The CARDEA Ceramic C440 Gen4 x4 PCIe NVMe 1TB SSD Review – with a Z490 Intel Motherboard (!)

Benchmark Results

Benchmarking the CARDEA Ceramic SSD

Benchmarking SSDs are not an exact science as there is variability between runs, and different benchmarks may show different results depending on how they run their tests and how up-to-date the benchmarks are.  However, by using enough real world and synthetic tests, it may be possible to get a good idea of relative performance across all four tested drives. For benchmark results, the drives are generally listed in the following order on the charts:

  1. T-FORCE CARDEA Ceramic C440 1TB PCIe Gen 4 x4 NVMe SSD
  2. T-FORCE Liquid CARDEA 512GB PCIe Gen 3 x4 NVMe SSD
  3. Team Group MP33 1TB NVMe Gen 3 x4 PCIe SSD
  4. T-FORCE Vulcan 500GB SATA III SSD

We did not set up Windows on the Vulcan SSD, so not all of the benchmarks could be run on it.  All of the drives will have their results summarized in multiple charts. 

Let’s start first with TeamGroup’s own S.M.A.R.T. utility to get some information on each SSD.

S.M.A.R.T.

This TeamGroup S.M.A.R.T. utility is one we recently discovered that gives more information in one place than many other utilities.  First is the system and disk information for the CARDEA Ceramic C440.

S.M.A.R.T. also tests the drive with two sets of tests.  First up, the performance tests in MB/s for the T-FORCE CARDEA Ceramic C440.

Next the performance dual test results given in IOPS for the CARDEA Ceramic C440.

Finally, S.M.A.R.T. measures latency for the CARDEA Ceramic C440.

Next we look at the performance tests in MB/s for the CARDEA Liquid SSD.

Next we look at the dual latency tests for the CARDEA Liquid SSD.

Next we look at the performance tests in MB/s for the TeamGroup MP33 SSD.

Next we look at the dual latency tests for the MP33 SSD.

Next we look at the performance tests in MB/s for the Vulcan SATA III SSD.

Finally, we look at the dual latency tests for the Vulcan SSD.

S.M.A.R.T. clearly shows the CARDEA Ceramic C440 is the fastest SSD, followed by the CARDEA Liquid, then the TeamGroup MP33 SSD, and in last place, the SATA III Vulcan SSD.  TeamGroup’s S.M.A.R.T. is a good place to start, so let’s see what other synthetic and real world tests show.

Let’s start with PCMark 10.

PCMark 10

UL (formerly Futuremark) has been a developer and publisher of PC benchmark applications for nearly two decades. Although PCMark benches are synthetic tests, they provide a good measure of system performance. 

PCMark 10 was primarily developed for Windows 10 and it builds upon the PCMark 8 platform for a package of vendor-neutral home and office benchmarks. Unfortunately, in comparison to PCMark 8, PCMark 10 is missing key elements including detailed storage testing, and it is not possible to test the Vulcan SATA SSD as an attached drive as with the earlier suite. 

We use both PCMark 10’s Express and Extended settings.  The Express benchmark suite is best suited for office tasks while the Extended benchmarks are for power users

To properly compare the PCMark 10 scores, look at the detailed results that you want to compare.  All of the NVMe drives results are presented as screenshots. Open the images in separate tabs for easy individual test result comparisons.

Express benchmarks

First up is the CARDEA Ceramic NVMe Express score with 5562.   Here are the Liquid CARDEA Express results with 5475

Here are the Team Group MP33 NVM2 PCIe 1TB SSD express scores 5428

Extended benchmarks

First up is the CARDEA Ceramic Extended score with 3758.

Here is the CARDEA Liquid Extended score with 3741.

The Team Group MP33 M.2 PCIe 1TB SSD scores 3699 on the Extended benchmarks

Here is the summary of the 3 drives that were tested, and the CARDEA Ceramic scores particularly well and leads the other SSDs.

Let’s check out PCMark 8 which uses better dedicated storage tests.

PCMARK 8

PCMark 8 has an excellent storage test which actually uses real world timed gaming benchmarks that include loading World of Warcraft and Battlefield 3 as well as timing how long it takes to load popular Adobe and Microsoft apps.  It has been relegated to legacy by UL and is free to download and use.
 
