Speed is such a fascinating thing. I can tell you from experience that driving a car at 240 km/h (or 150 mph for our non-Commonwealth friends) is both an exhilarating and frightful experience. Being on the edge, while also realizing you could be scraped off the pavement if something goes wrong, is a very intoxicating and sobering thought all at the same time. We’ve been looking at several Solid State Drives (with more on the way) and today we’ll be examining the OCZ Vertex Turbo 120GB SSD which features some impressive performance claims.
Of course, the lure of speed in the computer world can be just as enticing, though it’s far less likely you’ll get pancaked into a concrete wall while running some overclocking benchmarks, no? Well, Solid State Drives are the new exotics of the computer world, boosting performance in leaps and bounds. But as we know, those increases often come with a hefty price tag. So just how much are you willing to pay for the speed? Ah, now that is indeed the question.
We recently tested its vanilla sibling, the Vertex, and were quite impressed. So the promise of a turbo boost (quite literally) with this SSD has us eager to get it into the starting blocks and drop the hammer to see what numbers it can post.
For those who may be unfamiliar with Solid State Disk drives (SSDs), let’s have a quick recap to briefly explain some of the characteristics and benefits that differ from traditional mechanical hard drive counterparts.
First, it is important to note that SSDs are currently designed to meet the connectivity standards of HDDs; they use the same SATA ports and power connectors, and may even fit the same drive bay racks and computer towers that we’re all accustomed to using. Many SSDs do, however, come in a smaller 2.5″ form factor, the same as notebook drives, which is a bit smaller than the traditional 3.5″ size that most of us have. In short, SSDs can fit anywhere HDDs can, and in most cases, the SSDs are even smaller.
Most SSDs have mounting holes for adapters that can accommodate either a horizontal or vertical mounting position. Because the drive runs absolutely silent since there are no moving or mechanical parts, you can literally install the drive anywhere in your case with some double-sided tape or Velcro. You won’t need to worry about any vibrations or even heat being produced, so you could even just tape it to the bottom of your case if you’re so inclined.
A Closer Look
Aesthetically speaking, the OCZ Vertex is an exercise in sleek monochromatic minimalism: black and white on the top and sides (with the noted yellow “Turbo” graphic), and bare aluminum on the bottom; the Vertex is gorgeous in its simplicity. Be that as it may, Solid State Drives don’t need to be flashy; they need to be functional and fast. The quality of construction here is very well done.
The Vertex Turbo comes in a 2.5” form factor, perfectly suited to a laptop, though you can certainly use it in a desktop system you’ll need an adapter if you want to house it in a traditional 3.5” hard drive cage. Unfortunately, there is no conversion bracket/tray included with the Vertex Turbo if you want to install it in a standard hard drive cage.
You can also go through our article which is on Mushkin Callisto Deluxe 120GB SSD.
Test Setup & Methodology
Before we begin, there are a few important caveats regarding test procedures. Testing a Solid State Drive doesn’t use quite the same approach as the methodology for a mechanical hard disk drive. SSDs come with an internal disk controller present for wear-level management, which then interacts with the motherboard controllers, so the multitude of combinations can be staggering, and the performance can certainly vary.
Additionally, since SSDs are flash-based products, there is also a degree of variability between using high-performance or inexpensive DRAM chips that can also bias the results.
Drive performance tests are also normally developed for mechanical hard drives, which are designed to sample traditional sectors for performance along the length of the drive platter (both the inner and outer rotational portions of the drive).
The issue, however, is that SSDs don’t read or write from the same sector, so we end up with testing suites that are attempting to perform a job they’re not specifically designed for. It’s similar to using a wrench to bang in a nail where a hammer should be used; the wrench will do the job but it won’t be pretty.
ATTO – Basic IO
ATTO Disk Benchmark is a popular and free program, measures transfer rates across specified lengths. The bandwidth results here are not necessarily entirely reliable for reporting the maximum drive speeds, but it does help convey results of the bandwidth for different file sizes, so it’s best to view ATTO in the context of basic Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPS) performance.
HDTune Pro – Bandwidth, Random Access
HDTune Pro offers a robust set of benchmark tests for maximum, minimum, and average transfer rates, and in this case, we’re focusing on the read results for this test. Again, there are minor variances with SSDs when using HDTune, so don’t treat these results as absolute and unchanging, but they do paint a good picture of what’s happening with the OCZ SSD.
In this test, the Vertex Turbo runs a very flat line on the read results, and the writes are very fast but they do exhibit some mild spikes over the course of the test. The average read and write speeds are not exactly the same as the ATTO tests, but as we mentioned, it’s best to take absolute numbers with a grain of salt when testing an SSD on tests that were primarily designed for mechanical hard drives.
Regardless, we see a clear trend that the Vertex Turbo is posting some stunning performance numbers.
After reviewing the 60GB version of the OCZ Vertex Turbo we knew it held its own but couldn’t quite match the performance results of the big dog 120/128GB competitors, and as a result, we were very eager to get our hand on its Turbo sibling, especially after hearing about the performance increases.
After seeing the Vertex Turbo 120GB in action, we can definitively say the OCZ Vertex Turbo is without a doubt the fastest SSD we’ve tested, and we’ve seen our fair share of drives. The OCZ Vertex Turbo 120GB Solid State Drive features the latest ‘Barefoot’ controller and thus avoids any stuttering issues previously known to happen in some multi-layer SSDs.
There are no denying the excellent numbers put up by this drive; the read speeds are well over 260MB/s, but perhaps more encouraging are the write speeds which are the first we’ve seen a post over 200MB/s in some tests. No SSD has matched these numbers yet, and these are the best results we’ve seen to date, putting the Vertex Turbo at or near the top of the performance heap in every single test we ran.