We sort of breezed through this article today. I'm confident that most reading this are already familiar with the new SandForce SF-2200 controller. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you can read our introduction to the technology. The mumbo jumbo tech stuff doesn't really matter this year, though. The SF-2281 controller is the best of 2011 and that's really all you need to know. The other 2011 controllers have some nice features, good speeds and at some point may have an attractive price, but this year Team SandForce is going undefeated across the board. The only thing left to decide then is who will get the MVP.
Right out of the gate OCZ Technology has set the bar very high with the Vertex 3. The V3 ships with a three year warranty, desktop adapter bracket and a support forum that is the best in the biz. We don't really see it yet, but in 2011 OCZ says they are going to be very aggressive with pricing, too. All of this leads to a total package, but the plan has to be executed flawlessly or the competition will look to take over the pitches mound.
That leads us to where we don't like to go. First and foremost is the form factor issue. What the hell was going on here? - OCZ is an SSD company, I doubt they have a plastic mold machine and are churning out the new cases. I do see why OCZ would abandon the old all-aluminum cases; have you seen the price of aluminum these days? You would be running too if you needed to make hundreds of thousands of parts in aluminum. Usually when an outside firm is brought in to make a component, a sample is sent for verification. Either someone didn't notice that the new plastic case wasn't the right size and approved the design, or some of the molds were producing larger than spec parts.
The people I work with at OCZ are not the same who buy individual components, so I'm not even going to bother them by asking where the case hit the fan. What we do know is that it's wrong now, BUT, we also know it won't be wrong for very long. OCZ knows about the issue and I'm sure it will never be overlooked again. Those with Lenovo notebooks will be able to trade their drive in for a proper spec 2.5" form factor drive.
The next issue is the price. Before we dive too deep into the current price, let's first get some perspective into how spoiled we actually are. In 2010 the Vertex 2 120GB debuted at over 400 USD. In 2010 competition was quite a bit closer and the 256GB capacity king was the Crucial C300. In 2011 the SF-2281 clearly outperforms everything else on the market, so I'd really expect to pay around 400 USD for a 120GB Vertex 3. That said, OCZ wants you to buy an SSD and not look at them with dreamy eyes. The MSRP for the Vertex 3 120GB was set at 249.99 and the 240GB was set at 499.99. If I was the product manager, I'd say 400 / 750 and start shopping for exotic supercars. I'm not the PM, but someone is shopping for supercars and it's the e-tailers.
With supply low, the big e-tails are selling Vertex 3s at a premium. With recent announcements by Corsair, ADATA and a few others, we will see prices start to drop in the coming days as supply builds. Right now the 240GB can be purchased with just a 30 Dollar premium over the MSRP, but 30 Dollars is still 30 Dollars. I'll leave that choice up to you.
As it is right now, the OCZ Technology Vertex 3 is the only ultra high performance SSD in town. Sure, there are a few fast Porsche's around, but these are still using a base design built ages ago, like the 911. The SF-2200 is a cacheless design that uses controller speed and not a cache buffer to supplement a lower performing engine. If you are looking for the ultimate user experience (like handling in your car) and the highest transfer speeds (think drag racing), then you want a SSD with a SandForce SF-2200 controller. At this time the best all around package with a SF-2200 is the Vertex 3.
A Note From the Author
The OCZ Technology Vertex 3 240GB has received a Performance Award, but it isn't without a stipulation. The Lenovo Notebook Issue was stumbled upon when I tried to install the Vertex 3 240GB in my personal notebook. If I'd have spent 530 USD on this drive, then waited 5 days for it to arrive only to find out that it didn't fit, I'd be pretty ticked off. HDDs and SSDs have a standard set for a few reasons; not ticking people off is only one of them. OCZ is not the first company to have an issue with form factor sizes or specifications and they will not be the last.
The only reason why I would even consider an award at all after a form factor issue comes down to support. OCZ Technology has an amazing support staff that actively contributes to the performance computing community and quickly responds to any issues that come along. Everything starts at that level. Once elevated OCZ has a track record of remedying issues quickly and in ways designed to ease consumer frustration. Not every company operates in this manner, not every SSD manufacturer operates in this manner. In a twisted way to think about it, if I were to have an issue with an SSD, I'd rather it be with an OCZ SSD than anyone else, because I know OCZ will handle the issue in a quick and consumer conscious way.