OCZ Vertex Turbo Series SSD Review: Benchmarks and Conclusion

October 18, 2009 by J.R. Nelson Reads (4,989)

Yes, the new drives are faster; in fact they’re some of the fastest we’ve used. Compared to the previous version, though, does it matter? Access times are already a ridiculous 0.1ms or less; you’re not going to notice a change there. Applications still load super fast. It’s true that the drive’s raw bandwidth is greater, but how often do you completely saturate out a drive’s maximum throughput? You’ll notice it when writing very large files, deleting very large files, maybe loading game levels or when transitioning to and from hibernation.

HDTune results:


OCZ Vertex 30 in
desktop use
OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD
OCZ Vertex Turbo
120 in desktop use


Intel X25-M SSD
(revision 1)


Western Digital 2TB
Caviar Green drive


OCZ Vertex 30 in
laptop use


OCZ Vertex Turbo
120 in laptop use


Solidata X-2
256GB SSD

Western Digital
300GB Velociraptor

The new Turbo editions of the Vertex drives definitely test faster than the originals.  Just like with other solid state drives we’ve tested, the drives rate signficantly quicker in the desktop tests than in the notebook tests. Aside from the fundamental hardware differences between the systems, the tests and benchmarks are set up in the same way.

Atto benchmark results:


OCZ Vertex 30 in
desktop use
OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD
OCZ Vertex Turbo 120 in
desktop use

Western Digital 2TB
Caviar Green drive


OCZ Vertex 30 in
laptop use


OCZ Vertex Turbo 120 in
laptop use


Western Digital
300GB Velociraptor

CrystalDiskMark results:

OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD
OCZ Vertex Turbo
120 (desktop)


OCZ Vertex Turbo
120 (notebook)

OCZ Vertex 30
(desktop)


Western Digital
2TB Caviar Green

The rest of the benchmarks follow suit.  OCZ’s new drives are seriously fast.  In some tests they trade blows with the original Vertex drives, while in others that are demonstrably faster.  As for whether they live up to the manufacturer’s claims, well, mostly they do.  We didn’t quite see the peak read speeds OCZ suggests for their drives; on the other hand, we saw better than claimed write speeds, which you might say evens things out a little bit.

Like with most SSDs, while the sequential read and write speeds are impressive, it’s the combination of random reads and writes as well as access time that really gives these guys a leg up over traditional hard drives.  The world’s fastest magnetic hard drive is typically considered to be Western Digital’s Velociraptor: a 300GB, 2.5-inch monstrosity that was pretty impressive — at least until SSDs started to arrive on the scene en masse.  WD’s Velociraptor has an access time of right around 7 milliseconds.  Compare that to the Vertex Turbo’s access time of 0.1 milliseconds or less. That’s almost two orders of magnitude faster.  It doesn’t get much better when you start looking at the differences between random reads and writes at small file sizes: while the Vertex Turbo drops below 30 and 10 MB/s respectively, that’s still several times faster than regular hard drives.

OCZ Max Performance claims:

Vertex 30:

  • Read: up to 230MB/s
  • Write: up to 135MB/s
  • Sustained write: up to 80MB/s

Vertex Turbo 30:

  • Read: up to 240MB/s
  • Write: up to 145MB/s
  • Sustained write: up to 100MB/s

Vertex 60:

  • Read: up to 230MB/s
  • Write: up to 135MB/s
  • Sustained write: up to 80MB/s

Vertex Turbo 60:

  • Read: up to 240MB/s
  • Write: up to 145MB/s
  • Sustained write: up to 100MB/s

Vertex 120:

  • Read: up to 250MB/s
  • Write: up to 180MB/s
  • Sustained write: up to 100MB/s

Vertex Turbo 120:

  • Read: up to 270MB/s
  • Write: up to 200MB/s
  • Sustained write: up to 120MB/s

Vertex 250:

  • Read: up to 250MB/s
  • Write: up to 160MB/s
  • Sustained write: up to 100MB/s

Vertex Turbo 250:

  • Read: up to 270MB/s
  • Write: up to 210MB/s
  • Sustained write: up to 120MB/s

The benchmark numbers look impressive.  But then, they always do.  How do they translate into real world numbers…numbers that you can actually use to see how well the drive would perform for you?  We tested the Vertex Turbo 120 SSD with a number of different applications and scenarios just to get a feel for how responsive the system becomes.  All of the examples below were performed using the notebook+SSD configuration. For comparison’s sake, my desktop PC with a 1TB Western Digital Caviar Green drive took fifteen seconds to open iTunes the first time, and then four seconds to open it subsequent times thanks to Windows 7’s improved superfetch program caching capabilities.

