While the OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240 GB drive has 256 GB worth of physical NAND on board, this pans out to be 223 GiB in Windows. This takes into account overprovisioning and the translation of GB (1,000,000,000 bytes per GB) to GiB (1,073,741,824 bytes per GiB) as well as the bits that formatting and Windows takes up.
We’ve done quite a few SSD reviews this year and frankly, some of the drives we test seem like carbon copies of the one before save for different branding. Performance tends to be relatively equal, at least within the standard deviation of the benchmarks used and it’s rare for a drive to really stand out. The Vertex 3 MI is one of those rare drives that, in a sea of virtual SSD homogeny, distinguishes itself with all around performance perceptively better than any other single SATA III interfaced drive we’ve tested to date – except maybe the Intel 510 Series drive which is clearly its toughest competitor and posts scores that are impressive as well. While not having the best scores in every aspect of every benchmark, there are few instances where the Vertex 3 MI was bested by a wide margin. All of this is nothing new for OCZ who are really the only ones that currently offer a reasonably affordable PCI-E SSD solution and are generally leading the way in terms of putting their neck on the chopping block by being the first to run drives out to the end consumers. Yeah, they’ve been burnt by this more than once but they’ve generally stepped up and addressed the problems with customers and in the immortal words of T.S. Elliot – Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.
Much of the drive’s success can be attributed to the 32nm Toshiba Toggle NAND and not derived from the firmware as one might suspect because it’s the same version as the other Vertex 3 drives. Reads of 550MB/s are the same as the ‘regular’ Vertex 3 drives of the same capacity, but write specifications of 500MB/s are actually slightly below the other Vertex 3 drives; although we saw performance better than that in ATTO benchmark. In terms of specifications, the IOPS are cranked up a bit with the random 4KB write going from 60k to 75k on the 120 GB drive and 65k on the 240 GB drive. The SF-2200 controller does its usual admirable job keeping the drive speedy after heavy use, especially on systems where TRIM is employed and the 34nm has greater longevity expectations than that of the 25nm drive. OCZ estimates the Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF) to be right around 2 million hours.
On the cost front, we find the 120 GB version to be retailing for $309 and the 240 GB for $556. This comes out to roughly $2.50 per usable GB on the 240GB drive and $2.75 on the 120GB drive. This is higher than the average price but premium performance always comes at a premium price. The Intel 510 Series is priced similarly so there’s definitely some competition there. OCZ does offer a three year warranty on the drive and it ships with a 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter plate for easy installation into just about any chassis. OCZ also offers their custom toolbox for updating firmware, secure erasing and viewing detailed information about the drive. This is extremely handy to have and only Intel offers a similar piece of software. The only negative thing I can say at this point is that OCZ may have too many overlapping SATA III SSD offerings with a total of three sets of drives in their “high-performance” category. Each are likely cannibalizing the sales of the others while they only have one offering in the “value” category where the focus of many consumers still lies in no small part due to the languishing economy. Between it and the Intel 510 Series drive, based on raw numbers I’d give the nod to the Max IOPS drive although in practical use, the end user would probably not be able to differentiate between the two. Most will probably stick with their brand of preference as long as prices remain roughly equal but if costs become disproportionate, buying preferences could shift.
Legit Bottom Line: The Max IOPS edition of the Vertex 3 line is the one of the fastest overall non-RAID SSD we’ve had our hands on although the Intel 510 Series is hot on its heels and the Intel brand has a substantial, loyal following.