OCZ Vertex 4 256GB Reviewccokeman - July 15, 2012
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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OCZ as a company has come a long way in a few short years and is one of the pioneers of consumer and industrial grade Solid State Drives. Early drives based on JMicron controllers offered significant increases in performance over spindle-based drive but came with challenges of their own. The next step up the performance ladder was the jump to the Indilinx "Barefoot" controller on the first of the Vertex series drives. In the never ending search for more performance, OCZ once again moved to another controller in subsequent Vertex offerings using the Sandforce 1200 SATA 3Gb/s then 2200 series SATA 6Gb/s controllers. Not satisfied being tied to others controllers, OCZ went out on a limb and in 2011 purchased Indilinx to develop a controller that suited the needs of OCZ and its customers. What came out of that bold leap of faith was its Everest controller as seen in the OCZ Octane that offered excellent read/write performance in a consumer based drive.
The Vertex 4 is equipped with OCZ/Indilinx's latest Everest 2 controller that brings with it no loss of performance using real world data streams with varying levels of compressibility. Features of the Everest 2 platform include a SATA 6Gb/s interface, advanced ECC engine, superior NAND flexibility for use with many types of NAND, a five year warranty, NDurance 2.0 technology featuring Reduced Write Amplification without Compression, Advanced Multi-Level ECC, Adaptive NAND Flash Management, TRIM support, Static and Dynamic wear leveling and Redundant NAND Array™ (RNA) Technology. The Vertex 4 comes in capacities from 64GB up to 512GB, with the price point on the 256GB drive coming in at a cool $219. Let's take a look at the Vertex 4 and see where improvements have been made that allow the consumer to enjoy the benefits of this drive.
The packaging for the Vertex 4 256GB drive is standard fare for the Vertex and Agility series drives, with a change of color and naming structure to differentiate one drive from the other on the shelf at brick and mortar retail locations. The front of the package shows the drive name, Indilinx Infused logo, and a short list of the drives attributes including SATA 6Gb/s interface, MLC(Multi Level Cell) NAND, Trim Supports and the inclusion of a 2.5 to 3.5 inch drive adapter. The back side of the package has a brief description about why an OCZ drive is the one for the end user with a short sales pitch in 12 different languages. The SKU and part number (VTX4-25SAT3-256G) is shown to the bottom right. Inside the package is a sleeve that has a dense foam core to hold the Vertex 4 drive and drive mounting adapter.
The accessories include the drive mounting adapter, mounting screws, manual and a sticker that proudly proclaims that "My SSD is Faster than your HDD"! The drive mounting adapter is easy to use and is a common form factor item used by many manufacturers.
OCZ's Vertex 4 drive is built in the industry standard 2.5" form factor so that it can be utilized in both desktop and mobile applications like netbook or laptop computers. The casing is a two piece design made from both plastic and steel shells and is durable enough to meet the demands of the consumer, balancing cost, durability, and looks. The Vertex 4 is available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities and is built around the OCZ/Indilinx Everest 2 platform. Mounting points are the same as those found on just about every 2.5" form factor drive. The casing is held together with screws instead of clips. OCZ puts a tamper seal on just one of the screws to enable it to validate the warranty and provide proof of tampering. The Vertex 4 uses a SATA III or 6Gb/s interface and is backwards compatible to allow usage in earlier systems however the drive performance will be reduced to the limits imposed by earlier interfaces. Once inside the casing the OCZ-built PCB is a snug fit. A layer of TIM is over the Everest 2 controller and touches the metal side of the shell to draw heat away from the controller.
Built around the Everest 2 platform controller the Vertex 4 uses the Indilinx IDX400M00-BC 8 channel NAND controller. Sixteen 16GB 25nm OCZ-branded Micron Synchronous Multi-Level Cell NAND modules are used to make up the 256GB capacity on this version of the Vertex 4 with eight modules on each side of the PCB. The NAND is wrapped around the controller in a circular pattern on the OCZ-branded PCB; a much different arrangement than the method used on many other consumer drives. Just under the Indilinx IDX400M00-BC controller is a 512MB DDR3 module; another populates the opposite side of the PCB for a full 1GB of DRAM cache used on the Vertex 4. WIth this configuration OCZ has eliminated any bottlenecks and removed any limitations on compressible or incompressible data. This drive with the combination of a new firmware and new controller is rated for sequential reads of up to 560Mb/s and sequential writes of 510Mb/s.
Packed with the latest hardware that OCZ has to offer, the Vertex 4 should offer a range of performance that will suite the consumer looking for a fast, stable drive that works well with all data streams. With the latest firmware update (version 1.5) touting max IOPs performance of up to 120,000, this drive looks to be fast when you take into account the 560/510MB/s maximum sequential read/write specifications.