As the days go by in the SSD world, we have seen a lot of changes in the past couple of years, but one of the biggest changes has been the steady declining price of these drives. OCZ has filled out their SSD line-up to include high-end enthusiast SSDs such as their Vertex 150, workstation level drives, Revodrive 3, and down to the performance level of their new OCZ Vertex 460. This drive is meant to compete with the likes of the more budget oriented performance drives on the market. So we’ll put the OCZ Vertex 460 and its new proprietary in-house Barefoot 3 M10 controller through our test suite, and see how things look on the performance front. Let’s get to it!
Before we get into the specifications and features, I would like to quickly mention some things in the news lately from OCZ. First, it may seem odd to some that OCZ is putting out another drive considering they filed bankruptcy late last year. However, shortly after, Toshiba swooped in and bought OCZ for $35 million dollars. The acquisition has been finalized and OCZ will continue to function as an independent subsidiary and will not ‘assimilate’ into the Toshiba SSD side of things. With this acquisition comes a new brand name, dubbed OCZ Storage Solutions. This slightly elongated name makes sense to me considering they have closed their other divisions (ram/cooling etc) quite a bit ago. Along with the new name comes some new branding as well, see below:
Our current drive has the old labeling on it, but the shipped drives should be updated.
Below we see our first glimpse of the expected performance of this drive. Looking at the slide below (from OCZ’s Press deck), we see this is expected to land in the familiar 540MB/s read and 525 MB/s write, which is about as much as one can get out of the SATA3 interface anyway. One of the keys to performance is IOPS, especially at 4k writes. Here the drive is advertised to hit up to 90K IOPS (Crystal Disk Mark 4K QD32) while reads come in at an advertised 85K IOPS.
The drive gets this performance from the in-house proprietary controller, dubbed Barefoot3 M10. It’s essentially the same controller that is in the flagship Vector 150, but is clocked lower (352 MHz versus 397 MHz in the Vector 150). The controller sports BCH ECC corrects up to 44 random bits per 1KB as well as supporting 256 0bit AES-compliant encryption to help keep your data secure. This controller sits on 19nm Toshiba Multi-Level Cell (MLC) Flash, again using the SATA 3.0 6 GB/s interface. Additionally, it has 12% over-provisioning which helps with more consistent I/O performance.
The drive is rated by OCZ for 20 GB/day of host writes for 3 years under typical client workloads, which is a TON. This drive should not bork on you within its warranty period because of too many writes, that is for sure!
This class of drive is a ‘bang for your buck’ drive and not the top end performer in the OCZ line-up. That distinction goes to the Vector 150, but it certainly wont be a slouch as you will see later. Below we see some features OCZ would like to get out. It does come with the Acronis drive imaging and backup software, which I use happily. Outside of the lasting performance and superior mixed read and write speeds, most of this was mentioned above.
In their press deck, OCZ provided a graph of mixed workload performance. Sadly, we do not test for such things, but being an important part of this drive, I wanted to show their information on it. Certainly this is best case scenario, but it shows that OCZ has put more of a focus on mixed performance when compared to other, more costly drives on the market.
Another item we do not test for in our suite is sustained write performance. Here, they beat on their drive for over 12 hours using 4K random writes to see where performance ends up. While we see a pretty big drop out of the gate (like all the other drives do as well), we can see its steady state performance is easily over double the next best thing, its younger brother the Vertex 450, throughout the testing.
The OCZ Vertex 460 256GB SSD
Retail Packaging and Drive
Anyone who has bought a SSD lately knows good things come in small packages. The retail packaging we have for the OCZ Vertex 460 SSD will look a bit different in the wild (see above for new corporate logos). On the front, the box shows the drive capacity, model, as well as the brand name. Flipping the packaging over to the back side shows some high-level features such as its three year warranty, the type of flash (MLC), and its included copy of Acronis.
The drive isn’t much different than any other honestly, with its 2.5″ form factor and the SATA ports sitting on one of the smaller ends. On the belly of the SSD, we can see the serial number, part information, and a warranty sticker covering the corner of one of the screws. Don’t break that open or it will void your warranty!
As far as included accessories, there really isn’t much outside of instructions, the 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter, the “I love my (OCZ) SSD” sticker, and an Acronis key… but then again, nothing is really needed either with a SSD.
So, we took apart the unit to see what is doing under the hood by loosening four screws, and viola… off comes the cover! One of the first things I noticed are the Tohsiba ICs that are used in this drive compared with the Micron NAND in the Vertex 450, which this is replacing. Since Micron and Toshiba are direct competitors in the NAND arena, makes sense that the 460 and the enthusiast level 150 are using the Toshiba ICs.
The controller is an Indilinix based Barefoot 3. As was mentioned earlier, this one comes clocked at 352 MHz versus the faster Vertex 150′s implementation which comes in at 397 MHz.
