Vertex 4 Review – In our experience in reviewing SSDs over the last year or so, OCZ drives have been among the best. That may not be what you often read on various customer review sections at online stores and forums and Reddit, but personally, throughout the half-dozen-or-so OCZ drives we’ve reviewed, they have been excellent performers and as reliable as you’d want (BSOD error notwithstanding). And the price is almost always in line with the competition, if not better.
But even if our experience reflects well on OCZ, they have a reputation to keep, so it’s not that shocking that they are moving away from what has been seemingly a rough road with the SandForce 2000 series controller. Although it has thus far been the fastest SATA-3 SSD controller overall, they don’t seem to make for the most reliable SSDs, at least according to the negative customer reviews out there. In fact, you could conclude that a lot of the negative feedback OCZ SSDs have received on these shopping sites has more to do with being the first (and by far highest selling) SandForce 2000 drives out there.
What matters today is that they seem to be moving away from SandForce, at least for now, and focusing on drives using Indilinx controllers – a company they purchased last year. Moving forward, OCZ have nobody to blame but themselves for any issues that may arise, since the hardware and firmware are all being developed in-house.
So what makes this Indilinx controller tick?
Vertex 4′s Brain: Indilinx Everest 2
You might be shocked to hear, but Indilinx, OCZ’s own manufacturer of SSD controllers, don’t actually manufacture the Everest 2 – it’s a Marvell chip.
That’s right – after some digging, it was discovered that the Indilinx Everest 2 chip you see above is actually Marvell silicon. While not an off-the-shelf chip (it is said to run at a higher speed than stock), it is speculated that it is essentially a rebranded Marvell 88SS9187 controller. This would make it the first SSD based on this controller, so we have nothing to compare it to yet. It should be interesting to see how OCZ/Indilinx programmed their firmware to make the Vertex 4 what it is. As we know, firmware and validation can often make drives based on the same controller completely different from one another.
The key advantage Everest 2 has over Sandforce 2000 is that it doesn’t require compression algorithms to reach peak performance. As we’ll discuss later in the review, SandForce based drives perform at full potential only when data is highly compressible. The less it can compress, the slower it gets. OCZ have also worked in quite a few features to keep the flash fresh. A suite of features called nDurance 2.0 are what help the Vertex 4 keep write amplification and flash degradation under control. This helps keep the drive running at top performance for as long as possible, and again, this is done without relying on data compression.
Another major addition to the Vertex lineup is a full 5 year warranty, something that Intel made a big splash with when they introduced their 520 series SSD.
Let’s take a much closer look at the Vertex 4 now: