Model: Toshiba OCZ VX500 512GB Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: Toshiba Corporation
Provided By: Toshiba America
Toshiba has been a leader in the consumer electronics industry for as long as I can remember. Founded more than 70 years ago, this Japanese company manufacturers everything from tiny electronic components to consumer products like televisions, Blu-ray players and personal computers. Toshiba is no stranger to the storage industry either. The company designs and manufactures high-quality flash memory-based storage solutions, SSDs and hard disk drives for the consumer and enterprise markets.
To strengthen their position in the SSD market, Toshiba purchased the assets of OCZ Technology's SSD business in December of 2013. The business was soon re-launched as an independently-operated subsidiary named OCZ Storage Solutions. OCZ has continued to operate this way until recently, when Toshiba fully absorbed the business, turning the subsidiary into one of its sub-brands. To reduce the overlap between product lines, OCZ also pulled out of the enterprise market and will function as a consumer-only brand.
One of the first drives launched under Toshiba's new OCZ sub-brand is the VX500. Aimed at mainstream desktop and notebook users, this mid-range SSD is designed to deliver an excellent balance of performance, endurance, value and features. The VX500 is powered by Toshiba's own TC358790 controller and is available with up to 1TB of the company's 15nm MLC NAND flash. This combination not only provides excellent performance, it delivers over 3x the endurance of TLC-based SSDs, making it suitable for write-intensive applications.
The VX500 is available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities. For this review, OCZ sent us the 512GB version of the drive which is capable of delivering up to 550 MB/s sequential read and 515 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 92,000 random read and 64,000 random write IOPS.
|Toshiba OCZ VX500 512GB Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the VX500 has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at Toshiba's new SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the VX500 have what it takes? Can it deliver the performance and features that we've come to expect from the OCZ brand? Keep reading as we find out.
The VX500 comes in a small, blue box. While there isn't a lot of information on the front, the back of the box advertises many of the drive's key features including its SATA 6Gbps interface, 2.5" ultra-slim form factor, Toshiba MLC NAND flash memory, TRIM support and 5-year limited warranty.
Toshiba doesn't include a lot of extras with the VX500. Along with the SSD, the box contains a small drive installation manual with instructions for both desktop and notebook computers as well as a couple of sheets of paper with information on how to reach OCZ's tech support and install the Acronis True Image software
The construction of the OCZ VX500 is very similar to that of Toshiba's Q Series Pro and Q300 SSDs. The outer casing is made out of a lightweight, metal alloy. Instead of a matte black or silver finish, it sports a more natural look which is broken up by a series of small dots. The top of the drive also has a large, blue and gray sticker showing that it is part of Toshiba's OCZ VX500 series.
Toshiba isn't taking any chances when it comes to heat. The VX500 has thermal pads on the controller as well as the NAND flash chips. These pads transfer heat away from the components to the outer casing, which then acts like a large heat spreader.
With the thermal pads removed, you can see that the VX500 uses Toshiba's TC358790 controller chip. Very little is known about this controller. However, we can assume that like Toshiba's other controllers, it's based on a design from another company like Marvell.
For the 512GB version of the VX500, Toshiba used their own 15nm MLC NAND flash chips. Looking at the pictures above, you can see that there are eight 64GB NAND flash packages on the top of the PCB. Also take note that while there is a place for a DRAM cache chip, the 512GB version of the VX500 does not have one. The 1TB version of the drive is the only one to use an external DRAM cache and, even then, it's only 256MB.
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 Toshiba's OCZ VX500 SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark, HD Tach RW, ATTO Disk Benchmark, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro, Anvil's Storage Utilities, Iometer and PCMark 8. For comparison, I've also included test results from the ADATA Ultimate SU800, Plextor S2C, Crucial M300, Plextor M7V, PNY CS1311, OCZ Trion 150, PNY CS2211, Plextor M6V, Crucial BX200, OCZ Trion 100, Kingston HyperX Savage, Crucial MX200, OCZ Vector 180, Kingston BX100, Samsung 850 EVO M.2, Samsung 850 EVO mSATA, AMD Radeon R7, Silicon Power Slim S80, Samsung SSD 850 EVO, OCZ ARC 100, SanDisk Ultra II, Crucial MX100, SanDisk Extreme Pro and Samsung SSD 850 PRO.
