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OCZ Vertex Turbo 120GB

Date: March 19, 2010
Author(s): Robert Tanner

Making the decision to upgrade to an SSD isn’t difficult, but finding the “perfect” SSD is a different story thanks to the sheer amount of choice out there; sometimes even from the same vendor! Fortunately, OCZ’s Vertex Turbo delivers a great blend of performance and GB per dollar, making it well worth consideration.



Introduction

OCZ’s Vertex series of solid-state drives have become quite the sensation, as anyone following SSD developments will tell you. They were the first official competition to Intel’s X25 solid-state drives and by offering much higher sequential write speeds from the start, were able to hold their own as subsequent firmware updates continued to improve upon small file and IOP performance.

However, it was the eventual addition of TRIM support that they have become one of the most sought after SSDs, with the only exception possibly being Intel’s own X25 G2 drives.

Of course anyone that actually follows the progress of SSDs will also be quick to point out there are two über-fast SSDs currently arriving on the market that push the performance envelope to the edge of SATA’s 3Gb/s capabilities. In fact one of them will even surpass it, requiring the newly-minted SATA 6Gb/s interface to attain maximum performance.

The catch, though, is that the Sandforce-equipped Vertex 2 (and so named Vertex Limited Edition) drives are launching at over a $4 per GB prices, and the cheapest Crucial RealSSD C300 will slot in at $500. While either of those drives will deliver performance only dreamed of, the $500+ starting prices will ensure most keep on dreaming.

That is where today’s review of OCZ’s Vertex Turbo comes in. The vanilla 120GB Vertex can be found at a much more affordable ~$2.41 per GB for the 120GB model, and even the 120GB Vertex Turbo is more palatable at $3 per GB. Although the drive in today’s review is the Turbo version, the standard Vertex model is going to offer similar performance.

Both drives use the same NAND flash via four channels; the only difference being that the Indilinx Barefoot controllers in the Turbo models have been binned by OCZ as higher-quality silicon capable of supporting an overclock, operating at 180MHz instead of the standard 166MHz. This is great if the controller was the sole bottleneck, however in the case of the Barefoot controller used in the Vertex, the NAND flash and lower number of flash channels will ensure performance is fairly close between the Turbo and non-Turbo models.

OCZ Vertex Turbo 120GB Solid-State Drive

OCZ is a company that isn’t afraid to get the job done right, and on the eve of the product launch it went back to Indilinx to get the drive firmware modified to fix initial performance issues that were found within the Barefoot controller. Needless to say, this delayed the company’s launch plans as it waited until it had the revised firmware in house and installed on every drive before any were shipped to retailers.

After several more subsequent firmware updates that other companies began adopting (one of which enabled TRIM support), OCZ took it one step further and began refining the Vertex firmware itself. It started releasing its own updates, giving the Vertex a slight edge over other drives featuring the same controller due to the extra tweaking. If you are looking for an affordable, high-performing, and reliable SSD, then the Vertex series is a great choice thanks to the long track record of excellent support by OCZ.

As if to prove the old adage that good things come in small packages, the Vertex and Vertex Turbo come in a small, innocuous looking package. Inside, the SSD is firmly nestled in a foam frame and anti-static bag, with an included sheet that covers details about the warranty.

OCZ Vertex Turbo 120GB Solid-State Drive OCZ Vertex Turbo 120GB Solid-State Drive

It is worth a brief mention that the booklet mentions a one-year warranty while some misinformation online indicates the warranty is two years. The Vertex is an older, venerable drive and at one point OCZ extended the warranty on them to a full three years from initial date of purchase.

Series
NAND
Controller
Read/Write
Price
Density (GBs)
Warranty
Vertex
MLC
Indilinx Barefoot
250/180 MB/s
$329
30, 60, 120, 250
3 Years
Vertex Turbo
MLC
Indilinx Barefoot (OC’d)
270/200 MB/s
$389
30, 60, 120
3 Years
Vertex Mac Edition
MLC
Indilinx Barefoot
240/170 MB/s
$400
30, 60, 120, 250
3 Years
Vertex EX
SLC
Indilinx Barefoot (LC)
260/200 MB/s
$1,200
60, 120
3 Years
Vertex Limited Edition
MLC
SandForce SF-1500
270/250 MB/s
$430
100, 200
3 Years
Vertex 2
MLC
SandForce SF-1200
Future Release
3 Years

OCZ offers several SSDs in addition to the performance-oriented Vertex series, but for the sake of simplicity we will focus on just the Vertex series here. As our table illustrates, there are quite a few models out there in just the Vertex lineup alone, but in actuality there are only two drives we really need to focus on.