Application Time to load (in seconds)
iTunes 1.9
Photoshop CS4 2.8
Time to load Windows desktop from
cold start
19.7
Time to fully power down 5.4
Time to load Windows desktop from
hibernation
14.5
Time to fully enter hibernation 9.4

Using SSDs completely changes the feel of even a low-end computer.  Thanks to almost nonexistent access times, applications and features respond almost instaneously instead of forcing users to sit and wait on a rotating hourglass or beach ball.  Even when you have a lot of RAM and an intelligent operating system searching out commonly used files and optimizing the system to load these files in a more efficient fashion (as is the case with Windows and Superfetch) it still doesn’t compare to swapping the hard drive out for something with a bit more pep.

While we’re discussing the operating system side of things, it’s worth mentioning the impending effect Windows 7 will have on systems using solid state drives.  For the first time, Microsoft’s OS will be intelligently aware of storage types (e.g., hard drive, SSD,  etc) and modify its own behavior to both get the most out of using an SSD as well as prolong the drive’s life.  As opposed to hard drives, SSDs can wear out due to extensive writing on the drive. Things like drive defrags can exacerbate this write sensitivity and shorten the usable life of the drive.  From now on, when Windows detects an SSD it will disable defrag, Superfetch and Readyboost.  If the drive is known to offer sufficient levels of random read, write and flush performance (like the Vertex Turbo), Window swill also disable boot and application launch prefetching.

Windows 7 will also be the first operating system to support TRIM commands.  Thanks to the physical nature of SSDs, blocks with data can’t simply be overwritten once file pointers have been erased.  Instead, whole ‘pages’ of these blocks must be emptied before having data rewritten to them.  Performance degradation can result when drives all the blocks get filled with ‘deleted’ data, forcing the drive to hold some information in cache or reserved cells until it can wipe a section and deposit the new data there.  TRIM works by wiping those pages opportunistically, so users don’t have to wait on the OS or drive to clear a pre-deleted section of space just to store new data.

Power, Heat and Noise
There’s not a whole lot to say in this section that hasn’t been covered in other reviews and news posts we’ve done about SSDs.  Still, what there is is worth reiterating. One of the most power efficient hard drives we’ve had in for review, the Western Digital 2TB Caviar Green HDD, still pulled an average of 7 watts of electricity when actively accessing the platters.  Even when idling the drive uses up a full watt.  The Vertex Turbo on the other hand, used just under 2 watts of power when actively being used, and only half a watt when idling.  It doesn’t seem like manage when you compare the two drives within a single system within a single home ofice.  Imagine deploying them across a business, whether a single floor or a whole building — the savings add up.

Like most SSDs, the Vertex Turbo 120 is utterly silent.  It’s a nice refrain from the little ticking noises given off by regular hard drives.  The perfect complement to its stealthy operations is just how cool the drive remains.  Even under relatively active duty, the device didn’t go much above room temperature.  Compare that to some SSDs we’ve gotten in for review and it’s definitely worth marking down a plus.

Conclusion
OCZ really hit it out of the park the first time around, with the Vertex series of SSDs. The Vertex Turbo might not be the grand slam home run of the first, but it’s certainly a score in its own right.  The new drives are faster than ever and are able to compete with Intel’s own brand, likely the leader in terms of mindshare regardless of units sold.  One of the biggest and almost only problems we had with the original Vertex series is the convoluted series of hoops users had to jump through in order to accomplish something so mundane as updating the drive’s firmware. Fortunately that’s all been fixed since then, and while there’s yet to be a new firmware revision released for the Vertex Turbo series of drives, buyers won’t have to dig through their closets and find a jumper to just to enable the firmware update mode.

The drive is also a little pricey.  Our review unit is currently attracting prices over five hundred dollars due to general scarcity. Is it worth paying that much? I can’t answer that; enthusiasts have always paid extra for performance at almost any cost. The thirty gigabyte option, going for close to $150 currently, is a great option if you can deal with the reduced storage space.  If you already have a Vertex SSD, it’s not worth the upgrade costs.  If you have an older hard drive though, and are looking to take your system’s responsiveness to a whole new level, look no further than these guys.  Older systems become unimaginably snappy, and fast, modern systems? They get taken to a new level entirely.

Pros

  • Fast
  • No really, fast
  • Silent
  • Cool

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Won’t fit in all laptops


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