OCZ Vector 180 240GB Review (Page 2 of 10)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Test System

As always, before we move onto the fancy technical details about OCZ's latest, third generation Vector series solid state drive based on the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller, let us briefly discuss the physical attributes of this SSD first. The OCZ Vector 150 240GB takes on the new design language that is totally different than the Vector 150. Instead, it is made to have family resemblance with the OCZ ARC 100 240GB my colleague Aaron Lai reviewed in October 2014. Featuring rounded corners and a large label with OCZ's branding and logo covering the entire front surface, the graphics on the OCZ Vector 180 240GB is a clean and good looking. This black label on top of the flat aluminum cover is present to ensure the user will make no mistake that this is a Vector 180 series drive, but you will not find its capacity until you look at the back.

Measuring in at 99.7mm wide, 69.75mm deep, and 7mm tall, its thickness -- or lack thereof -- will ensure wide compatibility. That said, it is a bit heavier than other SSDs though, with a manufacturer's specification of a rather porky 115g, just its predecessors. OCZ Vector 180 drives will have no problems fitting into your laptop hard disk bay if you want to boost mobile computing performance, considering pretty much all new laptops have 7mm bays. On the other hand, if you want to use it in your desktop and your chassis has no 2.5" mount, then you are in luck -- as usual, a 3.5" adapter bracket is included right out of the box, so you can easily install this SSD in any standard desktop internal drive bay. This makes the Vector 180 quite convenient to deploy in either environments for the end user. Nowadays, it is hard to find a case without a 2.5" drive bay, but if you ever want to retrofit this SSD into an older desktop, it is nice the company included such an accessory.

Turning the SSD around reveals a flat metal backplate. This is something users will come to expect from a solid state drive, as there are no exposed printed circuit boards like you would normally see with a traditional hard disk. The only thing that is common between the OCZ Vector 180 240GB SSD and a traditional hard disk drive is its SATA 6Gb/s and corresponding power connector at the end. As shown in our photo above, you will find a large label with the usual series of certification logos, along with information such as the brand, capacity, and serial number. In case you missed it, our particular unit is the OCZ Vector 180 240GB, haha. As with all OCZ SSDs, they are all made in Taiwan, and this one is no exception.

The OCZ Vector 180 240GB has a separate top and bottom plate, and is attached to the metal frame by four small screws on each panel. One of the screws has a warranty seal over it, so in order to take a peek inside the SSD, you will have to inevitably void your five year ShieldPlus warranty. This is something you really do not want to do -- ShieldPlus is OCZ's term for advance replacement, free return shipping, with no requirement for an original receipt. For an SSD manufacturer, this is one of the best warranty programs available in the market today. To save you some trouble, I cracked mine open to take some photos of its internals for you to see. And by doing so, it is unsurprising to find how simple an SSD is inside compared to a traditional HDD. As always, you will find a small OCZ designed green printed circuit board, and that is it. Of course, there is more than what that meets the eye. The heart of OCZ's Vector 180 240GB is the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller. This is the same one found in both its predecessors. As the drive controller is fundamentally very important to any SSD, let us dig more into the details of its brain.

To go back into a little bit of history, OCZ purchased Indilinx for $32 million in March of 2011. Prior to this, while OCZ has been designing and building their own PCBs, there was nothing that really differentiated their products from the competition -- every drive consists of pretty much off-the-shelf hardware. Companies like G.Skill, Corsair, Kingston, and Patriot has been doing this as well, and other than optimizations you do on the firmware level, they are all essentially the same thing under the hood.

With the release of the Indilinx Everest controller seen in the OCZ Octane 512GB, and subsequently, the Everest 2 found in the Vertex 4 256GB and Agility 4 256GB, OCZ sold products developed in house -- so to say -- that sets it apart from the competition. This ambitious acquisition placed OCZ into the ranks of being a genuine SSD manufacturer, and not just a run of the mill company slapping together parts available to every kid on the block. To be absolutely fair, the Everest series were not real in house controllers (They were actually Marvell licensed units with heavily customized firmware), the Barefoot 3 in the Vector 180 we are reviewing today is the real deal, as we have explored about two years ago.

The Vector 180 furthers OCZ's commitment to both speed and reliability in their higher end drives. Yes, speed is still important. Rated at 550MB/s read, 530MB/s write, and 95,000 IOPS over SATA 6Gb/s, these figures are identical to its predecessor. But performance is not everything. OCZ also claims quality, reliability, and stability are top priorities as well, and have done extensive work in their testing and validation for both its hardware and software. Interestingly, I have never had any issues with OCZ's SandForce based drives, but I did with the original Vector 256GB and Vertex 450 256GB. All of them died within exactly three months of ownership, and after getting them replaced, their replacements also died exactly within three months of ownership. I may just be having bad luck. For the OCZ Vector 150 240GB and Vertex 460 240GB, both of them has been rock solid to this day, and they are actively deployed. To further improve reliability of their SSDs, new to the Vector 180 is OCZ's PFM+, which stands for Power Failure Management Plus. It is a procedure that executes automatically to data already written to flash during an unexpected power loss. The Vector 180 is not an enterprise drive, so data in DRAM will still be lost, but it helps in preventing drive bricking.

