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OCZ Vector 150 240GB SSD Review

AkG

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SSD enthusiasts have notoriously short memories and a company’s reputation is only as good as their last model. Fortunately for OCZ their last enthusiast-oriented product was the Vertex 450, an altogether excellent drive with loads of potential and a great price. Meanwhile, the Vector was launched nearly a year ago and is still considered one of the better drives on the market. The Vector 150 aims to capitalize upon that SSD’s success in a number of different ways.

While OCZ may have hit rough patch of late, their in-house Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller combined with good NAND has traditionally proven to be a winning combination and a true differentiator in a market that seems to have stagnated. The problem with the Vector was it was a victim of its own success. After some well-publicized missteps, OCZ made a promise to never silently change the NAND used in any model. However, finding sufficient quantities of the older 25nm ONFi 2 NAND became an ongoing challenge. Using these older generation modules also meant that their flagship model was slowly losing ground to newer models equipped with even more powerful NAND ICs. So just a short 345 days after releasing the original Vector 256GB, the updated Vector 150 240GB is being launched.

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The Vector 150 is more a product refresh rather than an entirely new model. Much like the Vertex 450, the Vector 150 features a seamless blending of existing and new technologies in order to ensure optimal performance and no surprises. Like the original Vector it uses the already proven, adaptable Barefoot 3 controller and comes with a price tag of nearly $1 per GB or MSRP of $239 for the 240GB model.

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Unlike the original Vector or even the Vertex 450 series OCZ have taken a page from their ‘Max IOPS’ days and paired this new drive with cutting edge Toggle Mode NAND instead of the typical ONFi 2 NAND ICs found in previous units. It utilizes Toshiba’s 19nm Toggle Mode NAND which has proven itself in other cutting edge devices such as the Seagate 600 Pro and Corsair Neutron GTX series.

Unlike the original Vector 256GB model, OCZ has set aside 16GB of NAND for over-provisioning exclusively for the Barefoot 3 controller. This is also why OCZ has been able to increase the endurance rating by a good 150% over the original Vector. This combination of improved NAND with actual over-provisioning should prove to be even more potent than the original Vector while boasting an enhanced lifespan.

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In keeping with the premium theme, the Vector 150 an ultra-durable full metal case which first made its debut with the original Vector. Besides being extremely robust it has a secondary benefit in being a svelte 7mm form factor which will fit inside Ultrabooks and other slim and light mobile devices without any issues. OCZ also includes a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter plate.

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The internal architecture of the new Vector series is very similar to that of its predecessor. In total there are 16 Toshiba branded 19nm Toggle Mode NAND ICs populating all 16 slots on the full size PCB. There is also one Barefoot 3 controller and a pair of 256MB Micron DDR3-1600 RAM ICs. Interestingly enough, there is actually room on the PCB for an additional RAM chip. We assume the 512GB version will receive three RAM chips for its external cache buffer compared to the two chips of the 256GB model.

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The Barefoot 3 controller is actually the older full speed ‘M00’ version and not the newer ‘M10’ found inside the Vertex 450. This may seem counter intuitive but the design goal of the M10 was to make the Barefoot 3 even more power efficient, but in order to accomplish this OCZ had to reduce its processing speed. Using the higher performance M00 version should help boost performance to even higher levels than the Vertex 450 but some it will also consume more power.
 
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AkG

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing a drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs & HDDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for drives to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our test-bed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what you the end user’s experience will be like.

Even when the hardware issues are taken care of the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup; however, just like with the hardware solution most people are not going to do this. For this reason our standard OS setup is used. However, except for the Windows 7 load test times we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive. With the main drive being an Intel DC S3700 800GB Solid State Drive.

For synthetic tests we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HD Tune, Crystal Disk Benchmark, IOMeter, AS-SSD, Anvil Storage Utilities and PCMark 7.

For real world benchmarks we timed how long a single 10GB rar file took to copy to and then from the devices. We also used 10gb of small files (from 100kb to 200MB) with a total 12,000 files in 400 subfolders.

For all testing a Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition. All drives were tested using AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers.

All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.

In between each test suite runs (with the exception being IOMeter which was done after every run) the drives are cleaned with either HDDerase, SaniErase or OCZ SSDToolbox and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.

Please note:
Due to the unique nature of the hybrid setup certain tests results have been omitted as they require an unformatted drive to test or gave erroneous results.

Processor: Core i5 2500
Motherboard: Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Memory: 8GB Corsair Vengeance LP “blue”
Graphics card: Asus 5550 passive
Hard Drive: Intel DC S3700 800GB, OCZ 480GB RevoDrive3 x2
Power Supply: XFX 850

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB
: 1.33
Crucial M4 256GB: 000F
Intel 520: 400i
SanDisk Extreme 240GB: R211
Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB: M206
OCZ Vector 256GB: 2.00
Intel 335 180GB: 335t
Kingston SSDNow V300 240GB: 505
Crucial M500: MU02
Vertex 450 256GB: 1020
SanDisk Extreme 2 240GB: R1311
Seagate Pro 600: B660
OCZ Vector 150 240GB: 1.10

SandForce SF1200 Drives:
OCZ Vertex 2 - ONFi 2 NAND

SandForce SF2281 Drives:
Intel 520 - custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND
SanDisk Extreme - stock firmware w/ 24nm Toggle Mode NAND
SSDNow V300 - custom firmware w/ 19nm Toggle Mode NAND


LAMD:
Corsair Neutron GTX - Toggle Mode NAND
Seagate 600 Pro - custom firmware w/ Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 'Monet':
Crucial M500 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND
SanDisk Extreme 2 - Custom firmware w/ 19nm eX2 ABL NAND

Barefoot 3 controller:
OCZ Vector (M00) - 25nm ONFi 2 NAND
OCZ Vertex 450 (M10) - 20nm ONFi 2 NAND
OCZ Vector 150 (M00) - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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5,270
Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture. We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and thus we no longer included it. The most important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.

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Write Performance


For this benchmark HD Tune Pro was used. To run the write benchmark on a drive, you must first remove all partitions from that drive and then and only then will it allow you to run this test. Unlike some other benchmarking utilities the HD Tune Pro writes across the full area of the drive, thus it easily shows any weakness a drive may have.

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The sequential read and write performance of the Vector 150 is top notch. The difference between this new model and the original is minor for the simple reason that all SSDs, by their very nature, are incredible at these tests. Until either a new SATA revision is released or SAS 12Gb/s gains traction there we likely won't see massive gains due to interface constriction rather than a lack of performance increases.
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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5,270
ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO Disk Benchmark


The ATTO disk benchmark tests the drives read and write speeds using gradually larger size files. For these tests, the ATTO program was set to run from its smallest to largest value (.5KB to 8192KB) and the total length was set to 256MB. The test program then spits out an extrapolated performance figure in megabytes per second.

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Finally we get to see what the Barefoot 3 controller can accomplish and it is simply is amazing. For the first time we are actually seeing a drive that can clearly outperform the best SandForce can offer. Remember, ATTO plays to the SandForce controller’s strengths but even with this advantage the new Vector 150 easily outperforms all comers at that crucial 4KB-32KB file size.
 
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AkG

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Crystal DiskMark / PCMark 7

Crystal DiskMark


Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows you to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5 and size at 100MB.

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PCMark 7


While there are numerous suites of tests that make up PCMark 7, only one is pertinent: the HDD Suite. The HDD Suite consists of numerous tests that try and replicate real world drive usage. Everything from how long a simulated virus scan takes to complete, to MS Vista start up time to game load time is tested in these core tests; however we do not consider this anything other than just another suite of synthetic tests. For this reason, while each test is scored individually we have opted to include only the overall score.

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Once again this new drive with its cutting edge Toggle Mode NAND is simply a performance beast.
 
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AkG

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AS-SSD / Anvil Storage Utilities Pro

AS-SSD


AS-SSD is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and small 4K read/write speeds as well as 4K file speed at a queue depth of 6. While its primary goal is to accurately test Solid State Drives, it does equally well on all storage mediums it just takes longer to run each test as each test reads or writes 1GB of data.

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Anvil Storage Utilities Pro


Much like AS-SSD, Anvil Pro was created to quickly and easily – yet accurately – test your drives. While it is still in the Beta stages it is a versatile and powerful little program. Currently it can test numerous read / write scenarios but two in particular stand out for us: 4K queue depth of 4 and 4K queue depth of 16. A queue depth of four along with 4K sectors can be equated to what most users will experience in an OS scenario while 16 depth will be encountered only by power users and the like. We have also included the 4k queue depth 1 results to help put these two other numbers in their proper perspective. All settings were left in their default states and the test size was set to 1GB.

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The more we throw at he Vector 150 the more we like it. Deep queue, shallow queue it doesn’t matter to as this NAND allows the excellent controller to rally stretch its legs.
 
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AkG

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IOMETER

IOMETER


IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server end of things, and since we here at HWC are more End User centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD (1,4,16,64,128 queue depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min w/ an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k,4k,8k,16k,32k,64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that reports each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular queue depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments.

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It comes as no surprise that this drive is an IOPS monster at workstation-type scenarios. OCZ always wanted their Vector to be a cross-over device and it looks like they finally have one that makes a convincing argument in this regard. The combination of a year’s worth of firmware refinement, excellent Toggle Mode NAND and a fairly reasonable – for the enterprise market – price should give workstation users pause for thought before reaching for the usual suspects.
 
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AkG

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Windows 7 Startup / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 7 Start Up w/ Boot Time A/V Scan Performance


When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. Where Windows 7 has become nearly ubiquitous for solid state drive enthusiasts we have chosen Windows 7 64bit Ultimate as our Operating System. In previous load time tests we would use the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line; this however is no longer the case. We have not only added in a secondary Anti-Virus to load on startup, but also an anti-malware program. We have set Super Anti-Spyware to initiate a quick scan on Windows start-up and the completion of the quick scan will be our new finish line.

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Adobe CS5 Load Time



Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, and while the latest version is actually pretty decent, when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit faired in the Adobe crucible!

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As with the synthetic test results the new Vector 150 240GB is an excellent upgrade to an already good line. The newer NAND is more powerful than the older ONFi 2 it replaces and while the difference is not as large as the some of the synthetic test results would lead you to believe we still see an across the board improvement.
 
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AkG

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Firefox Portable / Real World Data Transfers

Firefox Portable Offline Performance


Firefox is notorious for being slow on loading tabs in offline mode once the number of pages to be opened grows larger than a dozen or so. We can think of fewer worse case scenarios than having 100 tabs set to reload in offline mode upon Firefox startup, but this is exactly what we have done here.

By having 100 pages open in Firefox portable, setting Firefox to reload the last session upon next session start and then setting it to offline mode, we are able to easily recreate a worse case scenario. Since we are using Firefox portable all files are easily positioned in one location, making it simple to repeat the test as necessary. In order to ensure repetition, before touching the Firefox portable files, we have backed them up into a .rar file and only extracted a copy of it to the test device.


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Real World Data Transfers


No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it can not really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 10.00GB contiguous file and a folder containing 400 subfolders with a total 12,000 files varying in length from 200mb to 100kb (10.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, using MS RichCopy and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found.


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Once again the Vector 150 series is everything we liked about the original Vector but better in nearly every respect. Once again the difference is not large enough to warrant upgrading from a Vector 256GB to the Vector 150 240GB SSD, but these results do help keep the Vector series relevant and at the upper edge of the performance pack.
 
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AkG

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Partial and Full Drive Performance

Partial and Full Drive Performance


<i>While it is important to know how a drive will perform under optimal conditions, more realistic scenarios are just as important. Knowing if a solid state drive will behave differently when partially or even nearly full than when it is empty is very important information to know. To quickly and accurately show this crucial information we have first filled the drive to 50% capacity and re-tested using both synthetic and real world tests. After the completion of this we then re-test at 75% and 90% of full capacity. </i>

Synthetic Test Results
<i>For our synthetic testing we have opted for our standard PCMark 7 test.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vector_150/data_pcm7.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Real World Results
<i>For a real world application we have opted for our standard Windows 7 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance test.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vector_150/data_boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The Barefoot 3 is easily one of the better controllers at keeping performance high even when the NAND is full. Obviously, setting aside 16GB for over-provisioning does help in this regard but the newer Toggle Mode NAND also plays a large part.

This newer NAND is simply more powerful and when paired to an excellent controller the end result is a drive that stays faster longer than any other consumer grade SSD we have tested. These results really are closer to what we have come to expect from Enterprise drives and this blurring of the consumer/enterprise boundary is quite impressive.
 
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