OCZ Vertex 4 128GB SSD Review and 1.4RC FW Comparison – SSD Steroids for Your Vertex 4

REPORT ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION

Looking at the 128GB Vertex 4 SSD on it’s own using shipping 1.3 firmware reveals a drive which is somewhat unique among current 128GB offerings. In some ways it is the “yin” to the Octane’s “yang”, where the Octane had good sequential performance but poor random performance, the Vertex 4 turns that on it’s head. Using what is spiritually the first controller of the second wave of SATA 3 SSDs has bestowed the Vertex 4 with a variety of performance characteristics. Many enthusiasts will be attracted to those Vertex 4-specific attributes as well as a next-gen controller. Like the first consumer SATA 3 drive on the market back in 2010, more development will yield far more impressive results over time, so in that respect the V4 is a starting point for future drives.

When we look at the new 1.4RC firmware, the Vertex 4 128GB shows unheard-of performance gains. No firmware to date can claim the sort of benchmark improvement that 1.4RC gives to the 128GB V4. Just looking at CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD, one might think the tested drive was one of the fastest 256GB drives on the market and not a mainstream 128GB unit. Performance is up across the board, and in some cases by nearly 100%. Low queue depth sequential performance is improved, while random performance is significantly higher, especially random 4K writes which skyrocketed from almost 50K to just about 90K.

So is there a downside?

Not per se, but there are some caveats. Vantage scores actually decreased slightly, not increased as would be expected. It’s uncertain why the clear and tangible speed bumps at every transfer size didn’t help the PCMark Vantage score any. However, this is the least interesting mystery where the 128GB V4 on 1.4RC is concerned. No, the real uncertainty is why the unprecedented write speeds only apply to half of the drive, and why the other half is much, much slower. On average, across the entire drive, write speed is up from the mid 180MB/s to nearly 250MB/s, but that average masks the bizarre write behavior. This is unusual to say the least, and there aren’t really any precedents for this behavior among modern drives of any kind or type.

As for whether current users should upgrade to what is essentially beta firmware, the answer is only if you’re adventurous. Though the release candidate firmware has been stable though 40 hours of testing, it may be in your best interest to wait until the official, fully-validated firmware is made available. At this point, there is no way to go back to 1.3FW once you’ve upgraded to 1.4RC. Flashing to 1.4RC involves a destructive update (all data is wiped in the process), and the drive must not be the primary system drive. Future upgrades post-1.4RC may not require a destructive flash.

Mysteries aside, the Vertex 4 is unusual in an entirely different respect. It almost acts like a more enterprise-focused drive, and not one aimed at the consumer market. The Octane was optimized for consumers and consumer workloads, while the Vertex 4 could be confused with an offering designed for light enterprise or server use. In those settings, higher queue-depth random performance is highly prized. Many drives optimized for enterprise use do not fare well with consumer/client workloads from a performance perspective. Only time will tell whether the enhanced ECC engine, a five-year warranty, and evolving performance make the V4 a lasting force. If you happen to need a consumer drive with maximum random performance, the Vertex 4 is hard to beat, but it does have weaknesses in other areas. 1.4RC manages to help rectify those shortcomings, but bipolar sequential write behavior is an indication that there is still room to mature.

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18 comments

  1. i wanted to see some updates on 256gb drive lol but this is great. the HD tune showing a weird behavior though, would probably wait for the releases of next firmware, which no one knows when..

  2. “once you’ve upgraded to 1.4RC. Flashing to 1.4RC involves a destructive update (all data is wiped in the process), and the drive must not be the primary system drive.”

    im understand why. flashing to 1.4RC involve destructive update,
    but im not understand, why the drive, cant act as the primary system drive?
    pls explained?
    thanks

    • You cannot upgrade while it is a boot drive or it will destroy your system. You can upgrade and then use it as a boot drive.

    • I think the author was saying if you’re running this drive right now, and it’s running 1.3, and your operating system is running on the drive running 1.3, you can’t update to 1.4, because flashing it would wipe out everything on the drive running 1.3, including the operating system.

  3. Many people reporting Vertex 4 is having issues being detected on cold boot which is also causing waking from sleep bsod.

  4. Way to be punctual and terse about it! 🙂

  5. also i still dont get how firmware seems to boost the performance up for everything, its clear in CDM as well as ATTO or ADSSD, but not the vantage.. is it something to do with that issue with HDtune?

    • This has us a bit stumped as well but, in testing as many SSDs as we have over the years, we have seen variances where SSD compatibility was an issue for on reason or another without a clear understanding of why.

      • im wondering if its because the latency tripled as shown in the picture AS SSD and that probably cause the poor performance on the overall realworld vantage

  6. Is there any difference between 1.4RC and 1.4? (I’m wondering if they fixed the slow write speeds on the 2nd half of the disk.)

  7. Are there any considerations to running a pair of these in Raid0? The intent is performance. I saw a comment about 3 months ago that you were better off running the biggest ssd you could afford instead of 2 smaller in Raid0. Any truth to that?
    Thanks!

  8. Raid 0 Setup with Vertex 4 (Firmware 1.5) 512GB SSD in HP Elitebook 8570W i7- Failed
    To potential OCZ SSD buyers,
    I posted the above matters to OCZ forum and got no solution from them after many email in and out in a week time. They want me to write an email to HP for help. They even deleted my reply and make the post like I did not reply their request or reply their mail. Furthermore, they blocked my post. They wanted me to send them a personal email instead of on the public forum.
    They moved my post to ForumOCZ Support ForumCompliments, Complaints, & SuggestionsVertex 4 512GB BSOD in RAID 0 setup.
    or
    https://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/showthread.php?104396-Vertex-4-512GB-BSOD-in-RAID-0-setup
    That’s why I totally agree with the post here on the first page:
    “It’s still a drive from OCZ, a company that has repeatedly and blatantly used its customer base as unpaid beta testers, and lambasted them when they dared to complain about it. No thank you. The fastest drive in the world is of no use to me if it’s causing my computer to BSOD constantly. I’ll be spending my money and that of my many clients on drives with proven track records for reliability and excellent customer service, both sadly lacking in OCZ products.”
    I will walk away from this OCZ unreliable SSD. Luckily I am able to return the drives and asked for refund instead of following their steps to do the beta tester in a week time.
    Think twice before you buy it.
    Thanks you.

  9. The OCZ SSDs got a lot of compatibilities and reliable issue. Just heading to their technical forum and you will know what I mean. The fastest drive in the world is of no use to me if it’s causing my computer to BSOD or other problem.

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