As aforementioned, the Barefoot 3 is the first controller developed 100% in house by OCZ. A thermal pad on the bottom metal casing helps out in dissipating heat away from the controller. The Indilinx Barefoot 3 IDX500M00 is an ARM Cortex architecture processor with a 32-bit OCZ Aragon co-processor at 400MHz. The ARM Cortex processor handles the SATA interface, while the co-processor manages the data moving in and out of the flash memory chips. The 8-channel flash controller features an internal randomizer, ECC engine, and ONFI/Toggle NAND compatibility. Unfortunately, it is not Microsoft eDrive compatible, which is too bad. It also does not support DevSleep, so in terms of power efficiency, there are better choices out there if you plan to use it in your laptop.

While SandForce takes significant pride on their ability to do on-the-fly compression and the lack of need for external cache, the Indilinx Barefoot 3 does just the opposite. The OCZ controller is paired with 512MB of memory, in which we will take a look at in just a moment. Also, it does not compress information before writing, making performance identical regardless of the data written is compressible or not. Of course, you are going to sacrifice some speed (And possibly higher write amplification, but we have no specific information on that) when dealing with compressible data, but the speed and IOPS rating of OCZ's Vector 180 is excellent for a SATA 6Gb/s drive, and it plays no tricks. As usual, we have the standard array of features from the controller that works in the background, such as automatic garbage collection and TRIM. Other than that, OCZ withholds quite a bit of information about the Barefoot 3, so this is all we can talk about in this section.

A total of sixteen NAND flash chips are found on the OCZ Vector 180 240GB solid state disk, with eight on each side. The chips used are Toshiba TH58TEG7DDKBA4C synchronous flash memory, with a capacity of 16GB per integrated circuit chip. These are toggle mode multi-level cells manufactured on the 19nm fabrication process. Since OCZ is now owned by Toshiba, you really do not expect them to use flash chips from other brands, haha. These are the same chips found in the ARC 100 240GB. Its rated write endurance is an impressive 50GB for five years, which equates to over 90TB net. 16GB out of the 256GB total capacity (Just under 7%) is provisioned for the drive controller for enhanced write endurance and lowered write amplification, so the actual usable space is 240GB, as advertised. You will see 223GB in Windows. Two Micron MT41K256M8DA-125 256MB DDR3-1600 chips, labeled D9PSH, are present for a total of 512MB RAM; used with the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller to ensure smooth operation.

Our test configuration is as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K @ 4.6GHz
CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U14S (2x Noctua NF-A15)
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
RAM: Kingston HyperX Savage HX324C11SRK2/16 2x8GB
Graphics: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 760 2GB
Chassis: SilverStone Temjin TJ04-E (Noctua NF-S12A PWM, Noctua NF-P12 PWM)
Storage: SanDisk Extreme II 240GB; OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB
Power: PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk III 1200W
Sound: Auzentech X-Fi Bravura
Optical Drive: LiteOn iHAS224-06 24X DVD Writer
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional

Compared Hardware:
- OCZ Vector 180 240GB
- Crucial BX100 500GB
- Crucial MX100 256GB
- Crucial MX200 500GB
- G.Skill Phoenix EVO 115GB
- Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB
- Kingston HyperX 120GB
- Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe 480GB
- Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB
- 2x Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB RAID 0
- OCZ ARC 100 240GB
- OCZ Agility 3 240GB
- OCZ Agility 4 256GB
- OCZ Octane 512GB
- OCZ RevoDrive 350 480GB
- OCZ Vector 150 240GB
- OCZ Vector 256GB
- OCZ Vertex 2 160GB 25nm
- OCZ Vertex 2 60GB 34nm
- OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB
- OCZ Vertex 3.20 240GB
- OCZ Vertex 4 256GB
- OCZ Vertex 450 256GB
- OCZ Vertex 460 240GB
- Patriot Blaze 240GB
- Patriot Ignite 480GB
- Patriot Pyro 120GB
- Patriot Pyro SE 240GB
- SanDisk Extreme II 240GB
- SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GB
- SanDisk Ultra II 240GB
- Silicon Power Slim S80 240GB

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look, Test System
3. Benchmark: AIDA64 Disk Benchmark
4. Benchmark: ATTO Disk Benchmark
5. Benchmark: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0
6. Benchmark: HD Tach
7. Benchmark: HD Tune Pro 4.60
8. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0
9. Benchmark: PCMark Vantage
10. Conclusion