CARDEA Ceramic NVMe scores 5113 with a total Storage 2.0 Bandwidth of 815.80 MB/s.  And of particular interest for gamers, it took 57.0 seconds to load World of Warcraft and 130.7 seconds for Battlefield 3 to load.
The T-FORCE CARDEA Liquid 512GB NVMe SSD scores 5100 with a total Storage 2.0 Bandwidth of 679.87 MB/s.  It took 57.1 seconds to load World of Warcraft and 131.0 seconds for Battlefield 3 to load.
The Team Group MP33 PCIe 1TB SSD scores 5003 with a total Storage 2.0 Bandwidth of 308.96 MB/s.  It took 58.2 seconds to load World of Warcraft and 132.5 seconds for Battlefield 3 to load.

T-FORCE Vulcan 500GB SATA III SSD scores 4965 with a total Storage 2.0 Bandwidth of 250.30 MB/s.  It took 58.1 seconds to load World of Warcraft and 133.5 seconds for Battlefield 3 to load.

The CARDEA Ceramic C440 scores highest overall in PCMark 8 followed by the CARDEA Liquid, and then the MP33 SSD, and finally the Vulcan SATA III SSD.
Above are the comparative summary PCMark 8 scores that include total scores and storage bandwidth results. The game loading time results are charted next, and since we are measuring time in seconds, lower is better.
All of the SSDs load games and levels quickly and the CARDEA NVMe SSDs are the quickest with the CARDEA Ceramic C440 just edging out the CARDEA Liquid, while the MP33 is faster than the Vulcan SATA SSD in Battlefield 3 but falls 0.1 second slower in World of Warcraft.   In earlier benchmarks, using a FireCuda 2TB SSHD takes nearly twice as long to load the same games. SSHDs only speed up after repeated loading of levels or games, and after 2 or 3 loads it will set up more quickly approaching SSD speeds.
 
The CARDEA Ceramic C440 SSD scores well in PCMark 8’s storage test by ranking ahead of our other three SSDs.  Let’s look at the characteristics of the drive as reported by Sandra 2020

SiSoft Sandra 2020/2021

To see exactly where drive performance results differ, there is no better tool than SiSoft’s Sandra 2020.  Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is a complete information & diagnostic utility in one package.  It is able to provide all of the information about your hardware, software, and other devices for diagnosis and for benchmarking.

 
The name, Sandra, is derived from a Greek name that implies “defender” or “helper”. There are several versions of Sandra 2020, including a free version of Sandra Lite that anyone can download and use. It is highly recommended.  The SiSoft’s Sandra 2020 Release 6 is the latest version, and we are using the full engineer suite courtesy of SiSoft.  It can benchmark and analyze all of the important PC subsystems and even rank a PC as well as make recommendations.
 
Here are the Sandra disk benchmarking tests in a single chart summarizing the performance results of our four drives.  Higher denotes better performance except for Access time where lower is better.
 
 
The PCIe NVMe Gen 4 x4 CARDEA Ceramic C440 is the overall fastest drive that we tested followed by the CARDEA Liquid and then the MP33 SSD.  The overall performance of the Vulcan SATA III SSD is in a distant last place. 

AIDA64 v6.32

AIDA64 is the successor to Everest and it is an important industry tool for benchmarkers.  AIDA64’s benchmark code is written in Assembly language, and they are well-optimized for AMD, Intel and VIA processors by utilizing the appropriate instruction set extensions. We use the Engineer’s version of AIDA64 courtesy of FinalWire.  AIDA64 is free to to try and use for 30 days. We run the AIDA64 overall Disk Benchmark and the 4 individual Read tests for each drive, and we include the image for the tests and then summarize all of our drive results in a chart. These tests are very detailed, and since there are a lot of customization options available we run the default tests.  We did not run the Read tests as they will destroy the data on the disks being tested.

