OCZ Vertex 3 120GB Review by Greg
Today we will begin our pcGameware review of the OCZ Vertex 3 120GB.
‘OCZ Vertex 3 – The undisputed leader in SSD technology again’– a quote from the OCZ home page; and they have been keen to supply review kit so there are plenty of pre-release reviews on the net to help increase the hype – so now that they have finally arrived in the UK will they really meet expectations when used in your gaming rig at home?
SSD’s – Which use (Nand) memory chips that are able to retain their state, rather than the moving mechanical discs of standard hard drives, have been around a while now promising to revolutionise our computing experience, but whilst they have indeed improved access speeds, their Read and Write speeds have lagged behind that of the average hard drive. This and the prohibitively expensive price per megabyte has meant that SSD’s were seen as a niche product aimed at only the hardest of hardcore gamers.
The second generation of drives saw an increase in speeds to match (if not exceed) most mechanical drives and also saw the price per megabyte drop, widening the audience and allowing more gamers to benefit from this technology.
Now we’re moving into the third generation of drives, which sees a switch to smaller 25nm chips, this was seen as a possible downgrade for older gen drives but is actually cheaper to manufacture. The most important new feature of the new drives comes with the introduction of new controllers, which are finally producing speeds that far outperform the Read / Write speeds of mechanical drives, making them the perfect accompaniment for any gamer?
The new generation of drives currently consists of:
|Crucial C400 (M4)||120gb||415||175||35k||£TBA|
|OCZ Vertex 3||120gb||550||500||60k||£223|
120 GB size used for comparison *Larger sizes/performances available.
Nicely packaged; the drive itself is a standard 2.5″ form factor (laptop size) and included in the box is a 3.5″ adapter for desktops along with fitting screws.
OCZ Vertex 3 Solid State Drives unleash the performance potential of the SATA 6Gbps interface, leading the speed revolution in this next-generation solution. As the first SSD to feature the latest Sandforce controller design, OCZ designed the Vertex 3 to push the limits in both sequential and random read/write rates to blaze past the competition when every MB/s matters. With incredible 4k file writes up to 60,000 IOPS, these latest drives take productivity, gaming, and multimedia applications to the next level to work in perfect symmetry with the latest enthusiast platforms.
Built with the quality, reliability, and durability that lives up to the OCZ name, the Vertex 3 Series easily integrates into today’s mobile and desktop platforms and features TRIM support to optimize performance over the drive’s lifespan as the ultimate Windows 7 companion. Vertex 3 SSDs are available in 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacities and come backed by a 3-Year Warranty.
- Available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB Capacities MLC NAND Flash
- Interface: SATA 6Gbps / Backwards Compatible 3Gbps
- Native TRIM support
- Seek Time: .1ms
- Slim 2.5″ Design
- 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm
- Lightweight: 77g
- Operating Temp: 0°C ~ 55°C
- Storage Temp: -45°C ~ 85°C
- Low Power Consumption: 2W in operation,.5W in standby
- Shock Resistant up to 1500G
- RAID Support
- Included 3.5″ Desktop adapter bracket
- Compatible with Windows 7, Vista, XP 32-bit/64-bit, Mac OSX
- MTBF: 2 million hours
- 3-Year Warranty
120GB Max Performance
- Max Read: up to 550MB/s
- Max Write: up to 500MB/s
- Random Write 4KB (Aligned): 60,000 IOPS
As my Haf 912 plus case already has mounts specifically for 2.5” drives I didn’t need the included 3.5” adapter; but it’s a handy inclusion in the event your case does not support this. As with most drives installation was a breeze using the standard SATA and power connectors.
Important Note: Due to the sheer speed of these new drives it is essential that SATA 3 ports are used as the older SATA 2 ports will be a limiting factor maxing out at a theoretical 300mb/s limit. (Something to bear in mind if you are planning on adding one of these to an older system; but don’t be totally put off as add-on SATA 3 cards are available).
I will be using my existing installation of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit, with SP1 and all the latest windows updates. All the latest drivers from the Asus motherboard web site have been installed in preferance to the standard windows drivers; this is to ensure maximum compatibility and performance.
For comparison I will be carrying out benchmarks between a first generation SSD Corsair X64), the new Vertex 3 120gb, and as a reference point I have included scores from a standard mechanical hard drive in the form of a Samsung F3 1TB.
The following tools & games were used to benchmark the drives:
My existing Windows 7 setup running on a Corsair X64 was imaged and then restored back onto the drives for a like for like comparison. Raid/AHCI mode was set in the Bios and the latest Intel Rapid Storage drivers (V10.1.0.1008) were installed.
Both the SSD drives were Secure Erased and re-aligned after the image restore to ensure they were both in an SSD ‘fresh tip-top’ condition.
Here are the results:
|Vertex 3 120 gb||Corsair X64 64 gb||Samsung F3 1Tb|
|AS SSD 1.6|
|Boot Racer 3.1|
|BF BC2 Load Game||10sec||20sec||23sec|
The Vertex 3 shows excellent results in all the benchmarks and is clearly a long way ahead of 1st gen SSD drives such as the Corsair X64 – As you would expect. You can clearly see that the Read / Write speeds are now also far exceeding most mechanical drives. Windows response was a lot snappier and obtained the maximum result in the Windows Experience Index (WEI) tests. General load times of apps were reduced including a reduction in oh so coveted boot times. Gaming saw exceptional improvements too as the Battlefield BC2 level load times were cut by half!
Before release OCZ ensured plenty of the top end (and out of the price range for many) 240gb drives were shipped to review sites and unless you paid special attention you may have expected the 120gb drive to perform as well; But the devil is in the detail and the smaller more affordable version has a much reduced IOPS and does suffer in many of the benchmarks.
It also has to be stressed that currently to get the best out of these drives you will require a Sandybridge based machine with the excellent on-board Intel 6gbs SATA 3 ports; even the Marvell controller on the same board suffered which will be the case with older X58 board and most add-in cards too.
These were the HDTune results using the Marvell controller:
The Vertex 3 is one of the fastest SSD drives currently available even in the smallest 120gb capacity.
If you have a new Sandybridge machine and are running with either a standard mechanical drive or an older 1st gen SSD then an upgrade to the Vertex 3 would bring impressive gains, and for any gamer you will spend less time waiting for game loads and more time playing!
Upgrading from a 2nd Gen drive like a Vertex 2e or Crucial C300 would be a tougher choice, which is only made harder by the need to have a solid Sata3 controller to gain maximum benefit.