OCZ Vertex Limited Edition, SandForce Powered SSD

Introduction and Specifications

There's an old cliche' that seems to ring true with respect to the onslaught of SSD technology we've been treated to in the market over the past year or so, "there's always another one coming."  Solid State Drive technologies are advancing so quickly, that some manufacturers don't even get a chance to let the ink dry on product labeling before their engineering teams step up with yet another offering to productize.  Such is the case with OCZ Technology, a company that is seemingly lining itself up to be a one-stop-shop for all things SSD.

When we first took a look at OCZ's Vertex 2 Pro series SSD back in February, we noted that our evaluation was a product "preview" due to the fact that the product was still being finalized in many ways and wasn't yet available on the open market.  Little did we know that exact product would never see the light of day in retail.  In fact, the Vertex Limited Edition SSD that we're going to review for you here today, will only be available in a limited 5K unit batch release from OCZ.  Once they're gone, OCZ intends to shift gears again from the Sandforce SF-1500 series controller to the SF-1200, at least for their consumer-targeted offerings.  The good news is, performance will continue to scale with the new controller, so again, this drive is essentially a view of things to come, though OCZ will actually be offering it for a limited time at places like NewEgg and Amazon. Let's take a look...

OCZ Vertex LE Series 100GB MLC SSD

OCZ Vertex 2 Pro Series SATA II SSD
Specifications and Features
  • 100GB capacity (93.1GB usable)
  • 50GB, 100GB, 200GB and 400GB available
  • Slim 2.5" Design
  • Power Consumption: TBD
  • Warranty: TBD
 100GB SSD Max Performance:
  • Read: Up to 270MB/s
  • Write: Up to 250MB/s
  • IOPs (4K random write): 15000
  • Seek Time: < 1ms
  • Operating Temp: 0C ~ 70C
  • Storage Temp: -45C ~ +85C
  • RAID Support
  • Shock Resistant: 1500G

OCZ's upcoming product family...
 Controller  NAND  Max Read
Max Write
 Vertex LE
 SF-1500  MLC  270MB/s 250MB/s 15000
 Vertex 2
 SF-1200  MLC  270MB/s  260MB/s  20000
 Vertex 2 EX
 SF-1500  SLC  280MB/s  270MB/s 22000
Our buddy Nate over at Legit Reviews assembled the above table here and we liked it so much we stole it. Thanks Nate.  The OCZ Vertex LE 2 series of SSDs will come in two capacities of 100GB and 200GB.  We're specifically taking a look at the 100GB version here today.  It's an MLC-based drive with very robust read and write bandwidth up to 270MB/s and 250MB/s, respectively.  4K random write performance is rated at 15000 IOPs, which is a shade lower than the Vertex 2 Pro we tested not long ago, at 19K.  Essentially the Vertex LE is an offshoot of the Vertex 2 Pro but with firmware that tames down performance and adds a bit of stability.  All told, on paper the Vertex LE's specs are still impressive but as you can see there are more Sandforce-based SSDs from OCZ coming as well, perhaps with even better performance.  Finally, the Vertex 2 EX will be OCZ's SLC-based drive for the enterprise space.

Of AHCI, Trial and Error
In our first effort with the Vertex 2 Pro back in February, you may recall that while its performance was impressive, especially with respect to random write speed, we didn't feel we were getting all we could from the drive and it gave us a few moments of pause, especially in our IOMeter testing.  We came to find out that all of OCZ's new SSDs based Sandforce controllers, benefit significantly in term of general performance if AHCI is enabled in the system BIOS.  Historically, we found AHCI to be a flaky with certain SSDs and took the path of turning it off for our test setups. AHCI is a technology that was initially developed specifically for the latencies and inefficiencies of seek times and access on rotational media, so the benefit for it with SSDs, until only recently, was unfounded.  It turns out that though SSD controllers from Intel and Indilinx don't benefit much from AHCI, OCZ's chosen Sandforce controller, as well as the Marvell controller in Micron's new line of SSDs, both benefit significantly from it.   As such, in order to level the playing field, all of the storage benchmark tests you'll see on the pages ahead, were conducted with AHCI enabled for all SSDs tested.

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