Toshiba isn't a name that readily comes to mind when choosing a solid-state drive, which is surprising considering it invented NAND flash 25 years ago. But while companies like OCZ, Intel, Kingston, Corsair, Samsung and myriad others are shouting about their SSDs, the fact that Toshiba makes SSDs as well as the NAND chips inside them tends to pass people by.

Back in June 2012 Toshiba announced the world's first 19nm NAND equipped SSDs, but only now do we have a drive for review. Unfortunately for Toshiba, in the time since the announcement two other manufacturer's drives using its latest NAND have already visited our test bench: Plextor's M5 Pro Series and the latest drive from Kingston, the SSDNow V300.

Toshiba quotes the max sequential read speed at 524MB/s, with the sequential write speed quoted at 461MB/s for everything bar the 64GB drive. Under test conditions using the ATTO benchmark these figures seem a little on the safe side, as the drive produced a read score of 554MB/s and 511MB/s for the writes. That performance sits the Toshiba drive in between the two other 19nm NAND users we've tested.

Control yourself

Unlike the ubiquitous SandForce controller, the Marvell controller isn't particularly bothered about what type of data it is working with. Comparing sequential read/write scores for the default incompressible and compressible data tests in AS SSD shows this nicely, and results in 512MB/s and 477MB/s for the read/writes respectively for the default test, and 509MB/s reads and 495MB/s writes for the compressible data test.

However, the 4K read performance isn't that strong, and the writes are disappointingly low, which is something we've seen before with larger capacity SSDs.

Back in the real world, the drive's performance is pretty impressive. It took just three and a half minutes to copy a 50GB folder of fixed file types and sizes, while copying a 4GB image took a mere 17 seconds. A 17GB Blu-Ray file took a speedy 76 seconds too.

Benchmarks

Sequential read performance
AS SSD: Megabytes per second: Higher is better

TOSHIBA HG5: 512
PLEXTOR M5 PRO: 500
KINGSTON SSDNOW V300: 556

Sequential write performance
AS SSD: Megabytes per second: Higher is better

TOSHIBA HG5: 477
PLEXTOR M5 PRO: 309
KINGSTON SSDNOW V300: 527

4K random write performance
AS SSD: Megabytes per second: Higher is better

TOSHIBA HG5: 23
PLEXTOR M5 PRO: 53
KINGSTON SSDNOW V300: 57

Toshiba is keeping quiet about details of the controller, so we grabbed a deerstalker hat and a screwdriver and started investigating. Toshiba certainly doesn't make it easy.

Four tiny screws hold the case together, and four slightly larger ones hold the PCB in place. Releasing the PCB revealed individual thermal pads protecting the NAND and controller. The controller is branded Toshiba, but has 'Marvell N8B97202.4JW' underneath it, so it looks like custom Marvell silicon with Toshiba-written firmware.

The Marvell silicon means it can take on incompressible data with ease, but the curse of the high-capacity SSD strikes again with weak 4K random figures. That's the price you pay for large-scale storage right now, but prices are tumbling, with this Toshiba coming in at 72p per GB.

One worry is Toshiba's seeming lack of confidence in its product based on the warranty. Just one year isn't good enough for an expensive new SSD.