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Toshiba OCZ VX500 512GB & 1TB SSD Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Right now the mainstream SSD market is an interesting place. The SATA 6Gbps interface has long since been saturated so even some of the most affordable drives have hit a performance plateau and more advanced interfaces have either completely failed to gain traction (the now-defunct SATA-Express) or are just a bit too new to have achieved more affordable price levels (NVMe and other PCIe-based standards). As a result, many companies like OCZ are striving to focus upon one area perceived as a major limitation of solid state storage: longevity.

With the current interface limitations, OCZ’s (now a division of Toshiba) lineup has perfectly mirrored the market realities. At the high end is their all-conquering RD400 while the value segment is serviced by the TR150, an SSD once called the Trion 150. The mainstream product used to be the VT180 or the artist formerly known as the venerable Vector 180 but with many newer and more capable entrants into its price point, it was high time that Toshiba looked towards updating it. This is where the VX500 gets factored into the equation.

As you might expect, the new VX500 isn’t being launched to blaze a new performance trail (it is limited by that pesky SATA interface) but rather to satisfy the need for longer-lasting drives in one of today’s most popular storage segments. It’s that enhancing NAND endurance which OCZ is hoping will distinguish them from the countless other competitors vying for buyers’ money.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/intro.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Now while it may use the same interface and standard as the VT180 this new model actually utilizes a new controller. Rather than the OCZ Barefoot 3, which never caught on outside of OCZ models, the VX500 uses Toshiba’s TC35 controller. Very little is known about this piece of silicon and Toshiba are being quite tightlipped about it (and we did ask multiple times), but it nonetheless it seems to be quite potent and prioritizes long term stability over short term performance. In other words, it takes a page from the Barefoot 3’s playbook by not focusing purely upon synthetic benchmarks numbers yet is optimized for long term usage.

More importantly this controller comes with tons of onboard cache. That means the secondary RAM cache isn’t even needed on lower capacity 128GB and 512GB models!

In terms of raw throughput, the VX500 will either match or poll slightly behind the outgoing VT180 at least on paper. That’s nothing to be concerned about since OCZ claims real-world usage scenarios will see these drives literally running neck and neck with one another. Two areas of differentiation do however allow the newer VX models to shine. Not only can these drives offer up to FIVE TIMES the NAND endurance of their predecessors but due to internal wear leveling algorithms, a portion of the drive’s overall capacity doesn’t have to be set aside for those “rainy day” situations. This means the top level 1TB model offers a full 1024GB or capacity vesus the VT180’s 960GB while the 512GB model offers a serious step up over the 480GB VT-series of yesteryear.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/box_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


This move to a Toshiba branded controller was to be expected but it is still interesting to see them handily avoiding 3D NAND technologies. Instead, the OCZ division has taken a much more conservative approach by utilizing the latest (and possible last) '2D' planar NAND which Toshiba manufactures. The VX500’s 128GBit 15nm Toggle Mode MLC NAND ICs may not be cutting edge technology right now but they do offer a shockingly good combination of performance and pricing.

On the surface this is certainly going to be controversial to some laymen as '3D' is all the rage lately but planar MLC NAND does have a lot to offer. It isn’t as “fragile” as the TLC 3D NAND -the only 3D NAND available right now in mass qualities- and its performance characteristics are well known to OCZ's firmware team so optimizations should be well in hand by day one. Best of all, its durability and longevity aren’t in question.

This is why Toshiba's OCZ's division can offer a 5-year hassle free warranty for the VX500 and can offer a Total Drive Write specification that puts 3D TLC NAND to shame. The VX500 512GB model has a TDW rating of 296TB, while the massive 1TB model boasts an impressive 592TB. Compare and contrast this to the Crucial’s new MX300 series and its TLC modules and the difference is quite impressive.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/top_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


I already mentioned the VX500 is targeted at mainstream consumers who may have a higher budget than entry level users but budget still plays a critical role in their decision. This is why the VX500 can offer a 512GB model that only costs $152.52 (or 30 cents per GB) and a 1TB model with an asking price of only $337.06 (or 34 cents per GB). That is one hell of a sales pitch to say the least.

Going hand in hand with these changes is an entirely new design for the VX series. As you can see it has a very unique look with an almost diamond tread pattern on the outer case. On closer examination this pattern is not just for aesthetics since its actually made up of rather are small (but numerous) ventilation holes. For those who follow such things this is the same chassis that Toshiba uses in their Toshiba-branded devices (like the Q300 Pro) and has proven itself to be as effective at cooling as it is easy on the eyes.

Yes, OCZ are taking heat seriously and want to make sure that their VX500 is as cool running as possible. As we all know heat kills and the cooler the NAND and controller run the more durable these critical components will become.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/board1_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


Further reinforcing this idea of long term stability is the interior layout. is if you so choose to crack the case open and peak inside you can expect to find a single sided 3/4 length PCB that uses heatpads on all the major components (excluding the RAM IC on the 1TB model). Basically OCZ has turned the metal enclosure of the VX500 into one massive heatsink. That is rather impressive and something that most manufactures still do not do.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/board2_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


The only minor issue with this layout is that OCZ still relies upon a mainly firmware-based solution for data loss protection. Instead of using onboard capacitors to safely flush its cache to the NAND in the event of a power failure, the VX500 simply flushes its buffer on a frequent basis and thus only needs to back up a small amount of data to the NAND in the event of unexpected power loss.

This is a bit disappointing but in testing it does work, and more importantly, this flushing doesn’t noticeably impact real world performance. More importantly, constant backups are better than what most manufacturers still rely upon but its main competitor –Crucial’s MX300- does indeed have physical data loss protection.

So without any more preamble lets put both theVX500 512GB and cavernous 1TB models under the microscope and see if this new series has the performance chops to make its competition beg for mercy or if this is a model that should have been released 6 months ago before the '3D NAND Revolution'.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
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 Sabretooth TUF X99 LGA 2011-v3 motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition. All drives were tested using either AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers, or NVMHCI using Intel NVMe 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 a manufactures 'Toolbox' and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.

Processor: Core i7 5930K
Motherboard: Asus Sabretooth TUF X99
Memory: 32GB Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-2666
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
Hard Drive: Intel DC S3700 800GB, Intel P3700 800GB
Power Supply: XFX 850

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB: 1.33
Vertex 460 240GB: 1.0
Intel 7230 240GB: L2010400
AMD R7 240GB: 1.0
Crucial MX200: MU01
Intel 750: 8EV10135
Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB: 0C34L5TA
OCZ Trion 480GB & 960GB: SAFM11.1
AData XPG SX930 240GB : 5.9E
AData SP550 240GB: O0730A
PNY CS2211: CS221016
PNY CS1311: CS131122
ZOTAC Premium Edition: SAFM01.6
Apacer AS720: PLD1130
Apacer AS330: AP121PD0
OCZ VX500: JYCX4101

Toshiba TC35 controller:
OCZ Trion 512GB & 1024GB - Custom firmware w/ 15nm Toggle Mode MLC NAND

Toshiba TC58 controller:
OCZ Trion 480GB & 960GB - Custom firmware w/ 19nm Toggle Mode TLC NAND

Samsung MDX controller:
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB- Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

SandForce SF1200 controller:
OCZ Vertex 2 - ONFi 2 NAND

Marvell 9183 controller:
Plextor M6e 256GB- Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 9189 controller:
Crucial MX200 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit MLC NAND

Marvell 9293 controller:
Kingston HyperX Predator - Custom firmware w/ 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

Barefoot 3 controller:
OCZ Vector 180 - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

Intel X25 G3 controller:
Intel 730 - Custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND

Intel NVMe G1 Controller:
Intel 750 - Customer firmware w/ MLC 20nm NAND

Phison PS3110 Controller:
Kingston HyperX Savage 240GB - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND
PNY CS2211: 15nm Toggle Mode NAND
PNY CS1311: 19nm TLC NAND
ZOTAC Premium Edition: 19nm MLC
Apacer AS330 - TLC NAND

JMicron JMF670H Controller:
AData XPG SX930 240GB - 128Gbit MLC NAND
[FONT=&quot][FONT=&quot]Apacer AS720 - [/FONT][/FONT]128Gbit MLC NAND

SMI SM2256 Controller:
AData SP550 240GB - TLC NAND

Special Thanks to Crucial for providing the memory for this testbed.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


<i>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.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/read.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Write Performance


<i>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.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/write.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Unlike earlier models with early firmware, the VX500 does not suffer from occasional stuttering or performance drops. Instead the performance is extremely, extremely consistent with almost no variances even when writing or reading from the entire NAND capacity. This is because the firmware and controller are refined and powerful enough to not impact real world performance and yet still insure the data is safe and protected in the event of an unexpected power loss. 
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO Disk Benchmark


<i>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. </i>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/atto_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/atto_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Overall these performance results are very good, however the small file write results could be a bit better. Though in this day and age ATTO is not very indicative of real world performance so we will withhold judgement until <i>all</i> the results are in.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Crystal DiskMark / PCMark 7

Crystal DiskMark


<i>Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your 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. </i>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/cdm_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/cdm_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

PCMark 7


<i>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.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/pcm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The only reason both the VX500 512GB and 1TB models are not higher in these charts is the deep file performance precipitously drops off eve though the low queue depth performance is bloody marvelous. Considering most home users will never see queue depths deeper than 16 (and typically lower than 4) we are perfectly fine with these results.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
AS-SSD / Anvil Storage Utilities Pro

AS-SSD


<i>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.</i>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/asd_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/asd_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Anvil Storage Utilities Pro


<i>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.</i>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/anvil_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/anvil_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Once again this new series is optimized for shallower queue depths and at this, OCZ knocked it out of the park. The VX500 really does seem optimized for everyday usage scenarios.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
IOMeter Results

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/VX500/iom.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>
This is the first synthetic result that shows the difference a lack of secondary RAM buffer makes. Put simply both models are decent at workstation scenarios but the VX500 1TB model is noticeably superior to the VX500 512GB.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Windows 8 / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 8.1 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance


<i>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. We have chosen Windows 8.1 64bit Pro as our Operating System with all 'fast boot' options disabled in the BIOS. 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. </i>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Adobe CS5 Load Time


<i>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 fared in the Adobe crucible! </i>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/adobe.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Now that we move away from synthetic tests and into more real world scenarios the VX500 series can really stretch its legs! Simply put these results are everything anyone would want in a 2016 mainstream model.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Firefox Performance / Real World Data Transfers

Firefox Portable Offline Performance


<i>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 worst 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.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/ff.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Real World Data Transfers


<i>No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it cannot 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. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/copy_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div><div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/copy_lg.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

This series really does not like deeper queue depths but at shallower levels the VX500 performs admirably well.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
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/VX500/data_pcm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Real World Results

<i>For a real world application we have opted for a modified version of our standard Windows 7 Start Up test. Unlike our standard Windows 7 image this image is based on a working system that has been upgraded numerous times of the past few years and represents an even more realistic real world test.</i>
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/VX500/data_pcm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

This seals the deal for us. Basically Toshiba's new controller not only lives up to the rather high expectations of its predecessor but actually improves upon it. Results like these are why many experienced users sought out, purchased, and <i>used</i> OEM Toshiba drives – as they may not be 'synthetic benchmark rangers' but do they ever perform like greased lightning in the real world!
 

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