Final Words

I'm not sure whether to call the m4 an evolutionary upgrade in performance or a shift in performance. Write speed is faster across the board, but read speed took a definite hit compared to the C300. Overall Crucial has a faster drive on its hands, one that's particularly well suited to most of our lighter workloads. It's only in our new 2011 heavy multitasking workload that the m4 really fell short. For your average desktop usage model, the m4 is either the best or second best you can get.

I am a bit put off by the fact that the m4 doesn't seem to have the peak sequential performance of some of the other next-generation drives we've reviewed. The Vertex 3 and Intel SSD 510 both do much better in sequential transfer speeds than the m4. To Crucial's credit however, without any data deduplication/compression it delivers the best 4KB random write performance we've seen to date.

My remaining concerns with the m4 are really not that different from those I had with the C300. Crucial's very late garbage collection allows the possibility for some very poor write speeds over time. If you're running in a configuration without TRIM support, I'd say this is enough to rule out the m4. Sure performance should recover with sequential write passes, however if your workload isn't sufficiently sequential then this could pose a problem. If you do have a TRIM enabled OS I'm not entirely sure how the m4 will behave over time. TRIM should keep things running smoothly but that will largely depend on workload. Again, I think that for most desktop/notebook users the m4 will do just fine but it's tough to say for sure without months of testing under my belt. In other words, like any other brand new SSD—approach with caution.

We should have the final Vertex 3 in house soon, but it's looking like all cards are on the table for this round. If SandForce/OCZ can manage to deliver a well tested, reliable product it may be difficult to recommend an alternative.

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  • Nentor - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    "And for those of you asking about my thoughts on the recent OCZ related stuff that has been making the rounds, expect to see all of that addressed in our review of the final Vertex 3."

    Too late Anand and you well know it. It has no place hidden in some unwritten review about next generation hardware either.

    I don't think people talking about that matter are that concerned with your thoughts on it, but about you speaking out on a product you reviewed that turned out to be very good and now is available in shops in the same box and shell but with different hardware inside and performance.

    Anyone might end up buying one of these things based on your good review of it and end up with quite another product when they return home.

    That is the point and you failed it quite horribly professionally and personally.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    The 25nm fiasco happened while I was out of the country covering MWC. I was thousands of miles away from any testbeds. When it happened I immediately contacted OCZ's CEO and asked for his plan to make it right. To date I believe they have addressed all present concerns by allowing users to exchange drives with 64Gbit 25nm NAND for 32Gbit drives. It's my understanding that small capacity 64Gbit die drives have been discontinued. There are still some 64Gbit devices in the channel and I pushed for a name change on the impacted product but it looks like the best OCZ is willing to do is point you at the model number to (possibly) determine what you're getting.

    I finally got a pair of 25nm drives in this week - I wasn't going to make any public statements based on product I haven't tested personally. Unfortunately both drives, the 60GB 'E' and 120GB non-E use 32Gbit NAND devices.

    OCZ shouldn't have handled this the way it did initially. Lower performing drives should never have hit the market and they shouldn't have tried to charge people for replacements. However the company did respond quickly and I believe has made things right for those users who are impacted based on what I've seen here:

    Regardless this is another check in the wrong column for OCZ and it will be addressed - not hidden - (as well as the SpecTek memory stuff) in an upcoming article. My original plan was to wrap that, the m4, Corsair P3 and Samsung 470 all into our Intel 320 review however being at CTIA last week left me with little time to get all of that done.

    I would've liked to have been on top of all of this from the start, and had OCZ not made things right publicly early on I would've stepped in (there was a lot of prodding from me behind the scenes during MWC week). The timing was unfortunate and I'm looking to bring on a regular storage editor to help ensure this sort of thing doesn't happen in the future. With all of the growth in SSDs as well as the increase in demand for HDD coverage, it's time to grow the storage team on AT.

    Take care,
  • cactusdog - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    Anand, OCZ have only made things partially right, the issue is not solved. Ocz are swapping drives to meet IDEMA specs but performance is still slower. So they only made it 50% right.

    Its not the fact that its a slower drive, but they are using the same branding then making it impossible for users to know which nand is being used before the drive is purchased.

    The bigger issue is if it is ethical for a company to change specs and use the same branding. Afterall, Intel and Corsair saw fit to rebrand their 25nm drives. Other companies at least changed the model number.

    The spectek issue is another can of worms for ocz but it raises the same kind of questions about Ocz ethics and transparency.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    This is why I wanted to get drives in house. With 25nm 120GB and 60GB drives in hand now I can start looking at performance. In theory with the same number of die there shouldn't be any performance difference. If there is, something else is at play.

    It is absolutely unethical for a manufacturer to change performance and sell under the same product name. Let me do some testing and I'll touch on this very soon.

    Take care,
  • Gami - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    the problem with you new test is which drives are you getting..

    The first version of the 25nm SSDs that they tried to secrectly get through..

    or the final version after all the complaints and the switch to the bigger nand chips..

    the very first ones, they used only used 8 channels to connect those nand chips.. you need to get one of these drives as well..

    after all the complaints, they finally admitted what they done, and said you could trade in for proper sized SSDs but you had to pay a different in price, even though you already paid for what you're finally being given..

    after another run of bad press and complaints, they backed off the whole pay the different and just gave you a new SSD witht he right configs.

    it's still less space and less performance than the original Vertex2 that you originally bought.. and also has less of a life span.

    (if you had bought these the first few months of the change to 25nm, you were also paying the full price of the 32nm chips) there was no savings, you paid more for a worthless new SSD that had the same markings on it, as the one that was rated number one SSD for the year.
  • mikato - Friday, April 1, 2011 - link

    "However the company did respond quickly and I believe has made things right for those users who are impacted based on what I've seen here"

    Actually, it looks like they only made things right for the people that noticed they were tricked a bit and complained. One might argue that there was no impact to those who didn't notice since hey, they got an OCZ Vertex 2 didn't they, but most of us wouldn't agree with that because they could put a Vertex 2 label on a box of dog crap if they wanted.

    FWIW I bought a Vertex 2 120GB in early January. I'm happy with it and I'm pretty sure it's not 25nm based on what I've read for the releases etc. but I haven't checked on it myself with any test. If it turned out to be 25nm and with worse specs, I probably won't return it to avoid the hassle but that doesn't mean I didn't get shortchanged.
  • anevmann - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    "seequential" in the Performance vs transfer size :P

    But a great ssd review as always Anand ;)
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the comment and the heads up :)

    Take care,
  • anevmann - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    Any news when/if TRIM will be supported in raids in the future?
  • forgotdre - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    samsung 470 review please! I haven't heard much about it and it seems like a great drive!

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