  1. The Linear Read test measure sequential performance by reading or writing all sectors without skipping any.  It’s a linear view of the drives overall performance from its beginning to end.
  2. The Random Read test measures the random performance by reading variable-sized data blocks at random locations on the drive and they are combination of both speed and access times as its position changes before each new operation.
  3. The Buffered Read test measures the drive caching.
  4. The Access time tests are designed to measure the data access performance by reading 0.5 KB data blocks at random drive locations
The overall disk benchmark is relatively quick and we ran it twice which shows the variability built into this benchmark.  However, the individual benchmarks take much longer and they are more accurate.  The individual benchmarks are presented without comment.
Here is the summary chart comparing our four tested drives where higher is better except for the Average Read Access where lower is better.
Again the CARDEA Ceramic C440 leads the CARDEA Liquid, then the the MP33, and finally well ahead of the Vulcan SATA III based SSD.
 

SPECworkstation3 (3.0.4) Disk Benchmarks

All the SPECworkstation3 benchmarks are based on professional applications, most of which are in the CAD/CAM or media and entertainment fields. All of these benchmarks are free except for vendors of computer-related products and/or services.

The most comprehensive workstation benchmark is SPECworkstation3.  It’s a free-standing benchmark which does not require ancillary software. It measures GPU, CPU, storage and all other major aspects of workstation performance based on actual applications and representative workloads. SPECworkstation Disk benchmarks are perhaps more demanding than the 3DMark tests and only WPCstorage was performed. It was not possible to run it on the Vulcan SSD since there is no operating system running on it.

We only tested disk-related SPEC workstation WPCstorage performance which includes multiple tests like 7-Zip, Maya, Handbrake, and Mozilla, and first up is the CARDEA Ceramic C440.

Here are our T-Force CARDEA Ceramic C440 SPECworkstation storage 3.0.4 raw scores.

Next are the T-Force Liquid CARDEA results.

Lastly the TeamGroup MP33 NVMe SSD results.

The T-Force Vulcan SATA III SSD was not tested since we did not set up Windows on it.  Here are the SPECworkstation3 results summarized in a chart along with two of the competing PCIe NVMe SSDs.  Higher is better since the results are expressed as a score.

Using SPEC benchmarks, we see the Cardea Ceramic C440 is the fastest at SPEC workstation WPCstorage tests followed by the CARDEA Liquid and then by the MP33 SSD.

Let’s check out another benchmark suite, Anvil’s Storage Utilities.

Anvil’s Storage Utilities

Anvil’s Storage Utilities is a tool designed to benchmark and evaluate the Read and Write performance of SSDs and HDDs.  It gives overall bandwidth as well separate Read and Write scores, the response times, and IOPS capabilities.

 
First we test the CARDEA Ceramic C440 SSD.
 
Next the Liquid CARDEA results.
Now the Team Group MP33 SSD.Finally, the Vulcan SATA III SSD results.
The CARDEA Ceramic C440 NVMe2 SSD is the fastest SSD according to Anvil’s Storage Utilities followed in order by the CARDEA Liquid SSD, the MP33 SSD, and the Vulcan SATA III SSD.
Higher scores denote faster drives and as usual, the Cardea Ceramic beats the CARDEA Liquid, followed by the MP33 SSD, and in last place, the Vulcan SATA drive.
 
Let’s check out what is probably the most popular benchmark for ranking SSDs and HDDs, CrystalDiskMark.

CrystalDiskMark 8.0.1

CrystalDiskMark is a HDD benchmark utility for your drives that measure sequential and random read/write speeds. Here are some key features of “CrystalDiskMark”:

  • Measure sequential reads/writes speed
  • Measure random 512KB, 4KB, 4KB (Queue Depth=32) reads/writes speed
  • Results given in IOPS or MB/s

Here are the CARDEA Ceramic C440 SSD results showing the results first with  MB/s and then measured in IOPS:

Next the CARDEA Liquid.
Next the MP33 SSD.
Finally the Vulcan SATA SSD.
Here is the summary chart highlighting the most often quoted Read/Write performance data.  Higher is better.
The CARDEA Ceramic C440 NVMe drives is the highest performing drive held back only by Intel’s limited PCIe bandwith.  Because of this limitation, the Liquid CARDEA is just as fast in Read, but it is significantly slower in Write.  The TeamGroup midrange NVME drive is still fast with Read, but it’s Write speeds are just ahead of the Vulcan SATA SSD that also has a very slow Read speed in comparison to any fast NVMe PCIe drive.
 
Let’s look at our next synthetic test, TxBENCH.

