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OCZ Vector 180 review:

A good affordable solid-state drive for desktops

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OCZ Vector 180 (960GB)

(Part #: VTR180-25SAT3-960G)
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The Good The OCZ Vector 180 protects data in case of power loss and includes hassle-free consumer support as well as a long warranty.

The Bad The drive's speed and durability rating trail behind high-end SSDs on the market. There are no data security or performance enhancement features.

The Bottom Line The OCZ Vector 180 is a good, affordable solid-state drive backed up by a lengthy, user-friendly warranty.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.1 Overall
  • Setup 8.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Support 9.0

If you're looking to upgrade the speed of your desktop computer, or want to avoid jumping through hoops with customer support when setting up a new drive, OCZ's Vector 180 solid-state drive (SSD) is for you. As long as you don't expect top benchmark numbers, you won't be disappointed.

Despite being intended as competition for other high-end SSDs on the market, such as the Samsung 850 Pro, the new drive didn't meet my expectations in testing, trailing behind its competitors in most tests. It also has half the warranty time and the endurance rating (how many bytes it can write to itself before going kaput). To make up for that, it carries a friendlier suggested price tag at launch of $90 (£58, AU$113), $150 (£95, AU$189), $275 (£178, AU$349) and $500 (£330, AU$634) for 120GB, 240GB, 480GB and 960GB, respectively. Furthermore, it includes advance replacement in case of defect, prepaid return and hassle-free support during its five-year warranty time.

In all, while the Vector 180 doesn't measure up to some high-end SSDs, it's still a very good replacement drive, especially for those who need help getting it up and running. For more choices, check out this list of current top SSDs.

The Vector 180 comes with an adapter that allows it to fit inside a desktop computer. Josh Miller/CNET

Standard design, ShieldPlus warranty

For storage device the warranty is very important, and the Vector 180 delivers in this regard. While it carries only a five-year warranty -- which is generally excellent, though still just half that of the Samsung SSD 850 Pro -- the drive includes ShieldPlus support. According to OCZ, this means you just need to provide the drive's serial number to get support, and in case of defect, OCZ will ship you a unit in advance and provide a paid return shipping label for you to ship the old one back. On top of that, the company also promises "high-caliber" customer service in case you need help with the drive. (I didn't have a chance to try out the support since I tested the drive before it was officially released.)

The Vector 180 itself is a standard 2.5-inch internal drive that's 7mm thick. It fits in any laptop computer that uses a standard hard drive, including those that require low-profile hard drives. It also includes an adapter that permits it to fit in a desktop computer. To help users upgrade, the Vector 180 comes with a license for Acronis True Image HD, which is a very good software suite for data backups and drive cloning.


OCZ Vector 180 Specs

Drive type 2.5-inch 7mm standard
Capacities 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB
Controller OCZ Barefoot 3 M00
Flash Technology Toshiba A19 MLC
Sequential Read 550 MB/s
Sequential Write 530 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 100,000
Random Write IOPS 95,000
Features Power FailureManagement
Endurance 50GB/day for five years
Accessories Cloning Software and Desktop Adapter
Warranty Five years with ShieldPlus

The drive supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) but will works with all revisions of the SATA standard. It's recommended to use it with newer computer that supports SATA 3, but even when used in older SATA 2-based computers that are equipped with a regular hard drive, the Vector 180 will still boost the performance greatly.

Average endurance with Power Failure Management

The Vector 180 has very similar specs to its older brother, the Vector 150, sharing the same OCZ's home-grown controller. But it uses the new Toshiba A19 MLC flash memory and has a feature called Power Failure Management to protect its data.

Basically, the drive has system capacitors that provide extra power for it to finish writing data before shutting down in case of unexpected power loss. This is similar to using a UPS with a computer. On top of that, OCZ says this feature also enables the firmware to periodically create snapshots of the drive's mapping table and continuously monitor the drive for power anomalies. While useful, I suspect this feature will hardly be evoked, especially in laptops where the loss of power doesn't occur very often.

The Vector 180 is a standard internal drive that supports SATA 3. Josh Miller/CNET

What's more important than power management is its endurance, where, unfortunately, the Vector 180 doesn't stand out. Endurance, also known as program/erase (P/E) cycles, is the rating that quantifies the total amount of data that can be written to an SSD before the drive becomes unreliable. You can think of endurance as the drive's durability. (For more on the endurance of SSDs, check out this post.)

Generally, the endurance rating increases with capacities, but OCZ says all capacities of the Vector 180 share the same endurance rating of 50GB/day. This means if you write 50GB of data to the drive per day every day, it'll take five years for the drive to run out of P/E cycles. Effectively, this means the drive can handle up some 91TB of data written to it. While 91TB is a lot of data -- an average user writes just about 5GB per day, if that -- the Samsung SSD 850 Pro's endurance almost doubles that. The recently reviewed (and cheaper) Crucial MX200 even has an endurance rating of up to 320TB.

To be fair, a year ago, an endurance rating of more than 80TB, which is that of the SanDisk Extreme Pro, was considered extremely high. However, now the Vector 180's endurance is just about that of an average SSD and is far behind some. Though the drive has more than enough durability for the majority of home users, if you're looking for an SSD to write a lot of data on, such as using it for professional video editing and recording, it's a better idea to get a drive with the highest possible endurance.

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