As I already mentioned, the Vertex Turbo uses a higher-clocked cache and Barefoot controller, but the performance gains are not going to be significant. The Mac edition is self-evident, and the Vertex EX series is a server/enterprise oriented drive that is priced well outside the consumer market.

That leaves us with the Vertex LE, which as the name suggests will be a limited edition run with the SF-1500 SandForce controller. After this initial run, OCZ is planning to launch the Vertex 2 as a more permanent model. The catch, however, is that it will only be using the slightly slower SF-1200 controller.

At least for the interim, the longstanding Vertex will stick around awhile longer and at even lower price points than ever before. At the time of this article the 120GB Vertex can be had for $329, and OCZ is presently offering an additional $40 mail in rebate.

Drive Internals; Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate and real-world applicable as possible. We list most of the steps and processes involved in setting up and conducting our benchmarking process below, but in the interests of brevity we can’t mention every last detail. If there is any pertinent information that we’ve inadvertently omitted or you have any thoughts, suggestions, or critiques, then please feel free to email us or post directly in our forums. This site exists for readers like you and we value your input.

The table below lists the hardware used in our current storage-testing machine, which remains unchanged throughout all of our testing, with the obvious exception of the storage device. Each drive used for the sake of comparison is also listed here.

Component
Techgage Hard Drive Test System
Processor
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 – 2.4GHz Quad-Core
Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS4
Memory
4GB Corsair 800MHz CAS 4
Graphics
Foxconn 8800 GTS 320MB
Audio
On-Board Audio
Storage
Intel X25-M G1 80GB
Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB
Kingston SSDNow V+ Series 128GB
OCZ Summit 60GB
OCZ Vertex Turbo 120GB
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB
Power Supply
PC Power & Cooling Quad Silencer 750W
Cooling
Arctic Freezer 7 Pro
Et cetera
Lite-on DVD-RW
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit


Our Windows 7 Desktop for SSD Testing

When preparing our SSD testbed for testing we follow these guidelines:

All solid-state drives start in a factory fresh or HDDErase fresh state prior to testing. Windows 7 is manually installed and then SYSmark 2007 Preview is installed. Due to the nature of SYSmark, Windows 7 must be reinstalled upon completion of testing in order for many programs to function normally and benchmark consistently. As not all SSDs support TRIM technology, this process is important and ensures all of the drives are in a “dirtied” state before we collect the benchmark results.

For the time-being, cloned test images are not used as these can result in non-aligned partitions, which if it occurs will result in degraded SSD performance. Just as with Windows XP’s default sector offset causing degraded SSD performance, non-intelligent cloning software can have the same effect.

For testing, we ran all tests five times, dropping the highest and lowest results to finally average the middle three. And who said that college statistics class wouldn’t prove useful? If any anomalous results were seen, the test was run again. Given the complexities of modern computers, and especially today’s operating systems, we feel this provides the most accurate results possible.

Finally, we are seeking to constantly improve and expand upon our SSD testing methodology. We are activity seeking real-world workload scenarios that are bottlenecked by hard drives, so if you have any suggestions whatsoever or there is a program you would like to see included in our SSD content, then please drop by our forums and let us know! We are always looking to expand our SSD benchmarks and provide more useful and real-world results, and not just synthetic numbers.

Synthetic: PCMark Vantage

There are few PC enthusiasts who are unfamiliar with the name “Futuremark”, as the Finland-based developer has been producing quality benchmarks to help us gauge our computer’s worth for years. Originally known as Madonion, Futuremark has expanded its focus to go beyond its bread and butter, graphics and gaming, and tackle other areas, such as full system performance. That’s where PCMark comes into play.

The company’s most recent addition to the PCMark family is Vantage. For most users, a full suite would be run, but because we’re focused on storage performance only, we instead run only the storage-specific tests. Fortunately, Futuremark makes this easy for us to do as it has split up the entire suite into seven separate sub-tests, one being the aptly named “HDD Suite”.

PCMark’s HDD Suite may look simple on the surface, but it’s actually quite exhaustive. While the benchmark does deliver a simple “overall” result, it actually tests I/O performance based on a variety of scenarios, from adding music to Windows Media Player, to loading applications in succession, to editing video, to running a malware scanner, and more. It even includes metrics to evaluate a simulated Windows Vista boot time, so Futuremark has done a fine job of combining many useful scenarios into a single button press.

