OCZ Vector Series VTR1-25SAT3-256G review

The OCZ Vector Series VTR1-25SAT3-256G internal solid-state drive features the new Indilinx controller, and strong performance.

When OCZ acquired solid-state drive (SSD) controller developer Indilinx, the acquisition was hailed as a positive development for both companies. OCZ is a well-known SSD company with a number of strong products under its belt, while Indilinx built the Barefoot class of controllers that popularized SSDs in 2009 and 2010. The new OCZ Vector Series VTR1-25SAT3-256G is one of the first SSDs to feature the post-acquisition Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller, and it’s debuting as OCZ faces stiff challenges from companies like Samsung and Corsair.

OCZ bills the Vector family as the “most extensively and comprehensively tested consumer SSD to date” and claims that the drive controller went through a lengthy validation period, was beta-tested in the field, and that the drive’s firmware has been rigorously evaluated. This last is a tacit reference to the problems OCZ had with its Vertex 3 family, which used the SandForce SF2100 drive controller. Early Vertex 3 drives suffered firmware bugs that could cause total data loss. While the issue affected multiple manufacturers, OCZ was one of the first companies to ship the SF-2100; its reputation suffered as a result. With the Vector, the company is taking no chances.

The OCZ Vector drives are available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities; the 256GB model reviewed here is the VTR1-25SAT3-256G. It’s a 2.5-inch drive that supports SATA III (sometimes referred to as SATA 6G) ,and it ships with an activation code for a copy of Acronis True Image disk cloning software. OCZ doesn’t include a CD, but the software can be downloaded from the company’s website.

The 256GB OCZ Vector’s performance stands up to the highest-performing competitors on the market. In the AS-SSD benchmark test, the Vector’s sequential read rate hit 509MBps, compared with 491MBps for the 512GB Vertex 4 and 429MBps for the 480GB Vertex 3. It’s even slightly faster than the recently launched 256GB Plextor PX-256MP, which turned a score of 504MBps.

In AS-SSD’s 64-thread 4K read/write test, the 256GB OCZ Vector was a hair slower than the Plextor 256GB M5 Pro. The Plextor unit led, at 362MBps read and 310MBps write, with the Vector nipping at its heels with scores of 358MBps and 304MBps respectively. This is substantially faster than the older Vertex drives; the Vertex 3 hits 276MBps read and 218 MBps write, while the Vertex 4 is at 257MBps and 149MBps. In the past, higher capacity SSDs tended to be faster than smaller units; the Vector’s performance suggests this may change with OCZ’s latest Barefoot 3 controller.

In PCMark 7, which is designed to reflect real-world performance scenarios, the OCZ Vector, OCZ Vertex 4, and Plextor PX-256MP essentially tie, with scores of 5419, 5430, and 5458. That’s a gap of less than 1% between each, which is well within the margin of error. What’s notable, in this case, is that the two smaller drive deliver all the performance of the 512GB Vertex 4, without the associated cost of buying this large an SSD.

Random read/write performance is another major strength of the OCZ Vector. In SiSoft Sandra 2012, the Vector’s random read/write speeds are 531MBps and 509MBps. The drive’s overall performance beats out even the Plextor PX-256MP, which hits 520MBps read, 532MBps write. It’s far ahead of the Vertex 3 (427MBps read / 218 MBps write) and Vertex 4 (516MBps read / 149Mbps write).

The drive’s price is its only potential weak point. At $269, the VTR1-25SAT3-256G is significantly more expensive than other 256GB drives on the market. The 256GB Plextor PX-256MP has fallen to $219, making it a rather excellent buy. This price premium is unlikely to hold for long; there are too many attractive drives below the $1 per GB mark to give OCZ much room to maneuver.

Once the price comes down a bit, the OCZ Vector could be one of the most popular drives of 2013. The new controller is a significant improvement over the older Vertex 3 and Vertex 4 series. Keep an eye on it until that happens.

COMPARISON TABLE
Compare the OCZ Vector Series VTR1-25SAT3-256G with several other hard drives side by side.

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Specifications
Type Internal

Verdict
The OCZ Vector Series VTR1-25SAT3-256G 256GB internal solid-state drive features the new Indilinx controller, and some strong performance, but it's one of the more expensive SSDs in its category.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
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