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Team Group MP34 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
Date 21st May 2019
Author James "Agg" Rolfe
Manufacturer Team Group


Today on the testbench we have the Team Group MP34 M.2 NVMe SSD. You might remember Team Group from my earlier review of their brightly-illuminated Delta R RGB SSD. Today's drive is much more pedestrian in appearance, being a standard M.2 drive without even an activity LED.

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The retail packaging is also quite understated but nice enough and contains absolutely nothing apart from the drive itself in a plastic tray. No manual needed here I suppose, as it's such a simple matter to install the drive into your laptop or desktop that the instructions fit on the back of the box. Also on the box you can see the drive comes with a 3-year warranty, and even has a listing of the transfer speeds you can expect to reach with it.

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Under Windows 10, the drive formatted to an NTFS volume of 476.92GB. On our Z-97A testbed we have to use the M.2 cards in an adapter card to get the full PCI Express 3.0 x4 bandwidth required, as the slot directly on the motherboard only offers PCI 2.0 x2. So all cards in this review were tested in the adapter in the same slot on the motherboard. I'll be comparing this Team Group drive with the 1TB Crucial P1 NVMe (reviewed here late last year) and a 256GB Samsung SM951 AHCI drive which has been the boot volume of the testbed for about three years. It's unfortunate that all three drives are different sizes and ages, but hopefully we can still draw some conclusions from our testing.

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There's not much more to say, so let's get to the benchmarks. First up we have the standard AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark sequential read and write tests. This gives us an idea of the raw speed of the drives. Each test was run three times and the results averaged.


So, right off the bat we can say this Team Group drive is definitely not slow. In fact in our three-year-old test system we are seeing numbers ABOVE the rated speeds on the back of the retail box. Impressive.

Next up, PC Mark 8 Advanced Edition. This has a storage test which is described by the website: Use the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive and local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.

This benchmark provides you with quite a lot of information, including a mysterious overall score, a bandwidth rating and then the time in seconds for each of ten benchmark traces to play out. I'll include a representative sample result from each drive in the following images, but to save time I'll summarise here: not a lot of difference. The only figure that shows any wide deviation is the "bandwidth" figure, but that doesn't have much real-world relevance compared to the application traces. Those figures are almost identical for all three drives. I don't believe we are CPU limited in this benchmark and the tests were conducted with a 92mm fan blowing air across the drives, so I don't think the drives are throttling due to temperature. It seems simply that the sequential test results should be taken with a pinch of salt, which we pretty much already knew.

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For a final real-world test I simply copied a folder of test data from each drive onto itself, and timed how long it took with a stopwatch. Each test was repeated twice to confirm the results. It's a low-tech approach but should give an idea of what to expect in the real world. The data set was comprised of several large video files from 1-3GB, lots of smaller media files, a few application installation directories and several thousand smaller photo files around 2-3MB each. In total, about 5100 files totalling just under 30GB. That's a large enough data set to completely saturate any caches in the system and the variety of large and small files gives the drive a real workout.


Again we see a clear trend in favour of the Team Group drive, but not a spectacular difference. I think overall we can definitely say that the Team Group MP34 offers great performance and is going to be right at home in your workstation, gaming PC or laptop. However, there's two more factors to consider.

Firstly, price. On that front, the news is good. I can see this drive available in Australia for around the $115 mark, which is right down at the very low end of pricing for a 512GB NVME drive. In fact, it's not far above the pricing for an old-school 512GB 2.5" SATA SSD, which makes it a lot easier to move to this much faster storage type.

Secondly, endurance. In short, the NAND flash memory cells that SSDs are made up of have a limited number of "Program/Erase Cycles" before they fail. The controller can then block that cell and send data to a replacement one. Drives typically have "overprovisioning", essentially hidden capacity that the controller can use to extend the life of the drive by replacing failed cells. The overall longevity of a drive is traditionally measured in TBW, for "Terabytes Written". This is how much data you can write to the drive without expecting it to fail. This isn't just a made-up number for marketing, as the drive controllers record how much data they have written and this can be used to back up a warranty claim if the drive fails early. Team Group rate the 256GB, 512GB and 1TB versions of this drive at >380TB, >800TB and >1660TB respectively. 800TBW for a 512GB SSD is very good, above the ratings provided by some bigger-name manufacturers - and some manufacturers don't provide a figure at all, which is not too confidence inspiring. So Team Group are certainly not letting us down on this front.

Conclusions
I don't think anyone needs convincing that M.2 NVME SSDs are a great development in storage. They are much faster than traditional 2.5" SATA SSDs and they are increasingly price-competitive with them too. In fact, I recently ordered a new laptop and during my research, one of my main requirements was that it had a 256GB or larger NVME drive. Amazingly, there are still laptops being sold with spinning platter hard drives in them. No thanks!

So, on to this drive. I have to say, I am impressed. This drive was no slouch in benchmarks, and clearly out-performed the other drives we compared it to. It comes with a 3-year warranty and the manufacturer provides a reassuring endurance rating. Impressively, it does this while being priced right at the budget end of the market. What's not to like?

Thanks to Team Group for the opportunity to review this drive. Feel free to discuss this review in this thread!

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All original content copyright James Rolfe.
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