The OCZ Vertex Turbo wades right into the middle of the pack in the overall score, but thanks in part to its blend of high sustained writes and better small file writes (think 4KB sizes) it easily takes the overall HDD Suite score. Taking a closer look at the HDD tests it’s easily obvious the Vertex is all over the charts. While the test results were a little unusual in some graphs, such as the Windows Media Center and video editing tests, they were repeatable. The Vertex seems particularly well suited for any sort of encoding or high bit-rate video tasks.

Of course we can’t forget about the lonely hard disk drive in these charts. One can’t gauge (gage?) how far one has progressed without a clear point of reference and the Seagate Barracuda serves as a good one. It is hard to see just how good SSDs are until you place them side-by-side with a typical desktop drive, and then the differences suddenly became absurd. There just isn’t any other kind of easy, widely available upgrade for the PC that can give these sorts of performance gains today in everyday tasks.

The performance differences between SSDs may seem significant in these charts, but the typical person would be hard pressed to differentiate which SSD was which when placed in their system. The only drive that would stick out loudly during use would be the HDD.

Synthetic: Iometer & AS SSD

Iometer 2006.07.27

Originally developed by Intel, and since given to the open-source community, Iometer (pronounced “eyeawmeter”, like thermometer) is one of the best storage-testing applications available, for a couple of reasons. The first, and primary, is that it’s completely customizable, and if you have a specific workload you need to hit a drive with, you can easily accomplish it here. Also, the program delivers results in IOPS (input/output operations per second), a common metric used in enterprise and server environments.

The level of customization cannot be understated. Aside from choosing the obvious figures, like chunk sizes, you can choose the percentage of the time that each respective chunk size will be used in a given test. You can also alter the percentages for read and write, and also how often either the reads or writes will be random (as opposed to sequential). I’m just touching the surface here, but what’s most important is that we’re able to deliver a consistent test on all of our drives, which increases the accuracy in our results.

Because of the level of control Iometer offers, we’ve created profiles for three of the most popular workloads out there: Database, File Server and Workstation. Database uses chunk sizes of 8KB, with 67% read, along with 100% random coverage. File Server is the more robust of the group, as it features chunk sizes ranging from 512B to 64KB, in varying levels of access, but again with 100% random coverage. Lastly, Workstation focuses on 8KB chunks with 80% read and 80% random coverage.

Because these profiles aren’t easily found on the Web, with the same being said about the exact structure of each, we’re hosting the software here for those who want to benchmark their own drives with the exact same profiles we use. That ZIP archive (~3.5MB) includes the application and the three profiles in an .icf file.

Scenarios such as these are pretty much the bane of hard drives and illustrate why 15,000RPM SCSI drives exist. Ironically, despite Iometer being created well before SSDs even were around, the nature of the tests are going to inherently favor them due to their rapid, near-instantaneous access times. While we do not have a 15,000RPM or VelociRaptor drive to use for reference, the numbers generated by them would only be little better than the desktop drive here due to the large number of tiny random reads and writes to be made across the platter surface.

The large number of 512B to 4KB mixed reads and writes in the File Server scenario will also be the anathema of any SSD controller that was designed primarily for large sequential read & write performance. We can gauge which candidates have the most potential to suffer from performance stuttering with these tests. Very small, random file operations are the worst offenders as they stress the controller the most.

If the SSD controller becomes backlogged, it will exacerbate the stuttering, causing file operations that should take milliseconds to instead take almost a full second (or even more) to complete, only compounding the problem. Unfortunately, the Summit happens to use a Samsung controller optimized solely for large, single sequential writes and makes for a good example as a warning of what to look for.

In the Database and Workstation tests, 8KB file sizes are used. The heavier focus on writes gives the Vertex Turbo a clear advantage over Intel’s first generation X25 in the Database test, although the greater emphasis on random file access and reads in the Workstation test lets it barely edge out the Vertex. The most notable thing to take from these results is the strength of the Barefoot controller, as even the raw speed of the SSDNow V+’s fast Toshiba controller isn’t enough with small file operations to let it play ball here.

AS SSD

As the name might hint, AS SSD is a nifty little program written exclusively for SSDs. It can be run on mechanical hard drives, but be warned that what should take minutes will take over an hour to benchmark! This handy little tool provides several read/write tests at important file sizes, but also includes a benchmark to simulate the transfer of three types of large files.

