Model: OCZ Vertex 450 256GB Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology
Provided By: OCZ Technology
OCZ Technology is no stranger to the computer industry. Founded by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts, the company entered the memory market in 2002. Determined to manufacture the very best memory for overclockers, OCZ quickly established itself as a leader in the industry by breaking speed barriers and maintaining a reputation of quality. Today, OCZ continues to innovate. Along with their line of enthusiast-oriented power supplies, the company offers a wide range of high-performance SSD solutions for the enterprise and consumer markets.
The latest addition to OCZ's line of consumer-oriented solid state drives is the Vertex 450. Bridging the gap between high performance and mainstream solid-state storage, the ultra-slim Vertex 450 is based on OCZ's Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 controller. Developed entirely in-house, this cutting-edge controller is powered by both an ARM Cortex processor and OCZ's own Aragon co-processor and features an advanced, multi-level ECC engine, low write amplification, efficient garbage collection, and adaptive NAND ﬂash management. The M10 derivative of the Barefoot 3 ups the ante even further, adding AES-256 encryption and a power-optimized clock generator. The Vertex 450 is also equipped with 20nm synchronous MLC NAND and an extra large DRAM cache to deliver up to 540MB/s read and 525MB/s write speeds along with a maximum of 90,000 4KB random write IOPS.
For this review, OCZ sent us the 256GB version of the Vertex 450. This SSD comes equipped with 512MB of on-board cache and is capable of delivering up to 540MB/s sequential read and 525MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 85,000 random read and 90,000 random write IOPS.
|OCZ Vertex 450 256GB Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the Vertex 450 has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at OCZ's new SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the Vertex 450 have what it takes? Can it deliver the performance we've come to expect from OCZ's Vertex series? Keep reading as we find out.
The Vertex 450 comes in a small, black and gray box. Along with a picture of the drive, the front advertises many of its key features including its 256GB capacity, SATA 6Gbps interface, Indilinx controller, MLC flash memory and TRIM support. The back of the box provides a bit more information regarding the Vertex 450's features and capabilities. Inside, you'll find the SSD, a 3.5" adapter bracket, mounting screws, "I Love My SSD" sticker, installation guide and a small piece of paper with download instructions and serial number for Acronis True Image.
The construction of the Vertex 450 is very similar to that of the Vector. The outer casing is made entirely out of aluminum and is covered by a great looking silver finish. The top of the drive also has a large, black and gray sticker showing that it is part of OCZ's Vertex series.
As I mentioned earlier, the Vertex 450 uses the Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 (IDX500M10-BC) controller chip. Like the original Barefoot 3, this derivative is powered by an ARM Cortex processor as well as OCZ's own Aragon co-processor. The Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 also adds AES-256 encryption and a power-optimized clock generator.
For the 256GB Vertex 450, OCZ opted to use Micron 16GB 20nm 29F128G08CFABB synchronous MLC NAND chips. Looking at the pictures above, you can see that there are eight of these chips on either side of the PCB. The drive also has two 256MB Micron IWM22-D9PFJ DDR3 memory chips that are used for caching and garbage collection.
The test system used in this review was an HP 8200 Elite. The computer came equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive, NVIDIA Quadro FX580 512MB PCIe graphics card and an Intel 82579-LM gigabit network card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Enterprise.
To test the performance of the OCZ Vertex 450, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1, HD Tach RW 184.108.40.206, ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro 4.61, Anvil's Storage Utilities and Iometer. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Silicon Power Slim S55, Samsung SSD 840 EVO, Seagate 600 SSD, SanDisk Extreme II, OCZ Vector, Plextor PX-256M5Pro Xtreme, Samsung SSD 840 Pro, Samsung SSD 840, Kingston Ultra Plus, OCZ Vertex 4, OCZ Agility 4, Kingston SSDNow V300 and Kingston HyperX 3K.
The Vertex 450 is the first drive based on the Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 controller platform. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that, unlike SandForce controllers, it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to OCZ, the 256GB Vertex 450 is capable of reading at 540 MB/s and writing at 525 MB/s when connected to a SATA 6 Gb/s port. While the drive performed well, it came up a bit short of these numbers in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read and write speed tests.
