Team Group is a major vendor of DRAM modules, and they also have a variety of SSDs. They are one of the few SSD vendors that uses Phison turnkey solutions for some of their SSDs but still also designs their own drives using controllers from other vendors like Marvell. Most brands that use Phison have abandoned in-house drive or firmware development.

The Team T-Force Cardea is an enthusiast-oriented M.2 PCIe SSD carrying a large heatsink that makes it more or less a desktop-only SSD. The heatsink is not so tall that it will interfere with graphics cards when installed in a nearby slot, but this heatsink is far more substantial than the low-profile heatspreaders we've seen on other M.2 PCIe SSDs. Underneath the heatsink, the T-Force Cardea is a reference design Phison E7 NVMe SSD with 15nm MLC NAND.

The 240GB Team T-Force Cardea is the lowest capacity SSD we've tested that uses the Phison E7 controller. This gives us the chance to see how well the performance holds up with less spare area on the drive and fewer NAND dies to use in parallel. The 240GB T-Force Cardea is still large enough to fully populate the NAND channels on the E7 controller, so it isn't in an awkward position like the Intel SSD 600p.

SSDs using the Phison E7 controller have all used Toshiba 15nm planar MLC NAND; the controller doesn't support LDPC error correction or anything similar, so it is generally not regarded as a good match for TLC NAND. Despite using MLC, Phison E7 drives have often been some of the most affordable consumer NVMe SSDs, even when compared against drives using planar or 3D TLC NAND. We tend to regard Phison E7 SSDs as entry-level NVMe products, but a desktop-only drive with a heatsink clearly aspires to be more than that.

Team T-Force Cardea Specifications
Capacity 240GB 480GB
Form Factors M.2 2280 PCIe x4 with heatsink
Controller Phison E7
NAND Toshiba 15nm MLC
Sequential Read 2600 MB/s 2650 MB/s
Sequential Write 1400 MB/s 1450 MB/s
4KB Random Read  180k IOPS 180k IOPS
4KB Random Write  140k IOPS 150k IOPS
Encryption No
Write Endurance 335 TB 670 TB
Warranty Three years
Price $129.99 $219.99

The performance specifications for the two capacities of the T-Force Cardea are very similar, suggesting that the larger model won't feel any faster. The warranty period of three years is typical for this market segment, and the write endurance ratings are equivalent to about 1.2 drive writes per day over that period, which is very good for a consumer drive.

Each Phison E7 drive we've tested has used a different firmware revision that makes different performance tradeoffs. Our most recently reviewed Phison E7 SSD was the Corsair Neutron NX500 with firmware version 4.5, which seemed to prioritize peak benchmark performance over low queue depth real-world performance. The Patriot Hellfire's version 2.1 firmware seemed to be pretty well-rounded with reasonable priorities. The Team T-Force Cardea uses Phison's version 3.6 firmware. We also have results for the Zotac SONIX with 1.0 firmware.

Aside from comparing against other Phison E7 SSDs, the most relevant competitor to the 240GB Team T-Force Cardea is the 250GB Samsung 960 EVO. The 960 EVO uses the most advanced NVMe SSD controller currently available, but is held back somewhat by using 3D TLC instead of the 3D MLC of the 960 PRO, and the 250GB capacity often suffers from the small size of its SLC cache and spare area. At the moment, the 960 EVO is a bit cheaper than the T-Force Cardea.

AnandTech 2017 SSD Testbed
CPU Intel Xeon E3 1240 v5
Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC
Chipset Intel C232
Memory 4x 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR4-2400 CL15
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 5450, 1920x1200@60Hz
Software Windows 10 x64, version 1703
Linux kernel version 4.12, fio version 2.21
AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer
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  • MajGenRelativity - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    Yep. Anandtech doesn't have the money to purchase a lot of their own review samples, so it is up to the company to provide them. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    More to the point, they can get enough free (donation/loan) hardware to keep their reviewers all busy; why should they buy out of pocket instead. AFAIK most exceptions fall under the category of the reviewer writing about something they bought for personal use. Reply
  • MajGenRelativity - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    That also makes sense Reply
  • Flunk - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    MyDigitalSSD is a rebrander, they slap their sticker on drives made by an OEM, quite often ADATA. I've taken a look at the model you mentioned and it looks like a PHISON E7 reference design, as such I can't really guess which OEM made it or the real model name.

    But if you're thinking of buying one, any review of a PHISON E7 reference design should be relevant.
    Reply
  • willis936 - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    How can anyone compete against samsung in the consumer SSD space? Reply
  • MajGenRelativity - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    64 layer NAND and new controllers should allow other companies to do so. The Intel 545s puts up a stiff fight Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    That's easy, just sell a lower performance product at a competitive price. Certainly Samsung has some good SSDs out there, but the seat-of-the-pants feel between one of their top performing drives and a budget SSD will be small or, in some cases, not noticed outside of benchmarks since the rest of the system becomes a factor in acutal usage. These other competitors can just knock a few percent off the sales price and a lot of people will happily purchase drive that is slower. Reply
  • davidedney123 - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    Seriously, who decides "Yeah I'll trust my data to a Team Group Team T-Force Cardea, as it's tuppence cheaper than a drive from Samsung/Intel/Crucial/Some other proper company?

    Storage is one area I would really not recommend going for off brand tat to save a few dollars.
    Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    It's not like any of the important bits are actually designed or built by TeamGroup. This is a Phison drive wearing a Team heatsink. Phison is hardly "off-brand", though they're certainly not the premium brand. They account for a huge portion of the consumer SSD market. Reply
  • davidedney123 - Friday, September 29, 2017 - link

    Phison sell them the controller IC, someone else makes the NAND (and the grade will depend on what they are paying the manufacturer for it), but assembly, validation, final testing, and support are all from Frangpai Magic SSD Friend or whatever they are called. My point still stands. Reply

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