OCZ Vertex 2 120GB SSD Review
James Ku / Oct 23rd, 2012 No Comments
Solid-state drives, or SSDs for short, have been out on the hardware market for a few years now, and in that time we’ve seen numerous technical developments and improvements in SSD technology. SSDs feature faster read and write times compared to their mechanical counterparts (i.e. hard disk drives, or HDDs, which are found in the majority of computers today), allowing for quicker boot-ups, snappier program load times, and, perhaps most importantly for gamers, less time spent waiting for loading screens to disappear. Furthermore, SSDs feature no moving parts, making them more reliable in free-fall/high-movement scenarios (Err… not that you should really be subjecting ANY type of memory drive to such situations, but in case it ever arises…). Since they lack moving parts, SSDs also use less energy (mechanical HDDs rely on spinning disks and delicate read/write head movement), making them a particularly popular choice for notebook users. Sounds like SSDs are all roses and sunshine, right? Unfortunately, SSDs are much more expensive per gigabyte (GB) at an average of $1/GB compared to $0.054/GB for HDDs. Are SSDs worth the premium price tag? We took a look at the OCZ Vertex 2 120GB SSD and put it through hundreds of tests (okay, not hundreds, but quite a few) to see how it stacked up compared to a WD Scorpio Black 7200RPM 500GB(a standard HDD that should present a fair picture of HDD performance). Read on to see the results of the performance battle between HDD and SSD!
Overview of the Vertex 2
The OCZ Vertex 2 has a listed max read speed of 285MB/s and a max write speed of 275MB/s. These transfer rates are on-par with many consumer SSDs on the market today and should be sufficient for most gaming (and non-gaming related) needs. The OCZ Vertex 2 is actually a few years old at the time of this review (OCZ’s latest SSD in the Vertex line is the Vertex 4), so it’s important to note that we will be comparing the Vertex 2 to other comparable SSDs on the market. A SATA II-capable motherboard is required to make the most of the Vertex 2’s transfer speeds, so check and make sure beforehand that your motherboard supports SATA II connections. While many newer performance SSDs support the SATA III standard, the Vertex 2 is aimed at users who don’t have a SATA III-compatible motherboard but still want to get the most bang for their buck from an SSD. The Vertex 2 has a 2.5” form factor, which should fit most notebook drives but will require a 3.5” adapter to fit properly into most desktop cases.
We used an Alienware M14X R1 with an Intel Core i7-2630QM, 8GB RAM, and 1.5GB Nvidia GT 555M as our testing platform for both the Vertex 2 and the WD Scorpio with a clean install of Windows 7. For each round of testing, we swapped out the SSD for the HDD and put it into the same hard drive slot that the SSD had previously occupied to ensure that data bandwidth throttling would not affect our results (i.e. using an HDD in an external USB 2.0 caddy would NOT have been a fair comparison due to the fact that an HDD’s maximum transfer speeds exceed the maximum bandwidth of a USB 2.0 controller). We used ATTO Disk, CrystalDiskMark, and HD Tune as our benchmark tools. Overkill? Maybe, but that’s just how we test things here at Gaming Illustrated.
First up we have the ATTO Disk read/write benchmark. With ATTO Disk we have the benefit of looking at read/write speeds with various file sizes; we recorded data using file sizes 0.5KB to 8192KB.
The Vertex 2 clearly overtakes the HDD in all read/write tests here. The HDD maxes out at about 100MB/s read/write, while the Vertex 2 hits its peak at about 270MB/s read and 280MB/s write.
The CrystalDiskMark benchmark is the next test in our review. The neat thing about CrystalDiskMark is that it provides options for random versus sequential file testing, as well as a few more in-depth options that are covered in our test. Random file access occurs when data is fragmented on a data drive, while sequential file access occurs when data is… well, not fragmented. Sequential file access is always going to be faster than random file access on an HDD, which is why defragmenting HDDs is such a useful practice. SSDs, however, already randomly accesses memory, so there’s no need to ever defragment an SSD (in fact, it’s better not to defrag an SSD, as it will reduce the lifespan of your drive!).
Once again, there’s no doubt that the Vertex 2 has superior read/write rates. Note the particularly large gap between the Vertex 2 and the HDD in our random file access benchmark tests. Impressive!
Next up are our HD Tune transfer rate benchmarks. HD Tune provides a visual look at a data drive’s read/write performance over time as well as a drive’s access time during the test.
Here we see that the Vertex 2 averages about twice the transfer speed of the HDD in our test. Also, access time was 80 times faster than the conventional HDD.
Synthetic benchmarks are nice and all, but what about real-world usage? We looked at Windows 7 startup times as well as load times in various games with the Vertex 2 compared to the HDD.
From our real-world tests we see that the Vertex 2 provides a substantial decrease in load times in some games while not having as great an impact on others. Some games, such as Total War: Shogun 2, aren’t able to take full advantage of an SSD’s write rates, hence the smaller-than-expected speed gain. How an SSD affects load times has a lot to do with how the game itself is programmed, but for many modern games, users will find solid loading speedups across the board.
The OCZ Vertex 2 120GB SSD provides appreciable performance boosts in reading and writing data, resulting in faster startup and load times. Though it’s a few years old now, the Vertex 2 is still a worthwhile upgrade for those looking to cut down on the “downtime” that computers regularly experience. Finding the OCZ Vertex 2 at a decent price isn’t the easiest thing to do at this point in time, but it appears that it can be purchased new for around $100. At this price point, the Vertex 2 is a solid performer for older motherboards and nearly maxes out the 300MB/s transfer rates possible with SATA II connections.
Special thanks to OCZ for sending us a Vertex 2 SSD to review!
tags: hard drive , hardware , ocz , ocz vertex 2 , review , ssd