Team Group has an SSD for almost every use case, from high-capacity SATA to durable and powerful M.2 NVMe drives. But for those looking for a fast PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD for a gaming console or desktop rig, Team Group’s T-Force Cardea A440 is a great option. It performs well and looks great, although it is on the pricey side.
Powered by Phison’s E18 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD controller and combined with Micron’s 96L TLC flash, the T-Force Cardea A440 can read/write up to 7/6.9 GBps, but it won’t be as responsive as the recently reviewed Corsair MP600 Pro XT or the Seagate FireCuda 530.
Interestingly, the Cardea A440 comes with two of the company’s own heatsinks, one with a slim profile graphene profile and copper label for tight fits and the other designed for desktop users who want maximum cooling.
The company states that both heatsinks are compatible with the PS5, although the larger aluminum heatsink prevents you from reinstalling the M.2 slot cover. But based on our testing, the lid actually detracts from cooling performance, resulting in higher operating temperatures under load. While more dust can build up over time once the metal cover is off, it is unlikely to cause a serious problem as long as you are diligent with the dust maintenance.
|Capacity (User / Raw)||1000GB / 1024GB||2000GB / 2048GB|
|form factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4|
|controller||Phison PS5018-E18||Phison PS5018-E18|
|Memory||Micron 96L TLC||Micron 96L TLC|
|Random reading||650,000 IOPS||650,000 IOPS|
|Random write||700,000 IOPS||700,000 IOPS|
|Endurance (TBW)||700 TB||1,400TB|
|Guarantee||5 years||5 years|
Team Group’s T-Force Cardea A440 is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities, each for just $0.16 per gigabyte. The A440’s sequential performance can read/write up to 7.0/6.9 GBps and at both capacities it can deliver up to 650,000/700,000 random read/write IOPS. Like most other drives in its class, the Cardea has an SLC cache that gets worse once you exceed the capacity threshold. The A440 is unable to sustain its writing performance until full, but is still well equipped to meet the demands of most gamers and general computer users for everyday tasks.
As a nod to PS5 owners, Team Group’s T-Force Cardea A440 is backed by high write endurance within the five-year warranty. The 1TB model can hold up to 700TB of writes, while the 2TB model has double that (1,400TB), thanks in part to Phison’s fourth-generation LDPC ECC. It also comes with SMART data reporting and Trim support. But it lacks OPAL compliant AES 256-bit encryption for password protection.
Software & Accessories
Team Group supports the Cardea A440 with a standard SSD toolbox that can be used to monitor the health status of the device and benchmark the drive. As mentioned, it comes with two heatsinks, the graphene label and a thicker aluminum heatsink, both ready to install rather than pre-installed, giving the buyer the option to use both options.
A closer look
The T-Force Cardea A440 comes in an M.2 2280 form factor and features a black PCB. With the graphene label, the A440 is 3.7mm thick and weighs 13 grams. With the aluminum heatsink installed, the A440 is 12.9mm thick and weighs 46g. The company claims that the heatsink will reduce the temperature by up to 20% with the heatsink and 9% with the graphene label.
Aesthetically, the A440 is very appealing with the aluminum heatsink, but we’re not too happy with the graphene label design. TW and CN patent numbers and the compliance symbols underneath distract from the premium look and price tag. This is something that can be easily remedied by moving them to the label on the back of the circuit board.
Phison’s PS5018-E18, the company’s best eight-channel PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD controller for consumers, delivers multi-gigabyte speeds for this SSD. Built on a 12nm process, it uses three ARM Cortex R5 cores clocked at 1GHz for its main computing power, but it also uses a dual-core coprocessor to support certain NAND firmware routines. The controller is NVMe 1.4 compliant and offers end-to-end data path protection, thermal throttle support, Active State Power Management (ASPM), and Autonomous Power State Transition (APST) capabilities.
The controller uses a DRAM cache to store the FTL data for faster processing of system requests than DRAM-less architectures. Our 2TB instance uses two SK hynix 8Gb DDR4 chips, each clocked at 1,600MHz, for this task. As for the flash, our A440 comes with 32 dies of Micron’s 512Gb 96L TLC, clocked at 1,200 MTps. This NAND flash has a quad-plane architecture, but it’s still not as fast as Micron’s latest 176L replacement port TLC that comes in some competing SSDs.
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