We selected this program for its precision, ability to generate large file sizes on the fly, and that it is written to bypass Windows 7’s automatic caching system. The tool does not bypass any onboard cache.

Again the emphasis is on different types of small file operations, as the majority of everyday disk activity involves numerous small file reads with a lower percentage of smaller writes. The X25’s strongest suit has always been read speeds, however the Vertex Turbo comes within spitting distance in the sequential test. For the smaller file reads it matches or beats the X25-M G1.

The X25-M’s largest shortcoming (which is also true for the G2 models) has always been writes. Despite having a lower total write speed than the Kingston V+ drive, better small file handling gives the Vertex a clear lead here.

As for access times, nothing should need to be said here. Access times are exactly why a RAID array will never be the equal of any decent SSD, as adding drives together in RAID does not decrease the access latency to the data. Amusingly AS SSD seems to favor the X25-M G2 controller inside the 40GB “V series” drive, but otherwise the Vertex comes out on top in the final scores.

Synthetic: SYSmark 2007 Preview

Synthetic benchmarks have typically been favored for performance testing, but the results they provide can be fairly abstract, and the methods they use to assign their scores can be dubious at times. By contrast, real-world application benchmarks provide performance metrics that apply directly to real-world usage, and we endeavor to apply both in our performance comparisons.

SYSmark 2007 Preview from BAPCO is a special case, because its synthetic scores are derived from tests in real-world applications. However, we still believe that synthetic benchmarking scores are best used to directly compare the performance of one piece of hardware to another, and not for developing an impression of real-world performance expectations. SYSmark is more useful than most synthetic benchmarking programs in our opinion, because its tests emulate tasks that people actually perform, in actual software programs that they are likely to use.

The benchmark is hands-free, using scripts to execute all of the real-world scenarios identically, such as video editing in Sony Vegas and image manipulation in Adobe Photoshop. At the conclusion of the suite of tests, five scores are delivered: an E-learning score, a Video Creation score, a Productivity score, and a 3D Performance score, as well as an aggregated ‘Overall’ score. These scores can still be fairly abstract, and are most useful for direct comparisons between test systems.

A quick note on methodology: SYSmark 2007 requires a clean install of Windows 7 64-bit to run optimally. Before any testing is conducted, the hard drive is first wiped clean, and then a fresh Windows installation is conducted, then lastly, the necessary hardware drivers are installed.

SYSmark’s exhaustive battery of recorded real-world usage tests is an important factor when trying to gauge drive performance. According to BAPCo, differences of 3 points in the final scoring should be considered meaningful. Given the age of this test suite, the “Preview” part of the benchmark’s name however, is not.

While our test system appears to be hindering these drives from pulling away from each other in the individual tests, it is clear the traditional platter hard drive still has no hope of keeping up. As if to prove a point, the OCZ Vertex Turbo edges out the pack by a single point in the overall results.

Synthetic: HD Tune Pro 3.5, HD Tach RW3

HD Tune Pro 3.5

HD Tune has long been one of our favorite storage benchmarks, thanks in part to its ease-of-use, and its ability to deliver consistent results (which is obviously important). Since we are using HD Tune on storage devices that also house our OS, we’re unable to test the write performance, so here, we stick to both Read and Access Times.

The Vertex’s performance here is solid, offering anywhere from near to better performance across all five categories without any single weak point, as opposed to most other drives here. Yet again we show access times as these are the hallmark of solid-state drives, and I can’t underscore this point enough. The dirty state of the G1 leaves it with a particularly unfriendly showing here, but even the G1 and other SSDs all put in results an order of magnitude better than the platter-based drive with small file reads.

HD Tach RW/3

HD Tach is a program similar to HD Tune, and although it hasn’t been updated in a few years, it’s still decent for testing SSDs. It offers a different method for calculating burst rates, as well as offering access time measurements below 0.1ms, which is unfortunately the limit for HD Tune. With a massive new program rewrite in the works, we look forward to seeing what the upcoming new version can do.

HD Tach is another program designed to measure platter-based drives (hence the downward curve in the image) but is capable of measuring access times below 0.1ms if the platform is capable of it. Have we mentioned access times enough yet? In any event, the Vertex delivers the highest read results in this program. Oddly the burst results are lower than the average read results, which tells us this program’s burst measurements don’t work right with this drive.

