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OCZ Vector 180 SSD Review

OCZ Vector 180 SSD Review

In recent times we have seen OCZ expand their product family by releasing branded SSD with AMD as well as updating their value orientated range with the ARC 100. Today they launch a new enthusiast SSD and we look at the 480Gb version in our OCZ Vector 180 SSD Review.

OCZ Vector 180 SSD Review – Packaging and Bundle

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There are no surprises when it comes to the packaging used by OCZ, a nice clear image of the drive as always along with a capacity sticker. Inside things remain the same too, a tray for converting 3.5″ bays and a set of screws. OCZ also bundle Acronis TrueImage which helps us move our OS from an existing drive to the Vector 180. Then we have something brand new…

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OCZ Toolbox was the application which OCZ previously bundled (free) with their SSDs and it was decent, though not the most up to date looking application. Today they launch SSD Guru which is designed to offer a competitive solution to the applications we see with other drives. Again this is a free application.

SSD Guru is compatible with various recent OCZ SSDs based on Barefoot 3 such as the Vector 150, Vertex 450, Arc 100 right up to the high end PCIe based Revodrive 350. Whats new? Well we can still check SMART DATA, perform TRIM/Secure Erase and update firmware but now the app lets us tune our OS for SSD use, set over-provisioning, view detailed info on the system, access enhanced support features such as creating a report to assist OCZ in fault finding.

Looking round the application the Dashboard gives us all the key info we need such as drive health, capacity/free space, our interface and firmware. Interestingly the software looks to assist us, so for example if we are not using the best interface then the software will tell us so that we can fix it. Or if a new firmware update becomes available the software informs us after performing regular checks, saving us the effort of looking on the OCZ website.

OCZ Vector 180 SSD Review – The Drive

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As we have come to expect from OCZ the Vector 180 uses an all metal casing and to the top they apply branding. A sticker with some product detail is applied to the base and beside it we can see the SATA 6GB/s power and data connectors. OCZ have gone with a 7mm (thick) form factor for this model and it weighs 115g.

Our internal componetns start with OCZ own Barefoot 3 M00 controller and they pair that with A19nm Toshiba MLC flash. Capacities of 120, 240, 480 and now 960GB are available with our review sample being the 480GB version. That drive is rated for 550mb/s read and 530MB/s write with IOPS noted as 100,000 read and 95,000 write. .

In terms of other features we get support for 256-bit AES encryption, BCH ECC (correction) up to 44 random bits/1KB. TRIM and idle time garbage collection ensure our drive maintains its performance for as long as is possible and power use is stated as idle 0.85w and active 3.7w.

OCZ have also been revising their support polices (ShieldPlus) and so this drive has a 5-year warranty with 50GB/day endurance. When contacting support we need only supply our serial number, OCZ will provide shipping labels and should the drive be found to be faulty they will replace it with a brand new unit.

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OCZ Vector 180 SSD Review – Performance

Key Test Specifications: Intel Core i7-4790K, Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 5, 4x4GB DDR3-2666, Windows 8.1 64Bit.

Atto:

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CrystalDiskMark:

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BlackMagic HD Video Benchmark:

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File Copy Tests:

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Windows Load Time:

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Battlefield 4 Map Load:

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OCZ Vector 180 SSD Review – Conclusion

Starting with the build quality of the Vector 180 we have a the usual excellent, solid casing from OCZ. Then inside we have proven parts from OCZ and their parent company, Toshiba, which are very much tried and trusted. At a glance the Vector 180 could seem like a minor update to the range, for example the increased capacity on the largest drive, but there is a little more going on here thanks to power fail protection. OCZs Power Failure Management Plus (PFM+) detects power issues within the drive and uses firmware logic and a small amount of capacitance to protect data.

pfmplus

OCZ’s slogan for the Vector 180 is “performance and reliability amplified” and that puts them in an interesting position, often the two are hard to mix well. As an example, in our testing we noted some lower than expected performance in CDM, a synthetic test, but real world use which showed the drive to be very competitive. OCZ provided the following statement:

“Thank you for your inquiry in regards to the I/O behavior on the Vector 180 Series. What is being observed is a characteristic of the design of the drive itself and is a result of the firmware performing updates to its metadata mapping table and flushing the entire table out of DRAM and onto the NAND flash, during which I/O throughput is impacted for very brief periods. Our metadata management is done on a frequent basis to prevent failure modes related to bricked drives as a result of metadata corruption, which can potentially happen on other non PFM+ enabled SSDs as a result of unexpected power loss. This is observed to a greater extent on the larger drives (960GB) where there is more metadata to manage. While this phenomenon is observable in synthetic benchmarks, there is virtually no impact to typical client grade end-user applications and during real world use. With the Barefoot 3 based Vector 180 Series design, we strove to deliver the optimal balance of performance and reliability for our valued enthusiast and workstation customers.

Daryl Lang, CTO, OCZ Storage Solutions”

That would seem to match our experience, and with the benefit being enhanced reliability/endurance mixed with the new support process at OCZ means we have a product which is well rounded. The software solution of TrueImage and OCZ’s own (impressive) SSD Guru adds further value and therefore the drive wins our recommended award.

Recommended Award

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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