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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

It’s now more affordable than ever to purchase a large capacity solid state drive to upgrade an existing PC or to install a new one. Today, we are going to test the latest OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB SSD to see how it fares against the competition.

Large capacity SSDs such as the Vertex 4 256 GB are ideal for upgrading laptops, as they will provide enough storage space to fulfill the needs of most users. Desktop PC users can usually combine a smaller capacity SSD with a hard drive to provide extra storage space for media files if required. This option can often be cheaper, so it is worth looking into for desktop PC users.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive Review Figure 1: The OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB SSD

Before proceeding, we highly suggest that you read our “Anatomy of SSD Units ” tutorial, which provides all the background information you need to know about SSDs. Both of the SSDs featured in this review use MLC memory chips.

In the table below, we are assessing the OCZ Vertex 4 and the Kingston HyperX 3K, which we are using for comparison purposes. Both units use a SATA-600 interface and occupy a 2.5” form factor.  Prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review

Manufacturer Model Model # Capacity Price
OCZ Vertex 4 VTX4-25SAT3-256G 256 GB USD 209
Kingston HyperX 3K SH103S3/240G 240 GB USD 210

In the table below, we provide a more in-depth technical comparison between the two drives.

Model  Controller  Buffer  Memory 
OCZ Vertex 4  Indlinx Everest 2 (IDX400M00-B0) Hynix H5TQ2G63BFF (2 x 256 MB) OCZ M2502128T048SX22 (16 x 16 GB)
Kingston HyperX 3K  Sandforce SF-2281  NA  Intel 29F16B08CCME3 (16 x 16 GB)

[nextpage title=”A Closer Look”]

OCZ has chosen to use a combination of plastic and metal to form the casing of the Vertex 4. This helps to keep weight down to a minimum without compromising the protection and durability of the casing.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive Review Figure 2: The OCZ Vertex 4 SSD 256 GB

Removing the top portion of the case exposes the component side of the printed circuit board, which contains eight OCZ-branded M2502128T048SX22 memory chips alongside the Indilinx Everest 2 controller and Hynix H5TQ2G63BFR 256 MB cache chip.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive ReviewFigure 3: The OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB printed circuit board (top)

The PCB can then be removed from the bottom section of the casing, revealing eight more OCZ M2502128T048SX22 memory chips on the solder side, alongside another Hynix H5TQ2G63BFR 256 MB cache chip.  

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive ReviewFigure 4: The OCZ Vertex 4 256 printed circuit board (bottom)

Each of the memory chips has a capacity of 16 GB, resulting in a total capacity of 256 GB. The Indilinx Everest 2 controller doesn’t use overprovisioning, so the whole 256 GB capacity is available to use. This translates into about 238 GB of usable space when the drive is formatted in Windows.

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

During our testing procedures, we used the configuration listed below. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the SSD being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

  • Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit using NTFS file system
  • Intel INF Driver Version: 9.2.0.1016
  • NVIDIA Video Driver Version: 270.61
  • Video Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% can’t be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.

[nextpage title=”Compressible Data Test”]

As you will have gathered from the previous page, we measured the performance of each drive using two different programs: CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD. It is important to note that we connected the SSDs to a SATA-600 port on our motherboard rather than a SATA-300 port that could cause performance limitations.

We set CrystalDiskMark to “All 0x00 Fill Mode” to evaluate the performance of the SSD when dealing with compressible data.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive Review

In the sequential read test using compressible data, the Kingston HyperX 3K outperformed the OCZ Vertex 4 by a margin of 18 percent. However, in the sequential write test using compressible data, the two
drives exhibited a similar level of performance.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive Review

Moving on to the random read test using 512 KB blocks, the Kingston HyperX also came out on top, achieving 33% better performance than the OCZ Vertex 4. Once again, in the write test using 512 KB blocks, the two drives exhibited a similar level of performance.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive Reviewy

In the random read test using 4 KB blocks, the Kingston HyperX 3K achieved the best level of performance, scoring 13% better than the OCZ Vertex 4. However, in the random write test using 4 KB blocks, the Kingston HyperX 3K’s lead narrowed to only 3% over the OCZ Vertex 4.

[nextpage title=”Incompressible Data Test”]

For this test, we set CrystalDiskMark to the default mode, which uses incompressible data.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive Review

In the sequential read test using incompressible data, the Kingston HyperX 3K outperformed the OCZ Vertex 4 by a margin of 22 percent. However, in the sequential write test using incompressible data, the OCZ Vertex 4 came out on top, achieving 40% higher performance than the Kingston HyperX 3K.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive Review

The Kingston HyperX 3K achieved 45% better performance than the OCZ Vertex 4 in the random read test using 512 KB blocks. Moving on to the random write test using 512 KB blocks, the OCZ Vertex 4 achieved the highest level of performance, beating the Kingston HyperX 3K by 39 percent.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive Review

In the random read test using 4 KB blocks, the OCZ Vertex 4 outperformed the Kingston HyperX 3K by a margin of 6 percent. It also achieved the best level of performance in the random write test using 4 KB blocks, achieving 10% higher performance than the Kingston HyperX 3K.

[nextpage title=”Access Time”]

We then used AS SSD to test the access time of the two SSDs.

OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Solid State Drive Review

In the read test, the Kingston HyperX 3K performed 34% better than the OCZ Vertex 4. In the write test, however, the OCZ Vertex 4 performed 55% better than the Kingston HyperX 3K.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

We can see from our tests that the OCZ Vertex 4 and Kingston HyperX 3K have strengths and weaknesses in different areas. This makes it quite difficult to make clear-cut judgments about which one performs best.

The differences in performance between the two drives can be attributed to the different controllers used in each model.

We’re quite familiar with the Sandforce SF-2281 controller that is featured in the Kingston HyperX 3K, as we’ve tested a number of SSDs featuring it in the past. It performs particularly well in compressible data tests, as it compresses data when writing to boost speeds. This explains the sizeable difference in performance between the compressible and incompressible data tests.

The OCZ Vertex 4 features the Indilinx Everest 2 controller, which offers more consistent performance between compressible and incompressible data. It performed much better than the HyperX 3K in the incompressible data write tests as a result.

In real world scenarios, it’s unlikely that many users would be able to tell the difference between the performance of the two drives, even when compared side by side. Both drives offer excellent performance, which makes the most of the bandwidth available from a SATA-600 interface.

There isn’t much of a difference between these drives when it comes to price, either. There is only a USD 1 difference in price between the two drives as tested, although there is a version of the HyperX 3K available with no bundle for about USD 10 less.

If we were forced to choose between the two drives, we would edge towards the OCZ Vertex 4. OCZ offers a five year warranty and a 256 GB capacity, compared to three years and a 240 GB capacity for the Kingston HyperX 3K. The Kingston drive features a more plentiful upgrade bundle though, which is ideal for users who want to upgrade their system but don’t have the technical knowhow.