by Robert Tanner on June 2, 2010 in Storage
Are you interested in equipping yourself with one of the fastest SSD’s on the planet? If so, then OCZ’s Vertex 2 is the one you want to keep an eye on. Thanks to its tweaked SandForce SF-1200 controller, the Vertex 2 is the fastest SSD we’ve ever tested, dominating almost every single one of our tests.
It has been a long time coming, but today we can add one of, if not the current absolute best of solid-state drives to our ever growing database of SSD results. OCZ’s Vertex 2 shouldn’t need any introduction by now, but this drive is the official version of the OCZ Vertex Limited Edition model, and a successor to the original Vertex series.
OCZ does plan to continue selling the Vertex series alongside the Vertex 2, which we are very glad to hear. Needless to say with this pedigree price is not a primary concern, this drive is simply all about performance. Enthusiasts concerned with getting the best value should consider the original Vertex series. Thanks to the SandForce SF-1200 powering this drive combined with OCZ’s tweaked firmware, the Vertex 2 has no qualm flaunting its remarkable performance.
As a short recap, the only genuine competitor to SandForce has been the Crucial RealSSD C300 which combines a Marvell controller with a customized firmware. If that sounds familiar it might be because Western Digital took a similar approach by taking a JMicron controller and trashed the firmware in favor using its own in-house design in the SiliconEdge Blue series. Even so, those drives are nowhere near the same performance class as OCZ’s Vertex 2 or the RealSSD C300.
Indilinx isn’t sitting still either, with the past success of its Barefoot controller (which powered the original Vertex, no less), it is hard at work developing its next generation controller known as the “Jet Stream”, but so far little else is known and a launch date is still far enough into the future to not be worth waiting for if you are already in the market for a high-performance SSD.
This leaves the RealSSD C300 as the Vertex 2’s only performance-comparable competition, but unfortunately for Crucial (a subsidiary of Micron) the picture hasn’t been as rosy as current owners of the C300 can doubtlessly attest. We will expand on this more in the article’s conclusion when discussing our recommendations.
OCZ’s Vertex 2 solid-state drive is not very remarkable in appearance, but honestly we know it’s what is hidden inside the metal housing that really counts. What primarily differentiates the Vertex 2 from its slightly cheaper cousin (Agility 2) is that the V2 uses slightly better Micron NAND (The Agility 2 uses IMFT NAND) and a specially tweaked firmware to unlock the higher small random write capabilities that the SF-1200 is capable of achieving. Otherwise the Agility 2 is the same as the Vertex 2.
The drive packaging is solid and there should be zero issues with shipping these units. To our surprise there was one minor change from past OCZ packaging we immediately noticed, however. Tucked into the back of the foam housing is a steel mounting plate that serves as a 2.5″ to 3.5″ drive adapter. We think this is a nice touch and so far is the easiest adapter to use that we have seen included with any of the SSDs we have tested.
If all the Vertexes have left you feeling hexed, we put together a small table to sort them out. Prices on the original Vertex series have since come down (we have seen the 120GB Vertex Turbo as low as $280 on sale a few times!), but with the Vertex 2 things are once again a little more straight forward. Performance will be as good as the Vertex LE (if not better) as the firmware continues to be improved upon and updated. The Vertex 2 series is warrantied against failure for three years, which is comparable to most mechanical hard drives.
50, 100, 200, 400, 480
30, 60, 120, 250
|Vertex Turbo |
Indilinx Barefoot (OC’d)
30, 60, 120
|Vertex Mac Edition |
30, 60, 120, 250
|Vertex EX |
Indilinx Barefoot (LC)
|Vertex Limited Edition |
Speaking of firmware updates, we have confirmed with OCZ that all Agility 2 and Vertex 2 SSDs will receive a new firmware that reduces over-provisioning of SandForce drives. What this means is all current Vertex 2 and Agility 2 drive owners will get a jump in useable capacity on these drives. So for example the 100GB Vertex 2 would in effect become a 120GB Vertex 2, with no tangible loss in performance.
The short explanation is that all SSDs have more NAND capacity than advertised, as NAND capacity must always be a power of 2. (32GB, 64GB, 128GB, just like RAM). So today’s Vertex 2 really has 128GB of storage, but only 100GB was addressable by the end user. Increasing this limit to 120GB still leaves approximately 8GB of spare area for the drive to use for various purposes.