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 Selection||Brand||Model||Capacity||Price||Cost per GB|
|Budget||Western Digital||WD1600BEVT||160 GB||$39.99||$0.25|
|Midpoint||Samsung||Spinpoint HM640JJ||640 GB||$79.99||$0.12|
|High||Western Digital||WD10TPVT||1 TB||$119.99||$0.12|
And here’s a similar selection you get with a solid state drive.
|SSD Selection||Brand||Model||Capacity||Price||Cost per GB|
|Budget||Kingston||SSDNow S100 (SS100S2/8G)||8 GB||$39.99||$5.00|
|-||Corsair||Nova (CSD-V32GB2-BRKT)||32 GB||$78.99||$2.47|
|-||Patriot||Torqx TRB (PT54GS25SSDR)||64 GB||$119.99||$1.87|
|Midpoint||OCZ||Agility 2||320 GB||$659.99||$2.06|
|High||Kingston||SSDNow 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.
- 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.
- 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.
|Drive||Vertex 3||Vertex 3 Pro|
|Interface||SATA 6Gb/s||SATA 6Gb/s|
|Sequential Read Performance (max.)||550 MB/s||550 MB/s|
|Sequential Write Performance (max.)||525 MB/s||500 MB/s|
|Random 4KB Write||60 000 IOPs||70 000 IOPs|
|Price (MSRP)||240 GB: $499.99||200 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.
|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.