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OCZ's Barefoot 3 Paves The Way For Great Performance

OCZ Vector 256 GB Review: An SSD Powered By Barefoot 3
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It's not July 4th, but OCZ has reason enough to celebrate. Barefoot 3 is the company’s first controller developed in-house. Aside from the NAND, which is still sourced from IMFT, everything else that goes into the Vector SSD comes from OCZ and its acquisitions. The only two other companies that can say this about their consumer-oriented SSDs are Intel and Samsung. Does that fact alone mean anything? Of course not. The product of OCZ's effort has to be compelling in order to earn our recognition.

Fortunately, the Barefoot 3 controller serves up enough performance to put the Vector on par with the 840 Pro. In the real world, it's almost a certainty that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them (or a number of the nearly-as-fast but tangibly less expensive models featured each month in Best SSDs For The Money). More interesting than its tested performance is the speed at which the Vector is able to recover from taxing workloads.

While OCZ faces down the rest of its competition with admirable gust, the Vector is more importantly a notable improvement over the Marvell-based drives that emerged after OCZ stopped introducing new SSDs with SandForce controllers. Although the Vertex 4 was already approaching the limits of a SATA 6Gb/s interface, the Vector goes even further to improve sequential read and write performance. 

At the same time, its idle and load power numbers are both better than what OCZ was able to achieve with the Vertex 4. That's good news, because the Vector's predecessor turns in the worst power numbers of the 26 models reflected in our charts. The lower observed power numbers seem to help with thermals, too. In an open test bed without ample cooling, we've managed to get OCZ's Octane and Vertex 4 to overheat (enough so that the system no longer detected the drive). The Vector doesn't have the same problem. It gets significantly hotter than Samsung's 840 Pro, which is no surprise when you look at the power numbers, but we haven't run into any stability issues thus far.

Given the R&D that went into creating the Barefoot 3 controller, we were initially a little worried that OCZ would charge a big premium right out of the gate. And, it looks like OCZ basically saw that its Vector approached what Samsung's 840 Pro could do and priced the drive to match. It's not looking to undercut Samsung, even though it probably should, given OCZ desire to forge a new identity and the Vector's noticeably higher power use.

Cost Breakdown
MSRP
Price Per GB
Warranty
Samsung 840 Pro 64 GB
$100
$1.56
5 years
Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB
$150
$1.17
5 years
Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB
$270
$1.05
5 years
Samsung 840 Pro 512 GB
$600
$1.17
5 years
OCZ Vector 128 GB$150
$1.175 years
OCZ Vector 256 GB$270
$1.055 years
OCZ Vector 512 GB$560
$1.09
5 years


The notable exception is OCZ's 512 GB Vector, which is set to sell for quite a bit less than Samsung's competing model. Notice also that OCZ isn't leading off with a 64 GB drive this time around. Really, we're fine with that. In an age of $1/GB for solid-state storage, we'd much rather recommend at least 128 GB anyway. 

Leading into the holiday season, it looks like there are two dominant enthusiast-oriented SSDs now, each from a vendor with its own controller technology. And while we're seeing the prices on second-gen SandForce-based drives dip under $.70/GB, these top-end creations are persisting above the one-dollar mark. Could competition between OCZ and Samsung nudge these powerful SSDs down 10 or 20% in the near-term? We can certainly hope so!

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  • 8 Hide
    gnesterenko , November 27, 2012 3:39 PM
    "In the real world, it's almost a certainty that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them (or a number of the nearly-as-fast but tangibly less expensive models featured each month in Best SSDs For The Money)."

    This, This, This. All SSDs are pretty amazing at this point for me, the average user. What I care fare more about is - Are they reliable. At the moment, it still seems that Intel holds the reliability crown. Reviews like this are great, for sure, but they don't answer the most important question sadly.
  • 8 Hide
    acku , November 27, 2012 3:45 PM
    gnesterenko"In the real world, it's almost a certainty that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them (or a number of the nearly-as-fast but tangibly less expensive models featured each month in Best SSDs For The Money)."This, This, This. All SSDs are pretty amazing at this point for me, the average user. What I care fare more about is - Are they reliable. At the moment, it still seems that Intel holds the reliability crown. Reviews like this are great, for sure, but they don't answer the most important question sadly.


    Let's make one thing clear. Endurance, reliability, durability, they all refer to different things.

    When it comes to reliablity, everything we know is rather anecdotal. There are no published RMA rates (only return rates and for a 500 sample size), so its rather flawed. Second, two users subject their SSDs in different ways. The first may have more random data in their workload. You can't make an evaluation that drive x failed for user y therefore its bad. What you do matters. Unlike HDDs, performance and characteristics of the drive change based on what you do to it. Since no two users do the same thing with their system, the only real way to test this out is to get a few thousand SSDs, subject them to the same workload in a big data center for a few years. I'd love to do this but naturally, it's really not feasible. :) 

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
  • 3 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 27, 2012 3:48 PM
    So basically all good SSD's are constrained by the SATA3 interface. I cant wait for the direct PCIE interface(express pcie ?) to become standard.
  • 0 Hide
    Hupiscratch , November 27, 2012 3:49 PM
    Do these drives (specially the Samsung 840) support TRIM in RAID 0 arrays or this is a property related to the chipset?
  • 6 Hide
    acku , November 27, 2012 3:52 PM
    HupiscratchDo these drives (specially the Samsung 840) support TRIM in RAID 0 arrays or this is a property related to the chipset?


