It’s marketed for its PS5 compatibility yet its product description only mentions Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. We’re talking about the A440 Pro Special Series, and the major advantage it has over the standard Cardea A440 Pro is that its “Special 5eries” graphene-coated heat spreader fits into tighter spaces, since it’s only the thickness of a heavy sticker.
Of course that makes the A440 PSS the drive to own from Team Group’s vaunted Cardea series, as those tighter spaces include certain gaming consoles, notebooks, and the space under the fancy M.2 heat sinks that come with most high-end desktop motherboards. And even better for those who like to dive deep into component specs, the A440 PSS ships with its heat spreader detached.
That means we get to see the Phison E18 PCIe 4.0 NVMe controller that gives it top rank bandwidth, along with the 8Gb (1GB) Hynix H5AN8G6NCJR-VKC DDR4-2666 cache and the Micron IA7BG94AYA 176-layer NAND that the firm apparently would rather not discuss with plebs (that means we couldn’t find the IC specification sheet at Micron).
The back of the box is not a jack in the box as there’s no surprises here: The A440 Pro Special Series comes with a 5-year limited warranty, and the greatest missing thing are the words “Up to” to go with the description of the model’s 4TB maximum capacity. Rest assured that we’re using the 2GB version throughout all tests.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-12900K, Fixed at 4.8/4.0GHz, 1.275V|
|CPU Cooler||Alphacool Eisblock XPX CPU, VPP655 with Eisbecher D5 150mm, NexXxoS UT60 X-Flow|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z690 Extreme WiFi 6E LGA 1700|
|Graphics||Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Gaming OC 8G: 1410-1725 MHz GPU, GDDR6|
|Power||be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 850W: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Platinum|
|Memory||Patriot Viper Venom RGB DDR5-6200 C40 2x 16GB (32GB) Kit|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio|
|Graphics Driver||GeForce 496.49|
The T-Force Cardea A440 Pro Special Series name so long that it had to be abbreviated PSS. But with twice the NAND, we also expect doubled longevity and a big bandwidth boost over the 1TB VPR400.
|Cardea A440 PSS|
|Patriot Viper VPR400|
|MSI Spatium M470|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Flash||Micron 176L TLC||Micron 176L TLC (B47R)||BiCS4 96L TLC||Toshiba 16L MLC|
|Interface||PCIe 4.0 x4 (NVMe 1.4)||PCIe 4.0 x4 (NVMe 1.4)||PCIe 4.0 x4 (NVMe 1.3)||PCIe 3.1 x4 (NVMe 1.1b)|
|Controller||Phison PS5018-E18||InnoGrit IG5220||Phison PS5016-E16||Toshiba TC58NCP|
|Endurance||1,400 TBW||800 TBW||1,600 TBW||148 TBW|
At this point the elderly RD400 just sits there to show how regressive some of the worst readings are from newer drives.
Beating the half-sized VPR400 across AIDA64 read test, the A440 PSS still ends up behind the VPR400 in Sandra File System. We’re hoping to see why in other tests.
The A440 PSS also has the highest transfer rate in 3DMark game loading, but ducks behind the older Spatium M470 in game saving and installing tasks. The A440 PSS has no such problem in PCMark, however.
ATTO indicates that the problem we first saw as a hiccup in Sandra might have everything to do with small blocks. Sequential transfers generally have little to no reliance on caching, so the VPR400’s lack of cache has its least impact there.
CrystalDiskMark again shows the A440 PSS favoring larger transfers while its competitors beat it at small ones. This time the blocks are randomized and thus knock down the VPR400 in reads, but it still overtakes the A440 PSS in random 4k writes.
DiskBench simply measures the time it takes to transfer your own file, and ours is 30GB so this definitely qualifies as a large transfer. That A440 PSS performs exceedingly well at large transfers, so its dominance here is unsurprising.
The Cardea A440 Pro Special Series leads in application starts despite its mediocre performance in the synthetic small transfer tests that are supposed to represent application starts. In fact, if we consider only the tests that are based on real-world game loading, app loading and file transfers, we see that its actual lead is only undermined by its expected lead, which we expected to be somewhere around 50%.
For less than twice the price of the VPR400, the A440 Pro Special Series provides twice the capacity, twice the longevity, and roughly 25% better performance. From a features perspective it loses the VPR400’s RGB heat sink but gains the ability to fit into a wider variety of applications—including the PS5 game console—by using thin copper and graphene layers to form its non-obstructing heat spreader.
|T-Force Cardea A440 PSS|
|The Cardea A440 Pro Special Series offers great performance and installation flexibility at a moderate price.|