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In June, we tested OCZ’s Vertex Limited Edition, one of two drives we had that used the SandForce SF-1200 controller. At the time, we wondered why OCZ would artificially limit supplies of an SSD with such great performance. And now we know: It was a trial run to help SandForce, a recent startup, gain capital to scale up production. It’s since done that, and in gratitude to OCZ has granted the company exclusive random-write-IOPS-boosting firmware for its Vertex 2 drives. The new firmware will be available to other SF-1200 drives (probably by the time this issue hits stands)—but as of press time, it’s an OCZ Vertex 2 exclusive deal. Ethics of “exclusive firmware” aside, is the Vertex 2 any better than its Limited Edition stable mate?
Sweet particulate platypus, yes. We lauded the sequential write speeds of the two SandForce drives we tested previously, but noted that their sequential reads were still lower than those of Barefoot drives like the Corsair Nova and Patriot Torqx. The Vertex 2 has no such limitations; its HDTune 4.01 average sequential write is identical to the LE’s, but its average sequential read is a whopping 228MB/s on our test bed, faster than any SSD we’ve tested to date. 4KB random read IOPS were in the 11,000 range, with write IOPS in the 10,000 range. This is a far cry from the 50,000 IOPS OCZ claims that the firmware allows, but still the highest we’ve ever seen with our current test suite, which uses a different program to measure IOPS than OCZ does. Interestingly, random IOPS in the Corsair Force F100 are nearly on par with the Vertex 2, which was supposed to have a firmware-driven lead, but the Vertex 2 does outstrip the F100 in sustained reads. This, again, could be a benchmark-related issue.
The Vertex 2 also clocks one of the highest single-drive PCMark Vantage HDD subscores we’ve ever seen, at nearly 35,000. In fact, it is as good as or better than every SSD we’ve ever tested in nearly every category (although Intel’s drives still reign supreme in random-write speeds).
It’s been a long time since we could unequivocally give a Kick Ass award to a solid state drive—the Patriot Torqx has held our Best of the Best spot for a long time—but the OCZ Vertex 2 takes the crown. Prices range from $200 for 50GB to over $1,800 for 480GB; the 100GB version is $400.
Blazing fast. Exclusive high-IOPS firmware. Capacities up to 480GB.
Random writes still not in Intel territory.