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

Meet OCZ’s Vertex 3

Price per gigabyte is, by far, the biggest factor preventing SSDs from replacing hard drives. If SSDs weren't so darn expensive, we wouln't have any trouble getting past their capacity limitations, because we would be using multiple SSDs in the same machine. In order to get a sense of how expensive SSDs really are (even in the light of the ongoing transition from 3x nm to 2x nm NAND flash), let’s peruse Newegg's virtual aisles.

Say you want to upgrade your notebook hard drive. Here are your choices with a hard drive.

Hard Drive SelectionBrandModelCapacityPriceCost per GB
BudgetWestern DigitalWD1600BEVT160 GB$39.99$0.25
MidpointSamsungSpinpoint HM640JJ640 GB$79.99$0.12
HighWestern DigitalWD10TPVT1 TB$119.99$0.12

And here’s a similar selection you get with a solid state drive.

SSD SelectionBrandModelCapacityPriceCost per GB
BudgetKingstonSSDNow S100 (SS100S2/8G)8 GB$39.99$5.00
-CorsairNova (CSD-V32GB2-BRKT)32 GB$78.99$2.47
-PatriotTorqx TRB (PT54GS25SSDR)64 GB$119.99$1.87
MidpointOCZAgility 2320 GB$659.99$2.06
HighKingstonSSDNow V+ 100 (SVP100S2/512G)512 GB$1299.99$2.54

Even enthusiasts willing to give up capacity for performance are going to find those prices hard to stomach. That is what makes a Vertex 3 Pro an unrealistic choice for the average desktop user. But last week’s 2nd-generation SandForce preview made me excited about SSDs in a way I haven’t been excited about storage in a long time. We learned two things.

  1. SandForce is bringing the heat. There is a world of difference between what we see in SSDs now and what SandForce is going to deliver in the next few months.
  2. Prices are being cut aggressively. With the new generation of SSDs about to be released, we are going to see more price drops, especially as drive makers unwilling to pay spot market prices on 3x nm NAND make the move to 25 nm. This hasn’t been without some problems on previous-generation drives (check out The OCZ Vertex 2 Conspiracy: Lost Space, Lost Speed?). But OCZ tells us it won't affect the upcoming generation at all.

Vertex 3: Still 2nd-Gen SandForce, But Cheaper

Today, SandForce and OCZ are demonstrating performance they say is on par with what we saw from Vertex 3 Pro, but at a price more palatable for mainstream adoption. Our point about prices being too high can't be ignored. It is a theme we see brought up over and over in our feedback section whenever we write about SSDs. Everyone wants one, but a privileged few can afford them.

DriveVertex 3Vertex 3 Pro
InterfaceSATA 6Gb/sSATA 6Gb/s
Sequential Read Performance (max.)550 MB/s550 MB/s
Sequential Write Performance (max.)525 MB/s500 MB/s
Random 4KB Write60 000 IOPs70 000 IOPs
Price (MSRP)240 GB: $499.99200 GB: $775

The Vertex 3's specifications are very similar to the Vertex 3 Pro. Like the Pro version, it still claims 550 MB/s sequential read and slightly lower IOPS throughput, at 60 000 for 4 KB random writes. Oddly, we're seeing slightly higher sequential write performance, specified at 525 MB/s. This isn’t a typo. OCZ claims it was more conservative with its own performance evaluation of the Vertex 3 Pro, and has since revised its expectation upward a bit.

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

At a little over $2/GB, the price of the OCZ’s newest drive is better than the Vertex 2 when it launched. But you're going to pay more for a Vertex 3 drive. Remember, Vertex 2 isn’t going anywhere. There is still a lot of life in that drive. The premium you pay for a Vertex 3 is entirely attributable to its more aggressive performance.

  • 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.