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OCZ Vector 150 review: Fast, good-looking SSD, but not new

OCZ is releasing the Vector 150 to replace the 1-year-old Vector, but the new solid-state drive is just about as good as its predecessor.

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo

SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

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5 min read

The new OCZ Vector 150 is a great solid-state drive, but it doesn't really have anything that you haven't seen before.

OCZVector150_(4).jpg
7.8

OCZ Vector 150

The Good

The <b>OCZ Vector 150</b> offers fast performance and includes a desktop adapter bracket as well as hard-drive-cloning software. The drive comes with a five-year warranty and now supports hardware encryption.

The Bad

The Vector 150 doesn't outdo its predecessor in most categories, including storage capacity, pricing, and performance. The new drive doesn't offer anything new compared with other SSDs.

The Bottom Line

With fast performance and a good warranty, the OCZ Vector 150 is a great SSD for first-time adopters. It's not a worthwhile upgrade for the original Vector drive, however.

Made to be the upgraded version of the Vector drive that came out last December, the Vector 150 looks almost exactly the same as its predecessor. On the inside, the drive uses more affordable NAND flash memory but shares the same controller. To balance the value out, it now supports AES-256 data encryption, which the Vector doesn't.

In my testing, the new drive showed slower performance than the Vector in certain tests and faster in the others. At launch, it carries the same price tag as the Vector, about $1 per gigabyte.

After almost a year, I expected the Vector 150 to have more to offer, or at least have a lower price. For this reason, the OCZ Vector 150 is a great drive but won't be an excellent choice until its street price is on par with those of its competitors, such as the Samsung 840 Evo. For more choices of excellent SSDs, check out this list.

The new Vector 150 looks almost exactly the same as the original Vector drive that came out almost a year ago.
The new Vector 150 (bottom) looks almost exactly the same as the original Vector drive that came out almost a year ago. Dong Ngo/CNET

Design
The OCZ Vector 150 has an aluminum chassis, which makes it feel solid and look expensive. It has the same pattern as the original Vector. In fact, the only difference between the two is that the 150 says "Vector 150" on it; the original Vector only says "Vector."

OCZ Vector 150 OCZ Vector
Controller Barefoot 3 M00 Barefoot 3 M00
Flash NAND memory 19nm Toshiba MLC Flash NAND
OCZ 25nm MLC Flash NAND
Capacities 120GB, 240GB, 480GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Rated sequential speed Up to 550MBps Up to 550MBps
Rated random speed Up to 100K IOPS Up to 100K IOPS
Rated endurance 50GB/day 20GB/day
Encryption support Yes (AES-256) No
Software included Acronis True Image for Windows XP, 7, and 8 Acronis True Image for Windows XP and 7
Warranty 5 years 5 years

On the inside, the two also share the same OCZ Barefoot 3 controller, but the Vector 150 uses 19nm MLC Flash NAND from Toshiba, as opposed to OCZ's home-grown 25nm MLC Flash NAND. The smaller flash memory size means that you can put more memory cells per square inch, leading to a cheaper manufacturing price. This will also mean differences in performance and endurance.

Despite using the same controller, the Vector 150 supports AES-256 hardware encryption. This is a great new feature for business users. For home users, this makes no difference, since the encryption needs to also be supported by the host, such as a laptop's motherboard, and most home computers don't include the hardware encryption feature.

OCZ says the new Vector 150 drive has endurance of 50GB per day. This means if you write 50GB to the drive every day, it will still last at least five years before it becomes unreliable. This is significantly better than the 20GB-per-day rating of the Vector. Most of the time, however, we don't write 50GB to a computer's internal drive each, and especially not every, day.

The reason SSDs have an endurance rating is that, unlike regular hard drives, all SSDs come with a finite number of program/erase cycles, meaning that you can write to them only so many times before you can't anymore. For most users, SSDs' endurance ratings are so high that it's not really an issue. (Read more about SSDs here.)

