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OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD Review

AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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5,270
The Vertex 460 is OCZ’s answer to the likes of Samsung’s EVO, Crucial’s M500 and Kingston’s own HyperX 3K lineup. This means it is being parachuted into an overly crowded segment so positioning will be the only thing to differentiate it from the countless alternatives. With that being said, the 460 isn’t an extreme performance drive by any stretch of the imagination but it does target those who want excellent bandwidth and good capacity without spending a fortune. Basically, this is an “everyone’s” SSD with aspirations of offering more than the competition.

The last few months have been a rollercoaster ride for OCZ. What looked like complete insolvency and the possible death of a storied brand name became a success story as industry heavyweight Toshiba swooped in to right the sinking ship. This has led to a rapid transformation at a corporate level but it has also resurrected everyone’s confidence in OCZ, their drives and, most importantly, their ongoing support for anyone who purchased their drives.

In order to rebuild confidence in the minds of enthusiasts, OCZ is coming out of their purchase swinging in a big way. Their Vertex 460 will come in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB forms with prices of $99, $189 and $359 respectively, all of which include $55 of free extras in the form of Acronis cloning software and a 3.5” adapter bracket. This represents a very aggressive pricing strategy for what’s included and with the whole affair being backed up by OCZ’s 3 year warranty and excellent customer service, the value quotient is certainly high.

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In many ways the Vertex 460 can be considered an evolutionary product which continues where the 450 series left off and further blurs the line between mainstream and enthusiast grade SSDs. Like the enthusiast orientated Vector 150 this new drive makes use of sixteen ultra-high performance Toshiba 19nm Toggle Mode NAND ICs instead of the ONFi 2 20nm NAND found inside the mainstream - but now EOL'ed - Vertex 450.

OCZ has also equipped the 460 with about 12% of over-provisioning instead of the Vertex 450’s 7%. This will provide a more stable, long term performing envelope with substantially less degradation over time. Meanwhile, the Barefoot 3 M10 controller has been carried forward from its predecessor and presides over things here instead of the higher end M00.

Before we get too far into this review, there is something that should be mentioned. Any OCZ SSD currently in use by consumers now has modified warranty terms. If you own a Revo (non-Hybrid), Vertex or Vector series your warranty is still good and has not changed. However, any Agility series drive’s warranty now expires on Jan 22, 2015. The Apex, Core, Hybrid, Petrol, Onyx and all the rest of the old OCZ drives fare much worse since their warranties died along with the independent version of OCZ. That’s a sad bit of news but with Toshiba now backstopping the operation, this situation shouldn’t repeat itself.

In order to hit a more reasonable price point, there are a number of differentiators between the enthusiast-grade Vector and OCZ’s newest Vertex 460 series. We’ve already mentioned the controller change (which accounts for some slight read / write reductions) but the main reason why folks will look closely at the Vector is its better endurance rating. The 460 goes through less factor testing and doesn’t feature the Vector’s low-level firmware tweaks so it is “only” rated for 20GB/day for three years (21.9TB) versus its sibling’s 50GB/day over 5 years (91.25 TB). Naturally, this trickles down into a shorter warranty for the Vertex-branded SSD but it’s highly doubtful any gamer, mainstream user or even content creator will get anywhere close to 21.9TB of read / write data over the course of three years.

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Like the Vertex 450 and Vector 150, PCZ has equipped their 460 series with an ultra-durable full metal chassis with a 7mm form factor. This is one area we’ve been concerned about lately as many of OCZ’s competitors have transitioned to less expensive plastic enclosures.

As a side benefit, the 7mm height will allow the Vertex 460 to fit inside Ultrabooks and other slim and light mobile devices without any issues. Unfortunately, OCZ has opted to forego the 2.5mm adapter bracket which many other companies include free of charge, though there is the aforementioned 2.5” to 3.5” adapter for those installing it into a standard PC chassis.

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As with its Vertex 450 predecessor, OCZ has opted for the more power efficient M10 variant of the Barefoot 3 controller rather than the M00 which graces their Vector lineup. This controller runs at 352MHz instead of 397MHz but otherwise, both are essentially the same other than the firmware being used.

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The Vertex 460 240GB makes use of two 256GB DDR3-1333 Micron RAM modules for onboard cache but has room for an additional ram IC that is only populated in the larger capacities. This is the same layout which is used in the Vector 240GB.

The Barefoot 3 M10 has proven to be a highly effective controller which capable of extremely stable, long term performance, even when parried to ONFi NAND. Considering this new Vertex 460 uses some of the best NAND IC's available, we fully expect a noticeable performance boost over the 450 which should hearken back to the 'MaxIOPS edition' days.

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The Vertex 460 240GB has its work cut out for it. With Toshiba as their benefactor, OCZ may no longer be considered a pariah but they’ve got a lot to prove. At first glance these new SSDs are well positioned to take over a chunk of the mainstream performance bracket but in such a competitive product space, do they have what it takes to stand out?
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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5,270
Test System & 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
Intel 520: 400i
SanDisk Extreme 240GB: R211
Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB: M206
Intel 335 180GB: 335
Crucial M500: MU02
SanDisk Extreme 2 240GB: R1311
Seagate Pro 600: B660
OCZ Vector 150 240GB: 1.2
Vertex 450 256GB: 2.0
Angelbird Adler 640GB: AA3.15
Vertex 460 240GB: 1.0

SandForce SF1200 Drives:
OCZ Vertex 2 - ONFi 2 NAND

SandForce SF2281 Drives:
Intel 520 - custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 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 150 (M00) - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND
OCZ Vertex 450 (M10) - 20nm ONFi 2 NAND
OCZ Vertex 460 (M10) - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

Novachips NVS3600A controller:
Angelbird Adler - ONFi 2 NAND
 
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AkG

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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 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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While not the absolute fastest solid state drive we have looked at recently, the Vertex 460 240GB does post very good performance numbers. More importantly, the performance is on the whole better than the Vertex 450 it replaces and nearly as good as the much more expensive Vector 150, or any other enthusiast grade SSD for that matter. While sequential performance is never a good benchmark to use beyond gross comparison,s this certainly bodes well for OCZ’s new drive.
 
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AkG

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Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
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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The 460's curves may not be as smooth as we would have hoped for but they are very, very good. In both read and write performance this new drive really does nip at the heels of much more expensive 'flagship' models and equal them in some instances.
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
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.

cdm_r.jpg

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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.

pcm7.jpg


The combination of enthusiast grade NAND with a slightly slower - but still extremely powerful - Barefoot 3 controller really does make for a potent combination. Quite honestly, the Vertex 460 is for all intents and purposes an enthusiast grade drive that just happens to be missing the nosebleed asking price.
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
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.

asd_r.jpg


asd_w.jpg



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.

anvil_r.jpg

anvil_w.jpg

This new Vertex 460 really does slot in perfectly between the 450 and Vector 150 but it is a lot closer to the Vector 150 than its low asking price would lead you to believe.
 
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AkG

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IOMETER

IOMETER


<i>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.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vertex460/iom.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

IOMeter is where performance differences between the Barefoot controller's M10 and M00 versions become readily apparent. For workstation scenarios the extra cost of the Vector 150 will be worth it over the cheaper Vertex 46; but the low queue depth results are close enough to one another that we doubt any would notice the difference in non-business related environments.
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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Windows 7 Startup / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 7 Start Up with 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.


boot.jpg


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!

adobe.jpg


If anything the difference between the older enthusiast-grade Vector 150 and the new Vertex 460 is smaller than the synthetic results would lead you to believe. By combining their powerful controller - even the lower speed M10 variant - with Toshiba's excellent NAND OCZ really have been able to create one heck of a drive. To be blunt, this level of performance is flagship / 'enthusiast' grade and is a really breath of fresh air in the mainstream marketplace.
 
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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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In deeper queue depths the M10 controller does slightly handicap the Vertex 460, but once again for the mainstream marketplace OCZ's newest drive is a beastly performer. It really is impressive how much power OCZ were able to pack into such a reasonable priced SSD.
 
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AkG

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5,270
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>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vertex460/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>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Vertex460/data_boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" /> </div>

The Barefoot 3 controller has already proven to be a very stable, long term performer so these excellent results came as no surprise. By the same token, the Vertex 460 does drop down a notch or two but that's not overly concerning.
 
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