There are two significant things that make Vertex 4 unique to the market at this time. The first is the sequential reads at low queue depths. We broke out all the synthetic tools and observed the 200MB/s limit per request. I wanted to use ATTO to show single, double and quad queue depth runs, but ATTO only goes down to QD2 which shows the scaled performance (between 380 and 400MB/s), but not the 200MB/s a single request would show.
The other significant factor in Vertex 4 is the monstrous 4K performance. This is like seeing a nine foot person walk in the door while you are sitting down at a restaurant. The numbers are so large they aren't a measuring point in which you can base a comparison until you actually feel how fast the transactions are.
These are the two things we have to talk about. For a few minutes take every benchmark you saw today and put it out of your mind. When we first started seeing these wild numbers on both the sequential and the random side we knew benchmarks were not going to really tell us anything, especially after the 480GB V3 became questionable. We took the 512GB Vertex 4 and dropped it into our X79 gaming machine with a flagship Intel processor, GIGABYTE X79-UD7 motherboard and an XFX Radeon HD 7950. We started out the old fashion way, with a fresh install of Window 7 Ultimate followed by all the drivers, Office, Newsbin, Battlefield 3, populated the music folder and by the time we were finished around 250GB of space was populated. This type of testing is very objective because what I do on my computer isn't what you do on yours. That said, I didn't get all fancy and pretend I have mastered Sony Vegas yet or mix down a 32 channel audio recording, this is just my day to day stuff here.
Since I only played for around two hours in all of March the first thing I was looking forward to doing was playing Battlefield 3. We had a contest going on the server and I wanted to be around to watch the last day of gameplay. While playing my colleague Tyler, who has a P67 system with a Corsair Performance 3, and I measured our game loading times. This was a straight drag race going from one map to the other. We both entered the game at the same time to within whatever delay there was in the VOIP server.
In the next round we did the same thing, but dedicated 800kb/s to the same Usenet file download, a large file that took hours to complete. We ended up with the same result, a tie. I do understand that there are several other factors involved here, but when you are at home and thinking about how fast or slow your computer is, you don't focus on the other factors - it is either fast or it isn't. It should be noted though that Tyler and I always load into the game faster than anyone else we play with and always get the chopper. That is because we run SSDs.
The next real-world activity I want to talk about is just bouncing around Windows. This includes installing programs, moving files around, setting your screen saver, changing the power settings and other things that you do after a fresh install. Vertex 4 is really fast here. The high IOPS numbers are really felt doing these and other similar day to day tasks. You have never seen IE open as fast as it does on a Vertex 4. We have the fastest SSDs in the world in our lab computers at my office and the Vertex 4 smokes all of them when it comes to this kind of stuff. That even includes opening programs. Word Doc, boom done, no delay, no fuss just open with a cursor. Photoshop is the same way, you get the splash screen for a brief moment and you are in. Normally you can make out the file names that are loading, well that doesn't happen, they go by too fast with V4.
Remember that 4.5GB video file we were downloading. It was a custom video on how to install Linux and not a sporting event from Pay-Per-View. This is where we felt the sequential read limit poke through. Without any official time keeping we went through the PAR and RAR processes. A couple of files were in need of repair which was actually good in this case because QuickPAR shows how long it takes to complete the repair process and at what speed. The files repaired at 188MB/s, a bit over half the speed of a Vertex 3 Max IOPS for the same type or workload. WinRAR doesn't have a timing system, but if you do this sort of thing enough, err... if someone tells you about doing it enough, you know what fast is. The WinRAR operation seemed to be about what I'm used to, err... we are told should be normal.
The more I sit here and think about the sequential limit the more I start to think about how it is like a load balancer on a network or a multi-core processor. Here is 200MB/s and if you need it here is another and if you need even more than that we have a bit extra to give. Still though, I would rather have it all at once and use it on my primary task at the time. I don't think most consumers will notice it often, but if you play with large files one at a time, you will definitely feel a reduction in performance.
Believe it or not there is more and I'm not even charging by the word. OCZ includes the same accessory kit that you are used to. There has never been an issue with the add-ons in the past since a desktop adapter bracket and a sticker are more than what some drives ship with already. The new five year warranty, increased from three years on Vertex 3 is a big plus. Five years puts OCZ in the same high warranty class that previously only Intel, OWC and maybe a couple of others have entered. This is a big step for OCZ and one that will help move the SF firmware issues in the rear view.
It wouldn't be a proper review without talking about pricing. Vertex 4 128GB for $179, 256GB for $349 and 512GB for $699, all prices MSRP. We've already been on the phone with some friends at big e-tailers and we'll know ahead of time before they go on sale, you'll know when we do. We asked OCZ about dates and were told before June. This is a step up from CES when we were told in June.
Putting it All Together
With the price out of the way we can start to wrap this up. The one model we didn't talk about today is the 128GB capacity size with a 256MB cache buffer. This drive offers the lowest write speed of the three introduced, 200MB/s. We look forward to getting this capacity size in for testing when available, but until then, the reduced write speed might to enough to keep us from recommending it.
The Vertex 4 256GB nearly doubles the sequential write speed of the 128GB model and offers twice the capacity without doubling the cost. The Vertex 4 256GB drive also doubles the cache buffer size of the 128GB model with 512MB. I feel this is the starting point in this series of products for most of our readers. At this capacity size the Vertex 4 starts to step out of the Vertex 3 shadow and is able to deliver more performance regardless of data compression.
The largest capacity model available at launch from the OCZ Vertex 4 family is the massive 512GB. This drive receives a massive 1GB cache buffer and a spec 475MB/s write speed. The Vertex 4 512GB is the new king of the jungle and it has a price that is superior to all other SSDs in this capacity size.