OCZ Vertex 2 SSD Performance Review

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD Retail Box

The OCZ Vertex Series of Solid-State Drives (SSDs) has been without a doubt one of the most successful SSDs released by any manufacturer. When we reviewed the original Vertex 120GB drive in April 2009 we found it to be an amazing SSD that was one of the first on the market that had the ability to do garbage collection and TRIM. It was truly a drive that was better than much of the competition and even today it is a solid performing drive thanks to the Indilinx Barefoot controller. OCZ has been busy working on their next generation SSD products, and rather than using last year's Indilinx Barefoot controller they found a new controller series that they liked from an upcoming SSD controller company called SandForce. OCZ has been testing the SandForce SF-1200 and SF-1500 controllers for months internally and during CES they made the formal announcement that OCZ would be bringing out the Vertex 2 series of SSDs using these two new controllers. OCZ has since used the SF-1500 controller on the OCZ Vertex Limited Edition and the SD-1200 controller on the OCZ Vertex 2. The SandForce SF-1200 is said to have nearly the same performance level as the SF-1500 at a fraction of the cost thanks to improved firmware, so we can't wait to benchmark the Vertex 2 SSD and see what it has! 

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD Retail Box

The Vertex 2 will be available in 50GB (OCZSSD2-2VTX50G), 100GB (OCZSSD2-2VTX100G) and 200GB (OCZSSD2-2VTX200G) drive capacities with the 50GB model having a cost of $199.00, the 100GB at $409.99 and the 200GB model being sold for $749.99. Clearly, these are not inexpensive drives! They do happen to be price competitive with other SandForce SF-1200 series drives, though.

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD Retail Bundle

Inside the retail bundle we found that OCZ has included a 3.5" desktop adapter bracket with the Vertex 2 SSD. This is a nice touch as most of the cases that have been sold in recent years were not designed to store 2.5" SSDs, so you have to have a way to secure them. Notebook users will have no need for this, but it is nice that companies are including these adapters.

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD

The drive that we are reviewing today is the OCZ Vertex 2 100GB model with part number OCZSSD2-2VTX100G. It features a matte black finish and a sticker that clearly shows what the drive is. You can't really dress an SSD up to make it look better, but for most of us appearance doesn't matter as it will be locked into a laptop or drive bay in your chassis and not be seen for years if all goes as planned.

Model
 Controller  NAND  Max Read
Max Write
OCZ Vertex 120GB
 Indilinx Barefoot
 MLC  250MB/s 180MB/s
OCZ Vertex 2 100GB
 SandForce SF-1200  MLC  285MB/s  275MB/s

The Vertex 2, with the latest revision of its firmware, has been rated with transfer rates at up to 285MB/s read and 275MB/s write with up to an impressive 50,000 IOPS. If you compare these speed ratings to the original Vertex 120GB drive you can see that the Vertex 2 has the slight edge on read speeds, but nearly a 100MB/s lead on write speeds.  Many of the advancements in SSDs over the past year have been on write speeds and, of course, improved 4K file size performance.

Vertex 2 Maximum Performance 
OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD Back

The OCZ Vertex 2 has native TRIM support and measures in at just 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm in size. For a drive that weighs in at 77g it is amazing to think that it has a shock tolerance of up to 1500G and only consumes 2W of power during operation and just 0.5W in standby mode. Flipping the OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD over gives you get a better look at the back of the drive.  Notice that it has threaded mounting holes on both the bottom and sides to fit in various cases and laptops.

OCZ Vertex LE 100GB SSD Drive SATA

Here is a better look at the SATA II header and the SATA power connector on the Vertex 2. Notice that this drive doesn't need a jumper for firmware flashing. The SATA 2 storage interface is backwards-compatible with SATA 1. For maximum performance, OCZ recommends installing Vertex 2 series SSDs on a SATA 2 controller and enabling ‘AHCI’ mode in the BIOS.  This drive does not support SATA 6Gbps, which is a bit of a bummer, but the factory ratings are very impressive and this drive should scream in the benchmarks. The OCZ Vertex 2 features a 3-year warranty in case the drive should ever fail.

Let's take a look the new controller and then we will crack open the drive to give you a look inside so you can see what makes it tick.

Inside the Vertex 2 SSD

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD Warranty Label

Since we have never seen what components are being used inside the OCZ Vertex 2 SSD series we opened up our 100GB Vertex 2 drive to see what the internals look like. Breaking the warranty sticker and opening up the drive will VOID your warranty, so don't do this unless you don't mind losing the warranty on an expensive SSD.