Real-World: File Transfers, Adobe Lightroom

File Transfers

For this test we took a 7.16GB Dual-layer DVD image and timed how long was required to transfer it to a different 10GB partition created on the same drive. Keep in mind with a hard disk, this requires the actuator arm to seek back and forth between the source and destination sectors of the disk platter, while any SSD can instantly read and write to multiple flash chips at once. Still, this is not a test of the raw write speeds of a SSD as the SSD controller cannot read & write to the same parts of the NAND flash simultaneously.

The large sequential nature of a file transfer should favor the hard drive, but all of these SSDs are fast enough that it just doesn’t matter. While the HDD delivers the file in six and a half minutes, the Vertex does so in just a minute and forty-one.

Adobe Lightroom 2.5

For this test we utilize 500 large RAW files, and import them into Lightroom. We time how long it takes the program to import the files, cache them, and build the image library.

Somewhat interesting is that the results are split into two main groups with the Summit only able to tie the hard drive, while the other SSDs clump together around the 3 minute mark. It appears the Lightroom test is not demanding enough, and another system component (likely the CPU) has become the bottleneck here rather than the storage, at least with our faster SSDs. Remember, Lightroom only utilizes two cores when loading and creating its image library, so it is not fully utilizing our quad-core CPU.

Real-World: Batch Tests

This test is perhaps the most important in our battery of benchmarks as it gives us truly real-world results. It is designed to simulate three kinds of multi-tasking scenarios in order to see how well the storage drive can cope with concurrent workloads. The better a drive performs here, the quicker and more responsive it should feel in everyday tasks. It shouldn’t need to be said that this is where SSDs shine and where traditional HDD bottlenecks are most directly experienced.

In addition to stressing the controller with a demanding, large queue to sort through (NCQ support helps here), this test will give any weak controller a complete panic attack by overwhelming it with simultaneous random read/write operations to juggle with large sequential writes, which is the Achilles’ heel of many cheaper SSDs.

Queue depth and IOPs optimizations have long been a strength of Intel’s own SSDs, however, there is enough differing types of workloads here that regardless of drive, every SSD should see some part of the workload playing to its own unique strengths and weaknesses in some fashion. A good-quality SSD should allow the system to remain responsive as the tasks are carried out in the background at all times. (Please for your own safety don’t try this at home on your HDD!)

Our Medium test consists of the following:

Our Heavy test consists of all-the-above in addition to a full Anti-Virus scan running concurrently in the background with the start of the test. The AV scan uses a static, unchanging 5.1GB test folder that contains 19,748 files and 2,414 sub-folders created from the Program Files directory.

Granted, even with a Core i7 processor, no computer user 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! If you think we are exaggerating then just look at what a fairly typical SATA HDD is able to offer, which is a representative sample for any other desktop HDD.

Last but not least, the Light test changes things slightly. This test is a batch file dropped into the Startup folder designed to load several programs as soon as Windows 7 reaches the desktop. This light test will open four websites in Firefox, load five images in Photoshop CS4, start playing our favorite 8 minute (56MB FLAC) music file in Winamp, and open a single large Word, Excel, and PowerPoint document, in addition to a single PDF file. For this specific test in particular, we start measuring from the moment the power button is pressed to the moment the last program and all files have been fully loaded ready for use.

Starting with the simple light test, all of the SSDs are able to boot to Windows 7 64-bit and load all the programs in just over one minute. In the time required for a regular hard disk drive computer to boot, it is possible for an SSD to boot and have fully loaded a multitude of programs and files, as the nearly two and a half minutes for the HDD clearly illustrates. Again our test platform is becoming the bottleneck here as the Vertex ties the previous leader with 68 seconds.

For the medium scenario things begin to get interesting, with the stronger SSD controllers proving they are made of sterner stuff. OCZ’s Vertex Turbo is in a veritable tie for top honors with the Toshiba-based V+ series SSD here. In a roughly over four-and-a-half minutes, the V+ and Vertex drives complete the entire workload while keeping the system responsive and stutter-free!

Requiring close to double the time (7:27), the Intel G1 drive is clearly showing the write bottleneck of 80MB/s and its lack of TRIM support, yet the competition fairs even worse. The now discontinued 40GB V series drive only has half of the normal 10 flash channels and this, as well as the small drive capacity, limit it to a time more than double that (9:11) of the V+ series 128GB SSD! For those like me that are too lazy to do the math, the outclassed mechanical hard disk drive completes the identical scenario in not quite 14 minutes.

