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OCZ Vector 150 SSD Review: A New Flagship With 19 nm Flash

OCZ Vector 150 SSD Review: A New Flagship With 19 nm Flash
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OCZ is re-launching its flagship consumer SSD as the Vector 150. Armed with 19 nm Toggle-mode flash and new encryption functionality, this new drive is purported to be the pinnacle of of enthusiast-class solid-state storage. Does it live up to the hype?

If you're a fan of conference calls, then you probably already know that OCZ isn't in the same rosy position it has been in years past. Fortunately, its enterprise-oriented offerings are really helping the company's bottom line. But the situation is darker on the desktop. It's still in the position of needing to source NAND from the fabs manufacturing it, which means it's paying more for the flash it uses and perhaps unable to ship as many units as it'd like.

But again, if you listen to earnings calls, you might already know all of this. What's important today is that OCZ is revisiting client storage with the Vector 150.

The original Vector employed 25 nm flash, and it proved to be a potent contender based on OCZ's Barefoot 3 platform. As time passes, however, it's not always possible to continue a drive family based on the same components. Like Intel with its SSD 530 and OCZ with the Vertex 3.20, transitioning from 25 nm NAND to newer 20 nm memory was important for economic reasons.

Obviously, Intel doesn't have a problem getting its hands on the latest in solid-state technology. That's one of the benefits of owning a fab. This isn't as easy of a problem for OCZ to address, though. Fortunately, the company has its hands on Toshiba's 19 nm Toggle-mode flash, which we already know to be fast.

How about OCZ's naming? Its Vertex 4 was superseded by the Vertex 450. The added 50 indicated a half-node step up on the evolutionary ladder. When we apply the same logic to the Vector (let's call the original Vector 1, for simplicity's sake), the Vector 150 is our result.

Ideally, we'll see this latest generation enjoy wider availability and a more attractive price, triggered by 19 nm NAND. Of course, because the drive launched last week, we can compare the original Vector to OCZ's Vector 150. At least right out of the gate, you'll find last generation's 128 GB model selling for less than its successor at the same capacity point. Naturally, then, you're going to see us compare old to new in an effort to assess the advantages baked into Vector 150.

Inside OCZ's Vector 150

Because this is a product refresh, it isn't surprising that OCZ is shipping its Vector 150 in the same capacities as the original. Or at least they're close, since the 150 employs some additional over-provisioning. There's the 240 GB model we're testing today, a 120 GB variant, and a 480 GB flavor. Here's the breakdown of their specifications:

OCZ Vector 150
120 GB
240 GB
480 GB
Max Sequential Reads/Writes
550 MB/s, 450 MB/s
550 MB/s, 530 MB/s
550 MB/s, 530 MB/s
Max Random 4 KB Read (IOPS)
80,000
90,000
100,000
Max Random 4 KB Write (IOPS)95,000
95,00095,000
Controller
Indilinx Barefoot 3 IDX500M00-BC
Warranty
Five Years
NAND
19 nm Toshiba Toggle
Price (Newegg)
$135
$240
$490

Those are the basics. In addition, OCZ's retail box includes a 3.5" adapter sled for desktop installations, along with a product key for Acronis True Image to facilitate drive cloning (this is the same software we use in our lab to replicate a standardized benchmark image). Acronis offers oodles of other features too, including some solid backup options.

OCZ's metal chassis and thermal padOCZ's metal chassis and thermal pad

Before we pop the top on this SSD, it's worth mentioning that OCZ's higher-end offerings sport the best chassis in the business. Some of its lower-end drives ship with simple plastic enclosures on a metal base, but the Vector 150 is just awesome. Its seven-millimeter-tall housing is both good-looking and heavy enough to inspire confidence. That's not great for super-light laptops, but it's what we enjoy for an enthusiast-oriented desktop. Crack the case open and we're granted access to the SSD's PCB.

The biggest change you see in going from the Vector to the Vector 150 is the latter's 19 nm ABL Toshiba Toggle-mode flash replacing 25 nm NAND. Our sample ships with eight dual-die packages per side, totaling 256 GB. Each die is manufactured at 64 Gb density.

