OCZ Vector 256GB Reviewccokeman -
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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OCZ Vector 256GB Introduction:
OCZ's interest in developing its solid state drive portfolio has reached a high water mark with the introduction of the Vector series drives. This drive is the first to come out of OCZ's warehouses with an all new in-house designed NAND controller that leverages the technologies of both Indilinx and PLX after the acquisition of both of these companies. Equipped with the Barefoot 3 controller, the build philosophy of OCZ's Vector series drives is centered around improved long-term reliability and stability. To that end, OCZ torture tests each drive before it is ready to ship out to the consumer. This drive is rated for up to 20GB of host writes per day over 5 years and a MTBF rating of 1.3 million hours, which is more writes than most will put it through and most likely longer than the drive will be in service. The commitment to long-term reliability is emphasized with the move to a 5-year warranty on the Vector drives.
Performance ratings for the Vector include sequential reads of up to 550MB/s, sequential writes of up to 530MB/s, Random 4K read IOPS of 100,000, and Random 4K write IOPS of 95,000. The performance characteristics of the Vector are not centered on peak numbers but developing good solid all around performance with its own in house IP. Pricing for the Vector ranges from $149 for the 128GB drive on up to $649 for the 512GB version with the 256GB version hitting the sweet spot price wise at $229 or just under 90 cents per GB of advertised capacity. An all-new controller, slim form factor, extensive burn-in before shipping, and the promise of excellent performance are all just lines on a page until we see just how the Vector performs. Lets dig in and see what it has to offer.
OCZ Vector 256GB Closer Look:
The package OCZ sends the Vector in is familiar to those who have used or looked at OCZ's drives over the past year. On the front is a rendering of the Vector drive on a blue background with the basic feature set listed underneath the image. This drive's capacity is shown as 256GB. On the back panel, OCZ explains why using an OCZ drive is a better option in several languages. The drive SKU and s/n are listed on decals along the bottom of the panel. Inside the bulging box is a foam-filled sleeve that holds the Vector drive and the accessory bundle. On the back side is the 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch drive adapter, while the mounting screws and drive are gripped tightly by the foam block.
Included with each OCZ Vector drive is a user's manual, a key for Acronis drive imaging software, the drive mounting screws, drive adapter, and a new sticker that has changed from the "My SSD is faster then your Hard Drive" sticker included with older drives. The 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch drive adapter comes in handy when installing the Vector drive into a chassis not equipped to accommodate a 2.5 inch form factor drive. Sporting the OCZ logo, this drive is hard to miss when looking through a case window.
The casing used on the Vector is a 7mm thick z-height form factor with rounded corners. The slim design opens up the potential user base to fit into the latest slim notebooks. The front of the drive mirrors the graphic used on the front of the packaging while the back is standard fare showing the model, serial number, and recycling instructions. Drive connectivity includes SATA data and power connections. SATA 6Gb/s is supported with backwards compatibility with the associated drop off in drive performance. Mounting the OCZ vector uses the standard mounting points for the 2.5 inch form factor.
Getting into the Vector involves removing the warranty seal over one of the four Phillips head screws used to hold the drive together. It's nice to see that security screws are not used to hold the back plate on this drive. The PCB is attached to the aluminum side of the case, again with Phillips head screws to help out with the reliability of the drive. OCZ's Indilinx controller is used and is connected to the casing by a thick thermal pad to keep the controller cool. There are eight 16GB NAND modules surrounding the Barefoot 3 controller on each side of the PCB. A DRAM cache module is present on each side of the PCB.
OCZ's Barefoot 3 controller is the first fully in-house designed product put together after the acquisition of Indilinx and PLX. This is an eight channel controller that features a SATA III 6Gbps interface, supports TRIM, and features an Idle Time Garbage Collection algorithm. Low cost 25nm MLC IMFT NAND modules are used to populate the drive in capacities from 128 to 512GB. The NAND used on the Vector is OCZ branded but it and the DRAM cache are Micron products. All these parts combine to deliver performance ratings of 550/530MB/s sequential read/writes and 100,000/95,000K Random Read/Write IOPS on this 256GB version of the Vector.
An all new controller coupled with 25nm MLC NAND should prove to be an interesting combination. Lets see how well this latest drive from OCZ performs.