by Robert Tanner on June 2, 2010 in Solid-State Drives
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.
As we started to mention at the beginning of this review, Crucial’s RealSSD C300 has been plagued with several different post-launch firmware issues, one of them being a slim chance of the drive reaching a nearly “bricked” state under certain usage scenarios. While the chance was extremely slim this was still a real problem that, while quickly addressed, in turn created a second serious issue.
Namely, that the process of updating the firmware ended up actually bricking some drives instead of inoculating them against that previous chance of drive failure. It turned that the software tool that performs the firmware update itself conflicted with specific motherboard setups, and Crucial is just about to release a modified software stack after they are sufficiently satisfied that no more issues will result.
Quality assurance and validation of major computer hardware components that are intended for widespread adoption across wildly differing computer setups is not easy, in fact early on Intel had very similar issues with their own SSDs. As with Crucial, the firmware updating process also ended up bricking some users X25-M G1 drives and was yanked, and then a similar event happened all over again after the launch of Intel’s X25-M G2 drives!
We aren’t trying to scare you into backing up all data stored on a SSD (although you should be doing this anyway!), but to instead point out that these issues have not occurred with the Vertex 2 and other SandForce drives. This gives it a clear edge in our mind over the Vertex 2’s only real competitor, the RealSSD C300. Our tiny tangent into the annuls of SSD history might make for a lot of reading, but it is important to add context to our recommendations and we feel it adds more meaning to them as well when readers can see where we are coming from.
So, that just leaves Intel’s X25-M G2 SSDs. These drives truly set the benchmark by which all over SSDs were compared against, and for good reason. By sporting the highest IOPs and 4KB random write performance these drives were able to compete even against drives that offered twice the sequential write speed. Alas the pace of technology has marched onwards and these drives, while still fast in their own right, are no longer the quickest drives available.
It doesn’t help that Intel’s 80GB G2 is still firmware limited to 80MB/s writes (only the 160GB G2 is limited to 100MB/s). With the help of the Kingston 40GB drive in our tests (Which uses the Intel G2 controller) and from comparing other results we can safely say OCZ’s specially tweaked Vertex 2 can not only offer higher small file IOPS but almost double the write throughput of comparable Intel drives. This is simply astounding.
OCZ has taken the well-known Vertex series, an admittedly already powerful drive, and taken things up to a new level entirely with its successor the Vertex 2. This SandForce powered SSD will easily live up to the Vertex name and then some. Despite its distinctly unique controller design there just are no weak spots, no caveats, and no asterisks with fine print with the Vertex 2 to hold it back. There is only one issue that will be a problem for the Vertex 2, and that is simply price.
As if aiming to fix even that, there is some good news about the pricing of these drives. As it stands (at the time of this review) the Vertex 2 can be found for $385, which works out to be $3.85 per GB. When OCZ releases another specially tweaked firmware all 100GB drives will become 120GB drives (With increases for other drive sizes, of course). This little fact sneakily changes the price per GB of the 120GB Vertex 2 to a more palatable $3.20 per GB, which we consider to be far more reasonable than the $4 per GB these drives debuted at. We focus on the 100GB model, because as a general rule of thumb most 100-128GB SSDs have the best price-per-GB ratios.
So, several lengthy paragraphs later we have absolutely no hesitancy in recommending the Vertex 2 as the best SSD to get. It may not offer SATA 3 (6Gb/s) and SandForce’s controller operation is extremely unusual to put it mildly, but we have to say neither seems to matter as the end result is still a SSD that had put forth some of the most remarkably consistent and impressive results during repeated test runs. We praised this quality with the Vertex Turbo as it shows users can expect consistent, excellent performance from their SSD after continued use, but OCZ has truly done one better with the Vertex 2.
OCZ’s Vertex 2
June 2 Addendum: This review was originally posted without an Editor’s Choice award logo, which was an error on our part due to editing.
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