Another tweak is extra over-provisioning. The 25 nm-equipped Vector was rated for 20 GB of host writes per day for five years. OCZ's Vector 150 is rated for no less than 50 GB per day. That's primarily due to a reduction in write amplification. It does throw off the price per gigabyte comparison, making Vector 150 more expensive per addressable gig. But the extra over-provisioning above and beyond ~7% of spare area is a reasonable tradeoff. Just be aware that the 50 GB/day specification isn't a fully random, full-span write. OCZ instead characterizes those 50 GB as "typical client conditions".

At the heart of OCZ's Vector 150 lies the company's own Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller. The IDX500M00-BC is the same silicon found in the original Vector. The Vertex 450 uses a lower-clocked variant, but also boasts features not available from the Vector, like AES-256 encryption. The Vector 150 enables that missing functionality, though it's unclear whether it comes from firmware or enhancements to the processor itself.

Finally, we find 512 MB of Micron DDR3-1600 CL11 DRAM. Each side of the PCB sports 256 MB, giving us 2 MB per gigabyte of on-board flash. The 120 and 480 GB variants will probably come with 128 MB and 1024 MB, respectively.

Display 22 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • -1 Hide
    Amdlova , November 11, 2013 9:03 PM
    time to upgrade from vertex 4 to 150
  • 0 Hide
    CommentariesAnd More , November 11, 2013 9:41 PM
    It looks pretty good and it does perform pretty good.
  • 1 Hide
    enihcam , November 11, 2013 9:54 PM
    Will Toshiba buy OCZ?
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , November 11, 2013 10:15 PM
    Quote:
    time to upgrade from vertex 4 to 150


    I just hope the quality increased. Only because at my last job we had used Vertex 3s for all of our work stations and they one by one started having random issues, from not being detected to wiping the partitions.

    I like OCZ because they help lower the price of SSDs but there has to be quality behind the price as well.
  • 3 Hide
    Sakkura , November 11, 2013 10:43 PM
    Some of the numbers in the bottom diagram on page 4 seem to be off. Look at the Intel 520 180GB for example; the random write bar is longer than the random read bar, but the actual IOPS numbers are the other way around.
  • 0 Hide
    Sakkura , November 11, 2013 10:46 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    time to upgrade from vertex 4 to 150


    I just hope the quality increased. Only because at my last job we had used Vertex 3s for all of our work stations and they one by one started having random issues, from not being detected to wiping the partitions.

    I like OCZ because they help lower the price of SSDs but there has to be quality behind the price as well.

    My impression is that OCZ was hit hard by the Sandforce issues, partially as a result of being an early adopter. Their newer drives seem to be reliable.
  • 0 Hide
    cryan , November 11, 2013 10:52 PM
    Quote:
    Some of the numbers in the bottom diagram on page 4 seem to be off. Look at the Intel 520 180GB for example; the random write bar is longer than the random read bar, but the actual IOPS numbers are the other way around.


    Awesome catch! The 520 seems to have the right bar length, but the label from the Intel 510. I'll sort that out, but that's a genuine not-my-fault problem. One of the very few. I can blame Excel 2013 with confidence, but kudos for the eagle eye.

    The random write bar is correct though; the SandForce-based 520, 525, and Intel 530 each pull down more random write IOps than read with incompressible data.



    Regards,
    CR
  • 0 Hide
    kancaras , November 12, 2013 2:12 AM
    TOM!!! you gotta unswap PCMARK 7 graph with PCMARK vantage graph!
  • 0 Hide
    Amdlova , November 12, 2013 4:39 AM
    I got two SSD vertex 4 128gb on my computer 3770k and on my girlfriend 3470 I never get an single error on this SSD. raid 0 or normal configs. run solid!
  • 0 Hide
    ssdpro , November 12, 2013 5:54 AM
    Quote:
    My impression is that OCZ was hit hard by the Sandforce issues, partially as a result of being an early adopter. Their newer drives seem to be reliable.


    Early on yes, but the 2nd gen SF drives really are pretty darn stable now. OCZ has had solid top tier releases since the Vertex 4. I own Vertex 4 and Vector, will probably get a 150. Hands down the worst thing they ever did was try budget/value offerings like the Petrol. I don't think there is any reason for fanboism, I own Samsung and OCZ drives and all work happily together.