TxBENCH

TxBENCH is similar to CrystalDiskMark but with additional features including secure erase.  According to the website, “It not only measures the performance of storage easily but also performs detailed speed measurements based on specified access patterns and long-period speed measurements. It also allows you to see each drive’s supported features, enabled features, and S.M.A.R.T. information.”

T-FORCE CARDEA Ceramic C440 1TB PCIe Gen 4 x4 NVMe SSD is first.

T-FORCE Liquid CARDEA 512GB PCIe Gen 3 x4 NVMe SSD is next.

Team Group MP33 1TB NVMe Gen 3 x4 PCIe is below.


The T-FORCE Vulcan 500GB SATA III SSD is last.

We can see the ranking again from TxBENCH summarized in the chart.  The results are very similar to CrystalDiskMark.
Let’s look at our next synthetic test, HD Tune.

HD Tune

This free standalone synthetic test is old and it doesn’t represent real world performance but it does test some important drive metrics. There is also a pay-for HD Tune Pro which is up-to-date and offers more functionality.  We tried the Pro trial recently just to make sure the free version is still relevant. HD Tune has the following functions, and it measures the performance of:

  • Transfer Rate
  • Access Time
  • CPU Usage
  • Burst Rate
  • Random Access test
  • Write benchmark

Hard Disk information includes partition information, supported features, firmware version, serial number, disk capacity, buffer size, transfer mode.

  • Hard Disk Health
  • S.M.A.R.T. Information (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology)
  • Power On Time
  • Error scan
  • Temperature display

Here are the CARDEA Ceramic C440 HD Tune benchmark results:

Next the Liquid CARDEA results.

Next the MP33 SSD.

Finally the Vulcan SATA SSD.

Here are the HD Tune benches summarized in a chart.
There are no surprises.  As before, the CARDEA Ceramic C440 which is held back by Intel’s limited Z490’s bandwidth is a little faster than the CARDEA Liquid SSD which in turn is significantly faster than the MP33 and much faster then the Vulcan SATA drive.  
 

Next we benchmark using AS SSD.

AS SSD

AS SSD is designed for Solid State Drives (SSD). This tool contains synthetic and practice tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD without using operating system caches.  In Seq-test the program measures how long it takes to read and write a 1GB file.

In the 4K test, read and write performance for random 4K blocks are determined. The 4K-64-thrd test are similar to the 4K procedure except that the read and write operations on 64 threads are distributed as in the usual start of a program.  For the copy test, two large ISO file folders are created, programs with many small files, and a games folder with small and large files. These three folders are copied by the OS copy command with the cache turned on.  AS SSD gives an overall score after it runs the benchmarks.

Here are the T-FORCE CARDEA Ceramic C440 AS SSD results showing MB/s next to IOPS and below it, copy speeds.

 
Here are the T-FORCE CARDEA Liquid AS SSD results.
 
Here are the TeamGroup MP33 AS SSD results.
Here are the T-FORCE Vulcan SATA AS SSD results.
Here is the summary.

Again, the CARDEA Ceramic C440 stands out even though it’s bandwidth is limited by Intel’s latest enthusiast motherboards.

Next up, ATTO.

ATTO

ATTO is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices including for SSDs and HDDs.  HD Tach uses custom device drivers and low level Windows interfaces to determine the physical performance of the device.

The T-FORCE CARDEA Ceramic C440 ATTO results are first.

 
Here are the T-FORCE CARDEA Liquid ATTO results.
 
Next are the TeamGroup MP33 ATTO results.
 
Finally, here are the T-FORCE Vulcan SATA ATTO results.
We see very solid and mostly even results from the CARDEA Ceramic C440 SSD.
 

HD Tach is up next.

HD Tach

HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices that was developed by Simpli Software.  HD Tach uses custom device drivers and low level Windows interfaces to determine the physical performance of the device.  It is no longer supported and needs to be run in compatibility mode for Windows 10. 

We present the benchmarks first with the Quick benchmark (8MB zones) on the left and the Long benchmark (32MB zones) on the Right.

Here are the T-FORCE CARDEA Ceramic C440 HD Tach results with an average read of 1600.1MB/s for the Quick bench and 1553.4MB/s for the Long bench.     

Here are the T-FORCE CARDEA Liquid with an average read of 1529.9MB/s for the Quick bench and 1474.7MB/s for the Long bench.     

