drives as I mentioned above – my theory is that the early Vulcans came basically as L5 Lite 3Ds. It’s my understanding that currently they do have Micron flash though. Just wanted to correct that as people don’t understand that second-tier Samsung can actually be inferior, even the MLC, although TPU’s results were still good performance-wise. (also as I mentioned, firmware revision can hint at flash – the early Samsung variants match the L5 Lite 3D’s firmware)
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