Review Index:

OCZ Vector 150 240GB and 120GB Full Review - Barefoot 3 pushes 19nm flash

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology


For these tests, we use RankDisk, an application developed and copyrighted by Intel. In our testing, we found RankDisk to be suitable for a neutral benchmark. RankDisk is used to record a trace of disk activity during usage of typical applications. These traces can then be replayed to measure the performance of disk operations for that usage.

RankDisk records disk access events using the device drivers and bypasses the file system and the operating system's cache. This makes the measurement independent of the file system overhead or the current state of the operating system. In replaying traces, RankDisk always creates and operates on a new dummy file. This file is created in the same (or closest possible) physical location of the target hard disk. This allows the replaying of traces to be safe (does not destroy any existing files) and comparable across different systems. Due to the natural fragmentation of hard disks over time, they should be defragmented before running these tests.

The traces used for each test were created from real usage. The traces contain different amount of writing and reading on the disk; total ratio in the HDD test suite disk operations is 53% reads and 47% of writes.

The following input traces are used:

Windows XP Startup: This is the Windows XP start trace, which contains disk activities occurring at operating system start-up. The test is 90% reading and 10% writes. This trace contains no user activity.

Application Loading: This is a trace containing disk activities from loading various applications. It includes opening and closing of the following applications:

Microsoft® Word        
Adobe® Acrobat® Reader 5        
Windows® Media Player        
Leadtek® Winfast® DVD        
Mozilla Internet Browser

The application loading trace is 83% reads and 17% writes.

General Hard Disk Drive Usage: This trace contains disk activities from using several common applications.

These are:

Opening a Microsoft® Word document, performing grammar check, saving and closing        
Compression and decompression using Winzip        
Encrypting and decrypting a file using PowerCrypt        
Scanning files for viruses using F-Secure® Antivirus.        
Playing an MP3 file with Winamp        
Playing a WAV file with Winamp        
Playing a DivX video using DivX codec and Windows® Media Player        
Playing a WMV video file using Windows® Media Player        
Viewing pictures using Windows® Picture Viewer        
Browsing the internet using Microsoft® Internet Explorer        
Loading, playing and exiting a game using Ubisoft Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon

The General Usage trace is 60% reads and 40% writes.

Virus Scanning: Virus scanning is a critical task in today's PC usage. As the major bottleneck of scanning viruses is in hard disk activity, it is reasonable to include virus scanning as a HDD test. The test consists of HDD activity of scanning 600MB of files for viruses. The Virus Scanning test is mostly disk reading (99.5%).

File Write: This trace contains disk activities from writing 680MB files on the hard disk and no read operations are involved in this test.

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PCMark replays a pre-recorded trace of IO back on the drive under test. This is one of the more real-world ways of testing, its weakness being that it is more of a short-term test and might not represent long-term usage of an SSD. We mitigate this somewhat by pre-conditioning the SSD prior to the test.

Aside from the Vector models' (new and old) tuning not aggreing with PCMark's virus scan profle, the 150 did fairly well here.

November 7, 2013 | 12:28 PM - Posted by David Willmore (not verified)

That is one enthusiastic enthusiast. Is anyone else having Aperture Labratories training films flashbacks?

November 7, 2013 | 04:03 PM - Posted by YTech

Flashback? Like this >

Actually no, but I do want a shirt like that so I can do the same in my office! :D

November 7, 2013 | 01:05 PM - Posted by Havor (not verified)

Seriously Allyn still using PCMark05 for what imho is the most important real world test, the trace test.

Record your own traces, or get a newer PCMark version, because 05 dose not cut it for years anymore.

Or do you have a special reason to still use it?

November 8, 2013 | 04:42 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

I actually run 3 different pcmark versions on each SSD, but the later ones give a whole lot of data that seems to dance around the original point of just how fast (generally) the SSD will be. In that respect, PCMark 5 does just as well to show overall differences as Vantage or 7 does.

More importantly, the trace tests used by PCMark (all versions) are only run for a few passes. You'd have to re-run the test dozens or hundreds of times for a given SSD to reach any sort of true steady state value, and that value would still not be real world, as each time you re-run the test and it re-writes the test file (sequentially), it partially defragments that portion of the SSD. For example, a *real* windows start-up would be reading files that were randomly written to the SSD, not chunks of a large sequentially-written test file.

I'm working on a 'standardized' trace to play back and benchmark, but the catch with those is that they are 100% compressible data, so drives with inline compression give artificially inflated results, which is bad news.

