What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB Solid State Drive Review

Status
Not open for further replies.

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Recently we had the privilege to take a long hard look at the very fist SandForce-based Solid State Drive to pass through our hands and we walked away very impressed. However, there was one Sandforce SF-1200 drive that us and everyone else was clamoring to get their hands on: the OCZ Vertex 2. Today we are going to see if the Vertex 2 is worthy of such a lofty status in the enthusiast community of if it is just another Sandforce-based drive.

OCZ really needs no introduction as they are one of the major players in the Solid State arena, with a lineup that is currently unmatched by any one else. No matter what your price range or set of priorities are they have a drive to meet your needs. It seems that while every one else is playing catch up, OCZ are out in front innovating their collective butts off. Much like the last go-around where they helped make Indilinx a household name in enthusiast circles this time they were one of the first (if not the first) company to showcase a SandForce-based SSD.

As with the Indilinx drives, OCZ branded SandForce drives boast custom firmware which you can only get with OCZ. This firmware is supposed to feature increased IOPS performance and could give this drive an edge over the competition. We will see exactly what this means to you the end user but for the time being, better firmware is a significant advantage and may indeed be unbeatable. It certainly will be interesting to peek under the hood and see if OCZ has done any hardware tweaks to go along with the software changes.

Since this is an OCZ drive, finding the Vertex 2 will be extremely easy as most retailer and e-tailers which cater to the enthusiast market. However, make no mistake about it: this is an enthusiast orientated solid state drive and it has a price to match. This means the second generation Vertex retails for approximately what the it’s forefather did when it was released with the 100GB going for about $410. We have seen Mail In Rebates bring this price down even further to an amazing $390, but even at that price $3.90 (plus tax) per GB does firmly plant the Vertex 2’s feet in the realm of the enthusiast consumer.

mfg.jpg

 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Specifications

Specifications



<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vertex2_100/specs.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vertex2_100/specs2.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vertex2_100/OCZACSSDBRKT2_included.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vertex2_100/Vertex2_vertex2__angle1.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​
 
Last edited by a moderator:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
OCZ’s Canadian Support Services

OCZ’s Canadian Support Services


In a new section in some reviews, Hardware Canucks will be focusing upon companies that feature Canadian RMA service that goes above and beyond what we are used to having. We figure this will help you make the right purchase while pushing manufacturers to start improving their service here in Canada

2404c0eef336b6cb.jpg

There are plenty of companies in this industry that promise legitimate customer and warranty support but very few that actually follow through on those promises. There are even less companies that talk about giving proper support to us living here in the Great White North so when we recently sat down with the who’s who at OCZ, the Canadian RMA experience was something that was discussed at length. OCZ has built up a stellar reputation when it comes to after sales support but it seems they have given special attention to Canada and our unique needs when it comes to cross-border shipping. Interestingly enough, a lot of the points which were brought up were buried so deep in their FAQ section that even we didn’t know about them.

Even though OCZ tries to ensure that they release products of the highest possible quality, there will always be a few bad apples here and there. This means some customers here in Canada will invariably have to tackle the dreaded RMA nightmare that usually happens when dealing with a US-based company. There are endless customs forms to fill out, increased wait times and a long turn-around time while the return shipment sometimes carries a little special gift in the form of customs charges and brokerage fees. It really isn’t a pretty situation to be in when you are waiting for a replacement product.

OCZ understands our pain. To begin with, nearly all products which go in for RMA from Canada get shipped to a location in Ontario which handles the processing of the returned product and most of the time ships out a replacement. This not only allows for a quicker turn-around time but also eliminates all of the shipping nightmares we were talking about earlier. Unfortunately, OCZ has not yet implemented cross shipping on Canadian returns but its omission has more to do with our credit card laws rather than any unwillingness on OCZ’s part.

