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Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 29 March 2013
Table of Contents: Page Index
120GB OCZ Vertex 3.20 Solid State Drive
OCZ Vertex 3.20 SSD
Features and Specifications
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
PCMark Vantage HDD Tests
OCZ Vertex 3.20 Conclusion

OCZ Vertex 3.20 Solid State Drive Review

Manufacturer: OCZ Technology Group, Inc.
Product Name: Vertex 3.20 20nm SATA-3 2.5" SSD
Model Number: VTX3-25SAT3-120G.20 (120GB Capacity)
UPC: 842024033691
Prices: 120GB: $119.99 (Newegg/Amazon), 240GB: $219.99 (Newegg/Amazon)

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by OCZ.

OCZ Technology launched their Vertex 3 solid state drive based on the second-generation SandForce SF-2281 processor back in early 2011, making it a familiar storage product among high-performance enthusiasts. Two years later they've revisited the popular design, and made several improvements. Now available with 20nm Synchronous Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND flash components, Vertex 3.20 is designed to offer better performance for less cost. In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the 120GB OCZ Vertex 3.20 SSD (model VTX3-25SAT3-120G.20), and compare it against the fastest SATA 6GB/s storage solutions.

What makes the Vertex 3.20 different than it's original namesake is the use of 20nm Synchronous Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND flash components, and refined controller firmware. The Vertex 3.20 SSD is based on the second-generation LSI-SandForce SF-2281 SATA 6Gb/s controller, which debuted back at the start of 2011, making it one of the most mature SATA controllers found in modern storage devices. Vertex 3.20 arrives in 120GB and 240GB capacities, both offering 550 MB/s reads and 520 MB/s writes.

The second-generation SF-2281 SSD processor maintains all of the original core technology SandForce originally introduced in the SF-1200 series, but now improves SSD performance with 20% faster IOPS and 40% faster sequential read/write throughput. LSI-SandForce has enhanced BCH ECC capability, and the new processor now supports ATA-7 Security Erase. Finally, the new SF-2200 series implements cost-effective 20nm-class NAND flash from all leading flash vendors with Asynch/ONFi1/ONFi2/Toggle interfaces. OCZ promises 20K/40K read/write IOPS from the 120GB the Vertex 3.20 SSD, and 35K/65K IOPS from the 240GB version.

OCZ-Vertex-3.20-120GB-Solid-State-Drive-Tilt.jpg

Solid State vs Hard Disk

Despite decades of design improvements, the hard disk drive (HDD) is still the slowest component of any personal computer system. Consider that modern desktop processors have a 1 ns response time (nanosecond = one billionth of one second), while system memory responds between 30-90 ns. Traditional hard drive technology utilizes magnetic spinning media, and even the fastest spinning mechanical storage products still exhibit a 9,000,000 ns / 9 ms initial response time (millisecond = one thousandth of one second). In more relevant terms, the processor receives the command and must then wait for system memory to fetch related data from the storage drive. This is why any computer system is only as fast as the slowest component in the data chain; usually the hard drive.

In a perfect world all of the components operate at the same speed. Until that day comes, the real-world goal for achieving optimal performance is for system memory to operate as quickly as the central processor and then for the storage drive to operate as fast as memory. With present-day technology this is an impossible task, so enthusiasts try to close the speed gaps between components as much as possible. Although system memory is up to 90x (9000%) slower than most processors, consider then that the hard drive is an added 1000x (100,000%) slower than that same memory. Essentially, these three components are as different in speed as walking is to driving and flying.

Solid State Drive technology bridges the largest gap in these response times. The difference a SSD makes to operational response times and program speeds is dramatic, and takes the storage drive from a slow 'walking' speed to a much faster 'driving' speed. Solid State Drive technology improves initial response times by more than 450x (45,000%) for applications and Operating System software, when compared to their mechanical HDD counterparts. The biggest mistake PC hardware enthusiasts make with regard to SSD technology is grading them based on bandwidth speed. File transfer speeds are important, but only so long as the operational I/O performance can sustain that bandwidth under load.

Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance

As we've explained in our SSD Benchmark Tests: SATA IDE vs AHCI Mode guide, Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance I/O per second (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one is more important than the other. Consider this analogy: bandwidth determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and operational IOPS performance is how fast the ship moves. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.

For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer into Windows than if the SSD offered a higher IOPS performance.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: 120GB OCZ Vertex 3.20 Solid State DriveArgos 2013-05-10 05:25
"Would you buy a lower-capacity SSD because of costs, or save funds and insist on higher-capacity?"

At the moment I have an older OCZ SSD in my system which contains the OS and I also work with PC's that do not have an SSD. So I can easily compare how I perceive the speed increase in real life.

My next system will probably not contain an SSD at all. I think it simply is not worth it. HDD are so much cheaper and the actual, practical perceived speed increase when using an SSD is so minimal that I think it is not worth it at all.

I recently built a new system for a friend and after some consideration we both decided that he did not need to waste money on an SSD at all. Instead he invested it in an extra HDD for more storage.

I feel the price of a 240 Gb SSD at $220 is atrocious. I like the SSD technology very much and have nothing against them at all. I would buy them if I had a room full of money, but I do not. I'd rather invest the extra money in a graphics card for example. But if you have ample money, by all means buy an SSD. It is wonderful tech.
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# umm... no.Chris 2013-05-10 06:05
I'm sorry OCZ. I just do not trust your brand with SSDs at the moment. You'd have t lower the price down to $0.50/GB before I decided to purchase one.
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# Go on...Patches 2013-05-10 11:46
$0.50/GB is really hard to find for even a lower end SSD. But other than that, I am curious what your hesitation is with OCZ. I hear a lot of bad things about them however in 3 SSDs of theirs I have owned, Vertex 1, 2, and 3, I have had relatively few issues. One issue was easily solved with a firmware update and the other was covered under warranty, just shy of 3 years the drive had. I'm wondering if maybe there is some issue specific to their newer drives you are having that I'm not aware of. I am considering getting another drive this summer and would appreciate any heads up you can give me. Thanks!
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# ColJ D Mathis 2013-05-10 16:30
I am also wondering WHY these reviews and the POS so NOT include the hardware for installation. OBVIOUSLY, the 2.5 inch, et al, will NOT fill a 5 inch slot, or even 3.5 inch. SO you have to get adapters or a rail or some other intermediary item to affix the little card (SSD) to your unit. It is a major agro to order some hot new device and NOT be able to use it until you get the "recommended" add-on items, without which you cant install. And as to speed, with 6/ HDD available. Seagate comes to mind with Raptor @ 10K speeds and two cashe levels. why would the typical home user, even hard core gamer, really NEED SSD? I would put Rator up against this DDS, and @ 80USD it is a great buy. I have a suggestion for SSD MFG, to improve their offerings, if they would be interested. I can be contacted at email.
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# RE: ColOlin Coles 2013-05-10 20:26
SSDs don't need all four points mounted like a hard disk drive requires, because nothing moves or vibrates. You can match up one screw hole and mount it... seems to work just fine.
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