Vector is OCZ’s first SSD release since the ushering in of a new CEO and fresh perspective on its direction. It’s also the first SSD to come equipped with both in-house firmware and controller. In effect, OCZ has built its Vector SSD from the ground up with its rich internal resources – has it paid off?
OCZ Technology is a company that has continued to make a name for itself even after transitioning from a primarily DRAM manufacturer to an SSD manufacturer. The rapid release cycle of new SSD models and lingering impressions from the SandForce era (which admittedly affected every SandForce SSD maker out there) didn’t do any favors to OCZ’s reputation, but things appear to be changing.
OCZ abruptly shook things up with a new CEO near the end of last year, and since then has issued several announcements to make the point that the company is making changes to how things were done. Instead of focusing on quantity to win the SSD market, OCZ is switching to a focus on quality, meaning the company will no longer continue its rapid release of new SSD families. In statements given at the end of 2012, OCZ indicated it would also be cleaning house to cull the extremely diverse range of OCZ-branded SSD families it currently offers. That OCZ could easily have released the Vector and branded it as a “Vertex 5”, yet didn’t, already shows that the company has adopted a new approach. But, there is plenty of evidence showing the Vector is the start of this clean break.
The best example by far is simply letting the Vector speak for itself. Its performance isn’t just exemplary, it is the best we’ve seen to date in many of our benchmarks. But more importantly, the consistency of the performance was also significantly better. We test all SSDs in a thoroughly “dirtied” state, yet the Vector repeatedly delivered the same results across multiple runs in many applications. Minimum disk performance was also significantly better than its predecessor, which is important to note given how similar the two drives are on paper.
The all-aluminum housing of the Vector is the starkest example of differences compared to past OCZ SSDs. The Vector not only has heft but exudes the feel of a quality, durable product. We suspect somebody at OCZ must’ve recently walked across the street to visit Apple HQ. OCZ has even upgraded the usual included disk cloning & restore software into a registered copy of Acronis True Image (software we highly recommend).
Overall, the Vector is the best SSD we have seen yet. It has strong performance all-around without compromising any single type of performance to do so, and performance consistency was noticeably better than the other SSDs. In particular, sequential read and write performance as well as 4K Random performance at higher queue depths are the strongest points of this drive. As more points in the Vector’s favor, it doesn’t rely on the use of compressible data nor does it require the same over-provisioning requirements as SandForce drives to achieve its results (eg: 256GB instead of 240GB, before formatting).
That just leaves us with the issue of price. Launch MSRP for the 256GB Vector was a remarkably high $270, but we are significantly relieved to note that as of the time of this writing, it can be had for $240 from several major retailers. That still gives it a modest ~$30-40 price premium over drives like the m4 or most SandForce-based SSDs, but in exchange one can expect to get higher sustained, consistent performance and a longer 5-year warranty.
Clearly, the Vector is not a mid-range SSD, but slots in as a premium model offering for consumers desiring the best performance without compromise. It ticks all the right boxes and delivers on all four major aspects of SSD performance while still delivering the lowest latency and most consistency between benchmark runs. And it offers a 5-year warranty, just as any SSD of this pedigree should have. If you are looking for the best SSD currently on the market and are willing to pay a slight premium to get it, then the OCZ Vector is unmistakably at the top of that list.
OCZ Vector SSD