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Fast, But Not on Everything
Dec 22, 2009 (Updated Dec 22, 2009)
by Guy Techie
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Fast writes, fast random access, TRIM support, garbage collection firmware available
Cons:Does not come with adaptor, lower IOPS, "slow" reads
The Bottom Line: An excellent SSD drive for booting your OS and a few applications.
After purchasing the Intel X25-M G2 160GB SSD for my gaming rig, I was addicted! I was wondering where else would I benefit from having an SSD drive. I was thinking "laptop", but SSD drives are still too small to hold everything I need, especially since my laptop only allows me to have one hard drive.
Recommend this product?
Then I thought about my server! I run Hyper-V, which is a virtual machine running another OS. I found that on my hard drive, the virtualized OS (Windows 7) runs much slower than I like. Things seem to pause and stutter. Also, I was sick and tired of hearing the constant clattering of the HDD that the virtual machine was running from.
An SSD would solve this!
OCZ Vertex 60GB SSD
The retail box seem to have an overall black and white theme, and despite the glossy feel, it gave me the impression of being photocopied. There is a silver (and yes, reflective) strip going from front to back, but even that doesn't save it from the first impression. Add to the fact that the box is basically the size of a CD jewel case doesn't help.
Inside the box, the drive sits in an anti-static bag in a hard foam-filled cardboard flap. Much like the Intel X25-M SSD, the OCZ Vertex 60GB SSD feels surprisingly solid and sturdy. I was actually expecting it to feel light and hollow because it only houses flash memory and not much else. However, the heft is from the case itself, which gives the SSD a serious feel. However, the sticker on top is a bit drab and doesn't have that professional feel like Intel does.
The drive itself is shaped much like any other standard 2.5" laptop hard drive, including the 9mm height. The SATA connectors are exactly where they should be as well, replacing a standard laptop HDD a simple affair.
There are no extras like the Intel drive, such as an install guide, or even a 3.5" to 2.5" adaptor. Nope. It's just the drive itself.
OCZ claims 230MB/s reads and 135MB/s writes. With the latest firmware (1.40) that supports TRIM, HD Tune tested the drive at just around 200 MB/s read and just under 125 MB/sec writes.
Read speeds are definately disappointing since OCZ advertised higher, but write speeds seem to be close. It's definately faster than the Intel drive by 25MB/sec.
The random access time was rated at 0.1 ms, just like the Intel drive, but upon further probing, you will find that multiple input and output requests seem result in a slower response compared to the Intel's offering.
Intel X25-M G2
Transfer size - Operations/sec - Avg. Access time - Avg. Speed
512 bytes - 12483 IOPS - 0.08 ms - 6.096 MB/s
4 kb - 7673 IOPS - 0.13 ms - 29.974 MB/s
64 kb - 2416 IOPS - 0.41 ms - 151.035 MB/s
1 MB - 212 IOPS - 4.7 ms - 212.211 MB/s
Random - 407 IOPS - 2.5 ms - 203.522 MB/s
Transfer size - Operations/sec - Avg. Access time - Avg. Speed
512 bytes - 8698 IOPS - 0.11 ms - 4.248 MB/s
4 kb - 5687 IOPS - 0.18 ms - 22.218 MB/s
64 kb - 1734 IOPS - 0.58 ms - 108.396 MB/s
1 MB - 157 IOPS - 6.4 ms - 157.006 MB/s
Random - 291 IOPS - 3.4 ms - 145.459 MB/s
That's all good and well, but what how does that translate into the real world? Well, using the same Windows 7 image to test the Intel drive, I the boot and login times were nearly identical! Of course, the boot process isn't that long, either. If you were to pick an SSD drive for a group database, or as a highly-accessed shared folder, you may want the Intel drive.
For everyday use by the masses, or even the enthusiest and gamer, the OCZ Vertex is an excellent drive to get, especially when looking at the faster write speeds.
Performance on Laptops
Here's a warning to all laptop users: to see the performance numbers you read online (including my review), you need to set your power configuration to "High Performance" and not "Balanced" or "Power Saver". I normally keep mine in "Balanced", and I was only able to get around 130 MB/s read speeds, while writes still held strong at just under 100 MB/s (around 90 MB/s).
