Let's tackle the elephant in the room or at least attempt to. The topic of OCZ's long term, err... are they still going to be around six months from now or not. That's what we need to think about. No company has done more for the consumer SSD market than OCZ, and although we all have a bit of love for OCZ in our hearts, this is a cut throat, dog eat dog world. The big fab companies are ready to kick everyone else out, make this a commodity market like they did DRAM, something OCZ has a little experience with since they were drove out of that market just before going all-in with the SSD market. This is an important topic because OCZ has a five-year warranty and Vector 150 is a premium product that sells at a premium price.
First, let me say I don't like venturing into this area. I'm not a broker, I don't know anything about the markets other than what the papers my broker sends to me each month. Everyone I've spoken with who knows, some even obsess about Wall Street, say that OCZ is done for as the company they are now. Their bank account supports a run until the end of the year and after that the money is gone. The company owes money; some of the loans were taken out with high interest rates. That's not a good sign, it's actually a sign of desperation. OCZ has IP, they even have a controller, although some journalists have doubts if Barefoot 3 is really OCZ or if it's another reworked Marvell, doubt cast after Vertex 4. The problem is the IP and the controller are collateral for the loans, at least as I understand it.
OCZ has a long history of making interesting products. At one time, you couldn't count the number of SSDs on the market at the same time from OCZ with your fingers. Now the company is down to three as we see above, but the original Vector can't have long left due to 25nm flash supply, so two products. Vertex 450 was never a big hit and even today prices of it are well over MSRP at most e-tailers. We have to write Vertex 450 off as a failed product due to the price and that price issue is a result of NAND flash prices.
Now we have Vector 150 with Toshiba Toggle flash. OCZ also introduced an enterprise SSD with Toshiba Toggle flash as well so it looks like Toshiba is willing to sell OCZ flash. Hopefully OCZ can keep the Toggle rolling in at a good price, at least good enough to sell Vector 150 at MSRP or less at e-tailers.
Using Vector 150 120GB as our example, the MSRP is $129.99. I would take a Vector 450 120GB over a Samsung 840 Pro any day of the week because the Samsung drives in that capacity size has awful write latency. The Samsung TLC drives are even worse in this capacity class. Can the superior product dig OCZ out of the hole? The experts all say the same thing - no freaking way it's going to happen. The consensus has been the same for the last six months at least, OCZ does not survive without someone scooping them up, debt and all.
Not long ago we published a RumorTT news post that talked about Toshiba's interest in purchasing OCZ. This would give Toshiba a controller and a fighting chance to challenge Samsung, SanDisk, Crucial, Intel and SK Hynix should SK Hynix get serious about the SSD market. Samsung has controllers, Intel has controllers, Crucial let it slip in an earnings call that they are working on a controller, SK Hynix bought Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD). It's almost a guarantee that SanDisk and Toshiba are working on controllers because that's what fab companies do, they design products that they can also build.
I'm not going to go as far as to say that OCZ can't honor their warranties six months from now, but there are several scenarios that lead to warranties not being honored. Not just that, but future firmware development, a world without OCZ as it is now is a possibility.
All of that said, Vector 150 in the 128GB capacity class is the best option on the market now. The drive has consistent performance and scores well in all of our performance benchmarks. The issue is the price because there are several SSDs on the market that do well in benchmarks.
That leads us to the features, an area where OCZ sort of missed on a bit. Endurance has increased, but DEVSLP wasn't included. Encryption was added, but not eDrive support for Windows 8/8.1. The OCZ of old would have taken a shovel to the features like fresh snow and packed them all in the drive and then went back for another scoop. Did OCZ send too many engineers packing in the last round of job cuts? I don't know, but you have to wonder since nearly every new SSD on the market supports DEVSLP other than Extreme II and X210, both from SanDisk. eDrive is a little different, it's more of a business feature and Vector 150 is clearly targeted at the enthusiast market. Still, features were left off of the drive and that's something we don't normally come across with OCZ.
However, the new features OCZ did include on Vector 150 make a compelling argument for its purchase. 50GB writes per day in a consumer drive is pretty hefty. Increased mixed workload performance and a focus on steady state performance are all taken straight from the enterprise playbook. Without a doubt Vector 150 is the best 128GB class option right now, but the price is higher than many others and questions about OCZ's warranty should be considered when making your purchasing decision.
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