As mentioned above the heavy test uses the exact same scenario as the medium test, but includes a concurrent anti-virus scan of a static test folder. Anti-virus scans have long been the bane of computer users, and although they are much better optimized today will still slow down mechanical hard drives. The addition of the anti-virus scan gives the Vertex a impressive time of 7:27, again exactly matching the performance of the Toshiba controller.

Incredibly, the Vertex completes the heavy workload scenario in the exact same time the X25-M G1 drive required just to complete the medium workload test. In other words, the Vertex Turbo can deliver the same performance WITH an ongoing anti-virus scan as the X25-M G1 delivers WITHOUT. That is simply astonishing, and clearly shows not all SSD’s are created equal. If we didn’t know better, judging by these results we would have sworn that the Vertex and SSDNow V+ series drive used the same controller, but of course they do not. Either of these two drives is unquestionably the best for heavy multitasking workloads. Oh, and for those wondering, while the Vertex completed the workload in 7:27, the platter-based drive required an eye-watering 23 minutes and 42 seconds.

We should note that the heavy test would actually begin to overwhelm the hard disk drive as the workload began to pile up behind the bottleneck. The Vertex and SSDNow V+ should be mentioned here as both drives gave the most responsive system even under the heavy multitasking scenario. Not even with the AV scan running did the system lag or stutter. While we would like to give the nod to one of the drives, both seemed to offer a responsive computer that was clearly struggling significantly less under the barrage of program loads and file operations. We honestly would be hard-pressed to even mind using the computer under such workloads as the system remained responsive at all times, unlike some of the other SSDs.

What to take away from this is even with the most brutal of scenarios, it is that SSDs that are best suited for heavy multi-tasking and quite capable of handling any sort of workload you wish to throw at them. Or simply every type of workload at once, it is up to you. It isn’t drive throughput that matters as much as small, random read/write throughput which is a completely different animal. And, with an SSD installed, there is no longer any excuse for not having an anti-virus program installed. ;-)

Real-World: Windows Experience, Boot Times, Game Level Loading

Windows Experience

This is a test that any Windows 7 user can perform on their own system without needing to download anything. For those curious, Vista should allow the same, but we can’t guarantee the results will be directly comparable due to changes made in the WinSAT program. To run the program, hit the Windows Key + R at the same time, and type cmd into the run box. In the command prompt window type (or right-click and paste) the following without quotes: “cd c:windowssystem32” and hit enter. Once there input, again without quotes: “winsat disk -drive c -ran -write -count 10” and enter again.

This command runs a small portion of the Windows Experience Index’s drive assessment, specifically it uses small random writes and calculates how fast in MB/s the drive can sustain it. As we mentioned before with the HD Tune results, regardless of what drive is in question, its actual performance depends on what file size is being referred to. The smaller the file size, generally the lower the performance for a hard disk drive. So again, the small random file writes will be brutal.

The Vertex doesn’t perform quite as spectacularly in this test and falls safely within the middle of the range of results.

Boot Time

For the boot test, we perform a cold boot, with the stopwatch starting the moment the power button is pressed until the last systray icon has finished loading. A large number of factors can change how fast a computer boots, from motherboard to just the BIOS configuration, so these times should not be used as an expectation of how fast the SSD will boot in your respective system. With some newer motherboards condensing the time taken in the boot process, boot times could reach significantly lower than these.

Not much has to be said here. Both the V+ and Vertex tied each other once again.

Game Level Loading

Last, but certainly not least, are the game level-loading times. SSDs tend to improve application load times significantly over their mechanical brethren, and games are no exception.

Crysis is still infamous for how well it could stress the entire PC, and although Crysis Warhead was a significant improvement and much better optimized than its predecessor, it still makes for one of the better gaming benchmarks to use. For this test, we timed how long it took to load the first level, Ambush. We also figured we would use the newer Left 4 Dead 2 game, for its slightly longer-than-average load times. Here, we timed how long it took to load the final chapter in the Hard Rain campaign.

While the difference between the best SSD and the typical HDD almost exactly halves the game loading time, that 15 seconds really doesn’t seem like much in L4D2, or 30 seconds in Crysis Warhead. At least until considering that each level load is one of many, then halving the load time really starts to add up. Some games involve quite a few load points or build them directly into the level (Half Life 2 being a good example), and smoother, more fluid transitions will greatly preserve game the immersion. In which case, for some gamers the answer becomes a definite yes.