The Vertex 450 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 464.2 MB/s and write at 490.8 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 220.127.116.11:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the Vertex 450's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the Vertex 450 had average read and write speeds of 327.3 MB/s and 287.9 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 362.2 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the Vertex 450's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the Vertex 450's read speeds topped out at about 552 MB/s and its write speeds at 522 MB/s.
AS SSD is a relatively new benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
HD Tune Pro 4.61:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the Vertex 450's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The Vertex 450 performed fairly well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 465.8 MB/s and 462.9 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of about 406 MB/s.
Vertex 450 256GB - HD Tune Random Access Read
SanDisk Extreme II SSD 240GB - HD Tune Random Access Read
Vertex 450 256GB - HD Tune Random Access Write
SanDisk Extreme II SSD 240GB - HD Tune Random Access Write
The Vertex 450 didn't disappoint when doing random reads and writes. When writing 4KB blocks, the drive reached 23,080 IOPS and had an average speed of 90.157 MB/s. The Vertex 450 was even faster when reading, reaching 24,276 IOPS with an average speed of 94.830 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another new benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the Vertex 450's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The Vertex 450's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 525.92 MB/s and write at 490.07 MB/s.
The Vertex 450 also performed pretty well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 97.02 MB/s and write at 269.12 MB/s.
According to OCZ, the 256GB version of the Vertex 450 is capable of 80,000 IOPS when reading and 90,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 24,837 random read IOPS and 68,894 random write IOPS. The only way I came close to OCZ's numbers was to increase the queue depth. With the queue depth set to 32, the Vertex 450 reached 85,191 random read IOPS and 84,289 random write IOPS.
While SSD's offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To fix this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 7, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
The Vertex 450 also uses a number of other flash management techniques including background garbage collection, dynamic and static wear-leveling and advanced flash defect management. Where flash defect management and wear leveling optimize the way data is written on the drive, garbage collection maintains "like new" performance by reorganizing data to maximize the number of free cells.
To test the Vertex 450's TRIM and garbage collection functions, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill the entire drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the Vertex 450's average read and write speeds dropped to 287.2 MB/s and 70.5 MB/s, respectively.
OCZ Vertex 450 - Dirty
The Vertex 450's average write speed bounced back up to 350.6 MB/s within a matter of minutes. However, its average read speed dropped down to 247.8 MB/s while it was recovering.
OCZ Vertex 450 - Recovering
I let the computer sit for about an hour and a half and then reran the test. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the Vertex 450's average read speed had increased to 343.3 MB/s.
OCZ Vertex 450 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used OCZ's Toolbox utility to perform a secure erase on the Vertex 450. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 385.0 MB/s and 406.9 MB/s, respectively.
OCZ Vertex 450 - Secure Erased
With the Vector taking the top spot as OCZ's flagship drive, the Vertex 450 has been repositioned as a more mainstream SSD. Designed for today’s multimedia, multitasking world, the Vertex 450 combines OCZ's new Indilinx-infused Barefoot 3 M10 controller with Micron's 20nm synchronous MLC NAND flash. With the M10 running at a lower clock speed than the original Barefoot 3, the Vertex 450 isn't quite as fast as the Vector. However, it still performed quite well in our sequential read and write tests, reading at speeds as high as 552 MB/s and writing at speeds in excess of 490 MB/s. The Vertex 450 also had no problems holding its own in our random write tests, producing more than 68,000 IOPS at low queue depths. Moreover, it performed equally well with compressible and incompressible data and was able to sustain these speeds, even after intensive use.
The only real issue I have with the Vertex 450 is its price. While intended as a more affordable alternative to the Vector, the retail prices of the two drives are very close. So close, in fact, that the Vector is actually cheaper at some retailers. Unless you need AES encryption, this makes it very hard to justify buying the Vertex 450 over the better performing Vector.
- Available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities
- Good sequential and random read and write performance
- Performs equally well with compressible and incompressible data
- SATA 6Gb/s interface
- Synchronous NAND flash
- Large DRAM cache
- Supports TRIM and idle background garbage collection
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Includes a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter bracket
- Includes Acronis True Image cloning software
- 3 year warranty