OCZ Vertex 3.20 240GB SSD Review
Since the release of their high performance Vector series, OCZ has been rather quiet but that silence ended with the OCZ Vertex 3.20. The Vertex 3.20 240GB is actually the first new drive from OCZ being released this year, which is quite the change for a company which used to have one of the broadest SSD portfolios around. However, this more sedate and measured release schedule is keeping with OCZ’s new focus which chooses quality over quantity. The new Vertex 3.20 240GB is a perfect example of this new commitment in action.
The original Vertex 3 lineup had its fair share of hiccups which were mostly caused by the use or lack of 25nm NAND and OCZ vowed never to repeat that performance. While this new Vertex 3.20 may resurrect the old brand name, there’s very few similarities between it and its predecessor. More importantly, this time around OCZ is being completely upfront with the NAND being used. The reason for the addition of the ‘.20’ to the name is simple: it uses latest generation 20nm NAND instead of 34nm or 25nm NAND found in previous Vertex 3 drives. Naturally, additional performance and cost benefits will stem from this decision.
Using this new NAND makes the new Vertex 3.20 quite unique in a number of ways. This is one of the few non-Crucial or Intel branded models to use IMFT 20nm modules, though the NAND shares more in common with the 20nm units found in Intel’s 335 series, rather than the Crucial M500 series. Specifically, OCZ has used ONFi 2.3 64Gbit MLC NAND rather than ONFi 3 128Gbit MLC NAND which is essentially a slightly lower binned version of what’s found inside of Intel’s drives. This does tend to negatively impact performance in comparison to higher-end models but the Vertex 3.20 also targets a much lower price point.
In many ways, this new Vertex 3 model is a testament to the longevity of OCZ’s original design. We know of no other solid stated drive model which has survived long enough to live through three separate and distinct NAND generations. Of course, there is a rather large benefit to using 20nm over 25nm. Unlike when the 25nm version was silently introduced, the new NAND type comes with a rather significant price reduction and there should be more than enough performance here to satisfy most users’ needs.
Speaking of price, with an online asking price of $240 (or less when on sale), the Vertex 3.20 240GB is one of the more affordable mi-tier drives available. This also puts it into direct competition against some of today’s heavy hitters like the Crucial M500 and Corsair’s Neutron GTX, both of which are great drives in their own right.
Opening up the Vertex 3.20 240GB we can see that the architecture follows the classic Vertex 3 layout with a single controller chip and 16 NAND ICs. Like all Vertex 3 models, this one houses an LSI SandForce SF2281 controller but instead of using the latest, more power efficient version – the ‘B2’– OCZ has opted for the older ‘B1’ model found in previous Vertex 3 models. This is in keeping with the budget friendly nature of the 3.20, but it will put this drive at a minor disadvantage when compared to some other newly released SF2281 based models. The largest improvement the B2 brought was lower power consumption, especially during idle periods.
On the positive side, thanks to aggressive pricing the power draw handicap will likely be rendered all but moot for most budget constrained consumers considering we’re talking about less than a watt increase during normal operation. But the true measure of this drive will come from its price to performance ratio, where the 3.20 will face stiff competition from newer controllers and more established competitors’ models alike.
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