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OCZ Vertex 4 240GB SATA 6Gbit/s SSD Review
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by Robert Tanner on July 3, 2012 in Solid-State Drives

The Vertex is back, and this time it features more OCZ than ever before! (No, we’re not kidding.) Powered by its latest Everest 2 platform, the Vertex 4 is a completely in-house SSD that not only brings Indilinx back to the table, but very well has the potential to be the most reliable Vertex-branded SSD we’ve ever seen.

Real-World: Batch Tests

These tests are perhaps the most important in our battery of benchmarks as they give us a wide range of real-world results. They range from very light to downright grueling, and will showcase which drives can shine under the most demanding scenarios they might encounter in your personal system. Few computer users run their tasks in a vacuum; often several programs are in use concurrently while others are running in the background.

To excel in these tasks the SSD controller and firmware will need to be well-balanced. It will need to have excellent random read, small random write capability, and still have enough sequential writes to get the job done quickly. It is admittedly hard for an SSD controller to be optimized for all three things at once, and typically some SSDs are only optimized for sequential writes at the expense of everything else. Still, fast access times will give any SSD an inherent advantage over a mechanical hard drive.

First up is our light batch test. This test is a simple batch file placed into the startup folder, which Windows 7 will automatically execute at startup. This is perhaps the most directly relevant test to our readers, as almost everyone has to endure boot times and then the additional time it takes for their usual or favorite programs to load before they can start using their system.

The batch file will open four websites in Firefox, load five 5MB or greater images in Photoshop CS5, and open a document in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint each, which adds an additional 15MB. As a final measure, a few small system monitoring applications are started, a 3MB PDF file and zip archive are both opened for viewing, and while everything proceeds to load, an old, favorite FLAC music file (56MB) is loaded into Winamp for playback. If it sounds like the light batch file needs to go on a diet, then the results should surprise!

Our Medium batch test is similar although timers are built in to space out the user commands. Time begins counting from the launch of the batch file and ends when all tasks have completed. The medium test consists of the following:

  • Playback of a 56MB FLAC music file in Winamp.
  • 50 ~8MB JPEGs queued to open in Photoshop CS5 64-bit.
  • Opening of three Excel, three Word, and one PowerPoint files (various large sizes, for example one Excel file consists of a 72MB database).
  • Browsing to four different websites in Firefox.
  • Extraction of a 1GB RAR containing numerous “program file” folders (2.1GB uncompressed).
  • Extraction of an 4.5GB ZIP containing 500 RAW images.
  • Copy of a 4.5GB file to a separate location on the same drive.
  • Viewing of two PDF documents.
  • Viewing of two small RAR utility archives
  • Execution of four small system utilities
  • Launching of Adobe Lightroom

To keep things simple, the heavy batch test is identical to the medium test in all respects save for one key difference. Computer users should be familiar with the slowdown or even molasses-like feel that occurs from an anti-virus scan running in the background. The heavy test will capitalize on this by running an anti-virus scan from Microsoft Security Essentials on a static, unchanging 5.1GB test folder that contains 19,748 files and 2,414 sub-folders copied from the Program Files directory. Because it is otherwise identical, results from the medium & heavy batch tests are directly comparable.

Granted, even with a Core i7 processor, no computer user using a hard drive would be performing all of these tasks concurrently unless they wish to see their computer go unresponsive for up to 30 minutes at a time, but with an SSD this is almost child’s play. For a good quality SSD, the above isn’t even enough to make the system crawl or go unresponsive. Playing a game with an anti-virus scan in the background without losing FPS is very possible. So if this sort of system abuse, or “multitasking” sounds vaguely like your daily routine when you sit down at the PC, then an SSD may be of interest to you.

So after quite a few paragraphs and a single large graph, how does the Vertex 4 shape up? Very well, as it turns out. The V4 is able to go toe-to-toe with the SandForce-powered Vertex 3 in the medium and heavy batch tests, and deliver respectable results in the light startup test.

The Vertex 4 delivers a respectable 42 second startup time in the light batch test, placing it within three seconds of the fastest result in our graph. Compare this to the 169 seconds an average 2TB hard drive would require, meaning the Vertex 4 can boot Windows 7, start and load files into Photoshop CS5, and start some commonly used programs in under one minute, or a mere fourth of the time required for a hard disk drive.

If the light batch test was a 100 meter dash, then the medium test is more like a 500 meter relay event. The Vertex 4 turns in a time of 205 seconds which is impeccably within four seconds of the quickest SSD result we have seen. This is close enough to be considered a tie, really. While this equates to 3.5 minutes, the HDD took a full 10.5 minutes to complete the same task.

The heavy batch test is where things get really interesting. If sticking to our sprinting analogy this would be akin to the same 500 meter relay as before, but with all the runners carrying a 30lb backpack strapped to their backs. Weaker SSD controllers will struggle here, but despite adding the 5GB program file folder anti-virus scan the Vertex 4 only needed an additional 17 seconds to complete the race. This is a few seconds faster than the V3 and a full 26 seconds quicker than the m4. By comparison, the poor HDD walked across the finish line more than 10 minutes after the V4.