Team Group Delta S TUF RGB SSD
RGB on storage solutions was never going to be that far away, so I think we all saw this day coming? A relatively recent release, the T-Force Delta 'TUF' RGB SSD (from here on in, shortened to 'Delta' only) features co-branding from Asus in the form of their 'TUF' series of components. Parts that feature a slightly more 'heavy' design aesthetic, usually in the form of being more notably bulked out or 'toughened', hence the name. If you are interested, the product page for the full specifications is linked here.
We recently reviewed the new boy on the block, in the form of Samsung's new QVO SSD, which features a new type of NAND flash memory called QLC. This is in contrast to the now fairly well known and used 'TLC' NAND used in the vast majority of consumer grade 2.5'' and M.2 SSDs, the only differentiation between 6GB/s 'SATA' and the significantly faster NVMe/PCIe based drives being the interface used. You might all well familiar with the limitations of TLC NAND memory, but perhaps the most famous 'flaw' is that performance can measurably dip when moving to lower capacity drives, thanks to there being a lower number of in use channels for the controller to access. The larger the SSD, the higher the number of chips and in use channels (normally 4 vs. 8). This means that unless you are on an especially strict budget, you really should be sticking to 250GB (or thereabouts) SSDs at the very least. That, luckily, is fairly easy to do in 2018, given the now relatively low price of TLC NAND based 2.5'' drives. For that matter, even M.2 drives using SATA are now exceptionally affordable, and should certainly be on your viewlist if not only for the lack of irritating cabling.
It's safe to say, therefore, that I don't expect the product I have here today to be setting any speed records. Indeed, the only models I have to compare it to are an oddball Radeon R3 128GB SSD (my boot drive), and a 500GB Samsung 850 Evo. In terms of raw specifications, the Delta will not rock anybody's world. The in use memory, to be specific, is Micron's 64 layer 3D TLC NAND, and the controller is the now equally ubiquitous Silicon Motion SM2258. Like I said, this will not set the world on fire. However, we can be sure of (at least) competitive performance with the vast majority of other consumers SSDs out there that use a similar setup. Team Group claims 560MB/s read and 510MB/s write, which is entirely in line with what I'd expect. This obviously refers to sequential performance, and I would hope to see real figures within about 5-10% of those claims. This unit's performance will also be hurt by the relatively low capacity, and I was slightly surprised that Team Group elected to send a 250GB product (when it will inevitably perform the worst). Oh well.
We can't round off this intro, however, without at least briefly mentioning the light up elephant in the room. Whilst RGB is very much a 'take it or leave it' element of modern PC building, done tastefully it can really elevate a build into new levels of wow factor. Done tastefully, I said. There is such a thing as 'too much,' and upon looking at the product I was immediately concerned that a near full face RGB cover (claimed by Team Group to be the largest in the industry) would be in that territory of 'too much.' We shall see later, of course, as to how it stacks up in person. If the lighting is somewhat subdued, then I'll be happy. Anyway. Connectivity to your motherboard is done via an included cable that plugs straight into an appropriate header. Given the partnership with Asus, the lighting here is controlled via. their Aura Sync software. This is... fine. I mean, I have never liked extraneous software at the best of times, and to have an entire suite dedicated to the lighting on your single SSD is somewhat annoying, but it can't really be done any other way.
Finally, Team Group guarantees the SSD with a 3-year warranty. This is, pleasingly, the same as is offered by Samsung for the QVO range of more budget-oriented drives. In terms of performance, the Samsung drive is claimed at being 10MB/s slower in terms of read, but 10MB/s faster in terms of write. This, I hope, should be interesting. Note that I am not singling out the Samsung drive as the Delta's main competitor. Merely that the Samsung drive is a recently released/reviewed product that uses a new type of memory and a more advanced controller. In terms of actual competitors... really, take your pick, as there are many. That's both a good, and a bad thing, for this product. Good insofar as there are many other competitors who, given the spec of this drive, will perform slightly worse than or similarly to it. It is, however, 'bad', in that standing out from the crowd will be harder to do. I say this because apart from quite literally doing so (i.e. the lighting), I would argue that - from a reviewers/enthusiasts perspective - the performance is where it matters. I'm likely being naive, however, as I well know how readily a consumer might buy something based on looks alone.
With all that said, let's move on.