    That's a mobo thing. You're going to want a 7-series chipset from Intel.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
  • 3 Hide
    Jerky_san , November 27, 2012 4:05 PM
    Jebus Samsungs are such strong contenders on all fields..
  • 2 Hide
    edlivian , November 27, 2012 4:17 PM
    i dont care how much slower the crucial m4 is compared to the new kids on the block, I will keep stocking them for myself and company, since that is the only one that has never failed me.
  • 8 Hide
    acku , November 27, 2012 4:19 PM
    Quote:
    i dont care how much slower the crucial m4 is compared to the new kids on the block, I will keep stocking them for myself and company, since that is the only one that has never failed me.


    Glad to hear the m4s are working out for you! Indeed, they have a pretty good track record.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
  • 0 Hide
    dingo07 , November 27, 2012 4:31 PM
    So should I buy some of thier stock now...? It can't get much lower than them going out of business from the lawsuits... :/ 
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 27, 2012 4:50 PM
    I just hope that there won't be as many firmware updates with this drive. I got tired of that with my past 2 OCZ SSD's (Vertex 3 & Vertex Turbo). It was way too often, almost as much as my GPU drivers. That being said, they both have given me no issues whatsoever and run like champs. I see a 256GB Vector in my future.
  • 1 Hide
    jonjonjon , November 27, 2012 5:16 PM
    didnt ocz assure you last time it was their own controller until they were forced to admit they lied? now im guessing that even a company as shady as ocz wouldnt be dumb enough to try to pull the same stunt twice. i personally wouldnt touch a new ocz controller. if they can prove its stable and not a beta product that requires 10 firmware updates to become a stable consumer grade product then maybe i would consider it if the performance/price was better then the competition. that said im all for continued firmware development/support and i know there is no such thing as perfect bug free code but that is what validation testing is for and its unacceptable to release unfinished/broken products. otherwise ill take my chances with intel/samsung/crucial.
  • 3 Hide
    bentonsl_2010 , November 27, 2012 5:57 PM
    Quote:
    With so much drama in the LBC, it's kinda hard being a company selling SSDs.


    Best quote ever!!!
  • 6 Hide
    g-unit1111 , November 27, 2012 7:09 PM
    It makes me very glad to see companies putting more time and effort into their SSDs rather than letting Sandforce do it for them. I have a Vertex 4 and it's a very impressive drive - I had my doubts about buying one but it's definitely impressed me so far. I am really interested to see what Bigfoot can do.
  • -2 Hide
    LordConrad , November 27, 2012 8:19 PM
    I'll stick with Mushkin's Chronos Deluxe, best performance/price I've found in any SSD.
  • 1 Hide
    mapesdhs , November 28, 2012 12:48 AM

    It amuses me how many people say they'll stick with a particular model/brand of SSD because *insert reason*, as if
    they've actually run statistically valid tests on a whole range of SSDs from which to draw any valid conclusion. :D 
    As Andrew said, everyone uses their SSDs in different ways. What works for one person may be invalid for
    someone else.

    Ian.

  • -2 Hide
    BrightCandle , November 28, 2012 1:18 AM
    I am just waiting for the inevitable scandal. Seems everything OCZ sells is tainted with lies and I see no reason why they will break with tradition this time. The specification of this drive will at some point turn out to be outright lies, again. A decade of dishonesty seems to be a constant with OCZ.
  • 1 Hide
    xpeh , November 28, 2012 1:40 AM
    BrightCandleI am just waiting for the inevitable scandal. Seems everything OCZ sells is tainted with lies and I see no reason why they will break with tradition this time. The specification of this drive will at some point turn out to be outright lies, again. A decade of dishonesty seems to be a constant with OCZ.


    Mind pointing out their lies?
  • 2 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 28, 2012 2:07 AM
    if only Vertex would have released before the Samsung 840Pro....
    Now, its Samsung's reliability vs OCZ's dubious past.
  • 0 Hide
    acku , November 28, 2012 2:38 AM
    mayankleoboy1if only Vertex would have released before the Samsung 840Pro....Now, its Samsung's reliability vs OCZ's dubious past.

    I assume you mean Vector?
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , November 28, 2012 2:55 AM
    Hmmm.... Neither OCZ nor Indilinx had their own fabricating facilities. Previous versions of the Indilinx controllers were manufactured by Marvell. Has that changed?
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