As I mentioned earlier, the VX500 is based on Marvell's 88SS1074B1 controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that 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 Toshiba, the 512GB VX500 is capable of reading at 550 MB/s and writing at 515 MB/s when connected to a SATA 6 Gb/s port. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the drive had no problems reaching these speeds in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read and write tests.
The VX500 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 554.1 MB/s and write at 524.1 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 184.108.40.206:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the VX500's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
Toshiba OCZ VX500 512GB
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the VX500 had average read and write speeds of 368.2 MB/s and 238.3 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 321.9 MB/s. The screenshot also shows that, unlike most other MLC-based SSDs, the VX500 uses some sort of SLC caching. The drive starts writing at about 350 MB/s and then drops to about 110 MB/s when the write operation exceeds the size of the cache.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the VX500'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 VX500's read speeds topped out at about 554 MB/s and its write speeds at 525 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 5.00:
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 VX500's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The VX500 performed pretty well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 493.5 MB/s and 462.6 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 249.0 MB/s when reading.
The VX500's random read and write performance was hit and miss when tested with HD Tune. While the drive reached 15,759 IOPS when writing 4K blocks, it achieved only 5154 IOPS when doing random reads.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another 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 VX500'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 VX500's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 528.61 MB/s and write at 499.48 MB/s.
The VX500 wasn't one of the faster drives we've tested when it came to random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 106.27 MB/s and write at 226.40 MB/s.
According to Toshiba, the 512GB version of the VX500 is capable of 92,000 IOPS when reading and 64,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 27,205 random read IOPS and 57,958 random write IOPS. Increasing the queue depth had little impact on the VX500's random write performance. However, with the queue depth set to 32, the drive was able to reach 94,704 random read IOPS.
Vantage PCMark 8 - Storage Test:
PCMark 8 is a complete benchmark for Windows. It includes five benchmark tests, each designed around a specific scenario. The storage benchmark measures drive performance using real-world traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.
PCMark 8 also includes a consistency test which measures the performance consistency and degradation tendency of a storage system. The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state and the recovered state as well as the number of iterations required to reach them. For this test, we are focusing on the Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and will look at both the bandwidth and latency of the drive
The VX500 did fairly well throughout PCMark's consistency test. While not as fast as the Vector 180, it performed better than the MX300 and S2C throughout the degradation and steady state phases. The VX500's performance also increased during the recovery phase, topping out at about 269 MB/s.
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.
To test the VX500's TRIM function, 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 VX500's average read and write speeds dropped to 253.7 MB/s and 85.3 MB/s, respectively.
Toshiba OCZ VX500 - Dirty
I let the computer sit for about 30 minutes and then reran the test. The drive's average read speed climbed up to 299.4 MB/s. However, its write speed lagged behind, averaging out at only 148.8 MB/s.
Toshiba OCZ VX500 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Toshiba's SSD Utility to perform a secure erase on the VX500. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 326.8 MB/s and 329.5 MB/s, respectively.
Toshiba OCZ VX500 - Secure Erased
Toshiba's OCZ VX500 SSD is a great choice for the mainstream consumer looking to take their everyday computing to the next level. This mid-range SSD combines Toshiba's TC358790 controller with their 15nm MLC NAND to provide an excellent balance of performance and endurance at a price that won't break the bank. In our sequential read and write tests, the 512GB version of the drive was able to read at speeds as high as 554 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 524 MB/s. Despite the lack of a separate DRAM cache, it also did reasonably well in our random write tests, producing nearly 58,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
Of course, fast read and write speeds aren't the only thing the VX500 has to offer. Thanks to its use of use of MLC NAND flash, its endurance rating is higher than most TLC-based SSDs. For example, the 512GB version of the VX500 is rated at 296 TBW, or 162 GB/day, where the 525GB Crucial MX300 is rated at only 160 TBW. The VX500 also offers support for TRIM and DEVSLP (Device Sleep) and comes bundled with Acronis True Image HD cloning software. To top it all off, it's backed by Toshiba's 5-year Advanced Warranty Program.
- Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities
- Equipped with MLC NAND flash
- Good sequential read and write speeds under most conditions
- SATA 6Gb/s interface
- Ultra-slim form factor
- Works with Toshiba's SSD Utility software
- DEVSLP power mode
- Supports TRIM and SMART
- High endurance
- Reasonably priced
- Backed by 5 year advanced warranty program
- Mediocre random write performance
- Write speed drops when SLC cache is full
- Does not support hardware based encryption