  • 0 Hide
    expl0itfinder , November 12, 2013 5:58 AM
    The power benchmarks were interesting. The power draw is fairly irrelevant for desktops, but on a mobile platform, the majority of those SSDs drew only 50% the power of the average 2.5 inch HDD.
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , November 12, 2013 9:01 AM

    cryan, $135 would sure be nice, but as usual real-world prices
    can spoil the attractiveness of a new product. Scan.co.uk has
    the 120GB Vector 150 listed for 115 UKP (ie. about 35% more than
    the stated RRP), making it 10 UKP more than the tried & trusted
    840 Pro; worse, it's a whopping 26 UKP more than the Vertex 450
    (even the 120GB Vertex3 MAX IOPS is 18 less). Scan has its own
    double-irony though, as they also list the original Vector 128GB
    as a factory refurb (FR) for 70. :D  Likewise, they have the
    256GB Vertex4 FR for 119, the 256GB Vector FR for 131, the 512GB
    Vertex4 FR for 215 and 512GB Vector FR for 233 (I bought one of
    the FR 512GB Vertex4s, performing splendidly as an AE cache drive).

    Best price I could find for the Vector 150 120GB was 100 UKP on
    dabs.com. SSDs continue to be a tad expensive here. I was hoping
    we'd see 240GB/256GB below 100 UKP this year, but sadly not.
    Prices were certainly heading that way a year ago, with the 830
    256GB going for as low as 119 UKP, but then everything went whacko
    back in Feb this year as prices jumped back up again.


    Amdlova writes:
    > time to upgrade from vertex 4 to 150

    It's unlikely you'd notice any real-world difference between a
    Vertex4 and the Vector 150. The Vertex4 is already pretty quick.


    ssdpro writes:
    > ... Hands down the worst thing they ever did was try budget/value
    > offerings like the Petrol. ...

    Indeed! What did you make of the Agility3/4 series though? I bought
    an Agility4 128GB for testing; it's not too bad, though HDTach gave
    rather wobbly write performance and curiously low read speeds compared
    to the numbers reported by AS-SSD which were much higher.


    ssdpro writes:
    > ... I don't think there is any reason for fanboism, I own Samsung
    > and OCZ drives and all work happily together.

    Yup, me too. I ended up with a lot of 120GB MAX IOPS units when several
    vendors were doing them dirt cheap (no idea why), but I have many
    Vertex2Es aswell, all running fine. With the fw updated, the early SF
    drives are ok. I have two Vector 256s, a Vector 128, various Vertex4s
    and a range of Samsungs (830, 840, 840 Pro). The main difference I've
    noticed is that the Samsung units seem to be able to maintain better
    and more consistent steady-state read speeds, giving completely smooth
    HDTach graphs, eg. here's my 3930K system's 840 250GB:

    http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/samsung_840_250GB_HDTach_22-May-2013.gif

    Contrast that with my 2700K system's Vector 256GB:

    http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/OCZ_Vector_256GB_HDTach_12-Nov-2013.gif

    In reality though, I can't tell the difference between them for normal
    real-world use. They both load complex apps nice & quick, etc.

    Ian.

  • 0 Hide
    masmotors , November 12, 2013 2:51 PM
    i want the 120 gb one as i have a 90gb ocz vertez 3 time to send this one to my 2nd pc maybe the 250gb but i dont know about that 1 the lesser is more do able
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , November 12, 2013 3:57 PM
    What's the point. SSDs have reached stagnation of performance. Little bits of increase here and there. The 2nd gen Sandforce based SSDs, the Vertex 4 Marvell SSD, Samsung 840 pro, OCZ Vector all offer great performance and as far as I can tell none are that much better than the others, besides the Sandforce which isn't as fast on non-compressible data.
    Waiting for a SATA 4 SSD and then buy it used when cheap (many many years from now).
    For now I'm rocking an X25-M SSD, very reliable and quick enough.
  • 0 Hide
    cryan , November 12, 2013 8:04 PM
    Quote:

    cryan, $135 would sure be nice, but as usual real-world prices
    can spoil the attractiveness of a new product. Scan.co.uk has
    the 120GB Vector 150 listed for 115 UKP (ie. about 35% more than
    the stated RRP), making it 10 UKP more than the tried & trusted
    840 Pro; worse, it's a whopping 26 UKP more than the Vertex 450
    (even the 120GB Vertex3 MAX IOPS is 18 less). Scan has its own
    double-irony though, as they also list the original Vector 128GB
    as a factory refurb (FR) for 70. :D  Likewise, they have the
    256GB Vertex4 FR for 119, the 256GB Vector FR for 131, the 512GB
    Vertex4 FR for 215 and 512GB Vector FR for 233 (I bought one of
    the FR 512GB Vertex4s, performing splendidly as an AE cache drive).




    Yeah, OCZ didn't give out MSRPs prior to launch. OCZ decided to launch the Vector 150 on the same day and same time as the nVidia 780 ti, so that conflict and a holiday pushed it to today, by which point units were available on e-tailer shelves here in the states, which I'd fully expect to NOT represent UK and European pricing.

    To be honest, the Vector 150 is a fine drive, but even here its pricing is just not currently in sync with what I believe most Toms readers would be willing to pay, given the totality of the package.

    The 120 GB Vector is less expensive than the 120 GB Vector 150 here at the moment. The retailer I used for pricing has a nasty habit of charging a good deal more for newly launched products though, so it's possible the V150 could come down in price soon, but perhaps not significantly.


    Regards,

    Christopher Ryan

  • 0 Hide
    Sakkura , November 12, 2013 9:44 PM
    Quote:
    What's the point. SSDs have reached stagnation of performance.

    Nah, they have just run into the limits of SATA3. Sandisk's M.2-based A110 shows that SSDs are still improving beyond what SATA3 allows. It's just that SATA Express adoption has been a bit slow compared to M.2.
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , November 13, 2013 6:45 AM
    Quote:
    To be honest, the Vector 150 is a fine drive, but even here its pricing is just not currently in sync with what I believe most Toms readers would be willing to pay, given the totality of the package.

    The 120 GB Vector is less expensive than the 120 GB Vector 150 here at the moment. ...


    Indeed. I can't work out who OCZ thinks would buy the 150. The
    existing Vector is already good and much cheaper, or - if one can
    locate it - the Vertex4 (both drives behave in the same way re when
    more than half the space is written to).

    Ian.

  • 0 Hide
    Sakkura , November 13, 2013 7:57 AM
    That's launch pricing. Who says it won't get cheaper? It costs them less than the original Vector, so it most likely will get cheaper soon.
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , November 13, 2013 11:06 AM
    Quote:
    That's launch pricing. Who says it won't get cheaper? It costs them less than the original Vector, so it most likely will get cheaper soon.


    People were saying that about SSDs in general 11 months ago,
    but prices have risen since Feb this year. Consider: a year ago,
    in the UK, the Samsung 830 256GB reached a low of 119 UKP.
    Today, at least two generations on (840, 840 EVO, etc.), why do
    we still not have a decent mainstream 256GB model for under 100?
    It's because vendors don't have to, ie. people are willing to pay more
    than that (demand), so prices have actually gone up. The 250GB
    EVO is 140 UKP here atm.

    Likewise, the Vector 256GB stubbornly remained at 225 UKP and
    never went down since its launch, and now it's vanishing from seller
    sites because of the 150. Although I can find the 240GB Vector 150
    for 170 UKP, this price drop vs. the old Vector is not due to sliding
    pricing after the initial Vector launch, it's because of a new product
    replacing an old, ie. in the intervening months there's been no point
    at which the old Vector was available at a sensible price.

    Besides, at this price level I'd rather have the 840 Pro instead, which
    is 9 UKP cheaper here just now (161 from Amazon with free shipping).

    Ian.

  • 0 Hide
    Sakkura , November 13, 2013 2:03 PM
    Dunno about the UK, but around here I can get a 120 GB Samsung 840 Evo for the same price as a 120 GB Agility 3 was going for a year ago. That's serious progress.
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