New in our benchmark setup is the overall performance chart. Overall performance was calculated by using a formula that weighed in approximately 1x install performance, 1 x file copy performance, 1.5x boot performance, 2x application launching performance and 3x multi tasking performance.
Vertex 3 and Crucial M4 are neck to neck, with the Crucial M4 grabbing victory. The difference was minimal though. Our formula was quite arbitrary, with a different formula different results would occur.
The SATA III drives are about 20% faster than the SATA II Intel X25-M. The 5400rpm hard drive is roughly 2.5 times slower.
To measure battery life I used the application Battery Bar. The notebook was set to browse the web, in balanced energy profile with low screen brightness. To simulate an active web browsing session, Chrome web browser was set to reload the home page of the Notebookreview.com discussion forum every 20 seconds. Since the average total power draw was around 8 – 9 watt, the hard drive can make quite a difference.
It’s clear the Vertex 3 isn’t a good choice for people looking to improve their battery life. Intel and Crucial did better. The Toshiba hard drive also had lower power consumption, this happens to be a very power efficient drive.
Performance after testing
To get an impression of performance we used AS-SSD compression benchmark. It turned out our real world tests had quite an impact on the SSDs performance. The first picture (left) shows the worst performance result we saw, right after the real world test. The second picture (right) shows the Vertex 3 in fully recovered state.
As can be seen in the pictures especially the write speeds can take quite a hit, even below 5400rpm hard drive levels. This degradation is caused by the Sandforce controller, which limits write speeds for incompressible data. The write speeds do recover after a while but one wonders if this kind of control is really necessary. Especially power users will not be happy with these artificial speed limits.
It’s important to know that the performance degradation seen in the above pictures is only witnessed after rather heavy usage in a short time frame. In a matter of a couple of hours we wrote more than 80 GB to the Vertex 3, which does not reflect the usage pattern of the average user. For the average user the Sandforce write throttling should not be any problem.
The OCZ Vertex 3 120GB offers overall impressive performance but there are some down sides to this SSD. Its performance is very dependent on the compressibility of the data used. Therefore the Vertex 3 is not a very good choice for people that work a lot with compressed video, images or music. For those people the Crucial M4 SSD is faster. Another downside is the relatively high power consumption. People looking to maximize battery life in their laptops are better off with other SSDs.
Long-term reliability is another question mark for the Vertex 3. It’s commonly known that the first generation Sandforce drives had quite a lot of problems. The new generation might be more reliable but there is no proof yet. There are some signs that reliability might still not be where it should be. Still, only time will tell how reliable these drives really are.
Looking at the price of the Vertex 3, starting at $245, we have a hard time recommending it for notebook users. The Crucial M4 128GB offers virtually the same performance and starts $30 cheaper. The Crucial is also larger and arguably has a better track record for reliability.
Next in our SSD review line up is the Kingston V+ 100 96GB. Can this budget SSD compete with the SATA III drives in this review? Check back soon to find out.
- Good overall performance
- Excellent performance with easily compressible data
- Power consumption is relatively high
- Limited speeds for incompressible data