The OCZ Vector 180 (240GB, 480GB & 960GB) SSD Reviewby Kristian Vättö on March 24, 2015 2:00 PM EST
From a technological standpoint, the Vector 180 is the most interesting Barefoot 3 based SSD that we have seen in a while. With partial power loss protection (PFM+) and a new 960GB capacity, it's able to bring something new to the now two and a half year old Barefoot 3 platform and most importantly it offers some long desired differentiation to OCZ's client SSD lineup.
I'm not sure what to think about PFM+ because drive bricking due to sudden power losses is fortunately quite rare, and if it was a critical issue then all client-grade SSDs should incorporate some level of physical power loss protection -- not just the high-end drives. In my mind it mainly offers an extra layer of protection and peace of mind, but OCZ would have had to go with full power loss protection in order to add real value to the end-user (although in that case OCZ would have jeopardized its own enterprise SSD sales). I think PFM+ is a nice addition and at least brings something slightly new to the market, but I wouldn't consider it to be a deal breaker because any user that really needs power loss protection will still have to look for enterprise drives.
One point I want to bring up is the performance consistency at different capacities. It really looks like the Barefoot 3 was designed ideally for 240/256GB as going above that will result in some issues with performance consistency. It's normal that companies have an optimal capacity in mind when designing a controller because optimizing for higher capacities will always require more processing power due to the additional metadata handling, which in turn results in higher cost. Back in 2012 when the Barefoot 3 was launched the price per GB was nearly double of what it is today, so it made sense to focus on 120GB and 240GB capacities since 480GB and higher were a small niche due to the high price. Fortunately the IO consistency issues didn't translate to our Storage Benches, but still there are better optimized high capacity SSDs available that don't have any consistency issues.
It's also too bad that the Barefoot 3 lacks support for slumber power states because its active power consumption is simply the best we have tested so far (excluding the 960GB model) and the difference in favor of the Vector 180 is in fact quite substantial. The Vector 180 would be a killer for mobile use if it had proper slumber power management, but since the idle power consumption is ~700mW at its best whereas other drives are able to achieve 20mW, I just can't recommend the Vector 180 or any Barefoot 3 SSD for a laptop/tablet. OCZ's next generation controller, the JetExpress, will support DevSleep and slumber power states and I certainly hope it will share Barefoot 3's excellent active power consumption behavior.
|Amazon Price Comparison (3/24/2015)|
|OCZ Vector 180 (MSRP)||$90||$150||$275||$500|
|OCZ Vertex 460A||$65||$106||$200||-|
|OCZ ARC 100||$60||$85||$157||-|
|Corsair Neutron XT||-||$170||$260||$540|
|Intel SSD 730||-||$144||$240||-|
|Samsung SSD 850 EVO||$70||$117||$210||$370|
|Samsung SSD 850 Pro||$100||$155||$290||$500|
|SanDisk Extreme Pro||-||$146||$285||$475|
Since the Vector 180 is OCZ's flagship, it's also priced accordingly. The MSRPs are very close to what the 850 Pro and Extreme Pro currently retail for and it's clear that OCZ is considering the two as direct competitors to the Vector 180. The problem, however, is that the 850 Pro is better as it's faster, more durable and has longer warranty and better hardware encryption support (Opal & eDrive), so the only area where the Vector 180 can compete is the price, which isn't happening with the MSRPs (of course, actual street pricing may end up being different).
All in all, despite PFM+ and a 960GB capacity, the Vector 180 is ultimately the same Barefoot 3 that we have seen numerous times already, and it's a natural transition to more cost effective Toshiba's A19nm NAND. The performance is good and roughly on par with the Extreme Pro, but it's not high enough for the Vector 180 to truly have an advantage over other high-end drives. To be frank, there's no arguing about the fact that the 850 Pro is a clear leader when it comes to SATA 6Gbps performance. On the other hand, given that client PCIe SSDs are only a quarter or two away, I think anyone who is considering a high-end SSD should hold off their purchase for now. There is no point in upgrading from a SATA SSD to another SATA SSD at this point because the performance benefit will be marginal compared to what PCIe will bring to the table, so you will simply get far more value for your money if you wait a bit. That's also where OCZ's focus is right now and the JetExpress definitely looks promising.