OCZ Vector 150 SSD Solid State Drive Review
By Olin Coles
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology Group, Inc.
Product Name: Vector 150 2.5″ Solid State Drive
Model Number: VTR150-25SAT3-240G (240GB Capacity)
UPC: 842024034056 (240GB model)
Prices: 120GB- $134.99, 240GB- $239.99, 480GB- $489.99 at Newegg
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by OCZ.
Just as technology enjoys an ongoing evolution, OCZ Technology improves upon their design with each new solid state drive series. High-performance hardware enthusiasts were recently offered the Vertex 450 to replace the aging Vertex 4, and now mainstream enthusiasts have the Vector 150 to replace the end-of-life Vector SSD. Featuring an Indilinx Barefoot 3 BF3-M00 controller that supports 19nm Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND flash components by Toshiba with secure AES-256 data encryption and Trim support, Vector 150 is good for 550 MB/s read and 530 MB/s write speeds over a SATA 6-Gb/s connection. In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the 240GB OCZ Vector 150 SSD, model VTR150-25SAT3-240G, against the leading competition.
The new Vector 150 and old Vector SSD share some similarities: both feature OCZ-developed ASIC technology and firmware flashed to an Indilinx Barefoot 3 M00 controller designed in-house, both promise read speeds up to 550 MB/s with up to 90,000 IOPS performance, and both offer five-year product warranty. However, several key developments have improved Vector 150 beyond the original Vector SSD: the use of Toshiba 19nm MLC NAND flash compared to 25nm NAND components used in Vector, increased endurance that’s rated for 50GB writes per day compared to only 20GB/day with Vector, and now support for AES-256 data encryption.
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.