As we said earlier, there are two versions of SandForce 480GB drives manufactured with the SF-228X and synchronous flash. The first we reviewed today that uses 16 NAND ICs, but a few other companies went with a slightly modified controller (SF-2282) and 32 NAND ICs. We have two 480GB drives here now with the 16 NAND IC configuration and several more on the way with unknown configurations. By this time next month, we'll have stacks of 480GB and 512GB drive with and without SandForce controllers.
Back when 480/512GB drives cost over $1000, many companies were reluctant to ship these high dollar products. With flash prices coming down, retail prices are starting to look good and the 480/512GB products are the new 256GB drives. They still cost more than the 128GB and 240GB drives of course, but many enthusiasts are willing to speed $300 to $500 on a good SSD. Before long, we'll have 19nm and 20nm flash so the prices could drop another 10% to 15% before Christmas.
Back to the task at hand, the Vertex 3 480GB. This drive isn't the cheapest large capacity SSD on the market, but there are some add-on, value added goodies that should be weighed in before letting price become a deterrent. One of the biggest right now is the firmware that is still shipping on these drives. We know many companies have moved over to the new 5 series firmware and you really can't go back to 3.3.4 once you go 5. If you spent $400 to $500 on a drive and you lose half of the performance in two months because TRIM isn't working right, well that is an issue. As far as we can tell, the 480GB V3 drives are still shipping with the 3 series firmware, so you don't have to worry about the drop off in performance due to TRIM issues.
OCZ also has a solid support network that works well when you need it, too. On top of the support network is the info we found over the last couple of days with the length of time OCZ offers their drives. When you need a RAID pair, it looks like you'll be able to find a match, even a year or two down the line.
All things considered, I like the Vertex 3, but I don't really care for the current price. This is where OCZ has a problem and it isn't just a Vertex 3 problem. If they drop the price too much then it eats into Vertex 4 sales. If they keep the price where it is then we have to talk about the Mushkin DX 480GB and that isn't where OCZ wants to be at either. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.
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