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OCZ Vertex 4 SSD review: OCZ Vertex 4 SSD

OCZ Vertex 4 SSD

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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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OCZ Technology Group's Vertex 4 solid-state drive is very different from the Vertex 3 since the Vertex 4, like OCZ's Octane SSD, uses OCZ's homegrown Indilinx Everest controller. The new drive uses the second generation of the controller, however, and offers significantly better performance than the Octane. It's also slightly more affordable.

ocz-vertex-4-series-solid-state-drive-128-gb-internal-2-5-sata-600.jpg
8.3

OCZ Vertex 4 SSD

The Good

The SATA 3 (6Gbps) 2.5-inch <b>OCZ Vertex 4</b> is fast and affordable and comes with a tray adapter so it can also fit in a 3.5-inch drive bay.

The Bad

The OCZ Vertex 4 isn't thin enough to be used in an ultrabook.

The Bottom Line

The OCZ Vertex 4 is an excellent replacement drive for a standard-size laptop or desktop.

Other than that, from a consumer's point of view, the drive is very similar to other SATA 3-based standard internal drives and can be used anywhere this type of hard drive is used.

If you're looking for a replacement drive to use with your standard-size laptop or desktop computer, the new Vertex 4 would make a great investment. If you need an SSD that's thin enough to fit in an ultraportable computer or ultrabook, check out the Intel SSD 520 Series.

Design and features

Drive type Internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Product dimensions 9-mm thick, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 256GB and 512GB
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

OCZ introduced its own Indilinx Everest in July 2011. The fact that the Vertex 4 now uses the Everest 2 controller suggests that OCZ might move completely away from using the popular SandForce controller (which was used in the Vertex 3). And in my trials, it seems the company has reasons to do so.

For example, the Vertex 4 is quite different from other drives in that a computer will recognize it instantly the moment it's plugged in. It also took literally just a second to be quick-formatted, whereas SandForce-based SSDs take a few minutes. While this initial setup is not a big deal for most consumers, for somebody who has to work with a lot of drives like me, it was quite a pleasant surprise.

On the outside, however, the new Vertex 4 looks exactly the same as the Vertex 3 and other standard SSDs. As a 9.5mm, 2.5-inch SATA standard drive, it can be used basically anywhere a regular 2.5-inch hard drive is used. Again, note that it's too big to fit in an ultrabook, since those use 7mm-thick drives. The Intel SSD 520 Series is the only SSD I've seen so far that's ultrabook-friendly.

The OCZ Vertex 4 also comes with a tray converter and all necessary screws so it can fit in place of a 3.5-inch hard drive, making it a great replacement drive for desktops as well as laptops. The drive works with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. It supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) so for maximum performance use it with a chip platform that supports this new standard, such as Intel Sandy Bridge. However, it also supports SATA 2 (3Gbps) and the original SATA (1.5Gbps).

Setting up the Vertex 4 is just like setting up a regular 2.5-inch hard drive. Since the drive is best used as a replacement for a computer's main internal hard drive, check out CNET's how-to on migrating your computer to an SSD.

Cost per gigabyte
SSD prices have been going down since the beginning of the year and the Vertex 4's pricing reflects this trend. The new drive comes in 512GB, 256GB, and 128GB capacities that carry an MSRP of $649, $349, and $179, respectively, making the cost per gigabyte around $1.30 to $1.40, quite affordable. Street prices should be even lower.

SSDs are still much more expensive than regular hard drive and hybrid drives; for example, the Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive costs just $245 for 750GB, or 33 cents per gigabyte. Hopefully SSD street prices will drop even lower and soon we'll see SSDs that cost just $1 per gigabyte or even less.

Drives' cost per GB (based on current street price)

Performance
The new OCZ Vertex 4 offers much better performance than the OCZ Octane, which uses the earlier generation of the same controller. I tested both the 256GB and 512GB versions of the Vertex 4 and, as stated by OCZ, the 512GB version was faster than its lower-capacity brother. Unlike hard drives, for SSDs larger capacity generally also means better performance, especially in terms of life span.

When used as a secondary drive, the 512GB Vertex 4 offered an average speed of 247MBps, putting it among the top three on the chart. The 256GB version, on the other hand, offered just 190MBps.

When used as the main boot drive of the test computer, the 512GB version scored about 168MBps, in the top two on the chart, just behind the Samsung 830 Series. The 256MB version scored lower at 148MBps.

The two versions, however, gave identical boot and shutdown times, at 12 seconds boot and 7 seconds shutdown. These times are about as quick as it gets. They also both offered virtually the same overall performance in my testing. It's very hard to quantify this improvement but all applications I tried on the test computer with the Vertex 4 installed, especially heavy games, loaded very quickly, much more so than when a hard drive was used. It's the kind of improvement where once you have it, you'll never want to go back.

Despite the minor differences between different capacities mentioned above, it's safe to say that the Vertex 4 will offer the same great experience, no matter what capacity you get.

Boot and shutdown times (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown
Boot time

OCZ Vertex 4 (512GB)
6.8
12

OCZ Vertex 4 (256GB)
7
12

OCZ Octane
6.3
12

Patriot Pyro
6
12.5

SanDisk Ultra
7.2
13.5

Crucial M4
6.8
13.7

OCZ Vertex 3
5.8
14.1

OCZ Agility 3
6.7
14.7

Data transfer speed (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive
As OS drive

Samsung 830 Series
261.63
172.88

OCZ Vertex 4 (512GB)
246.55
168.36

Plextor PX-256M2S
261
162.03

Intel SSD 520 Series
230.01
154.01

OCZ Vertex 3
260.71
150.01

OCZ Vertex 4 (256GB)
190.34
148.33

OCZ Octane
183.41
135.43

Crucial M4
235.51
117.99

SanDisk Extreme
234.15
117.66

Plextor M3
221.98
110.4

OCZ Agility 3
207.75
101.67

RunCore Pro V Max
186.78
92.55

Patriot Pyro
190.01
76.44

SanDisk Ultra
96.4
65.6

WD VelociRaptor 600GB
126.33
58.05

WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59
47.12

Service and support
OCZ backs the Vertex 4 with a five-year warranty, which is two years longer than it gives the Vertex 3. This shows the company's confident in its new controller. When it comes to storage devices, the length of the warranty is the most important factor and OCZ delivers that for the Vertex 4.

Our take
With great performance, friendly pricing, and included accessories, the OCZ Vertex 4 makes an excellent replacement drive for any computer.

ocz-vertex-4-series-solid-state-drive-128-gb-internal-2-5-sata-600.jpg
8.3

OCZ Vertex 4 SSD

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 8Support 8