T-Force Cardea Z44L M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD Review

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As PCIe 4.0 technology becomes more widespread, M.2 SSDs are able to hit speeds that were previously unattainable – making them more expensive than the previous generation of SSDs. TeamGroup has finally came out with a budget-friendly SSD called the T-Force Cardea Z44L SSD 1TB that has a rated speed of 3,500 MB/s for read and 3,000 MB/s for write. While it’s not the fastest SSD on the market, it still offers a significant speed boost over older generation drives. It also comes with a cooling sticker, a patented thin graphene heat spreaders for improve endurance, cooldown and to accommodate smaller clearance requirement for desktop, laptop or even in a next-gen consoles.

This mid-range gaming storage SSD comes in two capacity options, with a retail price in the Philippines of PHP 3,299 for 500GB and PHP 6,499 for 1TB. The 1TB variant is the best pick for those looking to get a lot of value for their money.

In this review, we’ll cover all of the features and performance of T-Force Cardea Z44L SSD for gaming. We would like to thank TeamGroup for sending us the drive for this in-depth review.

Look and Feel

The SSD comes in a slim box with its red/black color themed. The front shows the SSD capacity and its PCIe 4.0 compatibility along with the expected 9% cooldown performance.

The other side shows more specification, such as the rated speed of 3.5 GB/s read and 3 GB/s write. As well as the label on the top of a 5-year warranty.

Inside, you’ll find the SSD seat perfectly in a plastic shell. When removing the SSD from its plastic shell, be careful not to damage the graphene heat spreader sticker underneath, you may crumple it without realizing.

The front of the SSD without the heat spreader reveals the PCB chip components of the drive. These include a Phison PS5019-E9 controller and TLC Flash Memory (IABHG65AYA). More details on these chips can be found in the later part of this review.

The drives come in an M.2 2280 form factor, which is smaller than a piso-coin and compatible with most motherboards today. This side of the SSD is not visible when installed in the motherboard, making it more aesthetically pleasing.

Here is the graphene heat spreader sticker along with the SSD. Just peel off the bottom layer of film, align the sticker, and then gently apply it to the SSD. Make sure the orientation and alignment is correct before placing it.

So, here is the T-Force Cardea Z44L with the graphene heat spreader installed.

The T-Force Cardea Z44L has an elegantly simple but pleasing design. Its front-end heat spreader is designed to not sacrifice small clearance requirement, while the gold plated print out in black mesh background adds a touch of a gaming-looking to the device.

Features

The T-Force Cardea Z44L SSD uses Phison’s PS5019-E9 SSD controller which is responsible for the PCIe 4.0 x4 technology and NVMe 1.4 specification, a single Arm Cortext-R5 core, and four-channel reading and writing fabricated in a 28nn process. The SSD also uses a DRAM-less TLC NAND, which does not require an external chip for cache. Instead, it uses a part of the space inside the TLC NAND Flash for a virtual cache, making it more cost-effective and faster than an SSD that uses a traditional DRAM cache. This also reduces power consumption. The two other flash chips are for the storage, it is a Micron’s 176-layer 3D TLC NAND (IABHG94AYA) in charge of high capacity in a small form factor chip.

The Graphene heat spreader is a patented dissipating pad from TeamGroup that effectively reduces SSD throttling even in high temperatures from -40°C (-40°F) to 85°C (185°F). It is made in a Graphene and a copper foil that is just 1mm thick.

The SSD also comes with an exclusive SSD monitoring software where you can track its status.. However, the software is not bundled together with the SSD or any QR link, you need to download it from their website manually.

Performance

To test its maximum performance and its durability, we will be performing different benchmark for the device and see if we were able to achieve the advertised speed of 3,500 MB/s for read and 3,000 MB/s for write.

For our testing methodology, we are using the following setup:

  • Processor: 12th Gen Intel i5-12600KF
  • Motherboard: Asus Strix B660-F Gaming WiFi
  • Graphics Card: Asus Dual Series Radeon RX 6600 8GB GDDR6

CrystalDiskMark Benchmark

CrystalDiskMark is a portable storage benchmarking tool for Windows that can measure the performance of SSDs and HDDs. The program can be used to gauge the speed of any internal or external storage device. It measures sequential and random data sets for read and write. The advertised rated speed of 3,500 MB/s write and 3,000 MB/s read for the T-Force Cardea Z44L SSD 1TB model was actually tested in CrystalDiskMark. So, we would expect to have the same speed result for our first round of benchmarking.

The T-Force Cardea Z44L was able to reach its rated speed of 3,427.66 MB/s for reads and write speeds at 3,233.07 MB/s when transferring large files that queued up to 8 tasks in sequence on 1 thread. Even with more demanding task loads, such as 32 tasks queued on 1 thread, which simulate real world usage more accurately, the SSD still performed well, with read speeds of 3,598.54 MB/s and write speeds of 3,219.75 MB/s. For the 3rd and 4th test where our SSD will be under more load which most traditional storage like HDDs perform poorly, this result shows the minimum speed performance of our SSD at 65.02 MB/s read and 285.60 MB/s write.

