OCZ Vertex 4 512GB SSD Review
OCZ’s Vertex series has long stood out as a trendsetter within the SSD market and the new Vertex 4 is looking to continue this winning tradition. Considering how well received the original Vertex and its two follow-up drives -the Vertex 2 and Vertex 3- were received, there are certainly some big boots to fill.
Back in 2009 OCZ first wowed us with their first Vertex 120GB and with good reason: it provided revolutionary, genre-defining performance in a compact yet oh so expensive package. Not only did it go on to sales success but this one product helped make Indilinx (back then, an almost unknown controller manufacturer) into a veritable household name. Unfortunately, while the Indilinx Barefoot controller which powered that first OCZ Vertex was indeed powerful, its successor foundered on the rocks and shoals of product development. This meant OCZ along with their competitors had to look elsewhere when the time came to choose a controller for their follow up products. This search eventually brought most into a close relationship with Sandforce’s SF1200 and then SF2281 controllers and to this day, SandForce remains a dominant player in the SSD product space. But then, last year, OCZ turned the game on its head by acquiring Indilinx and bringing the lion’s share of controller and firmware development in house.
Ever since the close bond between Indilinx and OCZ was forged, the enthusiast community has watched and waited for what we all knew was coming: the real return of Indilinx controllers. While the “Indilinx Infused” Everest 1 controller which powers the OCZ Octane looked like a step forward, it simply a first test of the relationship between two industry heavyweights. This all changes with the release of the all new Vertex 4 512GB drive and with it the newly minted Indilinx Infused Everest 2 controller. Just as importantly, the Vertex 4 marks the return of true competition in the enthusiast market; a marketplace which has gone stagnant due to an massive influx of almost exclusively SandForce-equipped drives. Even Intel decided to go the SandForce route with their 520-series.
With its black and silver color scheme, the exterior of the Vertex 4 is not all that different from past Vertex models. OCZ has truly done away with the all metal cases and has opted for a plastic and metal case for their new flagship model. As we have said in the past, this is perfect acceptable when dealing with entry level / budget models, but we would have much rather seen an all-metal cladding on a flagship drive.
Speaking of flagship status, be prepared to pony up a good amount of coin if the Vertex 4 series interests you but that isn’t to say that you will be paying a premium for it over some of the other solutions on the market. Take its closest competitor for example: Intel’s Cherryville 520 lineup starts around $185 for the 120GB version, the 240GB goes to $350 and if money is only a word to you, be prepared to pony up $800 for the 480GB version.
While there are other drives out there and the Intel example may be the most extreme, it does bring up several good points. First and foremost is the over-provisioning required by Sandforce-based drives which isn’t required with the new Everest 2 controller. This translates into additional capacity across the whole Vertex 4 product range. In addition, OCZ has brought back their 5 year warranty, effectively matching Intel’s offerings.
The layout of the various components may indeed be very odd compared to Vertex 3 – or nearly any SandForce SF2281-based drive – but the overall architecture is very similar, albeit with one or two major points of convergence. There are 16 NAND ICs populating the PCB’s 16 circuit slots alongside a large Indilinx branded IDX400M00-BC –aka Everest 2 - controller chip. To help cool this large chip OCZ includes a heat pad which allows the metal half of the chassis to act as a large heatsink to disperse any latent temperature buildups.
There is also a pair of 512MB Micron branded DDR3 -1600 SDRAM IC's for a whopping 1GB of cache. This is the twice the amount of cache you will find inside an Everest 1 “Octane” 512GB drive and is the largest amount of cache we have ever heard of gracing an SSD with a single controller. This should help with ensuring the rest of the architecture doesn’t slow down the ultra powerful controller.
The total number of NAND ICs is no different than what you will find in any other massive capacity enthusiast grade solid state drive and the NAND’s quality is second to none as well. To be precise these are Intel Branded ONFi 2 NAND chips and are indeed very high performance chips that feature exceptionally low failure rates.
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