Next  are the TeamGroup MP33 HD Tach results with an average read of 766.3MB/s for the Quick bench and 791.9MB/s for the Long bench.     

Finally, here are the T-FORCE Vulcan SATA HD Tach results with an average read of 346.4MB/s for the Quick bench and 346.3MB/s for the Long bench.      Here are the HD Tach Disk benches summarized in a chart comparing our ten drives.  For read speeds, higher is better but for access times, lower is better.

The CARDEA Ceramic C440 is the fastest in HD Tach, and the Cardea Liquid is next followed by the MP33 SSD and in last, the Vulcan SATA III SSD.

Next we look at game/level loading speeds.

The Game/Level Loading Timed Results

Game and game level loading time results are difficult to measure precisely but generally SSDs perform similarly with regard to game loading times and they significantly faster than any HDD.  Even SSHDs require loading the same level or program over-and-over to get quicker. 

Fortunately we are able to test 2 games using the World of Warcraft and Battlefield 3 loading times again as measured precisely by PCMark 8’s storage test as well as 5 levels and overall loading times accurately by using the Final Fantasy XIV: Stormbringer benchmark. 

Let’s start with the Stormbringer benchmark first and the CARDEA Ceramic NVMe PCIe SSD.  Total Loading times are 13.34 seconds.

Next the CARDEA Liquid SSD. Total Loading times are 15.295 seconds.

Next the MP3 SSD with total Loading times of 16.098 seconds.

Finally the Vulcan SATA III SSD with a total Loading times of 16.214 seconds. Here is the chart comparing the total loading times of each SSD plus each of its 5 levels.  Lower times in seconds are better which means the game or level will load more quickly.

Here are the World of Warcraft and Battlefield 3 loading times again as measured precisely by PCMark 8’s storage test. Lower (faster setup in seconds) is better.

All of the SSDs load games quickly and there is very little difference between them although the CARDEA Ceramic C440 is the fastest followed by the CARDEA Liquid, the MP33 and the SATA III Vulcan SSD.  Until developers start to target SSDs for game storage, or perhaps after the next generation of consoles move away from hard disk drives, we may see SSDs achieve the game loading performance they are capable of.

File Copying

File copy speeds are important to gamers especially when they want to quickly transfer their game files from one location to another. 

First we copy a 22.8GB folder containing Alien Isolation (which is exceptionally intense in VR) from its Steam folder to a desktop folder which is something we do regularly when setting up VR on multiple PCs.

The CARDEA Ceramic C440 took 20.5 seconds.

The Liquid CARDEA which is a slightly faster drive took almost twice longer then the ZERO Z340 at 40.9 seconds for the same copy.

The Team Group MP33 M.2 PCIe 1TB SSD is weak in Read but rather fast for Write evidenced by taking 1 minute and 9.3 seconds (69.3 seconds) for the Alien Isolation Copy, or less than 20 seconds slower than the CARDEA Liquid, but the CARDEA Ceramic is still 3 times faster at copying this same folder.

It took about 2 minutes and 22.5 seconds to copy the same Alien Isolation 22.6GB Steam folder from program files to the desktop using the Vulcan SSD.  You have time to make a cup of tea.

Next we try something a bit more complicated and time consuming when we copy multiple folders totaling 44.2GB from from Steam’s common files to a desktop folder.

The CARDEA Ceramic C440 took 1 minute and 44.2 seconds.

The Liquid CARDEA which is a slightly faster drive took much longer then the Ceramic C440 at 3 minutes 21 seconds for the same copy.

The Team Group MP33 M.2 PCIe 1TB SSD is more inconsistent in its speeds for large files taking 4 minutes, 8.7 seconds.

It took about 7 minutes and 32 seconds to copy the same 22.6GB Steam folder from program files to the desktop using the Vulcan SSD.  You can probably get dinner started in that time.  But no matter how you look at it, even a SATA III SSD is much faster than any HDD or SSHD when you can probably make dinner and eat it too before your files are ready.

Let’s summarize our loading times by a chart.

Even when the CARDEA Ceramic C440 SSD is constrained severely by the Intel platform’s limited bandwidth, it still excels at copying compared to any of our other tested SSDs.  

Finally, let’s revisit game/level loading times plus all of our Summary charts and then reach our conclusion.

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