OCZ Vertex 4 256GB SSD Review: Marvell w/ Indilinx Firmware
The OCZ Vertex 4 256GB SSD is absolutely a fast solid state drive. Recently I started picking up on doing more SSD benchmarking for the site. A lot of users had been requesting that I do some independent testing of the SSDs out there, and specifically ones that are likely to be consumer drives found in servers and workstations. When OCZ purchased Indilinx I was a bit skeptical. There is no secret that OCZ is trying to dominate the consumer solid state drive market while at the same time is pursuing enterprise flash arrays. Purchasing Indilinx was done for two main reasons: providing a differentiator in the consumer market and providing a platform for the enterprise market. The OCZ Vertex 4 SSD’s are not using Indilinx silicon, rather they are using Marvell controllers with a special Indilinx team twist. Let’s see how the Vertex 4 256GB SSD model fares in the benchmark suite especially since unlike the outgoing LSI – SandForce Vertex 3 drives, the Vertex 4 promises much better performance with non-compressible datasets.
I am using a Sandy Bridge test bed here as the Cougar Point SATA 6.0gbps controller is perhaps the best 6.0gbps SATA controller on the market at the moment.
- CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K
- Motherboard: ASUS P8H67-M EVO
- Memory: 8GB 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 (4x2GB)
- OS Drive: OCZ Agility 2 120GB
- Additional Drives: OCZ Vertex 4 256GB
- Additional NICs: Intel Gigabit CT PCIe x1 network adapter
- Enclosure: Supermicro SC731i-300B
- Power Supply: Supermicro 300w (included in the SC731i-300B)
As with any modern SSD, set the controller to AHCI mode or RAID mode for best performance. Also, installing the Intel RST 10.xx series drivers over the default Windows 7 drivers showed a nice performance gain.
I also want to take a second to note that I am using the v1.4 firmware on these drives which did post some nice performance gains for the Vertex 4’s over their shipping v1.3 firmware.
It is important, especially with SSDs not to take a single test result at face value. One should look at a few different tests to get an idea of how the drives perform in different scenarios. To this end, AS SSD benchmark, CrystalDiskMark, ATTO and HD Tune Pro all show different facets of performance.
AS SSD Benchmark
AS SSD is a solid benchmark that does not write compressible data to drives. The result is perhaps one of the best workstation SSD benchmarks available today.
Overall very solid performance. Just as a point of comparison this is significantly higher than both the Corsair Force GT 60GB drive and OCZ Agility 240GB drives recently tested which see an overall score in the 300-400 range.
CrystalDiskMark is another benchmark which gives non-compressible read/write numbers. This is in contrast to the ATTO Benchmark used by LSI/ Sandforce and its partners when they market a given solid state drive.
Again, nice performance here with the 4K Queue Depth 32 numbers and the 512K numbers looking particularly strong.
The ATTO Benchmark shows some fairly strong performance, I will note that the value of the ATTO benchmark is really to show the best-case scenario. ATTO is known to write highly compressible data to drives, which inflates speeds of controllers that compress data like SandForce does prior to writing on a given solid state drive.
Here we do not see dominating performance like we do with the latest LSI SandForce hardware but we do see some respectable performance in this almost tailor made benchmark for Sandforce SSD marketing. Realistically, sequential read and write speeds are competitive, but SandForce really does well on ATTO. Real world with some non-compressible data, the Vertex 4’s Indilinx firmware and Marvell controller will do really well.
HD Tune Pro
HD Tune and its Pro version have been longstanding disk drive benchmarks. I started including the basic benchmark in reviews since I do test a mix of hard drives and solid state drives.
Overall, another strong showing.
I think that the OCZ Vertex 4 is a solid state drive that caters more to the users of this site versus others out there. What we can see is good sequential speeds (much better with the v1.4 firmware might I add) and great high-queue depth random I/O. After I tested my first OCZ Vertex 4 256GB I purchased a few more for two other projects I am working on, both where servers will be accessing a lot of smaller web files and latency is a significant factor. I should have two drives left over so there is a good chance we will be seeing some RAID 0 benchmarks in the near future. Overall, an exciting time as we are seeing new designs show significant performance gains. With so many drives hitting such high speeds, we really need to move beyond 6.0gbps buses. The performance of solid state drives is already bumping into the limitations of the bus.