OCZ Vertex 4 256GB Review

ccokeman - 2011-08-28 15:47:02 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: July 15, 2012
Price: $219

Introduction:

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.

Closer Look:

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.

Specifications:

Performance
256GB
Sequential Reads
560 MB/s
Sequential Writes
510 MB/s
Random 4k Read IOPS
90,000 IOPS
Random 4k Write IOPS
85,000 IOPS       
Maximum IOPS
120,000 IOPS
Physical
Usable Capacities (IDEMA)
64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
NAND Components
2Xnm Synchronous Multi-Level Cell (MLC)
Interface
SATA III / 6Gbps (backwards compatible with SATA II / 3Gbps)
Form Factor
2.5 Inch
NAND Controller
Indilinx Everest 2
DRAM Cache
Up to 1GB
Dimensions (L x W x H)
99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3 mm
Reliability/Protection
MTBF
2 million hours
Data Path Protection
ECC corrects up to 128 random bits/1KB
Data Encryption
256-bit AES-compliant, ATA Security Mode Features
Product Health Monitoring
Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) Support
Environmental
Power Consumption
Idle: 1.3 W    Active: 2.5 W
Operating Temperature
0°C ~ 70°C
Ambient Temperature
0°C ~ 55°C
Storage Temperature
-45°C ~ 85°C
Compatibility
Serial ATA (SATA)
Fully compliant with Serial ATA International Organization: Serial ATA Revision 3.0.
Fully compliant with ATA/ATAPI-8 Standard Native Command Queuing (NCQ)
Operating System
Windows XP 32-bit /64-bit; Windows Vista 32-bit / 64-bit; Windows 7 32-bit / 64-bit; Linux; Mac OS X
Additional Features
Performance Optimization
TRIM (requires OS support), dynamic and static wear-leveling, background garbage collection, Indilinx nDurance 2.0 Technology to extend SSD lifespan
Other Performance Features
Ndurance 2.0 Technology (Reduced Write Amplification without Compression, Advanced Multi-Level ECC, Adaptive NAND Flash Management)
Service & Support
5-Year Warranty, Toll-Free Tech Support, 24 Hour Forum Support

 

Features:

 

 


 

All information courtesy of OCZ @ http://www.ocztechnology.com/ocz-vertex-4-sata-iii-2-5-ssd.html#overview

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

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 run more precise file and random access benchmarks as well.

Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

File Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

Random Access Benchmark:

 

 

 

In the HD Tune testing the Vertex 4 is most impressive in the file benchmark write tests where it delivers excellent performance.

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 2009 SP3: 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 HDTach testing the Vertex 4 falls to the lower end of the spectrum in both the burst speed and average read tests not quite matching what the original Everest controller was capable of. The Drive index testing in Sandra shows that the Vertex 4 has potential depending on the test.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this test you start to see where the performance was mapped for the Vertex drive. The Everest 2 controller shows significant performance advantages in the write testing where it is the highest performing drive in all four tests. This test is meant to test both compressible and incompressible data streams and shows that the Vertex 4 handles these loads better than the competition, especially at higher queue depths.

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 the Vertex 4 meets or exceeds the read write specification of 560/510Mb/s and proves to be the equal of the Sandforce equipped drives.

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.






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance of the Vertex 4 in AS SSD that uses semi incompressible data shows again the lack of a limitation on this drive when working with compressible or incompressible data. The high queue depth read/write performance and low access times allow this drive to score well above the competition. In the real world this is something you can feel.

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 Vertex 4 shows excellent performance in this series of tests save for the CPU utilization tests, where it used more CPU cycles to deliver the higher performance. When testing the Vertex 4 using a 4K aligned workload I was able to reach almost the rated spec of 90,000 IOPS and over the rated maximum of 120,000 IOPs in the maximum IOPs testing. Both numbers are pretty significant for a drive that currently retails for $220. In the Total I/O and Total MB/s tests the Vertex 4 delivers best in class performance.

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.








 

 












 

 

 

 

 

 

The Everest equipped Octane did not fare well in the PCmark Vantage tests and that trend continues with the Vertex 4.

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.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

Again much like the Everest equipped OCZ Octane, the Vertex 4 delivers identical Windows startup and shutdown times. In this age of instant on mobile electronics the time it takes to get into the operating system is becoming more critical. At 26 seconds to the desktop from a cold boot you are really pushing the limits of the interfaces at this point. Shut down times are constant at 4 seconds with all of the Solid State Drives.

Conclusion:

When you look at what the Vertex 4 brings to the table it's hard not to be impressed. Equipped with OCZ's latest Indilinx controller that is optimized to work with data streams of varying compressibility without running into performance bottlenecks, the Vertex 4 delivers excellent performance when running in its wheelhouse. When you look at the results in ATTO, Crystal Disk Mark, AS SSD and IOMeter it is clear to see why the drive feels so fast when working with it. When you look at the average response times on this drive it just reinforces the quickness you feel that is not just a figment of your imagination.

OCZ recently released a firmware upgrade for the drive that is a significant upgrade from the 1.3 and 1.4 firmwares as it helps increase the sequential read performance. This version 1.5 update is available from OCZ's support site and is implemented using the OCZ toolbox for the Vertex 4. When coming from the 1.4.1.3 firmware this is a non destructive update.

In the ATTO testing the Vertex 4 met or exceeded the read and write specifications with the new firmware of 560MB/s read and 510MB/s write. OCZ nailed the performance with this drive as well as the reliability concerns that come with a new controller. To make sure that the end user has piece of mind for the long term usability of the Vertex 4 OCZ has increased the length of the warranty by two years over the warranty period in place on the Vertex 3 to five years.

Available in capacities from 64GB to 512GB the Vertex 4 will set you back between $99 and $699 with the 256GB variant at an appealing price point of $219. I was unsure how this update to the Everest lineup would fare but having worked with the Octane it's easy to see how this update backs off on the raw sequential speed and focuses on everyday workload performance and responsiveness. If you currently have an SSD, then is this enough of an increase for you to switch? It depends on what you want out of a drive, but as a new purchase the Vertex 4 offers up excellent performance for a modest price along with OCZ's support network to get you through any challenges.

 

Pros:

Cons: