OCZ Technology specialises in performance components for PC enthusiasts, supplying power supplies, cooling products and high speed RAM. But the company is perhaps most recognised now as a specialist in solid-state drive (SSD) internal storage.
There are several ranges that carry the Vertex name, including Vertex 2 EX, Vertex 2 Pro as well as the original Vertex. Standing at the top of the line now is the company’s Vertex 3, with its SATA 6Gb/s interface.
OCZ likes to point out that the design of its SSDs is exclusive to the brand. It buys in the necessary NAND flash and controllers, then designs the hardware and internal software in-house rather than using manufacturers' reference designs.
We tested a OCZ Vertex 2 unit, available in capacities from 40GB to 480GB. We were sent the OCZSSD2-2VTXE120G model, a 2.5in SATA notebook drive with a 120GB nominal capacity. Included in the box is an adaptor that allows the drive to be used easily in a 3.5in SATA drive bay.
The unit is finished very neatly in a matt black anodised aluminium case with a thin stainless steel bottom plate. Connection is via a standard SATA edge connector, and the drive is specified for the slightly outdated SATA 3Gb/s standard.
Inside, the OCZ Vertex 2 takes a Sandforce SF1200-series controller. This takes an unusual approach to hit high transfer speeds, compressing incoming data and decompressing outward data in order to speed transfers. And unlike most SSDs that employ a cache, there’s no traditional data buffer included with Sandforce controllers.
OCZ makes the Vertex 2 in capacities from 40GB to 400GB. With Sandforce controllers, we’re told, performance is not related to capacity like ‘normal’ SSDs, which tend to perform better in higher storage versions thanks to increased parallelism to augment throughput. Nevertheless, the smallest models are said to have slightly slower read/write and IOPS figures.
In the heart of the range are the 50GB, 60GB, 80GB, 100GB, 120GB, 160GB and 200GB drives.
These are all listed as having maximum read speeds up to 285MB/s, maximum write speeds of 250MB/s and 50,000 IOPS on 4kB random writes. The specs also give 250MB/s as the sustained write speed.
In out initial tests, we saw raw speeds that approached and exceeded the manufacturer’s figures: 272MB/s sequential read and 280MB/s write speeds, as measured by the simplistic ATTO Disk 32 benchmark tool.
Crystal Disk Mark is a benchmark that by default uses a random data set that may be a better approximation to real world data.
But we tested first with the easier 0x00 (zeroes) data set, which compresses well. Here we saw excellent sequential read/write speeds of 268MB/s and 260MB/s respectively. Using random data though, these figures fell to 209MB/s read and 138MB/s for writing.
Let’s be clear here, that’s half the write speed compared to best case compressible data. It's still a good result compared to spinning platters, though.
In the HD Tune Pro tests, we saw a good smooth line for read performance, averaging 268MB/s with essentially no min/max variance. In the write test, there was a small amount of zig zag choppiness, but the average speed of 263MB/s was also impressively consistent.
In the AS SSD test, the OCZ Vertex 2 scored a nominal 448 points, with headline read/write speeds of 206 and 129MB/s respectively. We couldn’t reach the listed 50,000 IOPS figure, the nearest being 30,000 in AS SSD using 4kB data with 64 theads.
The OCZ Vertex 2 is a fast SATA 3Gb/s SSD, with good multitasking performance too as we noted from its ability to juggle parallel data streams without significant slowdown. Its headline sequential read/write speeds do assume you’re using easily compressible raw file data, even if real world use with music/photos/video may not benefit from this technique.
The OCZ Vertex 2 is now attractively priced, as little as £150 for 120GB. At that price, it earns a recommendation.