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OCZ Vertex 450 256GB Review

OCZ Vertex 450 256GB Review

Manufacturer: OCZ
UK price (as reviewed):
£179.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $219.99 (ex Tax)

The Vertex 450 is OCZ's new addition to its second tier SSD series and the upgrade to the Vertex 4, while the Vector still occupies the top spot in OCZ's line-up with higher speeds and a longer warranty. However, despite a predicted fall in NAND prices, OCZ's drives seem to be suffering something of a price hike at the moment, with the 256GB Vector going for around £220 and the 256GB Vertex 450 for £180. This means it's up against Samsung's excellent SSD 840 Pro, while the majority of mainstream SSDs at or around this important capacity are now priced between £130 and £140, so OCZ certainly isn't making things easy for itself.

OCZ claims sequential read and write speeds of 540MB/sec and 525MB/sec, respectively, for the Vertex 450 256GB, with the 512GB version supposedly offering slightly improved write speeds.

OCZ Vertex 450 256GB Review
Click to enlarge

The drive is a 7mm model, but is supplied with a 3.5-inch desktop adaptor as well as a code for Acronis True Image to aid with moving an existing install to the SSD. The drive has a reassuring weight to it, with sturdy metal case covering the top and sides. The rather logo-heavy top slightly mars the look but as ever with SSDs it's a minor issue al told.

Opening the SSD up reveals a large thermal pad on the centrally-positioned controller. This attaches to the metal chassis to help dissipate heat: a sign of just how much effort goes in to contrlling SSDs. The Vertex 450 moves away from the Vertex 4's Indilinx Everest 2 controller (actually a Marvell 9174 with custom OCZ firmware) in favour of OCZ's fully in-house Barefoot 3, as seen in the Vector.

OCZ Vertex 450 256GB Review
Click to enlarge

The eight channel Barefoot 3 controller makes use of an ARM Cortex processor and OCZ's Aragon co-processor. It's the M10 version rather than the Vector's M00, however, meaning it features a power-optimised clock generator and a slightly lower clock speed. While this will result in a slight performance drop off, it should also make for higher yields and thus lower prices – a classic trade off.

Another change for the Vertex 450 is the move to 20nm MLC NAND, as opposed to the 25nm ones used in both the Vertex 4 and the Vector. The smaller lithography (and hence increased dies per wafer) should also translate into better value. OCZ doesn't produce its own NAND like Samsung, for example, instead relying on IMFT (Intel-Micron), much as Crucial does with its own 20nm MLC NAND based M500 SSDs. The Vertex 450 256GB features a total of 16 NAND packages of 16GB each.

OCZ Vertex 450 256GB Review OCZ Vertex 450 256GB Review
Click to enlarge - The rear of the PCB mirrors the front's NAND and DRAM placement and adds a power management IC

As well as the controller and NAND packages, the PCB also sports a pair of 256MB DDR3L-1600 chips (one on either side), which also come courtesy of Micron, for a healthy total buffer of 512MB. Unlike many other SSDs, these DRAM modules are left uncovered by thermal pads. Finally, a Texas Instruments integrated circuit coupled with some voltage circuitry can be spotted on the rear side - this is simply part of the SSD's power management.

Specifications

Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Nominal capacity: 256GB
Formatted capacity: 238.47GB (~6.8 percent over provision)
Controller: Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10
Cache: 2 x 256MB DDR3L-1600
Memory type/amount: 16 x 16GB IMFT 20nm MLC NAND
Warranty: Three years