OCZ Technology has released sometime now the Vertex series of SSD's. The product has received many positive comments and reviews. Although most reviewers have looked at the 120GB model, today we will examine the entry-level 60GB version.
- Product Features
OCZ claims that the Vertex Series delivers the performance and reliability of SSD's. at less price per gigabyte than other high speed offerings currently on the market. The drives come with a new architecture and controller design, offer high read/write speeds, and 64MB of onboard cache.
High capacities and low power consuming NAND flash technology provide the necessary performance and battery life boosts generated by the proliferation of mobile gaming and new ultra-thin laptops.
The OCZ Vertex drives feature a lightweight alloy housing, and because OCZ SSD's. have no moving parts, the drives are more rugged than traditional hard drives.The Vertex Series SSD's. have an excellent 1.5 million hour mean time before failure (MTBF) and come backed a three year warranty and OCZ’s service and support.
- Available in 30GB (32), 60GB (64), 120GB (128), 250GB (256) capacities
- 60GB Max Performance
- Read: Up to 230 MB/s
- Write: Up to 135MB/s
- Sustained Write: Up to 70MB/s
- 64MB Onboard Cache
- Seek Time: <.1ms
- Slim 2.5" Design
- 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm
- Lightweight 77g
- Operating Temp: 0C ~ 70C
- Storage Temp: -45C ~ +85C
- Low Power Consumption: 2W in operation, .5W in stand by
- Shock Resistant 1500G
- RAID Support
- MTBF 1.5 million hours
- 3 year warranty
2. The package
The OCZ Vertex 60GB SSD (OCZSSD2-1VTX60G) costs ~ $229 ($199 after $30 mail-in rebate). This is translated to $3.76 per gigabyte, when the 120GB model comes with a better gigabyte/price ratio ($3.06). Recently OCZ increased the warranty for its SSD to 3 years, matching the warranty usually offered for the hard disk drives.
You can see the black and white retail package below:
The product is well-packaged inside an anti static bag to avoid damage caused by electrostatic discharge.
The 2.5" drive is very light at 77grams:
The drive has the typical SATA connectors and also some extra pins placed on the right side used for firmware upgrade. Thought OCZ does not provide any jumpers to use for the firmware upgrade, we flashed the drive without shorting these pins as you will see in the following page.
The drive uses a Indilinx Barefoot controller and 64MB cache by Elpida Memory. We should note that we have to do with an MLC solution here, which generally costs less than SLC products. In theory SLC drives should be faster although the latest controllers found in the new MLC SSDs work quite well. On the other hand, SLC products seem to offer better data protection since they produce less read/write cycles.
3. Flashing the SSD
We installed the OCZ Vertex 60GB SSD to our test PC. The CrystalDiskInfo 2.7.4 software provided the basic information about the drive under Windows Vista. The drive uses 60GB of RAM and supports the S.M.A.R.T., NCQ and "TRIM" technologies.
According to Wikipedia, the TRIM command is an instruction issued from the operating system to an SSD. The purpose of the instruction is to maintain the speed of the SSD throughout its lifespan, avoiding the slowdown that early models encountered once all of the cells had been written to on the first pass. Although tools are are available to "reset" drives to a fresh state, they also delete all data on the drive which makes it impractical to use as an optimization. The command is similar to the process of defragmentation on a HDD, except that it occurs on-the-fly instead of running as a dedicated process.
So far no operating system supports the TRIM command. TRIM has already been implemented in Windows 7 release candidate, but until solid state drives are updated with firmware that can understand the command, it will simply be ignored. Although SSD makers have not yet offered support for TRIM, some drives including the OCZ Vertex have a specialized tool called wiper.exe that claims to use TRIM on demand. However, it is actually a specialized defragmentation tool for SSD's (regular defragmentation tools do not work on SSD's). It simply clears unused space, while TRIM actually informs the controller about unused space, allowing the controller to continuously manage resources for best performance:
This utility can be used with limited SSD models.
Just before we had finished the benchmarks for the drive, OCZ Technology released a new firmware revision 1.30 (1571) that was supposed to further increase the drive's performance. Below is the change list according to OCZ:
- Host program lost drives if NAND BIST is run on multiple drives.
- Read Fail handling
- ATA Security Command didn't’t work as expected.
- Race condition occurred during soft reset handler
- ATA Security Command didn't’t work in AHCI mode.
- If read fail occurs during reading stamp information, firmware corrupted block 0.
- Power off recovery had bug in certain circumstances
- If host sends invalid SMART subcommands, Abort was not sent to host.
- SMART attribute data was not initialized properly for certain fields.
- Improper handling of ATA command when sent with 0 sector count
- Remaining life expectancy calculation is implemented.
Let's flash the SSD to the new firmware. We begin with the creation of a DOS boot disc. Alternatively you can use the bootable disc that OCZ offers for download. For this upgrade you don't have to use any jumper on the back of the drive, at least if your drive has 1.10 firmware installed.
We start the upgrade procedure with a boot under DOS and a navigation to the VT60 folder:
The next step is to simply run the " fwupdate.exe" file:
The firmware upgrade takes only a few seconds to complete. Restart the the system and you are ready to go:
With the new firmware installed we fired up the CrystalDiskInfo software again. Nothing has changed as you can see below:
However, after spending some time at OCZ's forums we got some interesting information about some important SMART flags. According to the posts , the D0 and D1 flags do represent something for the SSD users. For example the D0 equals with the Erase count Average, while the
D1 equals with the Remaining drive life. If your drive starts to fail, the the D1 value will start to degrade and you will be prompted to backup your data in another storage medium.
Here is our testbed:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-920 Retail
- Motherboard: Asus P6T Deluxe BIOS 1201
- Memory: Crucial PC3-1066 3x1GB @ DDR3-1600 (CL8)
- Main HDD: WD 800JD
- VGA: MSI 7600GT Silent
- Windows VISTA x64 SP2 64bit with all the latest updates installed
For all the tests we made sure that the "enable advanced performance" had been was selected. We used the following benchmark software with their settings left to the default values:
- HDTachRW v18.104.22.168
- HD Tune v3.50 Pro
- Crystal DiskMark v2.2.2
- ATTO Disk Benchmark
- ASS SSD Benchmark 1.0345
- IOMeter v2006.07.27 with Xtreme Benchmark template
We start our tests with the HDTachRW software. The drive starts reading at 160MB/sec, accelerates to 220MB/sec at the 9GB mark and further at 230MB/sec later on. The result is an average reading speed of 216MB/sec. The writing part is almost linear at 120MB/sec. The reported random access time was just 0.1msec.
According to the HD TunePro software the drive's average reading speed was 184MB/sec:
Random reading was also fast:
The HD Tune Pro writing tests gave around 115MB/secs (read), much lower than what HDTachRW previously reported:
The Random write tests look pretty good:
Finally the PCMark Vantage x64 gave really high scores to the Vertex SSD:
Below are more tests from ATTO Disk Benchmark, CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD Benchmark. All tests showed a quite good performance in both reading and writing tests:
The drive scored 174 points at the AS SSD Benchmark
We also performed some IOMeter tests using the Xtreme Benchmark template . The Vertex 60GB drive seems to be much faster than the JMikron-based products (Warp v2 and Apex), but slower (as expected) than the Torqx 128GB SSD drive. We also found interesting that the 1.10 firmware gave better IOMeter results than the latest 1.30 version. Here you can see all the results of the drive with the Ver. 1.10 (previous) firmware installed.
5. Final thoughts
OCZ's Vertex 60GB drive proved to be fast and costs more or less $200, making it very appealing for entry-level users seeking for a quiet and very fast SSD. The Indilinx controller with 64MB cache onboard makes the difference here and ensures a shutter-free operation . OCZ continues to improve the product with frequent firmware upgrades and the latest Ver1.30 made the drive really stable. Moreover, the firmware upgrade didn't erase the data stored in the drive as we have experienced with other SSD's.
The product also supports the TRIM commands, which means that it will behave even better under the upcoming Windows 7 operating system. For now, the Vertex series works like charm with the e wiper.exe utility, a specialized defragmentation tool for SSD's. (regular defragmentation tools do not work on SSD's.). Once the drive's performance degrade, the e utility will recover most of its original speed.
OCZ Technology has a very active forum where users can read more information and get tips on how to improve the performance of their SSD's. It is really good to see that OCZ supports users in the best possible way!
Getting the 60GB version will cost you less than $200, which is a reasonable price tag. OCZ's 3- year warranty is also there to make you feel confident with the Vertex drive. It seems that you cannot really go wrong with buying this product. Good work OCZ!
+ Very high reading/writing speeds match the drive's nominal specs
+ 3 years of warranty
+ 64MB Cache buffer permanently solves 'stuttering' problem
+ Supports TRIM command with wiper.exe
+ Upgrading the firmware to the latest revision doesn't erase data
+ OCZ offers very active forums and constant support with new firmware releases
+ Price is below $200
- Firmware upgrade is performed under DOS although OCZ offers a bootable solution
- No 3.5" mounting kit