Other than that, the Vector 150 has a standard 2.5-inch internal drive design and supports the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) I/O interface. It's also backward-compatible with SATA 2 and the original SATA standard. In other words, it can be used virtually anywhere a regular hard drive of the same standard is used.

The drive's package includes the SSD itself, a desktop bracket to make it easily fit inside a desktop computer, and a serial number for a retail copy of Acronis True Image 2013, which is one of the best backup and drive-cloning software for Windows. You can download this software and use the key to activate it.

Cost per gigabyte
The Vector 150 is available in 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB versions, which at launch are slated to cost $129.99, $239.99, and $499.99, respectively. The drive costs just a few cents more than a dollar per gigabyte; that's about how much the original Vector cost when it launched. But the Vector came out a year ago; with a smaller memory capacity, I was hopping that the Vector 150 would be more affordable.

For now, the Vector 150 is among the most expensive SSDs on the market. The Samsung 840 Evo, for example, only costs between 60 cents and 80 cents per gigabyte.

Cost per gigabyte
OCZ Vector 150 (240GB)
$1 
OCZ Vector 150 (480GB)
$1.04 
OCZ Vector 150 (120GB)
$1.08 

Performance
The Vector 150 was fast in my testing, but it didn't really outdo its predecessor. In fact it was slower than the Vector in most tests.

In sequential copy tests, the new drive offered a sustained speed of 265MBps for writing and 201MBps for reading. In the same tests the Vector scored 287MBps and 278MBps, respectively. In the combined test where the drive performed both writing and reading simultaneously, the Vector 150 scored 231MBps, compared with the Vector's 243MBps. Since the Vector was one of the fastest SSDs I've seen, the Vector 150 was still average among high-end SSDs. It just doesn't outdo its older brother.

CNET Labs' data transfer scores (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive (read only)  
As secondary drive (write only)  
As OS drive (read and write)  
Samsung 840 Evo (Rapid)
193.32 
289.32 
378.44 
Samsung 840 Evo
184.45 
266.9 
257.13 
OCZ Vector
277.84 
286.77 
243.01 
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
270.8 
269.78 
236.18 
OCZ Vector 150
200.46 
265.32 
231.42 
SanDisk Extreme II
203.42 
255.86 
224.27 
Seagate 600 SSD
275.21 
259.01 
192.26 
Transcend SSD720
269.55 
230.58 
145.26 
Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD
84.75 
39.61 
10.57 

In simulation tests using PC Mark 8 benchmark software, where the entire system was tested to see how the SSD helped improve the performance, the Vector 150 did very well, topping the charts in both Home and Work simulated workloads.

PC Mark 8 scores
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Storage score  
Work score  
Home score  
OCZ Vector 150
4,948 
4,909 
3,437 
Samsung 840 Evo (Rapid)
4,990 
4,605 
3,324 
Samsung 840 Evo
4,967 
4,665 
3,339 
OCZ Vector
4,958 
4,646 
3,327 
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
4,948 
4,658 
3,331 
SanDisk Extreme II
4,938 
4,680 
3,306 
Seagate 600 SSD
4,896 
4,621 
3,296 
Transcend SSD720
4,779 
4,658 
3,328 
Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD
2,512 
4,585 
3,251 

Other than that, the Vector 150 worked well throughout my testing process and worked with both Windows and Mac computers without any problems. Compared with a hard drive, it indeed showed significant improvement in system performance. The test machine took a very short time to boot up and resume from sleep mode, and all applications launched much faster.

Conclusion
Overall, the Vector 150 is a winner in terms of performance, design, and warranty. The drive will make a great upgrade for a computer that's currently using a regular hard drive as its main storage device.

However, compared with the original Vector drive, the Vector 150 is not a worthwhile upgrade since it offers about the same (slightly slower, in fact) performance with no other benefits. And among high-end SSDs on the market, it's one of the most expensive, for now.


OCZVector150_(4).jpg
7.8

OCZ Vector 150

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Performance 8Support 9