OCZ's Vertex 3: Second-Generation SandForce For The Masses

Final Words

SATA 3 Gb/s treated us very well, but the current generation of SSDs is just beginning to run into a bandwidth bottleneck. And that's what validates the inclusion of SATA 6Gb/s in the desktop space. Micron had the first SSD to exceed the limits of 3 Gb/s signaling, but it barely edged beyond that line in the sand.

What we see today from OCZ and SandForce is much more aggressive utilization of the storage pipeline. If this is just a preview, I can't wait to start testing drives when they start hitting retail next month. But performance is only one side of the coin. The other is price. After all, we are talking about SSDs. For the average user, the Vertex 3 Pro was so unrealistic because it cost $5/GB just to get in the door with the cheapest model. Today, we know that the cost to go from a SATA 3Gb/s SandForce drive to a SATA 6Gb/s will turn out to be small if OCZ sticks with its anticipated price strategy.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Market PriceMSRPCost/GB
Vertex 2 (E Series) 90 GB$199.99-$2.22
Vertex 2 (E Series) 120 GB$229.99-$1.92
Vertex 2 (E Series) 240 GB$449.99-$1.87
Vertex 3 120 GB-$249.99$2.08
Vertex 3 240 GB-$499.99$2.08

The problem is that any price above $2/GB is going to be a hard sell unless you're an early adopter by nature. Our choices in recent System Builder Marathon stories reflect this. Look at our December $1000 PC.

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$1,000 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardAsus Sabertooth 55i LGA 1156, Intel P55 chipset$150
ProcessorIntel Core i3-5503.2 GHz, Dual-Core, 4 MB L3 Cache$130
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper 212 Plus$30
MemoryGeIL Black Dragon 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3-1333 Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit$80
Graphics2 x ECS NBGTX460 GeForce GTX 460 SLI configuration, 1 GB GDDR5 per card$380
Hard DrivesWD Caviar Black 750 GB 750 GB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3Gb/s$70
OpticalLG 22x DVD – GH22LS50 OEM22x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 48x CD ROM$18
CaseNZXT Gamma$40
Fans2 x APEVIA CF12S-BK 120 mm$8
PowerCorsair CMPSU-650TX 650 W ATX12V, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Certified$90
Row 10 - Cell 0 Total Cost$991

Even with a $1000 budget, you'll probably buy a large hard drive, decent video card, and flexible CPU rather than invest a quarter of your build (or more) into an SSD. That's why we have a hard time working an SSD in to one of our recommended builds. Until the entrance fee for performance SSDs fall well under to $2/GB, this isn't going to change.

Here is the good news: it is still my belief that we will see major price shake ups within the next few months. Competition is always a good thing in this industry. Intel's Elmcrest and Crucial's C400 are due to arrive very soon, and if Intel and Marvell can deliver controllers with as much of a performance jump as we see in our previews of second-generation SandForce drives, we are one step closer to seeing mainstream SSDs hit more palatable price points. Once that happens, SSDs are sure to be a standard recommendation in our monthly builds.

  • lradunovic77
    SSD prices are really down slow and that is because HDD is still selling.
  • lradunovic77
    I agree and it is time for HDD to be retired. We don't need them anymore, but Servers.
  • bildo123
    A far cry as far as "the masses" are concerned. Still, over $2/GB is too much. Getting closer however. I'd pay $200 for a 256GB SSD with these speeds.
  • lradunovic77
    I am sure price will really drop by end of this year.
  • acku
    mayankleoboy1the fact that they use ~15% of a quad core SB CPU, is amazing.with the mechanical drives, they were just sitting idle. this more than anything, makes the SSD worthwhile.
    Well what I didn't mention in the review is that the benchmark starts as ~20% across all cores during the first 10 seconds, which is from PCMark setting up the disk trace. After that, the IO activity throttles a single core up to 100% for almost all SSDs. For the hard drives, we see ~60-80% utilization of a single core.

    Andrew Ku
  • lradunovic77
    I say keep your desktop active all the time. I am running i980x overclocked to 4.0Ghz and there is no way i will put my computer into any type of power saving mode, it is useless and power saving is just mimick. We are talking about very small amount of money over a year. Having Turbo option makes sense from certain point of view but bottom line is that it is just wasted silicon and pretty much useless.
  • vvhocare5
    "The problem is that any price above $2/GB is going to be a hard sell unless you're an early adopter by nature. Our choices in recent System Builder Marathon stories reflect this. Look at our December $1000 PC."

    Overall a good article. Anyone into MTBF's will find that one page uninforming and anyone not into it is likely lost.

    I would disagree with that statement only in the sense that a $1000 PC is not going to be filled with high-end superior performing parts. So I dont see a reason to apologize for its price. The person who can afford a $3000+ PC isnt going to blink buying the 240G model and will likely see it as entirely reasonable.

    Me? I think I have found my next ex-drive.....

  • acku
    so as i said, will OC increase the scores a bit?

    and what about power saving enabled?

    None of our tests were executed in an environment that allowed any idling. Furthermore, we disabled CPU throttling. Power saving was enabled in the sense that the display was allowed to turn off, which is part of the default profile in Windows.

    OCing may increase performance, but only to the extent that the bandwidth will support it. As I mentioned, PCMark throttles a single core up to 100%. It isn't a sustained trend.
  • bto
    on your 1000 dollar gaming system, I'd rather have a vertex 3 than two 460's hell even an agility 2... and still afford better than a 460.
  • bto
    But then that's me, and to quote the great Inigo Montoya, "I hate wait" and most games I play are not bleeding edge, I also work on my computer, play HD movies and copying time makes me angry when I'm moving files. Buy an ssd, and later spend 60 bux on a 1tb drive down the road.