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD Inside

After removing the four small Philips head screws that hold down the Vertex 2 Series cover we were able to lift off the cover and see what makes this little SSD tick.

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD Inside

Here is a closer look at the main component side of the PCB where you can make out eight Intel 34nm MLC NAND Flash memory chips and the highly anticipated SandForce SF-1200 series controller that is being used on this Solid-State Drive.

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD Inside

Flipping the PCB over we can take a look at the other side, which is bare and has just eight more Intel MLC NAND memory chips on it. The location of the large 'super capacitor' is present, but you will notice that the Cap-XX is missing in action. We asked OCZ what happened to it and were told the following:

"This will NOT be present on the consumer class devices Vertex LE, and Vertex 2. This will only be on our enterprise class Deneva product line. Basically what it's for is in event of a sudden power loss the drive will go into a mode where it will focus on completing write commands using the power in the super cap. Its only enough for a short burst, but it's enough to get the job done. This is important on SSDs more so than HDDs in enterprise. On an HDD when write caching is turned off, the last write command is lost, but the rest of your data is secure. On standard SSDs because of the nature of Flash and Flash management it is not typically possible to guarantee data integrity on sudden power loss. The enterprise class Deneva Series will be the first high performance readily available SSD that guarantees data integrity on sudden power loss. As a bonus effect the last write does in fact complete so no data is lost..." OCZ PR

OCZ Vertex LE 100GB SSD SF-1500 Controller

The heart and soul the Vertex 2 is the SF-1200 series controller seen above. Some companies have started to market their drives as having a SF-1222 controller as it sounds newer.  The OCZ Vertex 2 has the SF-1222 as that is the specific name for this controller and it is part of the SF-1200 series of controllers. As we noted, the Vertex 2 doesn't have any cache chips on it as that is because the SandForce controller itself is said to carry a small cache inside that is a number of megabytes in size. Inside the controller there's also the Tensilica DC_570T CPU core; this is used in both the SF-1200 and SF-1500 models. This controller includes support for all the latest features like native TRIM support. OCZ claims maximum read/write performance of 285/275 MB/s with their revision 1.0 firmware. The interesting thing about SSDs with the SandForce controller is that performance doesn't vary with capacity size.  A 50GB, 100GB and 200GB OCZ Vertex 2 have the same speed ratings.

OCZ Vertex LE 100GB SSD Intel 29F64G08CAMDB
The OCZ Vertex 2 features Intel 29F64G08CAMDB MLC flash memory. In total there are 16 chips and each IC is 8GB in density. That adds up to 128GB of storage space, but only 93.1GB of it will be usable space! The 'hidden' capacity is used for wear leveling, which is crucial to keeping SSDs running as long as possible.

The OCZ Toolbox Utility v0.60

OCZ told us that the Vertex 2 will be able to use the OCZ Toolbox software utility and sent us v0.60 of the utility.  This software will be made available to the public once it is fully ready and functional.  Check out the images below to get a feel for what the software can do as we were able to use it on our Vertex 2 drive.

At first this reminded us of the Intel SSD Toolbox that came out last year, but once we started using OCZ Toolbox 0.60 we found it to be much more versatile. You might recall when we reviewed the original Vertex SSD we had to run a command line tool called wiper.exe that was needed to manually TRIM the drive. The OCZ Vertex 2 SSD that we are looking at today supports Windows 7 TRIM right out of the box, and OCZ and SandForce have teamed together to build a nice little toolbox that is packed full of features that you are going to find useful over the life of the drive.

OCZ Vertex 2 Toolbox Utility

When you fire up the OCZ toolbox this is the first screen that you will see. If you have multiple SandForce drives you can pick which one you want to work on and when you highlight a drive the utility gives you the general information of the drive.

OCZ Vertex 2 Toolbox Utility

The next tab over is the 'tools' menu and this is where the drive configuration management tools are located. With just a click of the button you can download the latest firmware to the drive, change the drive settings back to default, change the drive's worldwide name, or format the drive with optimized sector alignment.

OCZ Vertex 2 Toolbox Utility

Just for fun we tried to set the drive back to factory defaults and found that we couldn't perform the function. Not all of the features in the OCZ Toolbox have been enabled, but OCZ has told us they are working on making it fully functional in the future.

