OCZ Vector 256GB Review

ccokeman - 2013-01-16 18:21:20 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: February 13, 2013
Price: $229

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.

OCZ Vector 256GB Specifications:

 
128GB
256GB
512GB
Sequential Read
550 MB/s
550 MB/s
550 MB/s
Sequential Write
400 MB/s
530 MB/s
530 MB/s
4k Random Read             
90,000 IOPS
100,000 IOPS
100,000 IOPS
4k Random Write
95,000 IOPS
95,000 IOPS
95,000 IOPS

 

Available Capacities
128GB, 256GB, 512GB
NAND Components
MLC
Interface
SATA III / 6Gbps
Form Factor
2.5 inch; ultra-slim 7mm
Dimensions
99.7 (L) x 69.75 (W) x 7mm (H)
Weight
115g
Controller
Indilinx Barefoot 3
Performance Optimizations
TRIM, Idle Time Garbage Collection
Power Consumption
Idle: 0.9W Active: 2.25W
OS Compatibility
Windows, Linux, Mac OSX
Included Contents
Acronis cloning software registration key; 3.5" desktop adapter
Warranty
5-years

 

OCZ Vector 256GB Features:

Goundbreaking Performance

Groundbreaking Technology

SSD Advantage

 

 

All information courtesy of OCZ @ http://www.ocztechnology.com/ocz-vector-series-sata-iii-2-5-ssd.html

OCZ Vector 256GB Testing:

Testing of hard drives can be done in several different ways. One method involves leaving the drive bare and connecting it as a secondary drive in an existing system. By simultaneously cleaning the drive after each benchmark run-through, this allows you to see its theoretical peaks in performance. However, these results would only represent a best-case scenario – one that you may never see unless operating a bare drive. The second method, which OverclockersClub employs, involves loading the operating system and benchmarking suite onto the test drive itself. This would give performance results that emulate real-world usage more closely. Testing will be completed with the P67-based system listed below, alongside a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit that is updated to SP1 and fully patched as of the date of testing. The latest Intel Rapid Storage technology drivers and software have also been installed. All tests are conducted with the drive connected to a native SATA III 6 Gb/s port on the motherboard, in an effort to eliminate any possible bottlenecks with performance.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Drives:

 

Benchmarks:

  1. HD Tune 4.60 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2012
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. IO Meter
  8. PCMark Vantage
  9. Windows Startup / Shutdown

OCZ Vector 256GB Testing:

HD Tune 4.60 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 4.60 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performance as a whole, but also run more precise file and random access benchmarks as well.

Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

File Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

Random Access Benchmark:

 

 

 

OCZ's Vector drive has a strong start to the test suite in HD Tune. In the majority of the read tests it is close to if not at the top of the comparison field. As the block size increases, the Vector's write performance increases as well.

OCZ Vector 256GB Testing:

HD Tach v3.0.4.0: HD Tach is another hard drive benchmark utility, much like HD Tune. This benchmark measures the average read speed, random access time, and CPU utilization during operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SiSoft Sandra 2012: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. It allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.

 

 

In the HD Tach testing, the Vector was in the middle of the pack in the burst speed and average read tests. In the Sandra testing, the Vector performed better than the rest of the Indilinx equipped OCZ drives, even if only by a slight margin.

OCZ Vector 256GB Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside the 4K tests, the OCZ Vector delivers strong results. When looking at the write testing OCZ's Indilinx equipped drives are delivering the highest performance.

OCZ Vector 256GB Testing:

Atto Disk Benchmark v2.47: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this test, OCZ's Vector eclipses its ratings of 550MB/s read and 530MB/s write starting at the 512K test. It looks like the tuning done by OCZ has provided the desired results as the Vector is the fastest drive in each of the block sizes tested.

OCZ Vector 256GB Testing:

AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark specifically designed to test the speed of solid state drives. However, it also works for traditional hard drives. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds, as well as access times for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write, and overall performance of the drive.






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The only weakness shown by the OCZ Vector is in the 4k test. The 64 thread 4K test shows how well this drive handles a multi-threaded workload and is the fastest drive overall in the AS SSD test.

OCZ Vector 256GB Testing:

IOMeter is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation and announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) on February 17, 1998. Since then, it has seen widespread use within the industry.





 

 

 

 

 

 








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vector does well in this test competing well with the OCZ Vertex 4. Both the Vertex 4 and Vector seem to need more CPU resources to deliver this performance though.

OCZ Vector 256GB Testing:

PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the hard drive test suite. The measurement for the hard drive suite will be the total score, then the scoring for each test will be broken down. There are a total of eight hard drive tests within PCMark Vantage, and all eight will be run to gauge the performance of each drive tested.








 

 












 

 

 

 

 

 

Finishing as the fourth highest performing drive and highest finishing Indilinx based drive shows how well-rounded the performance is in the daily usage scenarios presented in the PCMark Vantage storage test suite.

OCZ Vector 256GB Testing:

In the world of computing, everyone likes a computer that can start up and shut down quickly. The ability to boot into your system as fast as possible allows you to start the tasks you set out to do that much more quickly. Not to mention the older you get, the greater the chance is that you'll forget what you wanted to use the computer for in the first place! The sweet spot is about 30 seconds or less. It is possible with conventional hard drives, though very difficult to attain this "golden" 30-second time. This time should be easier to attain with the speed of an SSD, but the only way to tell is to test it. To run these tests, I used a stopwatch to calculate the number of seconds it took from pressing the power button on the case, to having a fully-functioning desktop. For the shut down test, I began timing from the click of the shut down button in the start menu, and stopped when the system power was off completely.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

OCZ's Indilinx drives are some of the fastest to boot the test system in the comparison suite while the average time for an SSD equipped system to shutdown is right around four seconds.

OCZ Vector 256GB Conclusion:

OCZ's Vector line of solid state drives is every bit the performer that the Vertex 4 drives are with very few exceptions. In many of the tests, the two fastest drives were the Vertex 4 and OCZ's latest Indilinx Barefoot 3-equipped Vector. The only real weakness I saw was that the Vector was less frugal with the CPU cycles than the other Indilinx equipped drives. OCZ's move to the Barefoot 3 controller is beginning to pay dividends as it uses the technologies it has available in-house after the Indilinx and PLX acquisitions. It's taken a while to go all-in but that time has come. As the first totally in-house designed controller from OCZ, it seems to have hit on a controller that does better at managing real world usage scenarios and handling both compressible and incompressible data streams.

Available in capacities from 128GB to 512GB, the Vector is not going to be on the inexpensive side for the performance it delivers and will carry a small premium in pricing. The 256GB drive I am looking at today is available for $229 from popular e-tailers. You will be paying just under $1 a GB for the Vector series drives, which is not bad when you consider the bundled Acronis drive imaging software, the drive mounting adapter and the 5 year warranty . The use of a slimmer form factor increases the size of the user base by allowing the Vector to be used in many of the slim note/ultrabooks populating the portable market. Parking the Vector in a desktop chassis is not much of a challenge as many of the most recent cases can accommodate a 2.5 inch form factor drive. If not, the included 2.5 to 3.5 inch adapter addresses that concern. Built for long-term reliability and stability, OCZ's first Barefoot 3 controlled Vector starts off this next wave of solid state offerings with a bang. To go with this new drive, OCZ currently has a promotion that entitles you to a copy of the game Far Cry 3 to add further value to the equation.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: