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The Vector 180 is exactly what one might expect from a new OCZ SSD. It combines the company's proprietary Barefoot 3 controller with the latest NAND from parent company Toshiba. Adopting new flash doesn't make for a terribly exciting narrative, but it's crucial to keeping up with the competition in an increasingly price-sensitive market. The update also underscores the fact that OCZ is owned by one of the largest flash makers in the business. Only a handful of SSD vendors have such a close relationship with a major NAND manufacturer.

There's more to the Vector 180 than just A19 flash. This is OCZ's first Barefoot drive to hit 960GB, an important milestone considering how many other SSDs have already joined the terabyte club. The additional power-loss protection is a nice touch, too, even if it doesn't protect in-flight data. And then there's the advanced replacement policy tied to the Shield Plus warranty, a perk I wish more SSD vendors would offer.

The Vector 180 also arrives alongside new a SSD Guru utility that looks much improved over OCZ's previous software. SSD Guru features an updated UI with at-a-glance details on the drive's capacity, health, interface, and firmware. It can notify users when fresh firmware is available and shepherd them through the update process. OCZ has also added the ability to optimize system settings and adjust the drive's overprovisioning percentage, among other functions.

The only thing that's really missing from the Vector 180 is more robust encryption support—specifically, compatibility with the IEEE and TCG Opal standards required by Microsoft's eDrive scheme. That's a notable omission given the Vector's upscale pricing. To be fair, though, encryption tends to be more popular in corporate circles than among consumers. The Vector's more basic implementation shouldn't be a deal-breaker for most folks.

We need to run some more tests to get a fuller sense of the Vector 180's performance, but the results we have so far are encouraging. The old Vector 150 is one of the fastest SSDs we've ever tested, and for the most part, its successor is a step ahead. Couple those performance chops with OCZ's improving reliability reputation, and the Vector 180 looks like a strong contender.TR

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