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Transcend SSD720 review: A solid hard drive replacement

Want your computer to run significantly faster? Replace its hard drive with the Transcend SSD720!

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Dong Ngo
Dong_Ngo.jpg

Dong Ngo

SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

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5 min read

The SSD720 solid-state drive (SSD) is Transcend's new, high-end drive designed to rival the performance of the SanDisk Extreme and Corsair Neutron GTX. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite get there. It's not a slow drive to be sure. It's just not quite as fast as its peers. Also, its drive cloning software is quite limited in functionality.

The SSD720's induced cloning software's functionality is rather limited.
7.3

Transcend SSD720

The Good

The <b>Transcend SSD720</b> is relatively affordable and significantly outperforms any hard drive. The included desktop drive bay converter is a useful extra.

The Bad

The SSD720's performance doesn't match that of its peers, and the included cloning software's functionality is limited.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking to upgrade your computer's main hard drive, the Transcend SSD720 is a strong option.

At less than $1 per gigabyte however, the SSD720 is more affordable than many other SSDs and its included desktop drive bay converter and mounting screws are useful additions.

If your system is currently using a hard drive as its primary storage location, the SSD720 will provide clear performance gains at a reasonable price; however, in the world of SSDs, there are faster options.

Design and features

Drive type 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Product dimensions 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 256GB
Controller SandForce SF-2281
Flash memory type
SanDisk's 24 nm Toggle-mode DDR MLC NAND
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

Coming in the now-familiar 7mm chassis, the new SSD720 looks very similar to recent SSDs. The drive supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) and is backward compatible with SATA and SATA 2. We do recommend you use it with a SATA 3-enabled computer to get the most out of it, however.

The SSD720's induced cloning software's functionality is rather limited.
The SSD720's induced cloning software's functionality is rather limited. Screenshot: Dong Ngo/CNET

The drive will fit it most computers, including some ultrabooks, that use standard 2.5-inch hard dives. For a desktop, it also comes with a drive bay converter and screws so you can easily install it in place of a desktop 3.5-inch hard drive. Transcend also includes a downloadable cloning software, called Transcend System Clone, that helps with the upgrade process.

I tried this software out, and while it worked well, it turned out to be very limited. The software can't clone a drive with a larger partition than the capacity of the destination drive, even when the actual amount of data on the source drive is much smaller than the capacity of the destination drive. This is a big problem because most existing hard drives come with larger capacities (and hence a larger partition size) than SSDs. Other cloning software, such as Acronis True Image, can clone drives of larger capacities to those of smaller capacities, as long as the actual amount of data on the source drive is less than the capacity of the destination drive. (For more information on upgrading your system, check out this How To post.)

The System Clone software is part of Transcend SSDScope, a toolbox desktop software for Windows that offers other utilities to manage the SSD720, including updating its firmware, checking its SMART status, and so on. I updated the review drive to the latest firmware (version 5.0.4); the upgrade process was very fast and I didn't even have to restart the computer.

On the inside, the new SSD720 is equipped with SandForce SF-2281 and SanDisk's 24 nm Toggle-mode DDR MLC NAND, which is exactly the same type of flash memory used in the SanDisk Extreme. Toggle-mode flash memory is generally used in high-end consumer-grade SSDs such as the Corsair Neutron GTX, or the Samsung 840 Pro.

The SSD720 comes with a drive by converter to easily fit in a desktop computer.
The SSD720 comes with a drive by converter to easily fit in a desktop computer. Dong Ngo/CNET

Unlike other SandForce-based SSDs, the SSD720 doesn't have RAISE (SandForce's NAND redundancy feature) enabled, making it offer slightly higher capacity, at the expensive of slightly higher risk of data loss. This is, however, is a new trend since, per SandForce, RAISE is not exactly necessary for general consumers; it's more for enterprise products.

Cost per gigabyte
Generally prices of SSDs are subject to a great deal of fluctuation, mostly for the better. For now, the new SSD720 consistently cost less then $1 per gigabyte across all of its capacities, low enough to be called affordable. The 256GB version, for example, can be had for just around $225 or 88 cents per gigabyte.

The drive is not the most affordable on the charts, but for a drive that's relatively new on the market, its initial price point is a good start. It's likely that it will get even lower in the coming months.

Cost per Gigabyte
(Measured in dollars, based on the current street price)
Transcend's toolbox software offers useful utilities to manage the SSD720.
Transcend's toolbox software offers useful utilities to manage the SSD720. Dong Ngo/CNET

Performance
I reviewed the 256GB-capacity of the SSD720, and used it both as a secondary drive and as the main drive that hosts the operating system.

As a secondary drive, the SSD offered the real-world sustained write speed of 231MBps, which is above average among all SATA 3 SSDs. In reading test, the drive did better with 270MBps.

When used as the main drive, SSD720's copy speed was reduced to just 109MBps, below the average on the charts. Note that in this test, the drive performed both reading and writing at the same time. Nonetheless, it helped improve the overall performance of the computer a great deal. The test system took just about 11 seconds to boot up and about 5 seconds to shut down, much faster than when it used a hard drive as the main storage. Applications also loaded much more quickly. Compared with other SSDs, however, it wasn't much different, and slightly slower than many. Since SSDs are generally very fast compared with standard hard drives, it's hard to quantify the difference between them when it comes to the overall performance of a computer.

Comprehensively, the SSD720's performance didn't match that of the Corsair Neutron GTX or the Samsung 840 Pro but still provides a significant boost when compared to any hard dive.

CNET Labs' Shutdown/Boot Times
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot Time  

Samsung 840 Pro
5.21 
10 

Corsair Neutron GTX
5.28 
10 

Transcend SSD720
5 
11 

Samsung 840 series
6.09 
11 

Sandisk Extreme
6 
11 

Plextor M5 Pro
6.21 
11.1 

SanDisk Ultra Plus
5.4 
11.2 

Patriot Pyro
6 
12.5 

OCZ Vector
4.95 
13 

SanDisk Ultra
7.2 
13.5 

OCZ Agility 3
7 
14.7 


CNET Labs' Data Transfer Scores
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As Secondary Drive  
As OS Drive  

Corsair Neutron GTX
273.62 
161.38 

Samsung 830 Series
261.63 
172.88 

Samsung 840 Pro
256.63 
168.18 

Plextor M5 Pro
251.19 
155.65 

OCZ Vertex 4
246.55 
168.36 

SanDisk Extreme
234.15 
117.66 

Samsung 840 Series
230.69 
103.12 

Transcend SSD720
230.58 
109.23 

Intel 520 series
230.01 
154.01 

Plextor M3
221.98 
110.4 

RunCore Pro V Max
186.78 
92.55 

OCZ Octane
183.41 
135.43 

Monster Digital Le Mans
177.56 
121.11 

SanDisk Ultra Plus
167.55 
107.36 

WD VelociRaptor 1TB
149.73 
62.21 

WD VelociRaptor 600GB
126.33 
58.05 

Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 

WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59 
47.12 

Conclusion
With its friendly pricing and decent performance, the Transcend SSD720 is a good buy for those looking to migrate their computer from a regular hard drive to an SSD.


The SSD720's induced cloning software's functionality is rather limited.
7.3

Transcend SSD720

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Performance 7Support 8