Review Transcend StoreJet SSD 128 GB 18C3 USB 3.0

Tobias Winkler (translated by Martina Osztovits), 05/01/2011

Mini-Rocket. External storage devices intended for real mobile use should offer some important features to shed the typical niche existence. Small, light, fast, robust, and capacious are demands a potential reference should meet. We checked how close the small 1.8" Portable SSD from Transcend comes to these design parameters.

Apparently less and less manufacturer offer small 1.8" hard drive ideal for mobile use. Samsung's successful S1 Serie, which we already reviewed, is currently on clearance sale, and a successor is not in sight. Currently, there are just 41 models offered, which partly only differ by their color. Most drives offer a capacity of 120 or 160 GB. Few models, e.g., the Toshibas Stor.E Steel series, the Verbatims Pocket Hard Drive or Freecom's USB Memory are also available in up to 250 GB. However, their prices differ much, sometimes even by 100%.

Preface

Very mobile 1.8" SSD with USB 3.0
Very mobile 1.8" SSD with USB 3.0
The scope of delivers includes a USB Y-Kabel and a simple backup-software
The scope of delivers includes a USB Y-Kabel and a simple backup-software
It is also possible to run it via ExpressCard if a USB-2.0 is close to it
It is also possible to run it via ExpressCard if a USB-2.0 is close to it

Mobility aspects considered this tendency is hardly understandable, because these small drives are especially advantageous when transported. Weight lower than 100 g, size smaller than a cigarette pack, power supply via USB and capacities up to 250 GB appear to be reasonable properties for a frequent use on-the-move. From a technical point of view the main disadvantage is the low transfer speed. 1.8" models are usually not very fast and rarely exceed a maximum of 50 MB/s. In addition, nearly all of them only feature a USB 2.0 port, which limits the already low maximum transfer rate even further to about 30 MB/s.

Transcend consequently tackles the problems and removes the two factors that slow down the performance by offering the StoreJet TS128GSSD18C. The conventional hard drive is replaced by a Solid State Drive with a capacity of 128 GB and a USB 3.0 interface is built-in. Furthermore, the case is designed especially robust and shock proof. It weights 70g without cable and is powered - as usual - via USB (Y-cable).

The manufacturer claim that our test model should feature a maximum read and write rates of 250 MB/s and 200 MB/s. The 64 GB model is said to achieve a write rate of 110 MB/s. At the time of writing they cost about 115.- euro (64 GB) and 225.- euro (128 GB). The warranty extends over 3 years and the specified average service life is 1 million hours.

Performance & Transfer Rates

HD Tune
HD Tune
Crystal Disk Mark USB 2.0
Crystal Disk Mark USB 2.0
Crystal Disk Mark USB 3.0
Crystal Disk Mark USB 3.0
Crystal Disk Mark Turbo
Crystal Disk Mark Turbo

For our tests we used a HP Elitebook 8540w (USB 3.0) and a HP ProBook 6540b with a USB 3.0 ExpressCard from Raidsonic. Overall, the results from the EliteBook and ProBook only differed by some percents, which is about the measurement inaccuracy. But, the results via ExpressCard were generally slightly better. According to our experience, the results would improve if connected to a desktop systems. In the past these always delivered the best results. Unfortunately we could not test via the MSI mainboard  we usually use this time. The power supply via Y-cable (USB 3.0 + USB 2.0) always worked reliable throughout the test.

The Solid State Drive can be used used without special drivers and achieves a maximum sequential read rate via USB 3.0 of 128 MB/s. The write rate is about 87 MB/s (512k). The good average transfer rate is also 128 MB/s. The access time is about 0.4 ms. Nevertheless the noticeable results are clearly lower than the promised 250 MB/s.

If you install the included drivers, the performance gets a little bit closer to the promised values. Thanks to the Turbo function the read rates raise up to 158 MB/s in sequential reading and up to 102 MB/s (512k) in writing. Compared to conventional 1.8 inch drives with USB 2.0 our test model is about 300-500% faster. That's top-notch considered the size of the external storage device.

This example also proves that especially laptops with small 1.8 inch drives could profit a lot from replacing the built-in conventional drive by an SSD. Although neither transfer rates nor access times nor write speed can keep up with fast SATA 6G models, sub- and mini-notebooks could gain a sensible performance increase. Regarding this topic it might be worth taking a look at our HDD benchmark list.

externe Speicher im Vergleich
externe Speicher im Vergleich

Verdict

Transcend StoreJet 18C3
Transcend StoreJet 18C3

Considering the GB/ Euro price ratio conventional 1.8" hard drives with 250 GB capacities are clearly better. Focusing on performance the Transcends 18C3 does currently not have any competitor. Although the claimed performance could not be reached in our test, the difference to previously available alternatives is huge. Low access times below 0.5 ms and high transfer rates up to 158 MB/s are simply top-notch in this category. Robust, small, and light-weight, it is an ideal companion on-the-move. Only the purchase price could turn out to be a hindrance as these advantages currently cost nearly 230.- euro (street price).

In Review: Transcend 1,8" SSD USB 3.0
In Review: Transcend 1,8" SSD USB 3.0
The small 18C3 has a robust case and weighs only 70g
The small 18C3 has a robust case and weighs only 70g
USB 3.0 and a Solid State Drive ensure a very good performance
USB 3.0 and a Solid State Drive ensure a very good performance
The Auto-Backup button allows to create simple backups
The Auto-Backup button allows to create simple backups
It is clearly smaller and lighter than 2.5" sister model with conventional hard drive
It is clearly smaller and lighter than 2.5" sister model with conventional hard drive
The rubber surface brings about a good grip and a stable standing
The rubber surface brings about a good grip and a stable standing
A USB Y-cable is sufficient for powering the small device
A USB Y-cable is sufficient for powering the small device
A simple backup software is pre-installed
A simple backup software is pre-installed

Shortcut

What we like

small, light and therewith very mobile. The high transfer rate is very good.

What we' like to see

There is nothing to complain about the device. We have already been waiting for SSD prices to drop for a long time.

What surprises us

that 1.8" hard drives could not leave their niche existence so far. Maybe this might change, because they are now available with SSD technology.

The competition

The strongest competitor, but in a different size, might be OCZ's Enyo, that costs about the same in the meanwhile and achieves up to 238 MB/s. Those looking for a cheap storage device in 1.8" size could consider Verbatim's Pocket Hard Drive (250 GB) or remainders of the Samsung S1.

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Author: Tobias Winkler, 2011-05- 1 (Update: 2012-05-26)