Until now the difference in performance between a 128GB class SSD and a 256GB class SSD has been pretty large when it comes to write performance. The initial performance numbers released by OCZ led us to believe that would hold true again. This new firmware release is changing that perception. The 128GB Vertex 4 is still a bit slower in some categories when compared to the higher capacity model, but the difference is eroding quickly.
The Vertex 4 hit the market just a month ago and already OCZ's Indilinx Infused team is making significant progress with the firmware. I don't think anyone could have expected the large performance increase we've seen over the last couple of days, but then again OCZ is one company that likes to his us with big surprises, no matter how unrealistic they are.
Going into this article we held the belief that the Plextor M3 Pro was the fastest 128GB consumer drive on the market. After today I'm not so sure. Both the M3 Pro 128GB and the Vertex 4 128GB have very low access time, so they both feel snappy as your boot drive. In lower queue depths both of these drives perform about the same too, but at higher queue depths the Vertex 4 manages to outperform the M3 Pro. The same is true when it comes to writing data sequentially, advantage Vertex 4. The Plextor even uses 24nm Toggle Mode flash which is supposed to be the new hot technology on the SSD block. The new third generation IMFT flash is looking pretty good now, at least in the hands of OCZ and their Indilinx Infused team.
We should also point out that the Vertex 4 128GB costs a little more than $50 less than the Plextor M3 Pro. The difference is pretty large, a quarter less. I think we're going to need to see the Plextor M3 Pro 128GB get a price drop soon.
There is still one other issue that should give you a reason to wait and see on the V4. The drive as a whole, the controller and the firmware is still untested when it comes to long term use. The firmware we are using today is version 1.4 R6. Just two days ago we tested with v1.4 R4. OCZ is still making changes and that is why this firmware is advertised as a release candidate. At this stage though, I don't think OCZ would release to the public a firmware that increases performance this much only to take it back and return to the slower firmware. If you already have a Vertex 4 and are using it in a primary system, we suggest you hold off updating your drive until after the new firmware passes through the release candidate stage just to be safe. Remember if you update your V4 SSD with one of these new firmware updates, backup your data first. It will be gone after the update.
As it sits now though, if the final firmware is as fast as this release that we tested the Vertex 4 128GB with today, this drive will be at the top of our buy list in this capacity size. The speed is undeniable; there just isn't anything else on the market in this size that is as fast in as many tests.