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OCZ Vector 256 GB Review: An SSD Powered By Barefoot 3

OCZ's Barefoot 3 Paves The Way For Great Performance

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 BreakdownMSRPPrice Per GBWarranty
Samsung 840 Pro 64 GB$100$1.565 years
Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB$150$1.175 years
Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB$270$1.055 years
Samsung 840 Pro 512 GB$600$1.175 years
OCZ Vector 128 GB$150$1.175 years
OCZ Vector 256 GB$270$1.055 years
OCZ Vector 512 GB$560$1.095 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!

  • 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.
    Reply
  • acku
    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
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    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.
    Reply
  • Hupiscratch
    Do these drives (specially the Samsung 840) support TRIM in RAID 0 arrays or this is a property related to the chipset?
    Reply
  • acku
    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
    Reply
  • Jerky_san
    Jebus Samsungs are such strong contenders on all fields..
    Reply
  • edlivian
    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.
    Reply
  • acku
    10447277 said:
    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
    Reply
  • dingo07
    So should I buy some of thier stock now...? It can't get much lower than them going out of business from the lawsuits... :/
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply