OCZ Vector SSD review
Posted by Hilbert Hagedoorn on: 11/27/2012 05:57 PM [ 4 comment(s) ]
Final words and conclusion
With the Vector series SSDs OCZ brings a really nice product to the market. Now, not all benchmarks have shown the perf numbers this SSD deserves, but we have been testing with an engineering sample and the potential is seriously breathtaking in terms of leading performance.
The Vector is based upon the Indilinx architecture controller, and with it reaching revision 3 (Barefoot 3) it certainly is showing what it can do. The SSD shines at many factors, IOPS performance is outstanding. This SSD is writing and reading ridiculous 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 stuff on your PC, but this SSD certainly hauls the proverbial ass on IOPS perf.
However the one test that we think is by far the best test in our 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 factor 100. The outcome of the results with the Vector are very impressive, it is in the top three of all SSDs tested to date -- shocking but true as we review a lot of them.
The peak read performance is excellent to grand, the write performance opposed to say LSI SandForce 2281, LAMD and Marvel controllers is simply exceptional.
But yeah, where the Vector series are going to shine is it's overall IO and razersharp write performance. Zoom in at both IOPS and Trace performance then you'll notice that the SSD can manage near silly workloads without breaking a sweat. So that's testimony towards the new Barefoot 3 controller. With a few more tweaks this can be the fastest SSD we have ever had our hands on.
Alongside the SSD comes the OCZ Toolbox, which is a handy utility alright. We used the latest revision for on our OCZ Vector sample SSD. The tool will check for available firmware updates and 9 out of 10 times it can flash your drive non volatile and thus keep your data in tact. Very handy. The software will also allow you to erase your drive and check out some functions.
You'll also receive a license for Acronis True Image HD. With this software you can clone and backup your data and easily restore HDD/SSD drive images within minutes time. This is actually the software suite we use in our office for all local backups. It's great value to see that included.
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. We very much enjoy the grand sustained performance of this SSD series, so you you copy a fast amount of compressed data, then the OCZ Vector 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 offers these days is simply a massive difference and probably the best upgrade you can make for your computer anno 2012.
Some overall recommendations then. Should you be in the market for a SATA 3 SSD then we have a couple of hints though. 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 towards 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 then 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 the two 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 balance things out. Use a nice 240GB SSD for your operating system and applications, and park these 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.
I wanted to create separate little chapter in the conclusion regarding Warranty. It seems OCZ has changed the model somewhat. This SSD will receive 5 years of warranty and that's really great. In the press-deck however we noticed a little added rule to that warranty, 5 years warranty or (and here it is) 36.5 TB of writes. Whichever one comes first is the basis of your warranty.
When you calculate that back that is (36.5x1000) / (365x5) = 20GB/day. So realistically you can write 20GB per day (365 days a year) for 5 years before you run out of warranty. The firmware can read out this write behaviour and thus OCZ can read that out in the RMA process. I'm not sure what to think about this new policy guide line just yet. Realistically though, no one writes 20GB per day on his/her SSD with a desktop PC or laptop and please also understand that after 36.5 TB of writes your warranty expires, it's not that your SSD ran out of lifetime or will suddenly go six feet under.
With the new Vector series SSDs OCZ again targets the higher segment of the enthusiast market. There's very little wrong with this SSD drive other then it could use a few tweaks here and there for some benchmark tests. Realistically though, and we stated this many times, you'd never ever even notice the difference as a split second write remains a split second write. That makes this drive rather exceptional.
The overall read performance is good, the trace and IOPS tests are exceptional and the sustained reads are good. If IOPS matter to you for say database utilization then again this is a segment where the Vector SSD is very strong. Where the Vector seems to go off charts is the overall write performance, as that's just very good.
Pricing then, the most trivial factor, especially if the new technology doesn't offer any significant improvement.
- Vector 128 GB, 135 EURO
- Vector 256 GB, 250 EURO
- Vector 512 GB, 525 EURO
US Dollar proces should be roughly similar, so that's give or take 1 USD per GB. Mind you that these are street prices, not MSRP. So admittedly it's a little on the high side. Then again this is an enthusiast class SSD at launch time.
Pricing aside I do like to state that OCZ offers a really nice warranty, you get 5 years of it. You'll also get the Acronis disk cloning software and backup utility. The OCZ Vector offers little left to be desired really, it however is positioning itself in a very saturated segment of the market (enthusiast grade SSDs), and that is the not making the choice any less difficult. We however are confident that the OCZ Vector is going to be a successful and excellent SSD series which we can seriously recommend.
We test, benchmark and review the OCZ Vector series SSD. OCZ has developed this product with their all new Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller 256GB of NAND flash memory