Toshiba Q300 SSD review:

Slow performance at a high cost

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Toshiba Q300 (960GB)

(Part #: HDTS796XZSTA)
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Toshiba Q300 solid-state drive offers a significant speed boost to computers with traditional hard drives.

The Bad The suggested price is high and its performance is slow compared to that of other solid-state drives. It includes a relatively short three-year warranty.

The Bottom Line Slow and expensive, you'll want to steer clear of the Toshiba Q300 until there's a big price cut.

6.4 Overall
  • Setup 8.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Support 6.0

Marketed as a solid-state drive (SSD) for "everyday computing" as stated on the specs sheet, the Toshiba Q300 SSD is set to compete directly against the recently reviewed entry-level Plextor M6V , which offers fast performance at a low cost. Unfortunately for the Q300, it's not much of a competition. The Q300 is both slow and -- at launch, at least -- expensive.

Available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB and 960GB at the suggested price of $99.99 (£47.99), $159.99 (£79.99), $309.99 (£149.99) and $449.99 (£299), respectively, the new Q300 is one of the most expensive SSDs on the market, even more expensive than some high-end drives. (Pricing for Australia will be announced at a later time.) For example, the 1TB capacity of the top-tier Samsung SSD 850 Pro currently costs $430.

Despite its high cost, the Q300 trailed behind most entry-level SSDs in our testing, it doesn't have any extra features, and includes only a short three-year warranty.

To be fair, the price aside, the Q300 is a decent SSD that will definitely and significantly boost the performance of a computer that still runs on a typical hard drive. That said, you should wait until its price comes down a great deal before considering it. In my experience, the street price of SSDs has always been lower than the vendor's suggested price. In the mean time, the Plextor M6V or the OCZ Trion 100 are both much better deals. For even more options, check out this list of the top SSDs on the market.

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The Q300 includes a 2.5mm spacer for it to fit perfectly in a drive bay of a standard 9.5mm laptop hard drive. Dong Ngo/CNET

Design

The Toshiba Q300 SSD is a standard internal SATA drive. This means it takes the standard 2.5-inch drive design and slaps a SATA port on one of its sides. Like all SSDs released in the last few years, it supports the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) but will also work with SATA 2 and SATA. The Q300 will fit in any home applications where a standard SATA hard drive, be it a 2.5-inch laptop drive or a 3.5-inch desktop drive, is being used. The Q300 is 7mm thick, but it comes with a 2.5mm spacer in case you need it to perfectly fit into the space of a standard 9.5mm laptop hard drive.

Similar to the case of the Plextor M6V, the Q300 doesn't come with a drive bay adapter bracket for a desktop computer. But this is not the end of the world, as you can safely use an SSD inside a desktop without securing it to the chassis, owing to the fact that SSDs don't have any moving parts. Or you can get a drive bay converter bracket online for a few bucks.

The Q300 includes copy of NTI Echo drive cloning software that you can download from Toshiba's website. Note that you can't download the software right away from the website. Instead, you first have to register with Toshiba and enter your name and a working email address. After that, the download link will be mailed to you, and in the process you will likely opt in to receive unwanted emails in the future. I find this process rather intrusive. Nonetheless, I tried out the software, and it worked as intended. It didn't have as many features or backup functions as some other options, such as Macrium Reflect, which you can use for free without having to surrender any personal information.

Features

The Q300 supports the common features available in most SSDs, including TRIM and garbage collection. (Read more about SSDs here.) On top of that, it also features an adaptive size SLC write cache technology. Essentially, this technology uses a small portion of fast flash memory, called single-level-cell NAND -- the type of memory used in high-end enterprise SSDs -- as buffer for faster write operation.

Like other budget SSDs, the Q300 doesn't support encryption. However, encryption, which protects data in case of theft or loss, is only needed in a corporate or business environment and only works with motherboards that also have this feature. Most home computers don't support encryption in the first place.

Toshiba Q300 SSD's specs

120GB 240GB 480GB 960GB
Interface SATA3 SATA3 SATA3 SATA3
Controller Toshiba TC358790 Toshiba TC358790 Toshiba TC358790 Toshiba TC358790
NAND Toshiba 3-bit-per-cell TLC Flash Toshiba 3-bit-per-cell TLC Flash Toshiba 3-bit-per-cell TLC Flash Toshiba 3-bit-per-cell TLC Flash
Sequencial Read 550 MB/s 550 MB/s 550 MB/s 550 MB/s
Sequencial Write 530 MB/s 530 MB/s 530 MB/s 530 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 87k 87k 87k 87k
Random Write 83k 83k 83k 83k
Endurance (total data written) 30TB 60TB 120TB 240TB
Power consumption active 5.1 W 5.1 W 5.1 W 5.1 W
Power consumption idle 1.1 W 1.1 W 1.1 W 1.1 W
Major feature Adaptive Size SLC Write cache technology Adaptive Size SLC Write cache technology Adaptive Size SLC Write cache technology Adaptive Size SLC Write cache technology
Software included NTI Echo NTI Echo NTI Echo NTI Echo
U.S. MSRP $100 $160 $310 $450
Warranty 3 years 3 years 3 years 3 years

The Toshiba Q300 comes with a three-year warranty, which is standard for an entry-level drive. However all other entry-level drives are priced much lower. In the price range of the Q300, I'd expect the warranty period to be longer. Top-tier SSDs, such as the Samsung SSD 850 Pro or the SanDisk Extreme Pro, currently cost slightly less and offer a 10-year warranty.

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