On the software front, OCZ still has their OCZ Toolbox. Currently it sits at version 184.108.40.206 for Windows. This software allows one to update the firmware, check SMART data on the drive for health, secure erase to wipe the drive to its factory new feeling, and manually start TRIM functionality.
The full test bed for this review is as follows:
|CPU||Intel i7 4770K @ 4 GHz|
|RAM||Kingston HyperX Predator DDR3-2666 (@ 2133 MHz)|
|MB||Gigabyte Z87 OC|
|SSD||OCZ Vertex 460 256 GB|
|OS||Microsoft Window 7 Professional x64|
Before each test, the drive is Secure Erased (SE) to ensure optimal results. As you beat on a drive with benchmark after benchmark, performance can lower significantly until the drive runs its TRIM and GC functions… we don’t have the time to wait, so we SE the drive and it comes out factory fresh!
- Crystal Disk Mark – Run at default settings
- AS SSD – Run at default settings
- ATTO – Run with default settings outside of the Queue depth of 10
- IoMeter 2010 – Ran manually
Crystal Disk Mark
The first test is Crystal Disk Mark using the default, random fill test. The results here are not pack leading, but this was to be expected for a ‘bang for your buck’ performance drive. But that said, it is still in the ballpark of some pretty darn quick drives, falling behind only the Vector and Vertex 4 in a couple of tests. The 4K 32QD tests really put a hurting on things for the Vector 460 though.
Moving on to AS SSD, we see the Vertex 460 hanging right with the pack, and again just behind the formidable Vector and Vertex 4.
In AS SSD’s access time tests, we see solid results with the Vertex 460 hanging right in there with the Vector, and even besting it in the case of read performance.
AS SSD’s overall score shows where this drive really lands, which has it falling just behind the Vector and Vertex 4 throughout the testing.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
In ATTO, what drive makers usually use to list their drive specifications, we can see the Vertex 460 right up there in the pack. It really shows strong performance in 4K reads losing out only to the faster Vector.
In ATTO writes, the results show a little weaker here, but still in the same ballpark. Nothing to complain about for this level of drive.
Moving on to IOMeter, the last testing we will complete, the story does not change much here either. The OCZ Vertex 460 is right up there with the previous generation high performance part, the Vector.
As far as IOPS testing goes, I was unable to reach the speeds that OCZ listed, but we are still right around the faster Vector and Vertex 4 in the all important 4k writes and reads.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
As I begin to wrap things up here, some things that may have been concerning were mentioned, and some were not. We touched on OCZ’s bankruptcy and subsequent acquisition by Toshiba, so that should settle things down on the warranty front at least.
One thing we have not touched on is OCZ reliability. It is a question. With the Vector, OCZ promised more thorough testing and better reliability and they have seemingly succeeded there… for the most part. While we do not have anything to truly hang our hats on as far as return numbers, one large French e/retailer does have some interesting statistics posted (See thread HERE with that information). In a nutshell, OCZ’s overall return rate after one year has improved quite dramatically from over 6.5% down to less than 2.25% across their product line. Not to shabby to have over 97% success rate to me. For reference sake, they are last out of six with the best (Samsung) having an astonishingly low return rate of .28% (which grew from .05% the previous year). Those that know me though, know I am a betting man… and I would take my ‘chances’ with ‘only’ a 97% success rate personally. Here is to hoping the 150/450 and 460 will continue to improve those return rates.
Ok, that out of the way, what we have in our hands is a very solid performing drive. I wish we could have had a Samsung 840 EVO to compare this drive to, but sadly, we didn’t hear back from them. We have been trying to source a review sample since its release (grrrrrrrr!). It really isn’t terribly fair to compare it to the more expensive OCZ Vector, but that is the newest drive we have to compare it against. And honestly, it held up against it quite well for the most part, so a solid showing there. As far as how it feels, there is really no difference to me for my simple uses (internet/email/gaming/photo manipulation) over the Vector.
I mentioned earlier that the OCZ Vertex 460 is not meant to compete with the Vector or 150 series, and it’s priced accordingly. This drive can be found at Newegg for $190 + SH and there is currently a $20 rebate, which drives the cost down to $170. If we compare that to one of its head to head competitors, the Samsung 840 EVO, we find the EVO coming it at almost $50 cheaper. The 840 Pro is $210. Now, this drive was just released on January 22nd, but the price at Newegg is the actual MSRP. What brings up the value on this drive compared to the EVO is that it includes a key to the Acronis backup software, which they value at $55. You can find it cheaper in a lot of places (I have seen $20 even), but if you need that ‘value add’ you have a tougher choice on your hands between the two.
I do wish the pricing was a more aggressive, regardless of the added software. Around $160 would be more appropriate, to be more competitive with the already several months on the market 840 EVO. I still feel this drive has earned an approved stamp for the solid performance it provides in coming so close to the mighty Vector in some testing, as well as its rated steady state performance.
- Joe Shields (Earthdog)