OCZ's latest solid state drive, the Vector 180, offers the speed of the company's Radeon R7 SSD, plus power failure protection and less performance degradation over time. It's hard to argue with those kinds of improvements.
It also employs the same Barefoot 3 M00 controller the company introduced this last year and the Toshiba (OCZ's parent company) A19 NAND utilized previously in the Vertex 460 series. All good, right? Not quite: The TBW (TeraBytes Written) rating is low for the larger-capacity drives, limiting the drive to a purely consumer audience.
Features and pricing
Probably the most important new feature in the Vector 180 is power failure management — one that will endear it to anyone who lives where the weather occasionally proves cantankerous. When the AC fails, the Vector 180 takes care of any outstanding business (writes in progress, etc.) with the power stored in on-board capacitors.
OCZ also claims it's taking the same approach that Intel and most other mainstream vendors do with their enterprise SSDs, i.e., optimizing for real-life read/write scenarios instead of flat-out sequential read or write speed. The company says the Vector 180 will retain the greater part of its performance over time. I'm guessing this means the drive does the necessary maintenance on a more regular schedule instead of deferring it until forced into it (e.g., secure erasing), as many older SSDs did.
Note that while OCZ has added enterprise-class features, the Vector 180 is a consumer drive. Using it in servers is verboten in terms of the warranty.
Though I didn't experience it, the firmware that shipped with most review drives was prey to slow formats after heavy usage. It seems that the cell maps were updated after every TRIM. If there were stacked TRIM commands, this resulted in a very long wait. To its credit, OCZ killed the release until they had updated firmware that fixed the issue, despite its being of little consequence to the average user. Good job.
The Vector 180 is an affordable drive given its advanced management features. It's available in 120GB/$90, 240GB/$150, 480GB/$275, and 960GB/$500 flavors, which works out to 75 cents, 62 cents, 57 cents, and 52 cents per gigabyte respectively. That's quite good for an SSD of this type, but only middling for the general market, where drives such as Crucial's super-affordable MX200 and the Samsung EVO compete.
The Vector 180 proved a very good performer, though the CrystalDiskMark results jumped around a bit more than normal on the 480GB version I tested. I saw a relatively normal 472MBps to 495MBps reading the 4MB file, but from 413MBps to 486MBps writing — a fairly large range. The same phenomenon occurred with the 512KB random writes, which ranged from 353MBps to 472MBps, with the reading remaining about 390MBps during all passes.
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