OCZ Vertex 2 Toolbox Utility

The 'security' menu allows you to manage drive data security and you set or change your SSD password here. The feature that shocked us the most in the OCZ Toolbox was secure erase. OCZ has placed secure erase in the utility, so if you have your SSD as a secondary drive in a system and want to wipe the SSD clean to restore it to near out-of-the box performance levels you can. This is a time saving step as you don't have to download the right version of HDD Erase and then create a bootable disc. You can run secure erase in Windows with this utility! This is a big time saver and makes performing a task like this much easier; just remember it removes everything from your drive!

OCZ Vertex 2 Toolbox Utility

The last tab in the OCZ toolbox is for the 'details' menu and here you can look at the device data and the SMART information.

OCZ Vertex 2 Toolbox Utility

Having quick access to the smart utility is nice as it shows you the percentage of 10 year life left, how many times the drive has been power cycled, the error count and numerous other attributes that are fun to look at every once in a while.

OCZ Vertex 2 Toolbox Utility

We ran the OCZ Toolbox 0.60 on several Windows 7 systems with no issues at all on the Intel ICH10R chipset, but we noticed that when we ran the drive on a Marvell 88SE9123 SATA 6Gbps chip the SandForce SSD was not detected with the toolkit. Not a deal breaker by any means, but if you are planning on running an OCZ Vertex LE/2 SSD on a RAID card or another controller you might have to give up the OCZ Toolbox.

The Test System

SATA 6GBps Marvell 91xx SSD 
Test System

Before we look at the numbers, here is a brief glance at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. The Intel Core i7 test system was run in triple-channel memory mode at 1600MHz with 8-8-8-24 memory timings. The ASUS P6X58D Premium motherboard was run using all the latest drives and BIOS 0702. The ASUS P6X58D Premium motherboard uses the Intel ICH10R south bridge chipset, which we used to run our 'boot drive'.  The boot drive used in our test system was an Intel X25-V 40GB model with TRIM enabled. We then used the Marvell 9123 PCIe SATA 6Gbps controller that is on the motherboard to test the SSDs that are used in the benchmark charts. All of the SSDs were tested in a fresh out of the box (FOB) state and had the latest firmware installed on them when testing was done.

SATA 6GBps Marvell 91xx 1036 Driver
The Marvell 9123 SATA 6G Controller was tested using driver version 1.0.0.1036 or 1036 for short.

Intel LGA 1366 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Core i7 920

Motherboard

ASUS P6X58D Premium

Memory

6GB Kingston HyperX T1 1600MHz

Video Card

ATI Radeon HD 5670

Hard Drive

Intel X25-V 40GB

Cooling

OEM

Power Supply

CoolerMaster UPC 1100W

Operating System

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit

SSDs and HDDs Included in the Benchmarking:


Detailed Information on the OCZ Vertex 2:

OCZ Vertex 2 CDM Info

Let's take a look at the benchmarks and see what the OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD has to offer!

HD Tach v3.0.4.0

HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device possible.

HD Tach Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The OCZ Vertex LE 100GB SSD was able to reach 245MB/s read and 204MB/s write. The random access time and CPU utilization were really low, which is what we like to see on SSDs.

HD Tach Benchmark Results

Comparison Chart: The OCZ Vertex 2 100GB and Vertex 2 LE 100GB SSDs were nearly identical in performance as they use the same brand of controller. All of the drives were benchmarked on the Marvell SATA 6Gbps controller in order for the testing to be fair in all of the benchmarks as some of the drives run on a SATA III interface. The random access times for all of the drives were 0.1 ms or lower, so nothing significant to see there.

HD Tune v4.01

HD Tune Pro 4.01 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.

HD Tune File Benchmark

HD Tune File Benchmark

Benchmark Results: The OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD's average read speed was found to be 231MB/s with an average write speed of 206MB/s.  The read and write tests had an access time of 0.1ms.

HD Tune Benchmark Results

Comparison Chart: When comparing the OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD with the SandForce 1200 controller to the OCZ Vertex LE 100GB SSD with the SandForce 1500 controller the drives were virtually identical! The old OCZ Vertex 120GB SSD with firmware v1.5 did very well in this test; as you can see it wasn't too far behind in the tests!   The Vertex 2 had the highest average write speed of any drive that we have tested! The Crucial RealSSD C300 dominated the group when it came to read performance since it uses SATA III 6Gbps. 