Sometimes the dated benches just work better than the newer versions. This applies to IOMeter as well, where different versions were more / less compressible as far as the data written, which translated to artificially high results on some models.

November 7, 2013 | 01:49 PM - Posted by derz

That Enthusiast user looks so happy. If only we could all be like that.
Good review as always Allyn, happy to see OCZ focusing on longevity. Though it is apparent that the SATA 3 pipeline is now a barrier.

November 7, 2013 | 03:54 PM - Posted by razor512

How long is the endurance. 50GB a day does not mean much if it is rated for 50GB a day for 1 month.

These companies need to list the total write endurance and not pull to borderline false advertising/ trick that you will find with some products (eg the vuezone advertising 6 month battery life, but if only used for 5 minutes per day (this you only get the rated life if it is placed in a location where there will be at most 5 minutes of movement a day)

edit: it seems they list it as 50GB per day for 5 years though the warranty does not cover writing it to death.

November 10, 2013 | 11:48 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

They clearly state 50GB per day for 5 years, so they should honor the warranty at that level of writes. I do agree that's pretty steep for a consumer drive. It's doubtful a typical user will hit 10% of that.

November 8, 2013 | 01:38 AM - Posted by pdjblum

I still cannot see how ssd's to be used for storage, 500GB and up, priced around $1.00/GB are not too expensive for most of us. It seems that is where the price has been for quite some time. I get that you made the initial msrp a negative, but you did so with a caveat. I am not suggesting that ssd pricing should be in line with hard drives, but the premium for ssd's to be used for storage seems way too much after all these years. From all the podcasts I have listened to over the years, I get that you have enough money to buy everything ten times over, but you must remember that most of us do not. I only wish demand would support me, but obviously the ssd manufactures see no reason to lower the price. Wish you would stop condoning the pricing, especially when they keep using nand with shorter lifespans to justify a less expensive drive and not make the drive less expensive.

November 8, 2013 | 11:31 AM - Posted by Panta

you have to wonder what will become of OCZ
with its stock falling 40% in short time.

November 9, 2013 | 05:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Saw the game level load times on Tech Report...I`ll keep my WDCB 1TB
If I`m waiting 12-13 seconds for an SSD , I can wait another 8 seconds...big deal.
If the SSD loaded INSTANTLY....that would be different.

November 9, 2013 | 06:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Doesn`t say if you are using W8.1 or 7.
According to Paul Thurrott , 8 is massively faster on file copy as compared to 7. Night/day difference.

November 10, 2013 | 11:42 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Thurrott is right - for copies done within the Explorer GUI. Our test is done via the command line, and is not subject to that speed difference.

November 9, 2013 | 07:58 PM - Posted by Steve, UK (not verified)

I just want an answer to this question, please. If I get an SSD and load it with my OS and most used / fav. programs. At this point the drive is 80-90% full (because I'm cheap and bought a small ssd 64-128GB). If I use the SSD over the next five years will the remaining 10-20% of the drive be hammered with read/writes because its the only spare space, or do drives actively shift data around (even parts of the flash storing my win 7 dll files for example) so the same spare blocks don't get used over & over. Quoting a warranty if a drive is completely empty and filled with xGB everyday is one thing, in the real world I would have my SSD filled with only a small amount of space spare every day. Thanks anyone who has/knows the answer.

November 9, 2013 | 09:41 PM - Posted by pdjblum

I am in the same boat. I am sorry I do not have an answer, but I would certainly hope the manufactures wrote algorithms in the firmware to guard against this. It also occurs to me that I don't write gigs of data to my small op sys/program ssd. Actually, when I thing about it, I doubt there are that many writes to the op sys/program drive, but rather a lot of reads. One of my intel x25 m80 ssd's that I have had for years and use it for this purpose is still close to 100% life and top health according to the intel ssd toolbox. Having said all that, I think we are probably fine.

November 10, 2013 | 11:45 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

SSDs implement wear leveling. Data that is 'stagnant' is not really so. The SSD firmware will juggle this data around as other data is written to your 10-20%. In fact, if you filled / empted that 20% 5 times in a row, you would have written approximately one pass to the *entire* area of the SSD.

November 11, 2013 | 03:25 PM - Posted by Steve, UK (not verified)

Thanks Allyn for the answer.

November 11, 2013 | 10:53 AM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

On paper it looks pretty good. After all the reliability issues this company has had in the past with other products, I might have held off for a while to look at actual RMA numbers.

Personally, I hope they have cleaned it up and we have another good competitor in the mix. However, I've been burned enough- I'm waiting before I jump on this one.

Allyn- you do good work.

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