When it comes to shipping, it is the customer who pays for shipping to the Canadian facility while OCZ pays for the return shipment. Some of the return shipments will originate in the US due to the fact that their Northern office doesn’t stock every product but supposedly customs issues are extremely rare. If there are additional charges, we have been told that OCZ will take care of them on their end so you don’t have to pay out of pocket.

For those of you living in or about the Markham area, there is even better news. You can specify in your RMA ticket that you would like to hand-deliver your defective product directly to the return counter at OCZ’s Canadian offices. In other words, once OCZ approves your RMA, you should be able to drive down to the facility, drop off your item and (if they have a replacement in stock) receive a replacement right away.

In our opinion, it really doesn’t get any better than that for us Canadians. Below we have listed some of the pertinent information regarding OCZ’s contact information, etc.


Customer Support:
Tel. Number: Toll Free (800) 459-1816
Hours: M-F 8:00 AM-5:00 PM PST

Canadian RMA Facility:
OCZ Technology Group Inc.
Attn: RMA Dept. Canada
160 Konrad Cres., Unit #1
Markham, Ontario, Can L3R 9T9
 
Last edited:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
A Closer Look at the OCZ Vertex 2

A Closer Look at the OCZ Vertex 2



Unlike previous OCZ models we have looked at the OCZ Vertex 2 comes in a two tone box. What is impressive was the fact that unlike any solid state drive we have looked at before the OCZ Vertex 2 comes with surprisingly complete performance specifications written on its package. Also noteworthy was the front (also highly reflective) sticker that states that this drive ships with a 2.5 to 3.5 adapter.

Opening up the box we can see that OCZ went for their tried and true “book” style packing scheme. The drive is not only wrapped in an anti-static bag but is also cocooned in high density foam with cardboard in the front and back.

Vertex2_access_sm.jpg

As noted earlier, this drive ships with an adapter making it much easier to use in a desktop ATX case which also comes with mounting hardware. The only other thing you get is an installation pamphlet.

Vertex2_top_ang_sm.jpg
Vertex2_bottom_ang_sm.jpg

We have said in the past and we will say it again, if there is one thing that makes all OCZ’s Solid State Drives stand out, it is their iconic two tone colour scheme. OCZ really has kept consistent from drive to drive and the Vertex 2 is no exception as it looks just like the original Vertex. The “bottom” of the drive is done in a nude metal / silver colour and the rest of the drive is finished in pure black.

The only other thing worth mentioning is the label which lists the power consumption for this particular drive. According to OCZ, the Vertex 2 is a down right power sipping SandForce drive with max rating of 0.35A (or a mere 1.75 watts.) which is actually 0.25W less than most of the other SandForce-using competition.

Vertex2_ports_sm.jpg

Taking a look at the back end of the Vertex 2, it is quite obviously taken directly from the original Vertex. We know this because the cut-out used for jumper pins on Indilinx drives is still there and SandForce drives don’t need jumper pins for firmware updates.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions


Vertex2_board_sm.jpg
Vertex2_board2_sm.jpg

As expected, the PCB and the layout of the chips is not very different from other SandForce-series drives we have seen in the past and is in fact extremely similar to the Corsair Force. However, this uses an OCZ-branded PCB which does vary slightly from the Force’s. All in all, you get: 16 flash chips (8 per side laid out in a C configuration) and one centrally located SandForce controller chip and no cache chip since SandForce drives don’t need one. It is interesting to note that just like other consumer solid state drives we have looked at the Vertex does not have an on board super-capacitor to ensure all data is written to the NAND in case of power loss but there is a spot on the PCB for one.

Vertex2_controller_sm.jpg

The Vertex 2 uses the SandForce SF1200 (full model name is SF-1222TA3-SBH ) controller and not the SF1500 which would have been found on the now defunct Vertex 2 Pro. This controller supports SATA revision 2 3GB/s, native command queuing (NCQ), TRIM and S.M.A.R.T. Much like Intel licensed the central core of their controller chip from a 3rd party so too did SandForce. The heart of the SF1200 is a licensed Tensilica Diamond Core 570T CPU which is a 32bit RISC processor.

