With 256GB physically on board the Vertex 3, the user is left with 223GB to use in Windows. Part of this is overprovisioning where roughly 16GB is set aside leaving 240GB for the user. This really equates to 223GB in Windows if you do the data conversion math on the byte count which is reflected in the Windows drive properties information.
Overall, the Vertex 3 240GB drive is a beast. While we’ve seen better performance in OCZ’s own RevoDrives, those are PCI-E based and set up in a RAID configuration. Even then, the Vertex 3 bested the original RevoDrive in a number of tests. The combination of the SandForce SF-2281 controller and the SATA III 6Gbps interface has really taken the SATA based SSD to a new level. With 550MB/s reads and 525MB/s writes, it sets the pace for the crowd of drives that are sure to follow. As we covered in the Vertex 3 Pro preview, these aren’t numbers you’ll see on the X58 platform due to the architecture so a Sandy Bridge platform is a must if you want to have the potential of full performance from the drive.
However, there may not be much more in terms of overhead bandwidth left
in the SATA III interface. SATA II (3Gbps) has a theoretical maximum speed
of 300MB/s and the best drives all seem to hit a ceiling around 286MB/s
which is roughly 5% less due to protocol and encoding overhead. If the same percentage applies to
the SATA 6Gbps, where the theoretical throughput is 600MB/s, the effective throughput is looking more like 570MB/s
which is slightly more than we are seeing with the Vertex 3. In fact, if you look at the ATTO numbers, both the Vertex 3 and Vertex 3 Pro topped out at the exact same mark of 555.38MB/s. Whether this is the limit of the controller or the SATA III connection remains to be seen. Of course, those transfer rates reflect tests on large, sequential and compressible data. There’s plenty of room for improvement in the area of random, small and incompressible data and we expect more improvements in this area as the year progresses. After all, this is the bread and butter of most consumer data usage models.
While the drive we tested is only a beta model, expect only minor firmware changes for the production models. OCZ has given us tentative pricing of $499.99 for the 240GB version and the 120GB version should land somewhere around $249.99. This puts them in the area of $2.25 per usable gigabyte assuming retailers don’t jack up the price at the outset which is actually very likely. The current OCZ toolbox doesn’t work with the Vertex 3 drives but OCZ is working on updates to amend that and should be available by the launch date. Expect to see these ship in the next few weeks and start showing up at retailers soon after.
Legit Bottom Line: OCZ is leading the way yet again, setting the bar for SSD performance in 2011. Nearly doubling the peak performance of the Vertex 2 line, the Vertex 3 takes full advantage of the SATA 6Gbps interface with its beefy SandForce SF-2281 controller and 25nm NAND.