Solid State Drives are quickly becoming an important upgrade in most consumer PCs. They offer increased performance with decreased power consumption and heat, and are smaller and lighter than standard mechanical drives. All solid state drives are not created the same however, and OCZ has proven that once again. Our review sample is a 60GB Vertex2 extended capacity SSD, part number OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G. It utilizes the Sandforce SF-1200 controller and it’s specifications can be found here. It is a Multi-Level Cell flash drive which allows a higher data density and conversely a lower price point. OCZ lists the specs on their website as:
The SSD comes in a simple cardboard box with a cardboard insert for holding the drive, 3.5” hard drive bay adapter, screws and a decal stating “My SSD is faster than your HDD”. The decal is much larger than a case badge, and it was actually a little surprising to see it considering how simple, but classy the retail packaging is. Not going to prejudge an SSD based on it’s cover, or a silly sticker! Let’s open it up and put it to the test.
For the performance testing, the following system was used
For the initial review, the system was left at stock speed with a fresh install of Windows 7 x64, latest driver installs and benchmarking applications. Windows had a static page file set with system restore and hibernation disabled. No other modifications were made. The review will compare the Vertex 2 SSD to a pair of Western Digital Velociraptor 150GB hard disk drives. At 10,000 RPM, the Velociraptor’s represent the best consumer level performance mechanical drives available. They are larger, hotter and louder than an SSD, but offer nearly 5 times the storage capacity, and a decent desktop experience. Applications used for benchmarking are the following:
The tests were run in the following manner. 1) Windows installed on RAID 0 Array 128K stripe, OCZ Vertex 2 as storage device 2) Windows installed on OCZ Vertex 2 drive, RAID 0 as storage 128K stripe
As an older benchmark, there is more to compare it to, and this test is one that holds back many people on the hwBot. There is a massive performance boost in this benchmark by running an SSD.
XP start-up time saw a massive increase from under 20 MB/s to 126 MB/s, and application loading and general usage saw an almost 8 fold increase in speed. In every test, the SSD is the clear victor over the Velociraptors.
After seeing the ridiculous increase in performance in PCMark 05, the SSD was expected to be far and away the victor in this benchmark. The raptors in RAID 0 are tremendously fast, however, managing a 22 second boot time (best of 3 tests: 47/22/22). The OCZ drive managed to boot in just 16 seconds (best of 3 tests: 22/17/16)
ATTO Disk Benchmark tests throughput of a partition with sizes ranging from 512K to 8MB. Settings were left at defaults, 256 MB length, overlapped i/o and queue depth 4. The OCZ drive was tested as both an OS drive, and as a storage drive. The Raptor RAID was tested the same, with an additional test with a whole disk partition (279GB formatted). All data was being stored on a Hitachi 5.9K storage drive linked through the JMicron eSATA controller. ATTO wanted to benchmark it as well and the results are included.
As you can see there is very little difference in read performance between using the drive as an OS or storage device. Any file of 128K are going to be running at maximum throughput on an SATA II interface. Exactly as advertised 285MB/s read and 275MB/s write speeds. At the .5-4K range, the difference is slightly more in favor of storage performance. Write speeds were significantly more effected on the OS drive over the blank storage test, but the difference was still within 5MB/s.
The Raptors saw a larger performance hit in both write and read test when used as an OS drive. Once the transfer size got to 128K and larger, the write performance was consistently 5-10MB/s higher than the read speeds. The Raptor’s performance at .5-128K was terrible from 25-50% of the performance of the single SSD. Once the file sizes increased, the RAID array performed closer to the speeds of the Vertex 2, but never quite as good.
The size of the partition on the Raptor RAID had little effect in this test. Just for perspective, a 500GB storage drive was also benchmarked on the JMicron eSATA controller built into the motherboard. Whether it was the controller or the 5900RPM spin speed, small file sizes absolutely suffered on the external drive. Larger sizes had much better performance; about what one expects from a cheap and large single HDD.
Crystal Diskmark by default uses a larger portion of the disk for benchmarking. Despite listing 512K and 4K lengths, the scores do not match up with those done in ATTO Disk Mark.
The difference between OS and storage functions is negligible, the only thing to note is a 40% gain in performance on 4K writes as an empty storage device.
The difference between OS and storage drives for the Raptors was still small, but more pronounced than on the SSD. Sequential read and write performance was far and away higher on the Raptors over the SSD, with write performance 2.5 times higher than the SSD. On 512K and 4K performance the Vertex 2 excels with 20-35 times the performance of the Raptor 60GB storage.
Performance actually improves moving to a whole-disk partition on the Raptors, although the gain is ridiculously low. The 500GB eSATA drive performs at about half, to one quarter the performance of the RAID array. Nothing shocking about that.
Because the writes destroy all data on the drives and tests the whole drive, not just the partition, the read suite and write tests were performed only on storage drives. The 500GB eSATA drive was also included for the read tests. Everest random write returns 0.0 results for the OCZ and as such was not included in the chart.
The Raptors did very well in many of the categories, with well over 400MB/s in buffered read and write. The OCZ drive dipped in about a dozen locations on the buffered write test, while the raptors were continuously up and down. This pulls the SSD’s avg write speed to nearly the max speed score, and sends the raptors down to about the same speed as the SSD. Access times are absurdly low with Solid State Drives, however CPU usage tends to be higher. Higher CPU usage showed up under a few tests with the SSD, which you will see more later on.
HD Tach and HD Tune are two benchmarks that have been serving the PC enthusiast community for a very long time. Generally regarded as not being “sufficient” for measuring the performance of SSDs, they are included for reference purposes only. The Raptors have some impressive results in these tests, however, overall the performance crown goes to the SSD.
The OCZ Vertex 2 SSD is a must-have for any performance enthusiast’s parts list. OCZ has produced an insanely fast solid state drive with competitive pricing. The drive comes in a 2.5″ format, so it should work with most SATA capable laptops, although SATA II will be required to ensure no bottle neck on the drive interface. Light weight, super fast, good pricing and lower heat and noise also help to make this a stellar buy. Running two of these drives in RAID 0 would almost bottle neck an ICH10R 3.0GBps controller, and provide ample room for game installations, or plenty of space for working on large photos or HD video editing. A Windows 7 install with hibernation and system restore disabled and a 2GB page file will use about 11GB of disk space. Because Windows 7 is the only OS with TRIM support, you will get the best performance out of using this OS and keep your SSD running good as new with little user interaction.
The OCZ Vertex 2 EX Series 60GB SSD receives the TechREACTION.net Gold Silicon Award!
One thing to note, out of the box some of the tests showed comparatively poor performance on the first 20-25% of the SSD. This happens to coincide with the size of the windows 7 installation files, however, it was noted before Windows was installed to the SSD. This was noticed in both Everst linear read test (begin) with 215MB/s compared to 253MB/s middle and end, and also with HD Tune reading 119MB/s compared to the 150MB/s average for the other 80% of the drive. What this means, if anything, is unclear, keep an eye out for updates to include a response from OCZ.
It should also be noted that the SandForce controller is cache-less. The burst and buffered scores achieved by the Raptors in RAID are a testament to this. Both have scores way outside the specifications of the hard drives and it is solely because of cache writing, not the performance of the drives themselves. The SSD scores are exactly in line with the capabilities of the drive for the same reason.
Thank you to OCZ Technology for providing the Vertex 2 review sample.
You can find the OCZ Vertex 2 60GB in stock at several major e-tailors starting at as low as $185 before shipping!