I was scratching my head for a good while until I found a forum post about the same thing.
I mentioned "TRIM" earlier in my review, but what does it mean? What does it do?
Well, first, you need to know that when you delete a file, you don't actually delete it off the hard drive. You just tell the operating system to ignore it. This is why deleting files is so fast, and also why it's trivial to recover a deleted file by a computer forensics person. When you need the space, the operating system will just overwrite what was there before.
With flash memory, it takes longer to overwrite a file because it must first actually delete the data, then write back onto it. Deleting the data takes a while, so your write performance overtime will slow down. It's an oversimplifcation of what actually happens, but the upshot is your write speeds will be shot compared to when it was new. Before "TRIM", you would have to run a utility to clear out all deleted files every so often (usually provided by the maker of the SSD), or perform this in scheduled times.
TRIM is a command, just like any other command to read/write/seek data. When that command is sent, it clears out deleted files instead of just ignoring them. This means the next time you write, you are ensured you have a blank slate to write on.
Having TRIM support in the SSD's firmware isn't enough. You also need an OS that supports it. Currently, only Windows 7 supports TRIM. For Linux and Mac OS X users, they will have to wait for TRIM support in the next update.
The OCZ Vertex includes proper TRIM support in their latest firmware (v1.4). OCZ provides an easy way to upgrade your firmware on their website.
Unlike the Intel X25-M G2, OCZ also offers a firmware that includes something called "garbage collection". This means for those OSes that doesn't support TRIM, you're not out of luck. The drive will actually TRIM itself (clearing out deleted data) every so often when it's idle. However, this is offered in a seperate firmware (v1.41). You can't have both TRIM and garbage collection in one firmware. You must pick one or the other. In this case, a bigger number doesn't mean it's an upgrade. Be sure not to upgrade to v1.41 if you are running Windows 7. Make sure you're on v1.40.
The OCZ Vertex 60GB SSD makes a great drive boot drive. It's just the right size for it, since most OSes only take up at most a third of the capacity, leaving you room for most applications. You probably won't want to install all your games on it, however. Just install the ones you play the most often.
The faster write speed of the Vertex means it's better suited for capturing, editing, and transcoding video as well, compared to the Intel drive. You are sure not to drop any frames during capturing. Of course, you may want to look at larger capacities if that's your purpose, since 60GB is just too small for this job. Vertex also comes in larger sizes (120GB & 250GB)
The prices for the Vertex doesn't exactly undercut Intel's prices. If anything, they compliment them. The Vertex 60GB I bought was $209, but this was at a sale price. After which, the price went back to the normal $230. Intel's X25-M 80GB G2 drive was $248 at the time. About $20 more, you get another 20GB. The Vertex 120GB drive fetched for around $460, while Intel's 160GB druve fetched for nearly $500. Since neither company makes the exact same size the other company makes, pricing becomes complimentary. The more you pay, the bigger the size.
Of course "good value for money" isn't what comes to mind when talking about SSD drives. It's definately a luxury item for the performance-minded.
For those who's in the market for an SSD, then the price won't deter you. If that's the case, you're probably wondering "Intel or OCZ Vertex" (or another similar Indilinx-based drive)? The answer is either! (Read my Intel X25-M 160GB SSD review). That's because while the Intel drive is slower on writes, the 10 channels of data pipelines allows it to be quicker on random reads and writes (more input/output requests per second or IOPS).
However, the Vertex can still hold it's own for any applications that require sustained writes, such as video caputuring, editing, and transcoding.
Ultimately, I used the Vertex as a boot drive for my Windows Server 2008 R2 machine, which serves as a central data hub for my home. It runs a virtual machine that supports Windows 7, iTunes, bittorrent, and as my remote desktop for surfing the internet from insecure networks. Before, running the virtual machine off my hard drive made the virtual machine stutter and chug. When I'm near the server, the loud clattering of the physical hard drive drove me nuts! The OCZ Vertex is quick and fast, it's as if I'm running a Windows 7 on native hardware! Plus, it's much quieter, keeping my sanity intact.
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