AS SSD Benchmark

Moving on the next benchmark, AS SSD Benchmark is the same as the CrystalBenchMark but this one gives a more extensive result test closest to real-world scenarios, so you can get a better idea of how it will handle your data in day-to-day use.


We got a total of 7,098 points, with the sequential speed of 2,365.26 MB/s read and 2,791.30 MB/s write and achieve a minimum speed of 72.92 MB/s for read and 261.20 MB/s for write. The Access time is also pretty fast at 0.018ms for read and 0.315ms for write.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The ATTO Disk Benchmark uses a proprietary test to measure the speed of an SSD using raw or compressible data by gradually increasing the size of data set from 512K to 64MB with a file length of 256MB. ATTO’s testing methodology is designed to show peak performance, and we believe that this test does a good job of showing that.

At 64 KB, we see the maximum speed performance of our SSD at 4.07 GB/s for write speeds and 3.55 GB/s for read speeds. As for smaller data blocks of 512 B, the SSD copies small but multiple data of 512 B at a speed of 95.86 MB/s and 89.63 MB/s.

UL 3DMark Storage Benchmark

The newest DLC for UL’s 3DMark is the Storage Benchmark, which comprehensively tests storage for gaming. It does this by testing aspects of selected games (Battlefield V, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Overwatch), such as file installation, loading, saving and moving – all in one tool.

For benchmarking the time it takes for the game to load to its main menu, our SSD gets 503.03 MB/s bandwidth with average access time of 90μs (microseconds) for Battlefield V. While on Overwatch, it gets 251.61 MB/s bandwidth and 161μs average access time. Moving the game installation files also gives us faster bandwidth at 1,833.73 with 151μs act. For streamers, recording gameplay gives an average speed of 154.73 MB/s which is already good for recording 4K or even 8K videos.

PCMark 10 Storage Benchmark – Full System

The PCMark 10 Storage Benchmark is an advanced storage benchmark from UL that accurately simulates real-world testing. There are three types of tests – Full system, Quick System and Data driven.

For the Full system, it writes 204GB of data and will last up to 40 minutes. It will measure the time on doing tasks like booting Windows 10, loading productive apps like Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, copying 339 Jpeg files and many more.

The SSD endured the 40 minute long test and we got an overall score of 1,711 and an average bandwidth of 276.47 MB/s and average access time of 99μs.

PCMark 10 Storage Benchmark – Quick System

For the quick system, a light version where it test the SSD to copies and creating 339 JPEG files as well as simulate automated task for Microsoft Excel, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

The lighter test gives similar overall score of 1,747.

PCMark 10 Storage Benchmark – Data Drive

This one is similar to Quick System but without simulating the productive apps.

It gives us an overall score of 2,177 and average bandwidth of 334.60 MB/s.

Conclusion

T-Force Cardea Z44L SSD 1TB is a clear budget option for anyone looking to jump on the PCIe 4.0 bandwagon without breaking the bank. Although it doesn’t offer the same blistering speeds as some of the more expensive options on the market, it still delivers significant performance gains over older generation drives and passes our benchmark test, making it a great choice for budget-conscious consumers.

Plus, a gaming-looking graphene heat spreader that does an impressive job of cooling down the SSD during intense use and an additional bonus of 5-year warranty period for peace of mind.

Specification

Here is the full specification of T-Force Cardea Z44L SSD.

Model:CARDEA Z44L
Interface:PCIe Gen4x4 with NVMe 1.4
Capacity:500GB / 1TB
Voltage:DC +3.3V
Operation Temperature:0˚C ~ 70˚C
Storage Temperature:-40˚C ~ 85˚C
Terabyte Written (TBW):500GB – 300TBW
1TB – 600TBW
Weight:7g
Dimensions80.0(L) x 22.0(W) x 3.7(H) mm
Shock1,500G/0.5ms
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF):3,000,000 hours
Warranty5-year limited warranty
Inside the Box1 x T-Force Cardea Z44L SSD
1 x Graphene Heat Spreader

Budget-friendly SSD with speed performance

Look and Feel - 100%
Performance - 95%
Features - 90%
Price - 100%

96%

Cheap and Fast!

T-Force Cardea Z44L SSD 1TB is a clear budget option for anyone looking to jump on the PCIe 4.0 bandwagon without breaking the bank. Although it doesn't offer the same blistering speeds as some of the more expensive options on the market, it still delivers significant performance gains over older generation drives and passes our benchmark test, making it a great choice for budget-conscious consumers. Plus, a gaming-looking graphene heat spreader that does an impressive job of cooling down the SSD during intense use and an additional bonus of 5-year warranty period for peace of mind.

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