OCZ’s Vertex 450 solid-state drive reviewed

The OCZ Vertex was one of the very first SSDs to become popular among PC enthusiasts. Announced in 2008, the drive combined a four-channel Indilinx controller with up to 250GB of 50-nm flash memory. Even with a gen-two SATA interface and maximum read and writes speeds of 200 and 160MB/s, respectively, the Vertex was a nice step up from mechanical storage. At $3-4 per gig, it was also a pricey proposition.

In the years that followed, the Vertex family spawned multiple generations based on new controllers from SandForce and Marvell. Performance went up thanks to improvements in those chips, smarter firmware, and faster flash. Finer fabrication techniques also reduced the cost of flash memory, allowing SSDs to dip into more affordable territory.

The latest addition to the lineup is the Vertex 450. This fifth-generation drive costs less than a dollar per gig, promises 2-3 times the peak throughput of the original, and packs double the maximum capacity. The Vertex 450 also returns to the brand’s roots: a fresh revision of Indilinx’s Barefoot 3 controller lurks inside.

OCZ has owned Indilinx since 2011, and it’s making good use of the acquisition. Late last year, we watched the Barefoot 3 propel OCZ’s Vector SSD to the top of our overall performance standings. The Vertex 450 combines a tweaked “M10” version of that chip with 20-nm NAND and a lower price tag. Naturally, we had to take a closer look.

Vector Lite

Since the Barefoot 3 M10 sits at the heart of the Vertex 450, that’s the best place to start. This derivative differs from the standard chip in only a few ways. The clock generator has been tweaked to improve power efficiency, and the frequency of the processor cores has been decreased “slightly.” Also, support for 20-nm flash memory has been added. (In the Vector, the initial Barefoot 3 chip is paired with older 25-nm NAND.)

Apart from those changes, the original Barefoot 3 architecture is intact. The chip sports eight NAND channels and can address up to four NAND dies per channel. Dual processor cores sit between the flash interface and the 6Gbps Serial ATA connection to the host. One core is an off-the-shelf ARM design, while the other is a custom OCZ Aragon solution with an SSD-specific RISC instruction set.

Along with those processing resources, the Barefoot 3 has a hardware randomizer built with encryption in mind. OCZ didn’t take advantage of that capability in the Vector, citing weak demand for encryption among the consumers targeted by the drive. The firm still doesn’t believe encryption is a key feature for consumers. However, the old Vertex 4 supports 256-bit AES encryption, so the Vertex 450 adds that functionality to maintain consistency. We asked OCZ whether encryption support might make its way to the Vector, and we were told that a follow-up to that drive is in the works. The features for the Vector redux haven’t been finalized, but it appears encryption support is a possibility.

The Vertex 450 is lined with NAND built on Micron’s 20-nm lithography tech. Each die weighs in at 64Gb (8GB), and multiple dies are consolidated in the individual chip packages that populate the circuit board.

Capacity Die config Max sequential (MB/s) 4KB random (IOps) Price $/GB
Read Write Read Write
128GB 16 x 64Gb 525 290 75,000 70,000 $130 $1.02
256GB 32 x 64Gb 540 525 85,000 90,000 $230 $0.90
512GB 64 x 64Gb 540 530 85,000 90,000 $550 $1.07

64Gb dies are used throughout the Vertex 450 lineup, which somewhat handicaps the 128GB model. Only 16 of those 8GB dies are required to reach 128GB. As the performance ratings suggest, that’s not enough to fully exploit the controller’s internal parallelism. The Barefoot 3 can address four dies per memory channel, making 32-die configs the minimum for optimal performance. Only the 256 and 512GB variants of the Vertex 450 meet that requirement.

Between those higher-capacity units, only the 256GB model dips below the dollar-per-gig threshold. Unfortunately, it’s out of stock everywhere. OCZ says the limited first batch of drives has sold out already. The Vertex 450 is in mass production, though, and OCZ says the larger capacities will be available “soon.” Amazon and Newegg both have the 128GB model in stock.

The Vertex 450 is rated for 20GB of writes per day for the length of its three-year warranty. That limit applies to typical client workloads, and it’s similar to the endurance ratings attached to other mid-range SSDs. Three-year warranty coverage is also pretty standard for drives in this price range.

Unfortunately, the length of the warranty doesn’t tell us much about actual reliability. OCZ has a spotty history on that front, and some of the firm’s problems can be attributed to its previous use of immature third-party platforms. Since the Barefoot 3 controller and firmware are all OCZ’s own, there’s no one else to blame if issues crop up with the Vertex 450. For a sense of how reliable the underlying Indilinx platform might be, we pored over Amazon and Newegg user reviews of its Barefoot 3-based Vector sibling.

Both online vendors have more one-star and otherwise negative reviews for the Vector than they do for rivals like the Intel 335 Series and Samsung’s 840 and 840 Pro Series. At Amazon, which lumps together reviews for all capacities within a given drive family, 14% of the Vector reviews have one-star ratings compared to just 3% for the Samsung SSDs and zero for the Intel 335 Series. The story is similar at Newegg. There, we can isolate the Vector 256GB, whose one-star ratings total 15%. Similar models in the Intel 335 Series and Samsung 840 family have 5-8% one-star ratings.

A closer inspection of the negative Vector reviews reveals numerous reports of premature failures. There are similar complaints in the negative reviews of competing drives—just not nearly as many.

In March, OCZ released updated Vector firmware to address “detection issues on some platforms” and a “corner case issue with firmware corruption after unexpected sudden power loss.” It’s unclear whether the problems targeted by that release are responsible for the higher failure rates reported by users, but OCZ recommends that drives be updated to the latest revision.

OCZ support staff have responded to most of the negative online reviews, and their messages contend that the Vector “has been proven to be an ultra-reliable SSD with extremely positive reviews, both in print and online.” When asked to share the data behind its ultra-reliable claim, OCZ told us the Vector’s defect rate is less than 1%. The company also reaffirmed its commitment to working with users to resolve problems and improve its products. To its credit, OCZ has an active support forum, and it’s clearly trying to engage users who are reporting issues. A clear majority of Vector users seem to be quite happy with their drives, as well.

Reliability testing is tricky, especially if you want to obtain results within a reasonable timeframe. We can, however, run the Vertex 450 through an exhaustive suite of benchmarks to see how the drive’s performance measures up.

Our testing methods

If you’re familiar with our testing methods and hardware, the rest of this page is filled with nerdy details you already know; feel free to skip ahead to the benchmark results. For the rest of you, we’ve summarized the essential characteristics of all the drives we’ve tested in the table below. Our collection of SSDs includes representatives based on the most popular SSD configurations on the market.

  Cache Flash controller NAND
Corsair Force Series 3 240GB NA SandForce SF-2281 25nm Micron async MLC
Corsair Force Series GT 240GB NA SandForce SF-2281 25nm Intel sync MLC
Corsair Neutron 240GB 256MB LAMD LM87800 25nm Micron sync MLC
Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB 256MB LAMD LM87800 26nm Toshiba Toggle MLC
Crucial m4 256GB 256MB Marvell 88SS9174 25nm Micron sync MLC
Crucial M500 240GB 256MB Marvell 88SS9187 20nm Micron sync MLC
Intel 335 Series 240GB NA SandForce SF-2281 20nm Intel sync MLC
Intel 520 Series 240GB NA SandForce SF-2281 25nm Intel sync MLC
OCZ Agility 4 256GB 512MB Indilinx Everest 2 25nm Micron async MLC
OCZ Vector 256GB 512MB Indilinx Barefoot 3 25nm Intel sync MLC
OCZ Vertex 4 256GB 512MB Indilinx Everest 2 25nm Micron sync MLC
OCZ Vertex 450 256GB 512MB Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 20nm Intel sync MLC
Samsung 830 Series 256GB 256MB Samsung MCX 27nm Samsung Toggle MLC
Samsung 840 Series 250GB 512MB Samsung MDX 21nm Samsung Toggle TLC
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB 512MB Samsung MDX 21nm Samsung Toggle MLC
Seagate 600 SSD 240GB 256MB LAMD LM87800 19nm Toshiba Toggle MLC
WD Caviar Black 1TB 64MB NA NA

Apart from the NAND and controller upgrades, the Vertex 450 closely resembles its Vector predecessor. The Vertex 4 is much older and combines Marvell controller technology with OCZ’s own firmware.

To illustrate how this crop of SSDs stacks up against mechanical storage, we’ve thrown a Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB into the mix. Don’t expect this 7,200-RPM hard drive to keep up; it’s included for reference only.

We used the following system configuration for testing:

Processor Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz
CPU cooler Thermaltake Frio
Motherboard Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Bios revision 1850
Platform hub Intel P67 Express
Platform drivers INF update 9.2.0.1030

RST 10.6.0.1022

Memory size 8GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
Memory timings 9-9-9-24-1T
Audio Realtek ALC892 with 2.62 drivers
Graphics Asus EAH6670/DIS/1GD5 1GB with Catalyst 11.7 drivers
Hard drives Corsair Force 3 Series 240GB with 1.3.2 firmware

Corsair Force Series GT 240GB with 1.3.2 firmware

Crucial m4 256GB with 010G firmware

WD Caviar Black 1TB with 05.01D05 firmware

OCZ Agility 4 256GB with 1.5.2 firmware

Samsung 830 Series 256GB with CXM03B1Q firmware

Intel 520 Series 240GB with 400i firmware

OCZ Vertex 4 256GB with 1.5 firmware

Corsair Neutron 240GB with M206 firmware

Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB with M206 firmware

Intel 335 Series 240GB with 335s firmware

Samsung 840 Series 250GB with DXT07B0Q firmware

OCZ Vector 256GB with 10200000 firmware

Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB with DXM04B0Q firmware

Crucial M500 240GB with MU02 firmware

Seagate 600 SSD 240GB with B660 firmware

OCZ Vertex 450 with 1.0 firmware

Power supply Corsair Professional Series Gold AX650W
OS Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Thanks to Asus for providing the systems’ motherboards and graphics cards, Intel for the CPUs, Corsair for the memory and PSUs, Thermaltake for the CPU coolers, and Western Digital for the Caviar Black 1TB system drives.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

Some further notes on our test methods:

  • To ensure consistent and repeatable results, the SSDs were secure-erased before almost every component of our test suite. Some of our tests then put the SSDs into a used state before the workload begins, which better exposes each drive’s long-term performance characteristics. In other tests, like DriveBench and FileBench, we induce a used state before testing. In all cases, the SSDs were in the same state before each test, ensuring an even playing field. The performance of mechanical hard drives is much more consistent between factory fresh and used states, so we skipped wiping the HDDs before each test—mechanical drives take forever to secure erase.

  • We run all our tests at least three times and report the median of the results. We’ve found IOMeter performance can fall off with SSDs after the first couple of runs, so we use five runs for solid-state drives and throw out the first two.

  • Steps have been taken to ensure that Sandy Bridge’s power-saving features don’t taint any of our results. All of the CPU’s low-power states have been disabled, effectively pegging the 2500K at 3.3GHz. Transitioning in and out of different power states can affect the performance of storage benchmarks, especially when dealing with short burst transfers.

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at a 75Hz screen refresh rate. Most of the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

HD Tune — Transfer rates

HD Tune lets us present transfer rates in a couple of different ways. Using the benchmark’s “full test” setting gives us a good look at performance across the entire drive rather than extrapolating based on a handful of sample points. The full test gives us fodder for line graphs, which we’ve split up by drive maker. You can click the buttons below each line graph to see how the Vertex 450 compares to its rivals.


The Vertex 450 gets off to a slow start. Although its sequential read rate is only slightly lower than that of the Vector, all of the OCZ SSDs lag behind their competition.


Things look better for the Vertex 450 in the sequential write speed test. The drive still trails the Vector, but it sits in fifth place overall. Check out the line graphs for some of the slower SSDs, though. The drives based on SandForce and LAMD controllers experience huge transfer rate spikes at regular intervals.

HD Tune runs on unpartitioned drives, with no file system in place, which might explain the spikes on some of the SSDs. For another take on sequential speed, we’ll turn to CrystalDiskMark, which runs on partitioned drives. We used the benchmark’s sequential test with the default 1GB transfer size and randomized data.

In CrystalDiskMark, most of the SSDs hit higher speeds with reads than they do with writes. The reverse is true for the Vertex 450, whose write rate is 19MB/s higher than its read speed.

The Vertex 450 looks particularly strong in the write speed test, where it’s wedged between the Vector and the Vertex 4 in third place. While its rank in the standings is much lower in the read speed test, the Vertex 450 still hits 500MB/s. That speed puts the drive just 9% short of the leaders.

HD Tune — Random access times

In addition to letting us test transfer rates, HD Tune can measure random access times. We’ve tested with four transfer sizes and presented all the results in a couple of line graphs. We’ve also busted out the 4KB and 1MB transfers sizes into bar graphs that should be easier to read without the presence of the mechanical drive.

Don’t try to differentiate between the SSDs in the line graphs. Those graphs are meant to illustrate the massive gap in access times between solid-state and mechanical storage.

If we focus on the SSD results, the Vertex 450 is in good company. The Vector just edges it out for the quickest 4KB random read time, and those two drives are closely matched in the 1MB test.

Truth is, most of the SSDs deliver comparable access times here. I wouldn’t get worked up about fractions of a millisecond.

Our solid-state field remains closely packed in the 4KB random write test, which the Vertex 450 wins by a hair. The drives are considerably more spread out in the 1MB test, though. The Vertex 450 sits near the middle of the pack, trailing the Vector and the Vertex 4 by relatively small margins.

TR FileBench — Real-world copy speeds

Concocted by resident developer Bruno “morphine” Ferreira, FileBench runs through a series of file copy operations using Windows 7’s xcopy command. Using xcopy produces nearly identical copy speeds to dragging and dropping files using the Windows GUI, so our results should be representative of typical real-world performance. We tested using the following five file sets—note the differences in average file sizes and their compressibility. We evaluated the compressibility of each file set by comparing its size before and after being run through 7-Zip’s “ultra” compression scheme.

  Number of files Average file size Total size Compressibility
Movie 6 701MB 4.1GB 0.5%
RAW 101 23.6MB 2.32GB 3.2%
MP3 549 6.48MB 3.47GB 0.5%
TR 26,767 64.6KB 1.7GB 53%
Mozilla 22,696 39.4KB 923MB 91%

The names of most of the file sets are self-explanatory. The Mozilla set is made up of all the files necessary to compile the browser, while the TR set includes years worth of the images, HTML files, and spreadsheets behind my reviews. Those two sets contain much larger numbers of smaller files than the other three. They’re also the most amenable to compression.

To get a sense of how aggressively each SSD reclaims flash pages tagged by the TRIM command, we run FileBench with the solid-state drives in two states. We first test the SSDs in a fresh state after a secure erase. They’re then subjected to a 30-minute IOMeter workload, generating a tortured used state ahead of another batch of copy tests. We haven’t found a substantial difference in the performance of mechanical drives between these two states. Let’s start with the fresh-state results.

The Vertex 450’s performance in our FileBench tests depends largely on the file set. With the larger files in the movie, MP3, and RAW sets, OCZ’s latest SSD is among the leaders. However, when we switch to the smaller files in the Mozilla and TR sets, the drive’s copy speed falls substantially. Its relative ranking suffers, as well.

All of the other SSDs slow down considerably when copying smaller files, so the Vertex 450 isn’t alone. Also, the SSDs that excel at copying smaller files—the SandForce-based Corsair and Intel models—aren’t nearly as competitive when copying larger ones. Those drives are much slower than the Vertex 450 in the movie, MP3, and RAW tests, and their advantage in the Mozilla and TR tests isn’t large enough to make up the deficit.

Our used-state results closely resemble our fresh-state ones. The SandForce-based SSDs tend to be a little slower in this simulated used state, but the others don’t skip a beat.

TR DriveBench 1.0 — Disk-intensive multitasking

TR DriveBench allows us to record the individual IO requests associated with a Windows session and then play those results back as fast as possible on different drives. We’ve used this app to create a set of multitasking workloads that combine common desktop tasks with disk-intensive background operations like compiling code, copying files, downloading via BitTorrent, transcoding video, and scanning for viruses. The individual workloads are explained in more detail here.

Below, you’ll find an overall average followed by scores for each of our individual workloads. The overall score is an average of the mean performance score for each multitasking workload.

Although it doesn’t catch the Vector, the Vertex 450 is fast enough for second place overall in our first batch of DriveBench tests. Both of the Barefoot-based drives enjoy healthy leads over the old Vertex 4, which uses Marvell controller silicon. Let’s see if there’s any drama in the individual test results.

The Vertex 450 shadows the Vector at the front of the field virtually throughout. The lone exception is in the compiling test, where a trio of SandForce-based SSDs squeezes between the two OCZ drives. Compiling Firefox involves a lot of small files, and we’ve already seen that the SandForce SSDs can copy those files faster than their rivals.

TR DriveBench 2.0 — More disk-intensive multitasking

As much as we like DriveBench 1.0’s individual workloads, the traces cover only slices of disk activity. Because we fire the recorded I/Os at the disks as fast as possible, solid-state drives also have no downtime during which to engage background garbage collection or other optimization algorithms. DriveBench 2.0 addresses both of those issues with a much larger trace that spans two weeks of typical desktop activity peppered with multitasking loads similar to those in DriveBench 1.0. We’ve also adjusted our testing methods to give solid-state drives enough idle time to tidy up after themselves. More details on DriveBench 2.0 are available on this page of our last major SSD round-up.

Instead of looking at a raw IOps rate, we’re going to switch gears and explore service times—the amount of time it takes drives to complete an I/O request. We’ll start with an overall mean service time before slicing and dicing the results.

Impressive. The Vertex 450 again sticks close to its Barefoot brother, which has the lowest mean service time of any SSD we’ve tested. The top half of the solid-state field is very closely matched, though. Let’s see if sorting DriveBench requests into reads and writes tells us anything interesting.

The Vertex 450 ranks higher with writes than it does with reads. However, the performance differences between it and the fastest SSDs are still quite slim.

There are millions of I/O requests in this trace, so we can’t easily graph service times to look at the variance. However, our analysis tools do report the standard deviation, which can give us a sense of how much service times vary from the mean.

Only a few of the SSDs exhibit worrisome degrees of variance in their DriveBench 2.0 service times. The OCZ Agility 4 is one of them, along with the Crucial m4 and M500, but the Vertex 450 steers clear of trouble. Its low standard deviation for both reads and writes indicates more consistent performance in our real-world I/O simulation.

We can’t easily graph all the service times recorded by DriveBench 2.0, but we can sort them. The graphs below plot the percentage of service times that fall below various thresholds. You can click the buttons below the graphs to see how the M500s compare to the other drives.



The distributions of write service times are similar enough that the plots largely overlap. Although the Vertex 450’s read distribution also follows a similar path to those of its peers, there’s much more separation between the contenders. The gaps are largely confined to thresholds below 0.6 milliseconds, which is far too short a span for even picky twitch gamers to notice.

If you look at the scale of the X axis, you’ll see that all the drives complete the vast majority of requests in one millisecond or less. Hardly any requests take longer than 100 milliseconds, but those are the ones that are problematic. Extremely long service times have the potential to cause the sort of hitching that users might notice, so we’ve graphed the individual percentages for each drive.

While the percentages are low overall, keep in mind that we’re talking about a two-week trace with tens of millions of individual I/O requests. Most of the top drives are relatively evenly matched, and the Vertex 450 is among them. So is the Vector, which should come as no surprise.

IOMeter

Our IOMeter workloads feature a ramping number of concurrent I/O requests. Most desktop systems will only have a few requests in flight at any given time (87% of DriveBench 2.0 requests have a queue depth of four or less). We’ve extended our scaling up to 32 concurrent requests to reach the depth of the Native Command Queuing pipeline associated with the Serial ATA specification. Ramping up the number of requests also gives us a sense of how the drives might perform in more demanding enterprise environments.

We run our IOMeter tests using the fully randomized data pattern, which presents a particular challenge for SandForce’s write compression scheme. We’d rather measure SSD performance in this worst-case scenario than using easily compressible data.

There’s too much data to show clearly on a single graph for each access pattern, so we’ve once again split the results by drive maker. You can compare the performance of the Vertex 450 to that of the competition by clicking the buttons below each graph.


The web server test pattern comprises read requests exclusively, so we’ll deal with it separately. Few drives have higher I/O throughput than the Vertex 450 here. Apart from the Vector, only the Samsung SSDs and LAMD-based drives from Corsair and Seagate score higher. Unlike some of its rivals, whose performances trail off as the load increases, the Vertex 450 maintains largely linear scaling up to 32 concurrent requests.

Read requests are mixed with writes in the following IOMeter tests.




The Vertex 450 handles the mixed workloads with grace. In these tests, its I/O rates are a little lower than not only the Vector’s, but also the Vertex 4’s.

OCZ’s latest outperforms most of its other rivals, but it can’t catch the LAMD-based Corsair and Seagate SSDs. Those drives are the undisputed champions of our IOMeter tests thanks in part to controller silicon that was designed with servers in mind. The Vertex 450 does keep up with the Samsung 840 Pro, though. And unlike the Samsung drive, it doesn’t stumble under our most demanding database and file server loads.

Boot duration

Before timing a couple of real-world applications, we first have to load the OS. We can measure how long that takes by checking the Windows 7 boot duration using the operating system’s performance-monitoring tools. This is actually the first test in which we’re booting Windows off each drive; up until this point, our testing has been hosted by an OS housed on a separate system drive.

Level load times

Modern games lack built-in timing tests to measure level loads, so we busted out a stopwatch with a couple of reasonably recent titles.

The load times for most of our SSDs are within a second of each other. While the Vertex 450 boots into Windows and loads our game levels slightly faster than most of its rivals, the differences are too slim to really notice. The same can’t be said of the wide gaps between the SSDs and our lone mechanical drive—you’ll definitely notice the OS taking twice as long to boot up.

Power consumption

We tested power consumption under load with IOMeter’s workstation access pattern chewing through 32 concurrent I/O requests. Idle power consumption was probed one minute after processing Windows 7’s idle tasks on an empty desktop.

Given the Vertex 450’s power-optimized controller and 20-nm NAND, we expected the drive to draw fewer watts than the Vector. It does at idle, but only by 0.1W. Under load, the Vertex actually consumes slightly more power than its predecessor.

The Vertex 450 sucks more watts under load than most of its rivals, but it also consumes less power than most of them when idling. Our load is extremely demanding, so the idle numbers are more relevant for notebook users.

The value perspective

Welcome to our famous value analysis, which adds capacity and pricing to the performance data we’ve explored over the preceding pages. We used Newegg prices for most of the SSDs, and we didn’t take mail-in rebates into account when performing our calculations.

First, we’ll look at the all-important cost per gigabyte, which we’ve obtained using the amount of storage capacity accessible to users in Windows.

Once it’s back in stock at online retailers, the Vertex 450 256GB should sell for $230. That’s a little high for a mid-range drive, but the 256GB capacity boasts more storage than the 240GB alternatives, which helps to lower the cost per gigabyte.

Most of the SSDs are under the dollar-per-gig threshold. None of them come close to the Samsung 840 Series’ budget price, though.

Our remaining value calculation uses a single performance score that we’ve derived by comparing how each drive stacks up against a common baseline provided by the Momentus 5400.4, a 2.5″ notebook drive with a painfully slow 5,400-RPM spindle speed. This index uses a subset of our performance data described on this page of our last SSD round-up.

If you’ve been following along, you shouldn’t be surprised by these results. The Vertex 450 trailed slightly behind the Vector throughout our tests, and our overall performance index nicely summarizes that trend. Impressively, the Vertex’s overall score is high enough to trump the Samsung 840 Pro, giving OCZ the top two spots in the standings.

Now for the real magic. We can plot this overall score on one axis and each drive’s cost per gigabyte on the other to create a scatter plot of performance per dollar per gigabyte. The best place on the plot is the upper-left corner, which combines high performance with a low price.

I love how our scatter plots put things into perspective. The Vertex 450 performs well enough to be in the top tier among our SSDs. However, it’s priced like a mid-range drive. Few alternatives are cheaper, and those that are exhibit slower performance—by quite a bit, in some cases.

Of course, we’ve committed the cardinal sin of graphing by cutting off the axes in the scatter plot above. That was done for readability’s sake, but we’ve zeroed things out for a second scatter that adds further perspective.

Most of the SSDs are packed tightly together, and it’s difficult to tell them apart. The performance differences between them are much smaller than between the SSDs and our lone mechanical drive. As far as performance is concerned, pretty much any halfway decent SSD will be a huge upgrade over a traditional hard drive.

Conclusions

The Vertex 450 is pretty typical of the latest breed of solid-state drives; it pairs an existing controller with flash built on a finer fabrication process. While the Indilinx Barefoot 3 chip has been tweaked in subtle ways since its debut in the OCZ Vector, the controller’s well-rounded performance characteristics haven’t been compromised. Indeed, the Vertex 450 is only a smidgen slower than its predecessor overall—and faster than every other SSD we’ve tested.

One might say the Vertex has returned to its roots in style. OCZ’s Indilinx acquisition appears to have been a good investment, gaining the firm entry into an exclusive club of SSD makers with proprietary controller technology.

With a $230 price tag, the Vertex 450 256GB we tested runs $20 less than the equivalent Vector model. The Vertex offers encryption support missing from the Vector, but the older drive kicks in two years of additional warranty coverage and a free copy of Far Cry 3. For desktop users who haven’t experienced the joy of silently picking off baddies with Far Cry 3‘s recurve bow, the Vector might actually be the better deal.

I’d give the Vector a more emphatic endorsement, but its higher reported incidence of premature failure versus contemporary rivals makes me a little apprehensive. A firmware update addressed several issues that may explain some of the negative user feedback, though. Thanks to lessons learned with the Vector, the Vertex 450 should be more polished right out of the gate. We’ll be watching user reviews to see if it fares any better than its predecessor in the wild.

As long as the Vertex 450 holds up in users’ hands, it looks like a good option for PC enthusiasts. The drive delivers the performance and encryption support of a high-end SSD at closer to a mid-range price. The middle of the SSD market is crowded with contenders, but our test results clearly show that the Vertex 450 is capable of distinguishing itself from the competition.

Comments closed
    • JudyCrews22
    • 6 years ago
    • MildaNee05
    • 6 years ago
    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    Samsung 840, Corsair Neutron, and the Vertex 450 seem to be the prime choices… I don’t think we’re going to see real magic till SATAe hits.

      • Airmantharp
      • 6 years ago

      Is it SATAe or just straight up PCIe SSDs? This latest stuff that released with the new Macs has me confused.

      Either way, it’s nice to see the drives unhindered by legacy protocols. 1.4GB burst reads from a single controller- yes please! I need eight!

        • Farting Bob
        • 6 years ago

        It’s essentially PCIe channelled through a SATA cable IIRC.

          • Bensam123
          • 6 years ago

          Something similar to that. But it’s also backwards compatible with current SATA drives and can go a lot faster then that. It’s all around a big improvement over the current protocol.

          It’s not the same as a SSD that fits in a PCIE slot.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 6 years ago

    The non-Pro Samsung 840 is looking mighty fine. Lowest per-gig price and really good performance put it creeping up toward the upper-left of the graph.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 6 years ago

      That would be my choice of SSD these days too I think. I jumped on some really good deals last winter but SSD prices seem like they are going up these days :/ but the 840 non-Pro still has pretty good $/GB. But anyway, concerns over TLC NAND don’t seem to have materialized, and the read performance of that drive, which is what matters much more for typical single-user scenarios, is up there with the best.

      • Firestarter
      • 6 years ago

      I think it’s the best drive for the usual PC user, cheap, reliable and effective. Power users/enthusiasts would have to figure out for themselves whether TLC is going to be of any concern.

        • indeego
        • 6 years ago

        I think most power users/enthusiasts don’t realize they don’t write anywhere near that much data to their drives that will exhaust any of these drives within ~3-5 years. Unless you are constantly writing to the drive day in and out, you should be fine.

        i.e. professional work databases, encoding, professional level work, etc in which case you would be RAIDing these anyway, hopefully.

          • UberGerbil
          • 6 years ago

          That’s especially true for the common enthusiast configuration of “SSD for OS, HD for data.” I just looked at the SMART data for the 830 I put into my daily work machine as the OS drive: in 15 months it has seen 4.9TB of writes. That sounds like a lot, but if you divide it by the capacity (to get a very rough estimate assuming perfect wear levelling) that’s only 40 writes per byte. Since these things are spec’d for write totals in the low thousands, even the real worst case number with uneven wear is a long way from being a problem. (And my drive at least has some unallocated space to spare even then.)

          If you’re looking at an SSD as the only drive for a laptop — and it’s an intensively used one, not just a mobile light office machine — then sure, SLC might be a comfort (especially if the drive tends to be close to full so there’s less over-provisioning buffer). And workstations, as you say, are a different class altogether.

            • Firestarter
            • 6 years ago

            my 830 has even less (only 2.3TB) in 16 months, and it’s the only drive in my system 😮

      • Oscarcharliezulu
      • 6 years ago

      My Samsung non-pro 840-500GB is going well after months of high use and transformed a C2Q9650, even though i was using a velociraptor 10k HD. likewise my Samsung 830 256GB in my work laptop no problems after 1 year of day in day out use.

    • jabro
    • 6 years ago

    I’d like to be more open minded about considering an OCZ drive, but if I encountered a problem with an OCZ SSD I know that I would absolutely kick myself for not going with a brand with a better reputation for quality and reliability.

    As someone considering the Crucial M500, I was a bit shocked by how poorly the M500 showed on the value charts, then I remembered that the 240GB M500 performs like most other 120/128 GB SSDs (who the heck would buy a 240 GB M500 w/o a serious rebate???).

    It might be worth including both the 480 and 240 GB versions of the Crucial M500 into the value graphs. While the 480 GB M500 costs more than other 240/256 GB SSDs, it’s a good deal cheaper than most 480/512 GB SSDs and closes some of the performance gap with higher end models.

      • stdRaichu
      • 6 years ago

      As someone who’s been using SSDs since the first 30GB Vertex, and is currently running two 830’s, three M4’s and one 840 and is about to buy two M500’s I would say don’t hold fire. The M500’s performance may look poor in comparison to other SSDs, but Crucial were going for the lowest price/GB they could get with this range rather than perf/GB. But I don’t think you’ll notice the speed difference unless you run benchmarks on it, in fact it’s nigh impossible to tell the difference between my M4’s/830’s and my appallingly stone-aged Vertex 30GB for everyday activities like booting and running apps.

      TLDR: IMHO always go for the best price/GB ratio from a reliable manufacturer now that every SSD provides enough IOPS. At the moment that means Crucial.

    • vargis14
    • 6 years ago

    OMgawd I need to upgrade my old school 1st SSD drive off the line 60gb corsair force so so bad!!!! The turd still is working great knock on wood. But read speeds are not much better then a HDD at 225mbps writes are the same as a decent HDD at around 125mbps. yuk..but at the time of my build it was the only SSD i could fit into my build budget.

    DRfish if you want to donate that 128gb 830 after you upgrade, I could really use it bad 🙂

      • Chrispy_
      • 6 years ago

      Even a crappy 1st gen. Sandforce is worth 20 mechanicals in a RAID0, as far as I’m concerned 🙂

      4K read/write is what makes the real difference
      UEFI bios with Windows boot manager comes next (for 15s reboots)
      Sequential speed is occasionally useful but really, as long as a drive does over about 250MB/s read/write I’m okay with it.

      What I look for in my SSD’s is 4K read/write (IOPS) at a queue depth of 1-4; The Samsung 840’s, Neutron GTX’s, and even 2nd gen Sandforce really excel at this, even if the Samsung and the Sandforce options aren’t particularly good at sequential speed.

      • indeego
      • 6 years ago

      Those reads/writes will smoke any mechanical in real-world tests. Stop looking at “peak” throughput.

    • drfish
    • 6 years ago

    When I see the 256GB Vector for sale around $230 I think, hmmm, maybe, my 128GB 830 [i<]is[/i<] getting a little cramped for space... But then I remember how many Vertex Is I had to RMA and when OCZ finally told me they wouldn't replace any more and then I think nope, I'll wait for something else.

    • anotherengineer
    • 6 years ago

    Nice.

    Still waiting for TR to review these guys though.

    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820249033[/url<] [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820249034[/url<]

      • Chrispy_
      • 6 years ago

      For me, the interesting drives are the ones that always come up first when you hit “sort by price: lowest > highest”

      That’ll be the SanDisk Pulse, SanDisk Ultra Plus, and the Crucial V4.

      I know to avoid the V4, it is a total, inexcusable dog that should never have made it market.
      The Pulse and Ultra Plus seem reasonable, and they’re often 10-20% cheaper than what I’d consider “decent” entry-level drives like a Samsung, SF2281, or Marvell-based one.

        • indeego
        • 6 years ago

        Data storage is one area I will never look for “cheapest” again.

          • Chrispy_
          • 6 years ago

          Even expensive drives fail too and that’s why you should always make regular backups.

          The way I use SSD’s, I don’t use actually keep much data on them – it’s just OS, apps and games.

            • Firestarter
            • 6 years ago

            They may fail, but at a much lower rate by courtesy of the extensive testing that they’ve gone through. The likes of Samsung and Intel (especially Intel!) have a reputation that they cannot afford to tarnish with rubbish products, and if they chose to develop and release a new product you can be assured that the cost of damaging their reputation is well considered when they’re allocating budget for testing it.

        • anotherengineer
        • 6 years ago

        “For me, the interesting drives are the ones that always come up first when you hit “sort by price: lowest > highest””

        I do Best to worst, and only look at the top 10, or the top 5

    • Blazex
    • 6 years ago

    one the first page, about 2/3 down the page between the last 2 pictures.
    The chart data’s “Die Config” drive size doesn’t seem right, the paragraph underneath it states 16x8gb to get to 128gb and the chart above it says all drives are x by 64gb, which the 16 x 16gb, wouldn’t that result in a tb?
    and then so on with the 256gb, and 512gb.

      • Dissonance
      • 6 years ago

      64Gb = 8GB. Gigabits versus gigabytes.

        • Blazex
        • 6 years ago

        disregard me then 🙂 was thinking byte not bit, just woke up

    • DPete27
    • 6 years ago

    This could prompt a price reduction on the Samsung 840 Pro? Even being a perfectly satisfied Vertex 3 customer, I’d choose Samsung for the “guaranteed” reliability.

    The “Sandforce Bug” definetly put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. I think OCZ got hit the hardest because they were the first to market, one of the larger companies to be using Sandforce at the time, and the most proactive about fixing the issues. I agree with Chrispy that OCZ can’t keep banking on marginal performance benefits to sell product on SATA3 interface, they have to be flawless in reliability. The sooner they grasp that reality, the better off everyone will be.

      • Firestarter
      • 6 years ago

      I don’t think Samsung really cares about competing with OCZ

        • Farting Bob
        • 6 years ago

        It doesn’t care about competing with one of it’s biggest rivals in a large, and constantly growing market? Really?

          • stdRaichu
          • 6 years ago

          I’m not really sure Samsung would consider OCZ a rival. OCZ may have some traction with enthusiasts and make their own controllers, but they don’t make their own flash like Samsung/IMFT and last I heard they didn’t have any inroads into the OEM jungle.

          I’d be willing to bet a pint of ale that Samsung ship ten times the amount of SSDs that OCZ do, and with a higher profit margin to boot.

            • Chrispy_
            • 6 years ago

            I’ll see your “ten times more than OCZ” and raise you another fifty 😉

    • wierdo
    • 6 years ago

    SSD drive prices seem to be pretty stable lately, was expecting them to dip under 60 cents by now.

    I hope that happens soon, I’m in the market for one.

    • chuckula
    • 6 years ago

    I’m tired of all these rumors about how the Vertex drives fail all the time. I’m using one right now and its stability is rock sol@éÀÿÿÿéËÿÿÿ^O^_^@1íI<89>Ñ^H<89>âH<83>äðPTIÇÀ<

      • Chrispy_
      • 6 years ago

      Yeah. OCZ don’t have any wiggle room for quality control or firmware issues in the public eye.

      If the market wasn’t saturated with other drives, I’d be willing to try them out again but now there is an overwhelming choices of other, similarly fast drives that, unlike OCZ models, have been through extensive, A-List validation for months.

      OCZ have to offer rock-solid reliability and even better validation if they want to change public opinion and shake the stigma.
      SATAIII is a bottleneck so minor performance gains is completely the wrong selling point for most people.

      • ddarko
      • 6 years ago

      What you call “rumors” was reality for me. The Vector 256gb I got soon after its release died less than a week after installation (I left one of those one-star reviews on Newegg). I bought a Samsung 840 Pro and it’s worked flawlessly since. The replacement Vector I received from Newegg is unopened.

      Probably the only folks who have meaningful evidence about whether these drives have above-average failure rates is OCZ or retailers who sell a lot of the drives. It’s impossible to say if my bad experience can be applied to an entire class so I don’t claim my dead drive proves that the Vector had faulty launch firmware. But the same is true in reverse – it’s great you’ve had good experience with your Vector/Vertex but that doesn’t make the experience of folks who have had dead drives “rumors” or any less credible or true than positive experiences like yours.

        • danny e.
        • 6 years ago

        Was his post too long to read to the end?

        • Airmantharp
        • 6 years ago

        I’m finally (like since two weeks ago) making functional use of an OCZ-replaced Vertex 2. I’m not using it as an OS drive this time; the first one straight up died doing that. I’m using it as my Lightroom drive; it’s where the application is stored and stuff gets imported to. Everything is backed up to a spinning disk.

        We’ll see how long it lasts. I believe it’s still under warranty, and at least OCZ is decent for that!

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