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OCZ Vertex 3 SATA-600 solid-state drive review: OCZ Vertex 3 SATA-600 solid-state drive

OCZ Vertex 3 SATA-600 solid-state drive

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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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The OCZ Vertex 3 solid-state drive is the second SSD (after the Plextor PX-256M2S) we've reviewed that supports the new 6Gbps SATA 3 standard. Like the Plextor, the OCZ showed stellar performance in our testing, enough to justify the $500 price tag for the 240GB version or the $250 for the 120GB version. Its 480GB version, however, is outrageously expensive at $1,800.

ocz-vertex-3-series-solid-state-drive-240-gb-internal-2-5-sata-600.jpg
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OCZ Vertex 3 SATA-600 solid-state drive

The Good

The <b>OCZ Vertex 3</b> solid-state drive supports SATA 6Gbps and offers very fast performance and up to 480GB of storage. The 2.5-inch internal drive comes with a mounting accessory to fit in desktop computers' drive bays, and is comparatively affordable.

The Bad

The OCZ Vertex 3 SSD is significantly more expensive than traditional hard drives, particularly the 480GB-capacity model, and takes a long time to format.

The Bottom Line

With excellent performance, the OCZ Vertex 3 SSD makes an ideal internal storage drive for laptops and desktop computers, especially those that support the 6Gbps SATA standard. Its hefty price tag will make most consumers think twice, however.

If your computer, be it a Mac or PC, supports SATA 3, then the OCZ Vertex 3 makes a worthwhile investment and will increase the computer's performance significantly. The drive also works with the existing and popular 3Gbps SATA (SATA 2) controllers and at a much faster speed than regular hard drives. However, for SATA 2, you should also consider the slightly cheaper Samsung 470 hard drive.

Design and features

Drive type 2.5-inch solid state
Connector options SATA 3Gbps, SATA 6Gbps
Available capacities 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
Product dimensions 9.5 mm, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 240GB
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

Like the Samsung 470, the OCZ Vertex 3 has the same shape, dimensions, and port design as any standard 9.5-millimeter, 2.5-inch internal hard drive. The drive also includes a drive bay converter to take the place of any 3.5-inch hard drive. This means it will work in any case where a traditional SATA hard drive would be used.

The drive supports the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) and also works with SATA 2 (3Gbps), as these two standards use the same interface ports. Obviously, if you want to get the best performance, the former is recommended.

We tried the Vertex 3 with a few computers of different platforms (Mac, Windows, and Linux) and it worked well with all of them. We did notice that the Vertex 3 took a significantly long time to be formatted compared with other drives. In our trials it took about 5 minutes to be quick-formatted using Windows 7. Other drives, even those that are really large in capacity, would take just less than a minute.

The OCZ Vertex 3, like all SSDs, uses flash memory chips as its storage rather than the platters used in traditional hard drives, and therefore has no moving parts. This means it uses much less energy and is more resistant to shock and vibration. It's also much lighter than hard drives of the same size. The OCZ Vertex 3 is heavier than the Plextor PX-256M2S or the Samsung 470, however, as the bottom part of its casing is made of aluminum, not plastic, making it seem sturdier than its peers.

Cost per gigabyte
As expected, the OCZ Vertex 3 is significantly more expensive than traditional hard drives, such as the hybrid Momentus XT. At about $500 for just 240GB, the Vertex 3 costs around $2.08 for one gigabyte. The Momentus, which is the most expensive among both traditional and hybrid hard drives, costs less than 10 cents per gigabyte, making it more than 23 times cheaper. This figure can go even lower with regular hard drives. The 3TB Seagate Barracuda XT, which offers the most storage on a single drive to date, costs just 8 cents per gigabyte.

When compared with other SSDs, however, the 256GB Vertex 3 is currently one of the most affordable, just slightly more expensive than the Samsung 470, for which the cost per gigabyte is $1.95. The Samsung doesn't support SATA 3, however.

Internal hard drives' cost per GB (based on current street price)

Performance
We tested the OCZ Vertex 3 thoroughly with many different applications and it performed excellently with all of them. We used the drive both as the main drive of the test machine, running Windows 7 64-bit, and as a secondary backup drive.

When the drive is used as the main hard drive that hosts the operating system, the tests are designed to gauge the computer's performance as a whole. For this reason, the hard drive only plays a small role in the final score. Nonetheless, the test machine showed a visible difference in performance contributed by the OCZ Vertex 3.

We compared the OCZ Vertex 3 against a few SATA 3 SSDs and hard drives on the market, including the 3TB Seagate Barracuda XT and the Plextor PX-256M2S.

In the boot-time test, the OCZ took a very short time, just 29.1 seconds, a tad slower than the Plextor's 28.2 seconds, and significantly faster than the Seagate's 48.2 seconds. Note that this boot time includes the time the test machine spends going through the hardware initialization, which already takes about 15 seconds. For shutdown speeds, the OCZ topped the chart with just 5.8 seconds while the Barracuda took twice that amount of time.

In the Office Performance test, in which we time how long the computer takes to finish a comprehensive set of concurrent tasks including use of Word and Excel, file transferring, and file compression, the OCZ took the first place at just 338 seconds, followed by the Plextor and Seagate, which needed 383 seconds and 391 seconds respectively.

It seems the drive's speed doesn't affect the speed of music conversion much, as on the test machine it took exactly the same amount of time for all three drives to convert music from MP3 to AAC format using iTunes. However, it was a little different with our multimedia multitasking test, which gauges the computer's performance when it converts a hi-def movie from one format to another while iTunes is doing a heavy job of music conversion in the background. In this test, the OCZ Vertex 3 was again the fastest, though it beat the other two by only a few seconds.

We test a storage device's throughput performance by timing how long it takes to finish copying a large amount of data from one place to another. Both as the main drive and as a secondary backup drive the Vertex 3 was very fast, at 150.01MBps and 260.71MBps, respectively. These numbers beat those of the Barracuda XT, which scored 51.1MBps and 115.71Mbps as a main and secondary drive respectively, by a huge margin. Note that these are real-world sustained throughput speeds after all the software and hardware overheads.

All in all, we were very happy about the OCZ Vertex 3's performance. Using it as the main drive increased our tested machine's overall performance significantly and applications loaded much faster. And the computer was able to wake from sleeping instantly.

CNET Labs system performance scores (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Multimedia multitasking test  
iTunes  
Office  
Seagate Barracuda XT
340 
113 
391 
Plextor PX-256M2S
323 
113 
383 
OCZ Vertex 3
322 
113 
338 

Boot and shutdown time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot  
OCZ Vertex 3
5.8 
29.1 

Data transfer (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive  
As OS Drive  
Plextor PX-256M2S
261 
162.03 
OCZ Vertex 3
260.71 
150.01 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 

Service and support
OCZ Technology Group backs the Vertex 3 with a three-year warranty, which is a decent deal, similar to what you get for the Samsung 470 and the Plextor PX-256M2S. When it comes to storage devices, the length of the warranty is the most important factor and it would be even better if the company offered a five-year warranty as in the case of the Momentus XT.

Conclusions
As with the Plextor PX-256M2S, the OCZ Vertex 3's hefty price keeps us from naming it an Editors' Choice. However, the Vertex 3 is an excellent replacement drive for a desktop or laptop, especially one with built-in support for SATA 3. The OCZ Vertex 3 will help you get the most performance out of your high-end system.

ocz-vertex-3-series-solid-state-drive-240-gb-internal-2-5-sata-600.jpg
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OCZ Vertex 3 SATA-600 solid-state drive

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 9Support 7