OCZ Vector 180 Solid State Drive Review: Barefoot 3 Optimized

Inspecting The OCZ Vector 180

Like all of OCZ’s other consumer-class Solid State Drives, the new Vector 180 features a sturdy, anodized aluminum housing that’s heavier than many competing products. As far as first impressions go, the look and solid feel of the drives convey a sense of quality right out of the box that some other products do not.

All of the drives in initial Vector 180 line-up conform to the 2.5” form factor common of today’s SSDs, and they all have slim 7mm Z-Heights. The enclosures used on the drives are all metal (top and bottom) and, as we’ve mentioned, they are clearly sturdier than most other consumer-class SSDs we’ve tested. There are really no external features to speak off other than a few decals and the standard SATA power and data connectors, but that’s par for the course with a drive of this type.
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Crack open a Vector 180 and you’ll see a Barefoot 3 M00 controller on board—the same controller used in the Vector 150 and the AMD Radeon R7 series SSD, among others. That controller is paired to A19nm Toshiba MLC (Multi-Level Cell) NAND flash memory and a DDR3-1333MHz DRAM cache. The 120GB and 240GB drives sport 512MB of cache memory, while the 480GB and 960GB model will be outfitted with 1GB.

Something new to this drive, that’s not very common on consumer SSDs is power-loss protection. OCZ calls the feature PFM+ or Power Failure Management Plus. There’s a large capacitor on the PCB that protects the drive itself and at-rest data. Unlike more advanced power loss protection schemes, however, in-flight data is NOT protected. Even still, PFM+ is a welcome feature that should minimize the chance of bricking the drive due to a power-related issue.
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Like make of OCZ’s previous consumer-class Solid State Drive offerings, the Vector 180s have about 6.25% of their NAND capacity over provisioned, though this can be tweaked in the OCZ Guru utility. The 120GB drive features 128GB of NAND, the 240GB drive has 256GB, the 480GB drive has 512GB, and the 960GB drive has 1TB of NAND in total. That additional spare area is reserved for wear-leveling and other proprietary features that aid the drives in achieving their higher endurance ratings.

The Vector 180 series drives are all rated for max read speeds of 550MB/s, but write performance varies between the models. The 120GB drive’s write performance peaks at 450MB/s, while the 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB drives top out at 530MB/s. All of the drives support TRIM, 256-bit AES compliant encryption and they’re rated for 50GB/day host writes for 5 years, under typical client workloads. Idle power is listed at .85w. Active power at 3.7W, which is somewhat higher than some other OCZ drives based on the same controller.
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We should also mention that OCZ offers a 5 year warranty on the drives, which is quite nice considering most other consumer-class drives come with only a 3 year warranty. And that warranty falls under OCZ’s “Shield Plus” banner, which the company describes as, “…an elite worry-free customer service experience, which eliminates all the hassle surrounding traditional support and warranty claims consumers often have to deal with.” Simply provide OCZ Support with the drive’s serial number (no original purchase receipt required), and in the event the drive is determined to be defective it will be replaced with a brand new SSD. Advanced product replacement and a paid return shipping label are also provided to minimize downtime.

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