64MB File Test

HD Tune File Benchmark

Benchmark Results: Running the built-in file benchmark test in HD Tune 4.01 showed once again just how the drive performs with various file sizes. This test shows the OCZ Vertex 2 SSD topping out at nearly 270MB/sec in the read test and 225MB/sec in the write test. These are some of the highest numbers that we have ever seen in the file benchmark test.

HD Tune v4.01 - Random Access

The random access read and write test is a very important performance area to look at on solid state drives as some controllers have problems with random writes. In recent years the controllers have improved and the firmware has been better optimized for random read and write performance.

Random Access Read Test Results:

HD Tune Random Access Benchmark

Benchmark Results: When it comes to the random access read performance test the OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD with the SandForce 1200 controller in it does pretty well. For example, this drive scored 8607 IOPS in the 4KB test file size.

Random Access Write Test Results:

HD Tune Random Access Benchmark

Benchmark Results: The write performance test results of the OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD were better than your average SSD.

4KB Random Write File Test Results Chart:

HD Tune File Benchmark

Benchmark Results: All of the OCZ Vertex series SSDs are at the top of this benchmark chart!

ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.41

ATTO is one of the oldest hard drive benchmarks that is still used today. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that you can easily interpret. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes with the total length being 256mb.

ATTO Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The OCZ Vertex 2 100GB solid-state drive was able to reach 233MBps on the read test and 235MBps on the write test in the I/O Comparison benchmark.  

ATTO Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results:  The OCZ Vertex 2 100GB solid-state drive was able to reach 280MBps on the read test and 238MBps on the write test in the Overlapped I/O benchmark.   

ATTO Benchmark Results

4MB Files Test Comparison Chart - Overlapped I/O: The OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD scored very well against the drives in the benchmark.

SiSoftware Sandra 2010

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. Sandra provides most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software. In order to test the hard drive, SiSoftware Sandra 2010c was used as part of the test suite. The graphical results that Sandra gives you after the test is completed nicely shows how drives perform over time and where on the drive the performance is seen.

READ Performance Testing:

SiSoftware Sandra 2010 File Benchmark

WRITE Performance Testing:

SiSoftware Sandra 2010 File Benchmark

Benchmark Results: The Vertex 2 did great in Sandra 2010 and was found to have an average read score of 258MB/s with a write score of 200MB/s. The read and write access times also looked good, but how do they compare against the popular SSDs?

Sandra Benchmark Results

Comparison Chart: It turns out that the Vertex 2 100GB SSD did great in Sandra 2010 with impressive random access times! 

CrystalDiskMark v3.0

CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random read/write speeds.

100MB Files Test:

CrystalDiskMark v2.2 Benchmark

Benchmark Results: With Crystal Mark v3.0 run with a file size of 100MB we were able to get solid performance numbers, but the write scores are lower than what other benchmarks were showing. This is a little strange, but the results were the same every time we ran the benchmark.  

Crystal Mark Benchmark Results

100MB Files Test Comparison Chart: The OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD scores lined up very close to what we say on the Vertex LE and Vertex 2 Pro. The original Vertex 120GB SSD shows its main weakness here, which is 4K write performance. This is very interesting as you will recall that the original Vertex drive was much faster in the 4K tests in HD Tune 4.01.

AS SSD Benchmark

A new benchmark is in the works for Solid State Drives - AS SSD Benchmark. We have run this benchmark for nearly a year now and found that it is a great SSD benchmark that shows 4K read and write speeds that so many of our readers want to know about.

Intel ICH10R with AHCI Enabled:

AS SSD Benchmark Results

Marvell 9123 SATA III 6Gbps Controller with AHCI Enabled:

AS SSD Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results:  The 4K tests were observed at 21MB/s read and 58MB/s write in AHCI mode on the Intel ICH10R controller and 21MB/s and 69MB/s on the Marvell 9123 controller. The 4K-64Thrd benchmark results were decent as were the sequential read and write speeds of 124MB/s and 119MB/s on Intel and 124MB/s and 107MB/s on Marvell.


Intel ICH10R with AHCI Enabled:

AS SSD Benchmark Results

Marvell 9123 SATA III 6Gbps Controller with AHCI Enabled:

AS SSD Benchmark Results

Copy Benchmark Results: The Copy benchmark test showed some fairly solid performance numbers with the average transfer speed being 103MB/s Intel and 104MB/s on Marvell.

PCMark Vantage

PCMark Vantage Benchmarking

PCMark Vantage v1.01 is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32- and 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and hi-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. The PCMark Vantage benchmark was run in 64-bit mode for the results shown below.

PCMark Vantage Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The OCZ Vertex 2 SSD had an overall score of 43182 in PCMark Vantage when run in 64-bit mode and the individual test results can be seen in the image above. These are very solid performance numbers!

PCMark Vantage Benchmark Results

Comparison Chart Results: The OCZ Vertex 2 Pro never came out, so that makes the OCZ Vertex 2 the fastest hard drive that we have ever benchmarked in PCMark Vantage! OCZ has done a great job with the firmware on the SF-1200 controller as it is able to perform at the same level as the SF-1500 controller found in the Vertex Limited Edition!

IOMeter

Iometer is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation and announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) on February 17, 1998 - since then it got wide spread within the industry. Meanwhile Intel has discontinued work on Iometer and it was given to the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL). The project is now driven by an international group of individuals who are continuously improving, porting and extending the product.

Image Description

Iometer version 2006.07.27 was used for testing and while we tested a dozen different file sizes we will be looking at the ones that are important to Windows users. In the Microsoft Windows operating systems many of the transactions are done at 512B/4kB/8kB/32kB/128kB, with the vast majority at 4kB, then 128kB / 512B, then the rest. Very few Windows applications use transfers larger than 128kB. We began the test by filling the drive completely full of data first and then testing 100% random IOPs in a 4KB region. We set the queue depth to 32 for this test.

Read Performance in IOps

Iometer Read Test Results

Benchmark Results: IOMeter showed that the OCZ Vertex 2 has better 4K performance than the other Vertex series drives. We know that OCZ has optimized this drive for great 4K performance and it looks like they nailed it! The Crucial RealSSD C300 and Intel X25-M 24nm G2 drives are the only drives that have better 4K performance.


Write Performance in IOps

Iometer Write Test Results

Benchmark Results: When it comes to write performance it is clear that nearly all of the drives have been optimized to perform best at the 4KB file size.  The OCZ Vertex 2 again performed better than the OCZ Vertex Limited Edition and the Vertex 2 Pro. In fact, the OCZ Vertex 2 is the second fastest of the eight SSDs tested!

Free Capacity and Final Thoughts

Capacity

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB Actual Capacity

When it comes to storage capacity, the OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD has a free capacity of 93.1GB as shown above. The drive has 128GB of MLC Flash memory on the PCB, so about 27% of the drive's capacity is reserved for the Sandforce DuraWare wear-leveling technology.

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

The OCZ Vertex 2 is an ideal successor to the original Vertex series as it has proven to be one of the fastest SSDs that we have ever seen here at Legit Reviews. It was able to give the Intel X25-M G2 160GB SSD and Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB drives a run for their money in many of the benchmarks. We were able to reach read speeds of up to 280MB/sec. and write speeds of up to 238MB/sec in ATTO on the Vertex 2. We have been benchmarking SandForce controllers now for several months and they appear to be very strong and have so far proven to be one of the contenders in the SSD controller market. In fact, it is no wonder that Corsair, Patriot, Super Talent and other SSD companies have followed OCZ's lead and begun using the SandForce controller in their own SSDs.

When it comes to pricing, the Vertex 2 100GB drive that we tested here today was $398.99 shipped. With a total free capacity of 93.1GB this means that you are paying $4.29 per GB of storage space. This is price competitive with other SSDs with the SF-1200 controller as the Corsair Force 100GB uses the same controller and is listed at $409.99 shipped. If you want a SandForce SF-1200 based drive the OCZ Vertex 2 is the best buy on the market this very second. If you have $400 to spend on an SSD then you might find yourself looking at the Intel X25-M Gen 2 160GB SSD as well.  That was one of the drives that we compared this one to and while it couldn't compete in the write speeds it makes up for it with capacity. The Intel X25-M has 149GB of free space with a street price of $419.99 shipped, which comes out to be $2.82 per GB. The OCZ Vertex 2 is clearly the faster drive, but be ready to give up some storage space for the extra speed.

After spending a few weeks with the OCZ Vertex 2 we have found it to be a very impressive SSD and we like it so much it will be going into our notebook for some long term use to see how it performs with daily use and abuse. We have an upcoming trip to Taiwan to cover Computex 2010 and this drive should improve battery life while performing better than nearly every SSD on the market. What more could you want?

Legit Reviews Editor's Choice
 Award

Legit Bottom Line: The OCZ Vertex 2 100GB SSD is one of the fastest we have tested and takes the Vertex series to the next level!