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OCZ Vertex 450 256 GB SSD Review: Can We Call It Vector Jr.?

Optimizing Performance, Like Vertex 4

Performance Versus Capacity

Nothing surprising happens if we read sequentially across these drives at a queue depth of one. The Barefoot-based SSDs don't perform as well as the Plextor drive, but that's not a big deal. Frankly, this isn't what we were looking for anyway; we need to switch to writes.

Now this is more like it. Plextor's M5 Pro does exactly what we expect it to. But both OCZ drives lose a ton of performance after 50% of their capacity is filled. We see a few transient drops prior to that point, but past the halfway point, throughput looks a lot bleaker. The 200,000 KB/s we're showing is equivalent to 195 MB/s, and neither drive even sustains that. As it turns out, OCZ is using the same kind of SLC emulation mode we identified in OCZ Vertex 4 128 GB: Revisiting Write Performance With Firmware 1.5. When there isn't much data being processed, the information fits into the pseudo-SLC envelope. But once the drive is hammered, it has to swap some of what it has stored around. When that data is on the drive for long enough, it eventually figures out where to put everything. But in the interim, performance is certainly impacted.

We don't know much about how this process works, but it's clearly an attempt to work smarter, rather than harder. Without it, the Vertex 450 wouldn't have the front-end speed to put it at the top of the stack. It's reasonable to assume that this fits in to OCZ's desire to round out its platform with more premium SSDs able to command higher prices. Slugging it out at the bottom-end is tough when your competition manufactures flash as well. So, focusing on performance-oriented SSDs does seem like a better long-term strategy.

Performance Versus Time

In concept, this is similar to the charts we just presented. We're just plotting write speed over time, or how long it takes to sequentially write to the entire accessible LBA space. Plextor isn't as fast to start, but it sustains higher average throughput. That means its M5 Pro finishes first, taking 560 seconds to write from the first LBA to the last. OCZ's Vertex 450 and Vector are a different story. They spend just a fraction of their time writing more than 500 MB/s. The other three-quarters occurs south of the 200 MB/s mark. In other words, the Vertex 450 takes an additional 400 seconds to write the allocated capacity once.

But what about a second consecutive fill?

The second fill occurs immediately after the first; there's no time for background garbage collection or any other downtime optimization. Neither OCZ drive takes as long to finish this task, averaging higher performance than the fill preceding it. Since the entire accessible space is already full at this point, all three drives are writing almost exclusively over used blocks.

OCZ's Vector puts some distance on the Vertex 450, but doesn't break away completely. Despite a messier-looking data series, the two OCZ drives complete the second fill faster, while the M5 Pro's run is unchanged. We can see the Vector and Vertex 450 clawing to get back to a better performance state. Specifically, the Vertex 450 spends half of the run approaching 350 MB/s. But once it does, it stays there. The Vector is similar, hugging 400 MB/s after grinding its way back up.

Now, here's the thing: during normal usage (even in taxing workloads), you're going to be hard-pressed to spot this behavior. Other companies are using SLC NAND emulation (notably SanDisk), but more as multi-tiered caching approach. OCZ appears to implement its strategy at a global level, less granularly. Without more information from the vendor, it's difficult to comment definitively. But it's fair to say the company's optimization does work, particularly in our Storage Bench trace on the next page.

  • boulbox
    Kinda wanted to see 840 pro match up with it too. Guess it doesn't really matter since we could just go find your other benchies on it and compare it ourselves but i thought it would just be nice to have it up there.
    Reply
  • Faisal Mahmood
    Speed and performance are fine but what really counts is reliability which OCZ does not have. I had to RMA Vertex 2 twice and both times it lasted 8 months. Before that I invested in an Intel x25-m and it is still going strong.
    Reply
  • s3anister
    Just bought another 840 Pro. Really can't trust OCZ anymore after so many failed Vertex 3s.
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    It is pretty common to find quality SSDs in the $0.55-0.65/GB range these days. Game coupon aside, the price of this SSD isn't all that competitive.
    Reply
  • technerd
    Faisal MahmoodSpeed and performance are fine but what really counts is reliability which OCZ does not have. I had to RMA Vertex 2 twice and both times it lasted 8 months. Before that I invested in an Intel x25-m and it is still going strong.SAME! I'm going to Samsung for my next SSD. OCZ's reliability is a joke
    Reply
  • kitsunestarwind
    I love OCZ The Vertex4 series SSDs have been nothing but rock solid reliable, much better then their earlier offerings and the problems with the Vertex2/3 series drives
    Reply
  • cryan
    slomo4shoIt is pretty common to find quality SSDs in the $0.55-0.65/GB range these days. Game coupon aside, the price of this SSD isn't all that competitive.
    The Vector gets the Far Cry 3 coupon until July 14th while the Vertex 450 doesn't get it at all. If you're having to choose between the two, the Vector is probably the better bet unless the V450 is significantly cheaper. It's hard to say what the Vertex 450 will cost once generally available, but it'd be prudent to expect prices to be higher for the first few weeks. Initially, the Vertex 450 will probably be near the $235 mark, only a few bucks less than the Vector (about $15). Is it worth giving up two years of warranty and a FC3 coupon to save $15? You be the judge.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    Reply
  • cryan
    boulboxKinda wanted to see 840 pro match up with it too. Guess it doesn't really matter since we could just go find your other benchies on it and compare it ourselves but i thought it would just be nice to have it up there.
    Stay tuned, because we're working on it. I've been rebuilding the entire database of comparative consumer SSD performance data, and some drives haven't been done yet for one reason or another. In some cases, it's due to time constraints. In other cases, acquiring or reacquiring particular SSDs has been problematic.


    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    Reply
  • dgingeri
    I'd like to see it's relative performance compared to a Vertex 4. I have two Vertex 4 drives, a 256 and a 128, and I've been wondering how these new drives would compare, and if they're worth spending the money to swap with my Vertex drives.
    Reply
  • raidtarded
    Later in its life, the Vertex 4 shipped with Micron NAND, eschewing Intel's flash for a slight performance drop and better pricing.

    Doesn't Intel and Micron use the same NAND via the IMFT partnership?
    Reply