/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

OCZ Vector Series SSD review: Arguably the fastest SSD to date

Dong_Ngo.jpg

The OCZ Vector is one of many solid-state drives I've reviewed from OCZ Technology Group, but it's the first that's truly OCZ-made. The new drive comes with all components designed by OCZ, including the controller.

OCZ_Vector_(2).jpg
8.4

OCZ Vector Series SSD

The Good

The <b>OCZ Vector Series SATA III 2.5" SSD</b> is fast and good-looking. It comes with cloning software and desktop accessories.

The Bad

The Vector Series doesn't support hardware encryption, and is not as energy-efficient as its peers.

The Bottom Line

The OCZ Vector Series SSD would make a great investment for those moving on from using a hard drive as the main drive of their system.

The OCZ Vector is a high-end SSD designed to compete with the recently reviewed Samsung 840 Pro, and in my testing, it proved to be a formidable contender, in both performance and looks. The new ultrathin (7-millimeter) drive comes standard with a drive-bay converter, which also lets it fit easily inside desktops, as well as laptops and ultrabooks.

The drive currently costs about the same as the Samsung 840, and breaks down to just slightly more than $1 per gigabyte. If you're looking for a fast SSD for your system, be it a Windows computer or a Mac, the OCZ Vector would make an excellent choice, as far as performance is concerned. If you want a drive that offers better battery life for your portable computer, however, consider the Samsung 840 Pro, or even the Samsung 830 Series.

Design and features

Drive type 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Product dimensions 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 512GB
Controller OCZ Boot Foot 3
Flash memory type
OCZ 25nm IMFT synchronous 2-bit-per-cell MLC NAND
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

Coming in the now familiar 7mm chassis, the new OCZ Vector still manages to look very different from the rest of OCZ's SSDs, or the rest of the SSDs on the market, for that matter. It has a colored aluminum casing with a new, eye-catching label on top. The bottom of the drive remains much the same as the rest of OCZ's SSDs, showing the part number as well as other technical information. Still, the overall look of the OCZ Vector suggests that it's not just another SSD from OCZ.

The Vector (bottom) brings style to OCZ SSDs.
The Vector (bottom) brings style to OCZ SSDs. Dong Ngo/CNET

On the inside, the drive sports OCZ-branded NAND flash memory and an OCZ-made Barefoot 3 controller. Though the previous Octane and Vertex 4 drives also used somewhat nontraditional Indilinx controllers, that controller itself is not made entirely by OCZ, as is the Barefoot 3. The new controller is designed to offer high performance but currently isn't capable of providing hardware encryption. This is not a big deal, however, since encryption is hardly used on the client side for general consumers, partly because many computer motherboards don't support it.

Supporting the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) standard, the OCZ Vector's energy usage rating is not as impressive as those of the aforementioned Samsung SSDs. The Vector requires 2.25W when working and 0.9W when idle, much higher than the .068W (working)/.042W (idle) rating of the Samsung 840 Pro. Even the much older Samsung 830, with a 0.24 (working)/0.14(idle) rating, beats the Vector in terms of energy efficiency. While I didn't have time to test how the Vector affects a laptop's battery, my guess is it would probably cut down the battery life by 15 to 20 minutes compared with the Samsung 840 Pro.

Energy usage aside, the OCZ Vector worked well with both Windows and Mac OS in my trials. The drive comes with a five-year warranty. OCZ's warranty policy is a little interesting. The company guarantees that the drive will last at least five years if you write 20GB to it per day, every day. Consequently, the warranty of the Vector expires after five years or after 36.5TB of writes, whichever comes first. It's quite hard to determine how much data has been written to the drive, however, so keep that in mind.

The reason the daily written amount is a concern is because generally SSDs have limited program/erase (P/E) cycles, which dictate how many times you can write and rewrite information on a memory cell before it won't retain new information anymore. In real-world usage this is not really a big issue since most of us don't write more than 10GB on a computer's internal drive in a day, let alone every day. Still, heavy users, such as video-editing professionals, should pick a different type of SSD or use very fast standard hard drives for their work.

The OCZ comes with a drive-bay converter to make it fit in the 3.5-inch type of drive bay found inside a desktop computer. Just by itself, the drive can fit easily inside a laptop computer, even an ultrabook. Though there's no software included, it also comes with a registration key for Acronis True Image HD cloning software, which helps with the process of trading your computer's existing hard drive for an SSD.

Cost per gigabyte
Currently you can get an OCZ Vector for somewhere between $1.05 to $1.17 per gigabyte depending on the capacity of the drive. Ideally, SSDs should cost less than $1 per gigabyte to qualify as bargains. However, the OCZ Vector comes with software and accessories that add to its value. Plus, the drive has just been released; its price will likely go down in the next couple of months. Considering what it has to offer in terms of performance and its full five-year warranty, the OCZ Vector is in no way overpriced.

Performance
The OCZ Vector is fast. In fact it's the fastest in my tests, in terms of data transfer. When used as a secondary drive on our test machine, the drive offered 287MBps for writing and about 279MBps for reading. When used as the main drive that hosts the OS -- which is the most popular usage of SSDs -- and performing both writing and reading at the same time, the OCZ Vector reached an impressive 174MBps, topping the chart.

The new drive also helped the test machine boot up and shut down very fast, taking about 13 seconds and about 5 seconds, respectively. Note that 13 seconds is actually quite long, relatively speaking, since there are SSDs that have done it in just 10 seconds. But most will not notice this difference in real-world usage. There was no delay when the computer resumed from sleep mode. All applications I tried opened noticeably faster.

The OCZ Vector worked very smoothly, with everything behaving as expected. It also works with computers that only support the older SATA 2 standard.

Boot/Shutdown scores (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot time  
Samsung 840 Pro
5.21 
10 
Samsung 840 series
6.09 
11 
Plextor M5 Pro
6.21 
11.1 
Corsair Neutron
6.2 
12 
OCZ Vertex 4
6.8 
12 
OCZ Octane
6.3 
12 
OCZ Vector
4.95 
13 
SanDisk Ultra
7.2 
13.5 
OCZ Vertex 3
6 
14.1 
OCZ Agility 3
7 
14.7 

Data transfer scores (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive  
As OS drive  
OCZ Vector
286.77 
173.78 
Corsair Neutron GTX
273.62 
161.38 
Samsung 830 Series
261.63 
172.88 
Samsung 840 Pro
256.63 
168.18 
Plextor M5 Pro
251.19 
155.65 
OCZ Vertex 4
246.55 
168.36 
Corsair Neutron
237.69 
138.44 
SanDisk Extreme
234.15 
117.66 
Samsung 840 Series
230.69 
103.12 
Intel 520 Series
230.01 
154.01 
Plextor M3
221.98 
110.4 
RunCore Pro V Max
186.78 
92.55 
OCZ Octane
183.41 
135.43 
Monster Digital Le Mans
177.56 
121.11 
WD VelociRaptor 1TB
149.73 
62.21 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
126.33 
58.05 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59 
47.12 

Conclusion
With very fast performance, accessories, and a great look, the OCZ Vector would make an excellent gift for those looking to upgrade their computer from a standard hard drive.

OCZ_Vector_(2).jpg
8.4

OCZ Vector Series SSD

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 9Support 8