OCZ Vertex 450 256GB Review (Page 2 of 10)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Installation, Test System

As always, before we move onto the fancy technical details about OCZ's latest Vertex series solid state drive based on the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller, let's briefly discuss the physical attributes of this SSD first. The OCZ Vertex 450 256GB takes on the new design language first introduced on the OCZ Vector 256GB. Featuring rounded corners and a large label reminiscent of its packaging that covers the entire front surface, the OCZ Vertex 450 256GB is actually a really good looking SSD to look at. The black label on top of the flat aluminum cover is present to ensure the user will make no mistake that this is an OCZ Vertex 450 drive.

Measuring in at 99.7 x 69.75 x 7 mm, 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 like the OCZ Vector. OCZ Vertex 450 drives will have no problems fitting into your laptop hard disk bay if you want to boost mobile computing performance. That said, I would still like to see a spacer included for those who have 9.5mm bay openings. 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 Vertex 450 quite convenient to deploy in either environments for the end user. My only complaint is that the screw holes on the 3.5" adapter bracket is slightly smaller compared to the ones found on standard 3.5" hard drive, so if you need to use any other screws other than the ones provided by OCZ (Such as, if your are installing the Vertex 450 into a 3.5" drive bay that require screws provided by your chassis manufacturer due to use of vibration dampeners) then you will need to find your own solution.

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 Vertex 450 256GB 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 on the brand, capacity, and serial number. In case you missed it, our particular unit is the OCZ Vertex 450 256GB, haha. As with all OCZ SSDs, they are all made in Taiwan, and this one is no exception.

OCZ Vertex 450 256GB 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 three year warranty. 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 Vertex 450 256GB is the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller. Yep, it is not a SandForce SF-2281 or an Indilinx Everest 2 chip. As the drive controller is fundamentally very important to any SSD, let's 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, 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 is now selling products developed in house -- so to say -- that sets it apart from the competition. This ambitious acquisition plugs 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 are not real in house controllers (They are actually Marvell licensed units with heavily customized firmware), the Barefoot 3 in the Vertex 450 we are reviewing today is the real deal. We have first seen this with the OCZ Vector 256GB. Rated at 540MB/s read, 530MB/s write, and 90,000 IOPS over SATA 6Gb/s, these figures are very impressive, and are just under the OCZ Vector. But performance is not everything. Reliability and endurance is also a big thing in their advertising material for this drive. Not as much as the Vector, but more than before. For those who are scared of OCZ SSDs because you think it is a ticking time bomb, I honestly have had almost no problems with OCZ drives in the past before, but it is nice to see OCZ giving the whole reliability thing a bigger emphasis.

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 IDX500M10 is an ARM Cortex architecture processor with a 32-bit OCZ Aragon co-processor at an unspecified clock speed. The IDX500M00 in the Vector is clocked at 400MHz, so it is safe to assume the more value oriented IDX500M10 in the Vertex 450 is probably a little slower. 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.

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 Vertex 450 is still very impressive. 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 Vertex 450 256GB solid state disk, with eight on each side. The chips used are Micron manufactured 29F128G08CFABA asynchronous flash memory, with a capacity of 16GB per integrated circuit chip. These are multi-level cells manufactured on the 20nm fabrication process. Unlike SandForce based SSDs, there is no over-provisioning, so they all come together and make up for its 256GB storage capacity. You will see 239GB in Windows. Two Micron MT41K256M8DA-125 256MB DDR3 chips (Labeled D9PFJ) are present for a total of 512MB RAM; used with the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller to ensure smooth operation.

Our test configuration as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K @ 4.50GHz
CPU Cooling: Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro (Noctua NF-F12)
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws-X F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL 4x4GB
Graphics: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB OC
Chassis: Lian Li PC-B12
Power: PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk III 1200W
Sound: Auzentech X-Fi Bravura
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1

Compared Hardware:
- OCZ Vertex 450 256GB
- G.Skill Phoenix EVO 115GB
- Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB
- Kingston HyperX 120GB
- Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB
- Kingston SSDNow V300 120GB
- 2x Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB RAID 0
- OCZ Agility 3 240GB
- OCZ Agility 4 256GB
- OCZ Octane 512GB
- 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
- Patriot Pyro 120GB
- Patriot Pyro SE 240GB
- SanDisk Extreme II 240GB
- SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB

Page Index
1. Introduction and Specifications
2. A Closer Look, Installation, 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 7.0
9. Benchmark: PCMark Vantage
10. Conclusion