By releasing the Vertex 3.20 series OCZ did a clever thing as it took the best of both worlds, performance versus price. The firmware of that controller has been refined very much and armed with 20nm NAND flash memory they can keep the prices to an all-time low. Overall the SSD is an excellent product to have.
This SSD shines at many factors and on many levels, IOPS performance is very good. This SSD writes and reads serious amounts of tiny files in a very fast fashion. We stated it before though, IOPS is not something you as a consumer should worry about too much unless you are doing a lot of database related work or create similar workloads on your PC, but this SSD certainly ranks high within this aspect. Trace testing - we think by far the best test in our entire benchmark suite is PCMark Vantage 64-bit. This is a trace test and can emulate what you guys do on your PC but then multiplied with a factor of 100. The outcome of the results with the Vertex 3.20 are good. Not perfect though. We noticed that throughout our benchmark session the write performance cannot match enthusiast class SSDs, you are looking at 20 to 30% less write performance. But that still boils down to 250~300 MB/sec writes, and that again is just seriously good performance overall. But for enthusiast grade write speeds the Vertex 4 or Vector would make a little more sense. Sustained read & write performance is fairly good. Especially read performance which leads and is top ranking. Write performance is again a tiny bit behind the top tier competition, however nothing that you'd ever notice in real world usage. So overall the Vertex 3.20 is mighty impressive if you consider the price level.
Overall SSD usage
An SSD is enjoyable, very much so. If you put a drive like this into your SATA 3 compatible laptop or SATA 3 compatible PC, you'll have no idea what is about to hit you. As stated, we very much enjoy the grand overall performance of this SSD series, so when you copy a vast amount of compressed data, then the SSD will perform seriously fast in performance. Make no mistake, replacing a HDD with an SSD in your desktop PC or laptop eliminates the random access lag of the HDD head, it is no longer mechanical. That, combined with the performance SATA3, is simply a massive difference and probably the best upgrade you can make for your computer anno 2013.
Some overall recommendations then. Should you be in the market for a SATA 3 SSD then we have a couple of hints; first and foremost if you have a SATA2 controller only on your motherboard, then you'll get limited at roughly 270 MB/sec read and writes. SATA3 (6Gbps) will free you up from that allowing the SSD to perform in the 500 MB/sec range. It however is important that you connect your SSD to the proper controller. We absolutely prefer the performance of the Intel Series 6 and 7 (H67/P67/Z68/Z77/H77/X79) integrated SATA 6G controller over anything else available in the market. If you run the SSD from a 3rd party controller with say a Marvell 6G controller, you will see lower performance. The new AMD 85X chipsets also offer fantastic performance. The more recent Asmedia controllers we spotted lately on motherboards are also offering good performance, albeit still 20%~25% slower than Intel's controllers. Also make sure you run your drive in AHCI mode, it does make such a difference in performance -- really guys, a big difference.
Prices HDD versus SSD
First, a generic rule that I always apply; you probably should stop looking at the Solid State Disk technology as if it were a traditional HDD. We all will be old and grey before SSDs reach the same prices or top the multiple TB volume storage the HDD offers for less money. Comparing an SSD with an HDD is making a comparison in-between an integrated IGP or a dedicated graphics card, that last one will cost you a heck of a lot more yet you gain incredible overall performance. It is the very same with an SSD, use it as boot drive on Windows and applications and you instantly have removed a huge bottleneck, namely load and access times. It is a difference in-between night and day (in a proper system). For massive storage like movies, MP3 files and bulky data you do not access on a regular basis, sure, that's where the HDD remains the winner as a cheaper storage solution. Guru3D's rule of thumb; the magic simply is finding a good combination in-between the two and to balance things out. Use a nice 240GB SSD for your operating system and applications, and park those movies and MP3 files onto a separate TB HDD. That's where the magic happens. I kid you not, all my test systems and work systems run on SSDs, not once have I considered going back to HDDs. The benefits of a good SSD are simply grand. But that doesn't mean I do not understand the budget and cost dilemma that many of you are facing though.
As mentioned on page two of this review, we looked up the numbers from some online etailers. OCZ is able to keep the prices competitive.
120GB costs 95 EUR
240GB costs 160 EUR
These are street prices incl VAT and the lowest price found with stock availability have been used. Not bad, especially when you consider that this is a near-enthusiast class SSD. You'll receive a three year carry-in warranty with this drive, which we feel is a very comfortable warranty policy.
SSDs have reached a cycle where they slowly bump into the limitations of the SATA3 interface. That means that the more affordable SSDs slowly but steadily get closer to that limitation as well. The Vertex 3.20 is priced aggressively and it offers read performance of over 500 MB/sec. Random IOPS and trace writes might be 25% slower than the enthusiast class SSDs but realistically that still means ridiculously fast writes, so that cannot be a limiting factor. The SSD overall shines at read performance and is good at write performance. US Dollar prices should be roughly similar, so that's far less than 1 USD per GB. Mind you, these claims are based on street prices, not MSRP. Now, that is a little higher than your average SSD but remember, this is more or less an enthusiast class SSD. With the Vertex 3.20, OCZ offers a nice warranty, you get 3 years with the SSD. Combine that warranty with the more than great performance numbers and that incredible low power consumption and we can only conclude that the OCZ Vertex 3.20 SSD is a winner in our book. It's the point where pricing versus performance reach equilibrium, and that's a mighty fine thing to observe.
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