OCZ Vector 180 review: A good affordable solid-state drive for desktops

Friendly pricing, sort of

Much more expensive than the average hard drives, SSDs have been cost-prohibitive to many consumers. OCZ intends to ease this pain with the Vector 180. However, currently don't count on it being much cheaper than existing SSDs.

This is because, at the time of this review, the prices of its competitors, which came out last year, have gone down significantly. However, if you compare pricing at launch, the Vector 180 is indeed a lot cheaper than the Samsung 850 Pro or the SanDisk Extreme Pro. For example, the 960GB capacity of the Vector has the suggested price of $500, while the 1TB Samsung and the 960GB SanDisk had the suggested price of $730 and $600, respectively. The lower suggested price generally means that the street price will also come down the longer the drive is on the market. So for the Vector 180 to be a great deal, you need to wait a month or so before making a purchase.

SSD cost per gigabye in US dollars

WD Black 2 Dual Drive
$0.12
SanDisk Ultra II (960GB)
$0.37
SanDisk Ultra II (480GB)
$0.40
SanDisk Ultra II (240GB)
$0.41
Samsung SSD 850 Evo (1TB)
$0.42
Samsung SSD 850 Evo (500GB)
$0.44
Crucial MX200 (1TBGB)
$0.45
SanDisk Extreme Pro (960GB)
$0.47
Samsung SSD 850 Evo (250GB)
$0.48
OCZ ARC 100 (240GB)
$0.49
Crucial MX200 (500GB)
$0.50
OCZ Vector 180 (960GB)
$0.52
Plextor M6S (256GB)
$0.53
Crucial MX200 (250GB)
$0.54
SanDisk Extreme Pro (480GB)
$0.54
Intel SSD 730 (240GB)
$0.54
Samsung SSD 850 Pro (1TB)
$0.55
Samsung SSD 850 Pro (512GB)
$0.57
OCZ Vector 180 (480GB)
$0.57
OCZ Vector 150 (480GB)
$0.58
SanDisk Extreme Pro (240GB)
$0.62
Samsung SSD 850 Pro (256GB)
$0.63
OCZ Vector 180 (240GB)
$0.63
OCZ Vector 180 (120GB)
$0.75

Note:

Measured in cost per gigabyte based on current prices on Amazon; MSRP used for reviewed product. Lower numbers indicate better value.

That said, it's safe to say that, among high-end SSDs on the market, the OCZ Vector 180 is likely going to be the most affordable. The question is whether it has the performance of its intended peers.

Performance

And the answer to that question is: Not really.

In most tests, the Vector 180 was behind other high-end SSDs. For example, in the sequential data transfer tests, which gauges a drive's raw copy speed, it scored a sustained speed of 175MBps when doing both writing and reading at the same time. That's some 80MBps slower than the Samsung (in non-RAPID mode) and the SanDisk. The same thing happened when the Vector was tested as a secondary drive doing writing and reading separately. In those conditions, it registered some 350MBps for both writing and reading and was about 100MBps behind the aforementioned Samsung and SanDisk.

This doesn't mean the Vector was slow. In fact, it was faster than many other SSDs, but among the high-end crowd, it sure wasn't impressive in sequential performance.

CNET Labs SSD data transfer performance

SanDisk Extreme Pro
250.98
450.59
457.46
Samsung SSD 850 Pro
246.25
454.32
448.11
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
236.18
269.78
270.8
OCZ Vector 150
231.42
265.32
200.46
SanDisk Extreme II
224.27
255.86
203.42
Crucial MX200
190.3
433.49
412.46
Intel SSD 730 Series
189.52
265.53
266.84
Samsung SSD 850 Evo
182.78
114.45
205.63
OCZ Vector 180
175.3
347.32
353.67
WD Black 2 Dual Drive
174.65
114.66
228.2
Plextor M6S
155.34
144.78
227.89
Transcend SSD720
145.26
230.58
269.55
SanDisk Ultra II
126.49
210.21
319.23

Legend:

As OS drive (read and write)
As secondary drive (write only)
As secondary drive (read only)

Note:

Measured in megabytes per second.

And it did even worse in PC Mark 8 storage benchmark testing, where it trailed behind most recently reviewed SSDs, both in terms of score and storage bandwidth.

PC Mark 8 overall storage performance

Samsung SSD 850 Evo
4,983
276.16
Samsung SSD 850 Pro
4,979
267.32
Crucial MX200
4,968
256.94
Sandisk Extreme Pro
4,957
244.17
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
4,948
236.18
SanDisk Ultra II
4,922
208.55
OCZ Vector 180
4,921
204.04
OCZ ACR 100 series
4,948
203.72

Legend:

Storage score
Storage bandwith (MB/s)

Note:

Higher numbers indicate better performance.

However, in application performance tests, the Vector 180 did better, ranking above the average on the charts. It was even faster than the Samsung or the SanDisk with certain applications, though not by much.

PC Mark 8 storage application performance

Samsung SSD 850 Evo
4,983
276.16
Samsung SSD 850 Pro
4,979
267.32
Crucial MX200
4,968
256.94
Sandisk Extreme Pro
4,957
244.17
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
4,948
236.18
SanDisk Ultra II
4,922
208.55
OCZ Vector 180
4,921
204.04
OCZ ACR 100 series
4,948
203.72

Legend:

Storage score
Storage bandwith (MB/s)

Note:

Measured in seconds. Shorter bars indicate better performance.

In all, if you replace your hard-drive-based computer with the Vector 180, you will clearly see an improvement in performance. However, if you're already using an SSD, the Vector 180 doesn't have enough to warrant an upgrade.

Conclusion

As a high-end SSD, the Vector 180 doesn't reach the performance heights of its contemporaries. Thankfully, it also doesn't cost as much. However, it's still a worthy buy thanks to its Power Failure Management feature, especially if using with a desktop computer.

The drive's ShieldPlus warranty policy is also something worth considering, especially if you're a first-time SSD user. And if you're hung up on the endurance rating -- 91TB written is not the highest number among SSDs -- it's still more than enough for the drive to last for decades with regular usage.