The Vertex 2 isn’t so much a direct replacement to the original Vertex as a step up, with the original Indilinx-powered Vertex range merely dropping in price rather than disappearing. Thanks to OCZ’s close relationship with SandForce, much like it’s relationship with Indilinx, OCZ gets quick access to the newest and best firmware updates. This is what allows OCZ to use the quicker SF-1500 with the Vertex 2, despite the SF-1200 controller inside. OCZ’s Agility 2 does use the SF-1200 firmware, but as these are physically identical to the Vertex 2 (only the firmware differs) pricing is near identical.
OCZ recently released its first firmware upgrade for its SandForce drives, v1.1, which we’ve used in our testing. Stated sequential speeds of 285MB/sec read and 275MB/sec write are in line with the other SandForce drives, with the drive over provisioned by 28 per cent to give a formatted capacity of 99.3GB. Cracking the drive open revealed a specially made OCZ PCB, with the SandForce controller sat alongside 16 Intel 8GB NAND modules.
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Like all the SandForce drives we’ve tested, out of the box performance was excellent, with sequential speeds in ATTO of 278MB/sec read and 268MB/sec write, not too far off the quoted specs. However, looking at sequential speeds using AS SSD, which uses uncompressible data, read speeds dropped to 208MB/sec read and 123MB/sec write.
The Vertex 2 turned in a reasonable 48MB/sec random read speed, well above the 35.5MB of the best Indilinx drives, but still a little behind the Intel X25-M 160GB. The Vertex 2 excelled in the random write test with random 4KB write speed of 69MB/sec. There were no issues with either random read or write latency to speak of, with average read latencies of just 0.24ms and average random write latencies of just 0.16ms and maximum latencies above more than 44ms.
There wasn’t a great deal of daylight between the Vertex 2 and the Vertex when loading STALKER: Call of Pripyat, with only one second between them. Both drives were comfortably faster than even the fastest hard disk, however. Like all the SandForce drives, the Vertex 2 showed little sign of performance drop-off after TRIMing itself.
However, there is a notable shadow hanging over the Vertex 2, in the form of the Vertex 2E, which reduces the SandForce over provisioning from 28 per cent to 13 per cent, unlocking a whole 20GB of extra storage from the same hardware. That might not sound a great deal, but it means that the Vertex 2E costs £2.50 per GB rather than £2.95 per GB and yet should perform identically.
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While SSD pricing is a hard sell, the performance improvements are undeniable, with the Vertex 2 a major step up from the Indilinx-powered Vertex on almost every level. The advantage of the superior random write speed over other SandForce (and Indilinx) drives is welcome, even if it only means that you can write many small files quickly – an uncommon task.
As with all SandForce based SSDs, the dip in performance when it comes to dealing with uncompressible files, such as heavily compressed zip files, is a blot on the performance copybook. In such situations, an Indilinx drive is actually faster than a SandForce. However, given the competitive price of the Vertex 2 compared to most other SandForce and even the old Vertex, it’s a decent drive. The Vertex 2E and the imminent 120GB SandForce drives give us reason not to give a stronger recommendation, however.