OCZ's Vertex 3 Pro: Second-Gen SandForce Perf Preview

Final Words

Just as we were starting to hit the limit of what 3 Gb/s SATA can do, OCZ's Vertex 3 Pro makes SSDs exciting again (and just in time for widespread proliferation of 6 Gb/s controllers, too).

SATA 3 Gb/s treated us well for a very long time, but we are just starting to reach the point where it's not enough. Now we have 6 Gb/s connectivity on AMD’s SB850 and Intel’s P67. Up until now, we've seen this faster interface as an enabler of headroom for slower hard drives. After all, if you're buying storage controllers and paying per-port, 6 Gb/s gives you a lot more throughput. Suddenly, a four-port card can conceivably handle a 24-bay JBOD. But with products like the Vertex 3 Pro, we're moving beyond the transfer rates of a 3 Gb/s connection, meaning you need 6 Gb/s to enable the SSD's peak performance.

If you can remember that far back, OCZ announced Vertex 2 with a new controller from an unknown company in late 2009, and it took everyone by surprise. After the whole thing with JMicron, there were plenty of skeptics. Yet, SandForce decided to make its first public showing with OCZ’s Vertex 2 Pro. Back in early 2010, we could confidently say that Vertex 2 Pro was the fastest single-controller MLC-based SSD on the market. Even though we don’t have a Vertex 3 Pro running final firmware, we can again say that OCZ plans to maintain that title based on what we have seen today.

For the majority of users, the problem is going to be cost. Vertex 2 Pro’s dwindling supply still fetches close to $630 for the 100 GB model. Vertex 3 Pro changes the dynamic a bit. Not only is it bringing the next generation of performance, it is also doing it for a more attractive price. If OCZ actually manages to launch drives close to MSRP, we are one step closer to seeing performance SSDs priced around $2/GB.

Shortly after finishing this story, we got word that consumer-oriented drives aren't far behind. Stay tuned to Tom's Hardware for the first showing of SandForce's second-gen showing at price points that enthusiasts will be much more willing to pay.

Of course, the competition is hardly sitting still, so it's my hope that this is just the beginning. All of this has to make you wonder what Intel and Marvell have in the works. We are slated for more SSDs launches before Q2, which means everyone is going to be aggressive on price. If you're planning a new build and you haven’t yet pulled the trigger on a SSD, it’s time to set aside a budget.

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  • karma831
    Performance looks great but I don't think the price will be.
  • Bigmac80
    This is why i haven't bought a SSD yet. One it's freakin expensive 2 not enough capacity 3 it's freakin expensive! It'll go down next year when the world ends in 2012.
  • falchard
    Price is lower then last generation. A shrink in die size means cheaper manufacturing costs, lower power usage, and better performance. Thats what happens when every hardware company shrinks their chips.
    Considering this is going to have the same amount of space, its going to be a cheaper SSD.
  • Scanlia
    500MB/s... wow
  • aaron88_7
    These are for enterprise use, that's why they are priced so high. They have features average consumers don't need. In other words, you're wasting your money if you are putting these into your home computer.
  • dragonsqrrl
    OCZ Vertex 3 Pro MSRP Pricing:
    100GB: $525, $5.35 per GB
    200GB: $775, $3.88 per GB
    400GB: $1350, $3.38 per GB

    Getting cheaper, but still far outside my price range given their relative capacities. Even taking their amazing performance into account, it's still going to be a difficult sell for all but the most passionate enthusiasts, pros with heavy server workloads, or hardcore idiots. You're definitely not going to be getting your moneys worth putting one of these into your gaming rig. Enterprise type applications experience the largest benefits from these types of drives, and it's probably the only application where the performance benefits balance out the higher costs.
  • JohnnyLucky
    The article made it perfectly clear the drive is not a drive that will be offered to consumers, gamers, and pc enthusiasts. How is OCZ going to reduce prices for consumer drives? Reduce features? Cut corners? Replace high quality components with lesser quality components? On answer is OCZ will reduc features. I'd like to know what else OCZ is going to do.
  • Anonymous
    Please add a TrueCrypt benchmark to your SSD evaluations, for two reasons. First, the difficulty of truly erasing data on a flash drive makes data security more important. Second, there are drives (like Sandforce) that use compression and may behave differently when storing encrypted (high entropy) data.
  • nikorr
    About time
  • Miharu
    Presently Plextor M2-M2S offer 370-420MB/s read for what... (64gb)150$-(128gb)250$. Vextor 3 price is out of the loop, it's too expensive. At this price I can buy 2 Plextor and put them in RAID 0.
  • alidan

    you finaly put normal hdds in a ssd review with tests, its nice to see the comparison.

    now i do hate to ask this... but until SATA 6 Gb/s hit the market big, can we get the drive also tested in a SATA 3 Gb/s configuration? this would be largely bennifitial to people to know. because im assuming that even with the 3's limited bandwidth, some operations will still be faster between the two
  • sirmaster
    I just got a 256GB Mushkin IO SSD directly from the Mushkin store for $200.

    It sold out pretty fast though.

    But it was under $1 per GB finally. It's not blazing like this drive but its about 250MB/s read and 180MB/s write with 20,000 IOPS. Considering it's 4x cheaper for the capacity compared to this drive I think it was worth it.
  • dimar
    Didn't see the new Plextor drives when I was ordering Corsair Performance 3 128GB SSD at newEgg. Well... I'm pretty happy with it anyway. Hope the day comes soon when regular HDDs will be remember as much as music tapes today :-) and where 2TB 1GB/s SSDs are standard :)
  • saint19
    uhmm where is the C300?
  • Anonymous
    You have to multiply the power (watts) by the time it took in order to get a meaningful, comparable number (energy).
  • Figaro56
    Why did the review have comparison against the other top SATA 6 drive out there today, EG, Crucial C300? Very odd.
  • Figaro56
    I agree, where is the Crucial C300. Go to Anandtech, they show the C300 in their review. If you own a C300 you will happy to see that it is still a relevant SSD. The Vertex 3 doesn't blow it away.
  • TeraMedia
    I second ChrisHF. Power is free. It's energy that costs money and raises temperatures inside a PC case. Please include either Joules (1 Watt = 1 Joule / second), Wh (3600 Joules) or kWh (3.6 M Joules) in your discussions about energy consumption. You always end up having to note that something uses more power but finishes faster... by graphing the relative energy consumption rather than the power consumption, you automatically resolve this confusion.

    Other than that, thanks for the article. If anything, hopefully the faster high-end devices will cause lower-end devices to reduce in price just like what happens with CPUs. I can only hope.
  • dark_lord69
    I really like the performance specs but those prices are painful!
  • hardcore_gamer
    The diagram of flash transistor is missing the SiO2 layer