Intel’s G1 SSD still reigns at the top in Crysis, but the Vertex performs with the best in both game load tests. Nonetheless any SSD shows a clear advantage over the mechanical hard drive in these game loading tests.

Final Thoughts

The Toshiba controller gives the venerable Vertex a tough competitor, but it isn’t quite as well suited for smaller file IOPs as the Vertex is. On the flipside, the Toshiba-based SSDNow V+ does offer higher sequential file writes with large file sizes, if this is an important consideration for you.

While the Vertex Turbo is equivalent in price to the SSDNow V+ SNVP325, at the time of this review the standard 120GB Vertex model can be had for as little as $290 after rebate from one major online retailer.

This puts it at $2.41 per GB, which is at the same price point currently held by the cheaper, lower-performing JMicron controller-based drives that are on the market. This makes it an extremely good bargain as far as SSD prices tend to go, and is well worth a look if you are currently or soon will be in the market for a SSD.

OCZ offers a 3-year warranty on their Vertex and Vertex Turbo SSDs and has an extensive forum on their website full of advice, guides, and tips to further improve upon their drive’s already solid performance. Of course the Vertex includes NCQ, TRIM, and the standard 2.5″ SSD form-factor ensuring it will work in most laptops as well as desktops.

OCZ Vertex Turbo 120GB Solid-State Drive

With lower power draw than typical hard drives, these SSDs do not get warm and do not make noise. Combined with their significantly higher shock resistance they are perfect for laptops or silent, high-performance computers. We still do not recommend RAIDing SSDs as at the present time enabling RAID will disable TRIM support on any manufacturer’s SSDs.

The performance is already significantly better than even the 10,000K RPM Raptor hard drives and should be more than sufficient for everything except large sequential file transfers. Another thing to consider is that while the 30GB Vertex drives might appear to be more affordable, in most cases users will find they still get a cheaper price per GB by buying a single larger model. Currently 120 – 128GB is the sweet spot in the SSD market and the regular Vertex is no exception.

It is also worth mentioning that while the Indilinx Barefoot controller is used in multiple drives, OCZ has been tuning their own revision of the firmware in-house for awhile now, and so performance will differ a bit from other Barefoot drives running Indilinx’s own firmware. As before, the Vertex Turbo is for all intents and purposes the same drive as the Vertex, just with the controller overclocked for a small boost in performance.

Once at the level where one has a fast quad-core CPU and plenty of 1333MHz or greater RAM the performance gains seen from further upgrades simply diminishes. Sure there is always the next latest graphics card with new features and a higher DirectX version, but honestly nothing else can still give such a computer a very tangible performance boost like an SSD in a modern desktop or laptop.

A strong case can be made for the Vertex series of drives. To make an analogy, the $999 Core i7 980X Extreme Edition offers the undisputed best performance one can get in a desktop CPU today. On the other hand, the $284 Core i7-930 offers “good enough” performance at a much more reasonable price. In reality, the 930 is so good that the only CPU that can beat the Core i7-930 would be a higher clocked model!

In much the same way OCZ’s Vertex is in the same position… it is not as fast as the Vertex 2 or Crucial RealSSD, but it is the much better priced choice, offering performance that is still hard to beat and at $2.41 per GB offers probably the best price/performance ratio of any SSD. As of this writing they offer a lower price/GB ratio on the 120GB model than even Intel’s G2 X25-M series drives while offering anywhere from equivalent to much better performance thanks to their much higher 160MB/s write speed rating (Intel’s 80GB drive is limited to approximately 80MB/s). Not to mention they don’t require an additional investment in a new motherboard with SATA 6Gb/s support for full performance, either!

We should mention that at the time of review Vertex prices were as quoted, but before the article could go live prices fluctuated again with the Vertex. The original Vertex has received a large hike in pricing at several major online stores, despite of (or likely due to) the ongoing rebate program. As of this moment the Vertex Turbo is now officially the cheaper drive than even the regular Vertex, slotting in at $350, which is not only highly unusual but makes the balance between value and performance less straightforward between the now cheaper V+ Kingston and Vertex models. Nonetheless, we feel that if the prices dropped once they will likely drop again to their previous levels, and if they do we wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the Vertex series of drives.

OCZ's Vertex Turbo 120GB - Techgage Editor's Choice
OCZ’s Vertex Turbo 120GB

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