OCZ Vertex 450 Solid State Drive Review
By Olin Coles
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology Group, Inc.
Product Name: Vertex 450 7mm SSD 2.5″ SATA-3 6Gb/s
Model Number: VTX450-25SAT3-256G (256GB Capacity)
UPC: 842024033813 (128GB) 842024033820 (256GB) 842024033837 (512GB)
Prices: 128GB- $129.99 (Newegg|Amazon), 256GB- $229.99 (Newegg|Amazon), 512GB- $549 (Amazon)
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by OCZ.
The last time we tested the OCZ Vertex 4, it was powered by a dual-core Marvell controller that combined technology from separate sources. This time, the OCZ Vertex 450 solid state drive is made of in-house components. Featuring an Indilinx BF3-M10 Barefoot 3 controller that supports 20nm Synchronous Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND flash components with AES-256 encryption and Trim support, Vertex 450 is good for 540 MB/s read speeds over a SATA 6-Gb/s connection. In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the 240GB OCZ Vertex 450 SSD, model VTX450-25SAT3-256G, against the leading competition.
Several key developments make Vertex 450 different from Vertex 4: 20nm Synchronous Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND flash components, OCZ-developed application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) technology and firmware, in-house designed Indilinx Barefoot 3 (BF3-M10) controller, and 7mm form factor. Vertex 450 arrives in 128, 256, and 512GB capacities, offering read speeds up to 540 MB/s and 530 MB/s writes. 4K random read IOPS performance reaches 85,000, while random write operations top out at 90,000 IOPS.
OCZ Vertex 450 utilizes the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller, which was used on the OCZ Vector Solid State Drive series that debuted at the beginning of 2013. The BF3-M10 edition controller features a power-optimized clock generator that runs at a slightly lower clock speed (compared to Vector). This produces lightly reduced transfer speeds and IOPS performance by comparison, but also improves yield which reduces cost to consumers.
Solid State vs Hard Disk
Despite decades of design improvements, the hard disk drive (HDD) remains the slowest component of any personal computer system. Consider that modern desktop processors typically have a 1 ns response time (nanosecond = one billionth of one second), while system memory responds between 30-90 ns. Traditional hard disk technology utilizes spinning media, and even the fastest mechanical storage products still exhibit a 9 ms (9,000,000 ns) initial response time (millisecond = one thousandth of one second). In more relevant terms, the processor sends the command, but must wait for system memory to fetch data from the storage drive. This is why any computer system is only as fast as the slowest component in the data chain, which is usually the hard drive.
In a perfect world all of the components would operate at the same speed: system memory signals as quickly as the central processor, and the storage drive fetches data as fast as memory. With present-day technology this is an impossible task, so enthusiasts try to close the speed gaps between components as much as possible. Although system memory is up to 90x (9000%) slower than most processors, consider that the hard drive is an additional 1000x (100,000%) slower than memory. Essentially, these three components are as different in speed as crawling (HDD) is to walking (RAM) is to running (CPU).
Solid State Drive technology bridges the largest gap in these response times. The difference a SSD makes to operational response times and program speeds is dramatic, and takes the storage drive from a slow ‘crawling’ speed to a much faster ‘walking’ speed. Solid State Drive technology improves initial response times by more than 450x (45,000%) for applications and Operating System software, when compared to their mechanical HDD counterparts. The biggest mistake PC hardware enthusiasts make with regard to SSD technology is grading them based on bandwidth speed alone. File transfer speeds are important, but only so long as the operational I/O performance can sustain that bandwidth under load.
Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance
As we’ve explained in our SSD Benchmark Tests: SATA IDE vs AHCI Mode guide, Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance I/O per second (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one may be more important than the other. Consider this analogy: bandwidth determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and operational IOPS performance is how fast that ship moves. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.
For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer into Windows than if the SSD offered a higher IOPS performance.