OCZ Vertex 450 256GB SSD Review
OCZ’s Vertex lineup’s status as one of today’s preeminent SSDs may have been recently usurped by the high end Vector series but its evolution has continued unabated. The Vertex 3.20 was announced earlier this year and the Vertex 450 is its latest iteration, promising top shelf performance without breaking the bank. As a matter of fact, the 256GB version we are reviewing here only goes for about $230.
While the Vertex 450’s cost puts it into a hotly contested market. Drives like Corsair’s Neutron series, Crucial’s M500 and SanDisk’s Extreme series all but dominate this segment but OCZ has several tricks up their sleeves to ensure their continued dominance.
Much like the Vertex 3.20, this new Vertex 450 features a seamless blending of existing and new technologies in order to ensure optimal performance. It uses the new IMFT 20nm ONFi 2 NAND with an already proven Barefoot 3 controller. However, its specifications and internal design actually make the 450 more of a follow-up to the Vector series than the Vertex but that’s a point that will likely be hotly debated.
The Vertex 450’s specifications and raw throughput numbers make it look very much like a Vector when both are compared on paper. Indeed, there may be some segment creep between these two drives since a mere $30 of daylight exists between the 256GB versions. The Vector will however continue to be OCZ’s flagship SSD for the time being, or at least until its successor arrives sometime in the near future.
By labeling this drive a Vertex 450, OCZ has perfectly sidestepped any potential pitfalls which plagued the Vertex 3’s 34nm to 25nm NAND transition. It also ensures both the Vertex 4 and Vector’s reputation remain unblemished due to the new market realities. Simply put the 25nm ONFi 2 NAND housed inside the Vertex 4 series is becoming harder to reliably source as manufactures hurry to move production to 19nm and 20nm NAND. In other words, the transition from 25nm to 20nm had to occur if OCZ wanted to continue selling any ‘Vertex 4’ branded drives.
Moving onto the Vertex 450 256GB itself, we were instantly impressed with this drive’s exterior features. Gone is the half black plastic, half silver metal Vertex 4 case and instead OCZ is going with their ultra-durable Vector full metal case.
As a side benefit, this SSD uses a 7mm form factor whereas as the original Vertex 4 was a 9.5mm height model. This will allow it to fit inside Ultrabooks and other slim and light mobile devices without any issues. Unfortunately, OCZ has opted to forego the 2.5mm adapter bracket which many other companies include free of charge, though a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter plate is present.
Opening the case up and looking inside we can see that the internal architecture also shares more in common with the Vector than the Vertex 4. In fact it is almost identical to the Vector 256GB model.
In total there are 16 ONFi 2 20nm NAND ICs populating all 16 slots on the full size PCB. There is also one Barefoot 3 controller and a pair of 256MB Micron RAM ICs. Interestingly enough –and just like the Vector 256GB - there is actually room on the PCB for an additional RAM chip. We assume the 512GB version will receive three RAM chips for its external cache buffer compared to the two chips of the 256GB model.
Closer inspection of the Barefoot controller shows that this is the newest “M10” iteration compared to the Vector’s M00 version. Very little is known about this new revision, but supposedly it runs at a slightly slower clock speed in order to optimize power consumption. This will be of little interest to PC enthusiasts but consumers looking for extended battery life should take note.
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