Vertex2_nand_sm.jpg

The Vertex 2 100GB uses sixteen, Intel branded, 29F64G08CAMDB chips. These chips are very similar to those found in the Corsair and are the exact same ones we found in the mid tier G. Skill Falcon 2. To be honest this is not all that surprising as SandForce makes a big deal out of the fact that you can use mid grade NAND on these drives and still get best in class performance.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
A Look at DuraWrite, RAISE and More

A Look at DuraWrite, RAISE and More


Corsair_Force_sandforce_logi.jpg


Let’s start with the white elephant in the room and explain why this 100GB drive is in reality a 128GB drive. The Vertex 2 has sixteen 8GB NAND chips onboard which gives it a capacity of 128GB, but is seen by the OS as 100GB. This is called “over-provisioning” and happens when a manufacturer has their drive consistently under report its size. Manufacturers use this to help increase IOPS performance and also extend life via wear leveling (as there is always free cells even when the drive is reported as “full”) and even durability since the drive has cells in reserve it can reassign sectors to as the “older” cells die. Having the Vertex 2 giving up 28GB of its capacity to this “buffer” is extreme to say the least when you compare it to the Vertex 120GB with its more typical 6.28% (8GB) set aside. Some (like OCZ and Corsair) have also released “extended” drives which sport firmware that basically does away with this over provisioning which in effect increases the overall usable space.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/F100/duraclass.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

As we said, over-provisioning is usually for wear levelling and ITGC as it gives the controller extra cells to work with for not only keeping all the cells at about the same level of wear. However, this is actually not the main reason SandForce sets aside so much. Wear levelling is at best a secondary reason or even just a “bonus” as this over-provisioning is mainly for the Durawrite and RAISE technology. We will explain what those two technologies are but for the time being, let’s just say that while it there be “empty” space to some extent, it’s not really going to be 28GB of empty unused cells. Rather, this space is going to be used for other primary purposes.

Unlike other solid state drives which do not compress the data that is written to them, the SandForce controller does do real time loss-less compression. The upside to this is not only smaller lookup tables (and thus no need for off chip cache) but also means less writes will occur to the cells. Lowering how much data is written means that less cells have to be used to perform a given task and it should also result in longer life and even fewer controller cycles being taken up with internal house cleaning (via TRIM or ITGC).

Corsair_Force_Fact5.jpg


Longevity may be a nice side effect but the real purpose of this compression is so the controller has to use fewer cells to store a given amount of data and thus has to read from fewer cells than any other drive out there (SandForce claims only .5x is written on average). The benefit to this is even at the NAND level storage itself is the bottleneck for any controller and no matter how fast the NAND is, the controller is faster. Cycles are wasted in waiting for data retrieval and if you can reduce the number of cycles wasted, the faster an SSD will be.

Compressing data and thus hopefully getting a nice little speed boost is all well and fine but as anyone who has ever lost data to corruption in a compressed file knows, reliability is much more important. Compressing data means that any potential loss to a bad or dying cell (or cells) will be magnified on these drives so SandForce needed to ensure that the data was kept as secure as possible. While all drives use ECC, to further ensure data protection SandForce implemented another layer of security.

Corsair_Force_Fact4.jpg


Data protection is where RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) comes into the equation. All modern SSDs use various error correction concepts such as ECC because the simple fact of the matter is with any mass produced item there are going to be bad cells and even good cells are going to die off as time goes by; yet data cannot be lost or the end user’s experience will go from positive to negative. SandForce likes to compare RAISE to that of RAID 5, but unlike RAID 5 which uses a parity stripe, RAISE does not. SandForce does not explicitly say how it does what it does, but what they do say is on top of ECC, redundant data is striped across the array. However, since it is NOT parity data there is no added overheard incurred by calculating the parity stripe.

Corsair_Force_Fact2.jpg


According to Sandforce’s documentation, not only individual bits or even pages of data can be recovered but entire BLOCKS of data can be as well. So if a cell dies or passes on bad data the controller can compensate, pass on GOOD data and then mark the cell as defective. As we said, SandForce does not get into the nitty-gritty details of how DuraWrite or RAISE works, but the fact that it CAN do all this means that it most likely is writing a hash table along with the data. This would explain on how it can not only assure data integrity but also why they have set aside so much of the storage capacity for these features.

SandForce is so sure of their controller abilities that they state that the chances of data corruption are not only lower than that of other manufactures’ drives, but actually approaches ZERO chance of data corruption. This is a very bold statement, but only time will tell if their estimates are correct. In the mean time, we are willing to give the benefit of the doubt and say that at the very least data corruption is as unlikely with a Vertex 2 as it is on any modern MLC drive.
 
Last edited:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Firmware & OCZ’s Upcoming SSD Toolbox

Firmware


CDInfo.jpg


The firmware which the Vertex 2 ships with is labeled as "1.0" which is based off of SandForce’s 305 firmware revision and not 301 version Corsair had decided to go with. We say it is based off of it as its small file performance has not been limited like it is in the more typical 305 "mass production" firmware. While we’re sure the story behind this is long a long one, OCZ has higher performance on their Vertex 2 due to a deal with SandForce which is why Corsair decided to use a tweaked beta firmware on their drives. On the plus side, this means OCZ will have access to Sandforce’s latest firmware updates without any worries of lower performance while Corsair customers will need to stick to their beta firmware.

In addition, since 305 is the latest version available for SandForce SF1200 drives it also includes some much needed fixes and tweaks (especially when it comes to power saving) over earlier versions such as 301.


A Quick Rundown of OCZ’s Upcoming SSD Toolbox


toolbox_ocz2.jpg

For anyone not interested using solid state drives in RAID and are only planning on purchasing one of the SandForce-based drives, self-maintenance should be a big deal. However, what happens if you are not running in AHCI mode or using a TRIM aware OS such as XP, Vista and a host of other, older non TRIM capable Operating Systems?

In the very near future OCZ will be releasing what they call the “OCZ Toolbox” for SSDs. While it should have some nifty features like cell usage, a proper alignment and formatting option (and a host of others) it will not have a “manual trim” option. Unfortunately, while the original Vertex had wiper.exe to fall back on when running in a non-TRIM environment, Intel has their SSD Toolbox with manual SSD optimizer option and JMicron has aggressive ITGC, it appears SandForce does not have any option ready. This is indeed a rookie mistake. The unfortunate reality is these drives will get slower over time when used in RAID and non TRIM-aware OS environments. Just remember that the main niche this drive is designed for is enthusiasts running a modern Operating System such as Windows 7 which does support TRIM.

Unfortunately, the OCZ toolbox is far from ready for "prime-time" and as such, we aren’t focusing too much time on it. It is however important to mention because consumers should know that OCZ does have something in the pipeline that will give quick and easy access to a number of SSD tools with the touch of a button.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
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 to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for SSDs to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our testbed 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 XP 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 a WD 320 single platter drive.

For these tests we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HDTune, Cystal Disk Benchmark, h2benchw, SIS Sandra Removable Storage benchmark, and IOMeter for synthetic benchmarks.

For real world benchmarks we timed how long XP startup took, Adobe CS3 (w/ enormous amounts of custom brushes installed) took, how long a single 4GB rar file took to copy to and then from the hard drives, then copy to itself. We also used 1gb of small files (from 1kb to 20MB) with a total 2108 files in 49 subfolders.

For the temperature testing, readings are taken directly from the hottest part of the drive case using a Digital Infrared Thermometer. The infrared thermometer used has a 9 to 1 ratio, meaning that at 9cm it takes it reading from a 1 square cm. To obtain the numbers used in this review the thermometer was held approximately 3cm away from the heatsink and only the hottest number obtained was used.


Please note to reduce variables the same XP OS image was used for all the hard drives.

For all testing a Gigabyte PA35-DS4 motherboard was used. The ICH9 controller on said motherboard was used.

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

Processor: Q6600 @ 2.4 GHZ
Motherboard: Gigabyte p35 DS4
Memory: 4GB G.Skill PC2-6400
Graphics card: Asus 8800GT TOP
Hard Drive: 1x WD 320
Power Supply: Seasonic S12 600W

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):
G. Skill Titan: 0955
G.Skill Falcon: 1571 (AKA FW 1.3)
OCZ Apex: 955
OCZ Vertex: 1.3 (AKA FW 1571)
Patriot Torqx: 1571 (AKA FW 1.3)
Corsair P64: 18C1Q
OCZ Summit: 1801Q
A-Data S592: 1279 (AKA PRE 1.1 FW)
OCZ Agility EX 60GB: 1.3 (AKA 1.4 for MLC Indilinx Drives)
Kingston SSDNow V 40GB: 02G9
G.Skill Falcon 2: 1881 (AKA 1.4)
Kingston SSDNow V+ 128GB: AGYA0201
Corsair Nova: 1.0 (AKA 1916/1.5 for most other MLC Indilinx Drives)
Corsair Force F100: 0.2 (AKA bug fixed / modified 3.0.1)
OCZ Vertex 2: 1.0 (custom “full speed” SandForce 305 firmware)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
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 this goes double for SSD based drives. The main reason we include it is to show what under perfect conditions a given drive is capable of; but the more 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. .


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vertex2_100/read.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

It is interesting to see that the burst speed of the Vertex 2 is much lower taen that of the Corsair Force F100, but to be honest burst speed (especially with Solid State Drives) is a terrible way to chose one drive over another. To us the average read speed is much, much more important and it is here that the Vertex 2 excels.


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.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vertex2_100/write.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

While the read performance of the Vertex 2 was expected, this level of write power was not. Once again the difference between the average speed of this SandForce SF1200 drive and the Corsair’s version is not that much, both are great, but the all important minimum speed numbers this drive posts are down right astonishing.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Crystal DiskMark / Random Access Time

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. When all 5 tests for a given section were run Crystal DiskMark then averages out all 5 numbers to give a result for that section.

Read


cdm_r.jpg


As expected the read speed of the Vertex 2 is a little on the low side when compared against Indilinx drives (but is once again faster then the Corsair F100). This is especially true when you compare the Vertex 2’s numbers to that of the GSkill Falcon 2, a drive which has the exact same number and model NAND chips in it. It seems that the added overhead associated with how SandForce does limit its read potential to some extent.


Write


cdm_w.jpg

It seems that the firmware revision 305, or at the very least OCZ’s custom version of 305, puts a bit more emphasis on the small write performance and less on the sequential numbers. This of course, is the way it should be as small file speed is what separates the best of the best from the merely good drives.


Random Access Time


To obtain the absolute, most accurate Random access time, h2benchw was used for this benchmark. This benchmark tests how quickly different areas of the drive’s memory can be accessed. A low number means that the drive space can be accessed quickly while a high number means that more time is taken trying to access different parts of the drive. To run this program, one must use a DOS prompt and tell it what sections of the test to run. While one could use “h2benchw 1 -english -s -tt "harddisk test" -w test” for example and just run the seek tests, we took the more complete approach and ran the full gamout of tests and then extracted the necessary information from the text file. This is the command line argument we used “h2benchw 1 -a -! -tt "harddisk drivetest" -w drivetest”. This tells the program to write all results in english, save them in drivetest txt file, do write and read tests and do it all on drive 1 (or the second drive found, with 0 being the OS drive).

random.jpg


As expected due to their identical controllers, the Vertex 2 ties for first place with the Corsair F100 in this test.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Status
Not open for further replies.

Latest posts

Twitter

Top