TeamGroup is offering another value-based gaming product this time around for their Gen4 SSD line-up and much like ADATA’s Gammix S50 Lite was a Gen4 drive but only featured +/- 3500MB/s performance rating, the pricing is really where its at with the T-Force CARDEA Z44L. Unlike the S50, the Cardea includes a graphene heatpsreader instead of an aluminum one but is rated at 3500 MB/s reads and up to 3000MB/s write performance.
Available in 500GB and 1TB configurations, the CARDEA Z44L is being positioned as starting gaming option for those that want a faster SSD. It will be generally faster in read speeds than most Gen3 drives and we’ll see in this review just how much of value its worth than say other entry Gen4 drives in the market right now.
Features & Specification
|Interface||PCIe Gen4x4 with NVMe 1.4|
|Capacity||500GB / 1TB|
|Operation Temperature||0˚C ~ 70˚C|
|Storage Temperature||-40˚C ~ 85˚C|
|Terabyte Written (TBW)||500GB – 300TBW
1TB – 600TBW
|Performance||Crystal Disk Mark:
500GB Read/Write: up to 3300/2400 MB/s
1TB Read/Write: up to 3500/3000 MB/s
500GB Read/Write: 142K/357K IOPS Max
1TB Read/Write: 263K/382K IOPS Max
|Dimensions||80.0(L) x 22.0(W) x 3.7(H) mm|
|Humidity||RH 90% under 40°C (operational)|
|Operating System||System Requirements:
|Warranty||5-year limited warranty|
- PCIe 4.0 Gen4x4 Phison E19T controller with read/write up to 3500/3000 MB/s. Supports the latest NVMe 1.4 standard
- Ultra-thin graphene heat spreader. Supports SLC Cache technology and smart algorithm management mechanism to help ensure operational efficiency and maximize the performance of SSD
- Manufacturer Warranty: 5-year or TBW (Terabytes Written) limited warranty. Free Technical Support and Customer Service on TEAMGROUP’s official website. The definition and conditions of TBW are based on the JEDEC standard.
Closer Look – T-Force CARDEA Z44L
T-Force is not listing specifics on their component except the Phison E19T controller as it has been quite hard for SSD manufacturers to maintain their supplies in making their products and even in-house makers like Samsung has not been safe in keeping their specs sheet uniform.
Performance Testing – T-Force CARDEA Z44L
Processor: Intel Core i9-12900K
Motherboard: ROG Maximus Z690 EXTREME
Memory: Kingston FURY Beast DDR5-5200 16GBx2
Storage: Kingston FURY Renegade 2TB (OS), tested drive as listed
PSU: Seasonic Platinum 1050w
Cooling: Corsair H150i 360mm AIO
Monitor: ROG PG27UQ
VGA: ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti
Our sample for this test is the T-Force CARDEA Z44L 500GB capacity model
Potential Performance (ATTO Disk Benchmark)
ATTO Disk Benchmark benchmarks a drive’s read and write speeds with increasing file sizes and graphs them. The results shows us a good idea of how the drive performs on file sizes, showing us read and write speeds and how consistent they are. The higher the better of course and the the more consistent the numbers, the better. This also shows us if bottlenecks exist for either the controller or the device itself.
AIDA64 Disk Benchmark
AIDA64 features an internal storage benchmarking tool. It has a large suite of read and write tests that will measure both linear (sequential) and random disk performance in both transfer rate and access times. AIDA64’s write tests are destructive and will destroy all drive data. Linear write testing in AIDA64 is what I use as a stress for our thermal capture. The random read benchmark here shows us how consistent the read performance is in varying sizes and location on the disk the data is written.
At around 150GB written, we see the drive falling to just above SATA speeds at around 600MB/s write speed. Once we near 250GB written, the drive wobbles flushing its write data but ultimately oscillates at 300MB/s to 600MB/s by around 400GB written.
Anvil’s Storage Utilities
This benchmark features a dedicated SSD benchmark which measures disk transfer rate as well as IO speed. The benchmark serves to compliment the other sequential tests in this review to show consistency.
Another SSD benchmark oriented towards sequential and 4K transfer performance. This benchmark also features a compression and file copy benchmark for more specific testing.
CrystalDIskMark has been the most actively updated disk benchmark amongst all the ones we use and is effectively the most reliable. Unfortunately, version to version results are not comparable which limits the ability to extrapolate comparative data. Still its a reliable and direct benchmark. Like the previous, it allows control over test data pattern, the test data size, amount of passes and individual benchmark control.
3DMark Storage Benchmark
The 3DMark Storage Benchmark uses traces recorded from popular games and gaming-related activities to measure real-world gaming performance, such as:
- Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Overwatch® from launch to the main menu.
- Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
- Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
- Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
- Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
Final Fantasy XIV Benchmark
Final Fantasy XIV has a standalone benchmark application for PC, always updated to the latest game expansion with the latest Endwalker benchmark delivering some very nice graphical updates. A long-standing feature of the Final Fantasy XIV standalone benchmark is the loading data is captures which is a summary of all the load times between scenes in the benchmark.
Playstation 5 Testing
The Sony Playstation 5 supports storage expansion thru M.2 devices and many SSD makers are advertising their drives as supporting the Playstation 5. That said, we’ve included PS5 bandwidth testing in our reviews. We use the Playstation 5’s internal read speed test for the primary initialization. Due to how Sony designed this benchmark, our testing averages at least 5 reads with the drive formatted after a rest period for best thermal results.
User Experience & Conclusion
If your usage is primarily for gaming PC, the T-Force CARDEA Z44L is definitely an option to consider as its a decent step-up versus cheaper Gen3 DRAM-less drives. If you don’t want to get into the nitty gritty details, this SSD is cheap because it doesn’t have the parts the sustain its performance for larger operations. Now in most Steam games or pretty much any game in general, the CARDEA Z44L will offer very decent read speeds to load that game off your drive and streaming texture data should be decently good.
For other specific use-cases like video editing, its going to be a mixed bag. If you work primarily with larger ProRes files, then it should breeze through scrubbing those files easily but in scenarios where-in you need to do this day-in, day-out then the lifespan of this drive will be your major downside as TeamGroup only rates the 500GB model at 300TBW and the 1TB model at 600TBW. That means that to meet the warranty lifespan of 5 years, you’ll be limited to writing around 160GB daily for the 500GB model and 300GB for the 1TB model.
Given the price though, its an easy choice. Its obvious that the T-FORCE CARDEA Z44L is target at people upgrading from SATA SSDs or even hard drives. The advantages are immediately obvious when viewed at this light and its going to be hard to nitpick against the CARDEA Z44L.
The T-FORCE CARDEA Z44L currently competes with a lot of Taiwanese SSDs in its price point with many other Chinese brands offering far lower pricing but strictly looking at Gen4 options, its primary competitor is the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite although that drive is in another pricing category. This leaves the Z44L to mainly compete with Kingston’s NV1 and other budget offering to which the Z44L does have a massive performance advantage.
At Php6499 and Php3499 for the 1TB and 500GB models, its easy to recommend the 500GB models for upgraders looking to go from HDD or SATA to an SSD OS and application drive. For those that want a gaming drive, I recommend the 1TB drive as games have really increased in capacity and 600TBW should last you a decent span unless you really like moving files around. The T-Force CARDEA Z44L is a good value option if you’re really strapped at its pricepoint and a 5-year warranty should give you some peace of mind.
The TeamGroup T-Force CARDEA Z44L SSD receives our B2G Recommended Seal!