The Samsung 840 Pro was our top SSD until the OCZ Vector came along several months later and was able to run neck-and-neck with the Sammy through our benchmark gauntlet. As it currently stands, the 256GB versions of these drives both wear a 9/Kick Ass bandolier around their midsections, but there’s still another contest that has yet to be decided. So this month, we gathered the 512GB versions of both drives and set them loose in the blood-splattered arena known as the Lab.
OCZ Vector 512GB
The OCZ Vector surprised all of us with its speed and consistency when we first tested it in November of last year. Though it didn’t quite eclipse the overall performance of the Samsung 840 Pro, it was an extremely close fight, which was a significant achievement for OCZ given Samsung’s prodigious size and resources and OCZ’s comparatively tiny stature.
The OCZ Vector is so close to the Samsung 840 Pro that in the real world it’s mostly a tie.
Unlike OCZ’s Vertex 4 drive, which used the Indilinx Everest 2 controller with Marvell silicon and OCZ and Indilinx firmware, the Vector uses a new controller named Barefoot 3 that is 100 percent OCZ’s creation, both in terms of silicon and firmware. Controller aside, the Vector uses the same zippy 25nm IMTF MLC NAND found in the Vertex 4 but with all-new firmware. The 512GB Vector sports a slice-of-turkey-thin 7mm metal chassis with a pretty blue and black motif, and like all modern SSDs it rides the SATA 6Gb/s interface. The complete package includes an OCZ sticker, a 3.5-inch bay adapter, and a lengthy 5-year warranty. OCZ also makes its OCZ Toolbox software available for download; we'll cover that a bit more down below.
During testing, the 512GB Vector delivered the same scintillating performance we saw from the 256GB version, again allowing it to run nose-to-nose with the Samsung 840 Pro all the way around our test track. Though it took top honors in two of our nine tests, it was beaten by the Samsung 840 Pro in the other seven, making the Samsung drive the overall winner in what was a very close contest. In our sequential speed tests, both drives were pushing right around 500MB/s in both directions, which is running right up to the edge of the SATA 6Gb/s interface, so you’d be hard-pressed to find anything faster using current technology. In our 4K random-write test with a 32- command queue, both drives topped 80,000 IOPS but the Vector came up a bit short compared to the 840 Pro, yet tied with the 480GB Corsair Neutron GTX. In our new Sony Vegas test, the SSDs are told to write a humongous 200GB AVI file, so it’s a test of straight-line speed, and in this test the Vector placed respectably but was again outpaced by the 840 Pro by a very close 18 seconds.
Overall, it was a great showing by the Vector but it clearly has as small speed disadvantage. The other area that’s lacking is its OCZ Toolbox software, which covers the basics like secure erase and firmware updates, but is ugly and lacks many of the features of Samsung’s software, making it one more area where OCZ needs to catch up. The Vector is still a fantastic SSD, but as a comprehensive package it’s not quite able to overcome the 840 Pro’s speed, software, and slight price advantage.
OCZ Vector 512GB
Fast in every test; 5-year warranty; looks snazzy.
Not quite as fast as the Samsung; software could be improved.
When the all-new Samsung 840 Pro debuted a few months back, we were excited to see if Samsung could maintain its mojo—after all, the 830 Series was at the time our Best of the Best in the SSD category. We need not have worried about mojo depletion, as the 840 Pro was not just faster than the 830 Series drives, it was faster than any other SSD we had tested at that time, and in its maiden voyage in the Lab it broke seven out of nine benchmark records. This month, the 512GB version has arrived to preserve the brand’s honor. We even heard it whisper to the Vector, “Prepare to die” when the two drives met on the test bench.
Samsung's 840 Pro is about as fast as we can expect an SSD to be, given current technology.
Like its 256GB stable mate, the 512GB Sammy Pro (476GB formatted) sports 21nm Toshiba MLC Toggle NAND instead of the less-expensive TLC NAND found in the non-Pro version of the drive. The drive comes with a 5-year warranty but does not ship with a 3.5-inch bay adapter, as it’s clearly being marketed toward mobile users looking for a speed bump rather than desktop power-junkies like us. The Pro includes Samsung’s Magician software, data migration software, and an aesthetic that matches the non-Pro series, which we think is a shame.
During testing, the 840 Pro demonstrated why it’s on our Best of the Best list with a commanding performance. Even though it had the Vector and the Corsair Neutron GTX 480GB breathing down its SATA connector the whole time, it was still able to outpace both of them comfortably in the majority of our tests. Most interesting is the fact that the 840 Pro was able to beat the other drives in both sequential and random-write tests, which is impressive. Its most notable win was in Iometer, where the drive hit almost 90K IOPS, which is ridiculously fast. The only test where the 840 Pro lost to the Vector was in 4K incompressible write requests via AS SSD, which is even more of a torture test than Iometer, but the Samsung’s score of 16,984 IOPS is still second-fastest for its class.
Finally, there’s the SSD Magician software that comes with the drive, which is head-and-shoulders better than any other SSD software on the market. It shows you more information than you’d ever hope to find, like how much data has been written to the drive, AHCI status, and more.