OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD Review
The Vertex 460 is OCZ’s answer to the likes of Samsung’s EVO, Crucial’s M500 and Kingston’s own HyperX 3K lineup. This means it is being parachuted into an overly crowded segment so positioning will be the only thing to differentiate it from the countless alternatives. With that being said, the 460 isn’t an extreme performance drive by any stretch of the imagination but it does target those who want excellent bandwidth and good capacity without spending a fortune. Basically, this is an “everyone’s” SSD with aspirations of offering more than the competition.
The last few months have been a rollercoaster ride for OCZ. What looked like complete insolvency and the possible death of a storied brand name became a success story as industry heavyweight Toshiba swooped in to right the sinking ship. This has led to a rapid transformation at a corporate level but it has also resurrected everyone’s confidence in OCZ, their drives and, most importantly, their ongoing support for anyone who purchased their drives.
In order to rebuild confidence in the minds of enthusiasts, OCZ is coming out of their purchase swinging in a big way. Their Vertex 460 will come in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB forms with prices of $99, $189 and $359 respectively, all of which include $55 of free extras in the form of Acronis cloning software and a 3.5” adapter bracket. This represents a very aggressive pricing strategy for what’s included and with the whole affair being backed up by OCZ’s 3 year warranty and excellent customer service, the value quotient is certainly high.
In many ways the Vertex 460 can be considered an evolutionary product which continues where the 450 series left off and further blurs the line between mainstream and enthusiast grade SSDs. Like the enthusiast orientated Vector 150 this new drive makes use of sixteen ultra-high performance Toshiba 19nm Toggle Mode NAND ICs instead of the ONFi 2 20nm NAND found inside the mainstream - but now EOL'ed - Vertex 450.
OCZ has also equipped the 460 with about 12% of over-provisioning instead of the Vertex 450’s 7%. This will provide a more stable, long term performing envelope with substantially less degradation over time. Meanwhile, the Barefoot 3 M10 controller has been carried forward from its predecessor and presides over things here instead of the higher end M00.
Before we get too far into this review, there is something that should be mentioned. Any OCZ SSD currently in use by consumers now has modified warranty terms. If you own a Revo (non-Hybrid), Vertex or Vector series your warranty is still good and has not changed. However, any Agility series drive’s warranty now expires on Jan 22, 2015. The Apex, Core, Hybrid, Petrol, Onyx and all the rest of the old OCZ drives fare much worse since their warranties died along with the independent version of OCZ. That’s a sad bit of news but with Toshiba now backstopping the operation, this situation shouldn’t repeat itself.
In order to hit a more reasonable price point, there are a number of differentiators between the enthusiast-grade Vector and OCZ’s newest Vertex 460 series. We’ve already mentioned the controller change (which accounts for some slight read / write reductions) but the main reason why folks will look closely at the Vector is its better endurance rating. The 460 goes through less factor testing and doesn’t feature the Vector’s low-level firmware tweaks so it is “only” rated for 20GB/day for three years (21.9TB) versus its sibling’s 50GB/day over 5 years (91.25 TB). Naturally, this trickles down into a shorter warranty for the Vertex-branded SSD but it’s highly doubtful any gamer, mainstream user or even content creator will get anywhere close to 21.9TB of read / write data over the course of three years.
Like the Vertex 450 and Vector 150, PCZ has equipped their 460 series with an ultra-durable full metal chassis with a 7mm form factor. This is one area we’ve been concerned about lately as many of OCZ’s competitors have transitioned to less expensive plastic enclosures.
As a side benefit, the 7mm height will allow the Vertex 460 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 there is the aforementioned 2.5” to 3.5” adapter for those installing it into a standard PC chassis.
As with its Vertex 450 predecessor, OCZ has opted for the more power efficient M10 variant of the Barefoot 3 controller rather than the M00 which graces their Vector lineup. This controller runs at 352MHz instead of 397MHz but otherwise, both are essentially the same other than the firmware being used.
The Vertex 460 240GB makes use of two 256GB DDR3-1333 Micron RAM modules for onboard cache but has room for an additional ram IC that is only populated in the larger capacities. This is the same layout which is used in the Vector 240GB.
The Barefoot 3 M10 has proven to be a highly effective controller which capable of extremely stable, long term performance, even when parried to ONFi NAND. Considering this new Vertex 460 uses some of the best NAND IC's available, we fully expect a noticeable performance boost over the 450 which should hearken back to the 'MaxIOPS edition' days.
The Vertex 460 240GB has its work cut out for it. With Toshiba as their benefactor, OCZ may no longer be considered a pariah but they’ve got a lot to prove. At first glance these new SSDs are well positioned to take over a chunk of the mainstream performance bracket but in such a competitive product space, do they have what it takes to stand out?
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