OCZ Vertex 450: A True Descendant Of The Vector
As long as there's enough pricing space between the Vector and Vertex 450, OCZ's newer, more value-oriented model is the better buy. They're aesthetically similar, they perform a lot alike, and they're both plenty fast. Despite the added incentive of getting Far Cry 3 and two extra years of warranty coverage, the Vertex 450 gives you the superior price-per-gigabyte figure (providing you aren't worried about the game coupon).
That's in theory, anyway. When the Vertex 3 was followed up by the slower Agility 3, the two were priced too close to each other largely because of the NAND market's volatility. Back then, simply springing for the faster drive was a no-brainer. If you like the way the Vector moves, getting most of its repertoire for less money might sound like a solid plan. If you're not a fan, saving a few bucks probably won't change your mind.
At least on the consumer side, OCZ has a healthy track record with firmware support. Issues with the Vertex 3's SF-2281 controller led to a string of fixes that didn't always help. But, for the most part, OCZ continues supporting its products with updates, including last year's Arowana FTL release for the original Vertex/Agility drives. The most important releases enhance performance, rather than just fixing bugs. That's always appreciated, even if they don't change the value equation much. There are always places where behavior can be enhanced and refined, and some drives (like the Vertex 4) end up looking a lot different after OCZ's sculpting than when they first shipped. As for the Vertex 450, it's certainly a branch from the Vector's family tree, and its firmware shares the same characteristics as its predecessors.
Part of what OCZ is selling is speed, and the company's special firmware concoction helps hit grandiose performance targets without the massive vertical integration of a company like Samsung. OCZ's unique software does help make an impression in the benches, regardless of the downsides in extreme situations. You don't always get that highest level of performance, but you do get it most of the time, and that means the optimization is doing more than just artificially inflating scores.
After some soul searching, the San Jose-based company is moving away from the lower-end value offerings that made up such a big part of its line-up. Drives like the Octane S2 and Petrol are on borrowed time, along with several others intended to get solid-state technology into the desktop space for cheap. There is more than just anecdotal evidence that those drives were at times problematic. So, reducing the number and complexity of its offerings could help OCZ focus on building higher-quality products enthusiasts might be willing to pay more for.
OCZ is still fighting an uphill struggle, though. Now that it's de-emphasizing some of the areas formerly found lucrative, OCZ's success is dependent on its ability to sell premium SSDs. That puts the company up against powerhouses like Samsung. SanDisk, notably, is ramping up its assault on the consumer market. And now companies that OCZ didn't have to worry about before (Seagate, for example) are looking for blood, too.
Seeing how industry veterans like OCZ adjust to the hyper-competitive (and crowded) SSD market is going to be interesting. After all, it took 50 years for the hard drive segment to emerge, mature, and then consolidate into a handful of firms. How fast that happens in the SSD space is unclear. But OCZ has big plans for the future, and at least with products like the Vertex 450 delivering solid performance for less than $1/GB, we expect it to be around as this industry evolves further.