OCZ Vertex 3 240GB Update: Retail vs Review Sample
Not that long ago we had the opportunity to review a pre-release sample of the new OCZ Vertex 3. We walked away extremely impressed and it is safe to say that with the introduction of the Vertex 3, OCZ once again raised the bar for what a single solid state drive could do. The only issue was that our sample was a pre-release version and not a retail sample. Did that matter? Upon first glance, likely not but we were proven wrong in that assumption.
Since that review went live, we have been asked numerous times if there would be performance difference between our original engineering sample and drives on retailers’ shelves. Truth be told, there are no differences between the two drives on a physical level and even the innards of mirror images on one another.
On the firmware side however, things had changed quite a bit as the drives sent to the press had version 1.11 while current drives are shipping with v2.06 and v2.09 (a minor revision to 2.06) was recently made available. We did have one issue though: our engineering sample was not equipped with end-user updateable firmware. In the short term it meant that any numbers in our charts wouldn’t line up with what end users would experience. Naturally that didn’t sit quite well with us.
You see, firmware updates play a critical role in the maturation of a solid state drive. More to the point, the performance difference could have unduly handicapped or – worse still – given the pre release Vertex 3 an unfair advantage over time. It would not have been the first time a drive’s firmware had “toned down” the performance in order to reduce wear and tear on the NAND. Nor would it have been the first time firmware refinement noticeably increased the performance of an SSD. These days, either situation is possible and only having a drive with fully updated firmware to test can remove this variable.
Today, with the assistance of OCZ we are going to be able to once and for all tell you exactly what – if any - performance differences there are between the pre-release 240GB Vertex 3 drives most sites have reviewed and a retail 240GB Vertex 3. To do this we need not worry about packaging, accessories or the other minutia. Rather, we are going to focus in on a few key tests – both real world and synthetic – with the latest 2.06 retail firmware to see where the differences lie.
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