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Closer Look at OCZ Vector 256 GB SSD

We’ve received our OCZ Vector 256 GB in its retail packaging, so let's have a look at it first.

 

It is quite typical of OCZ but the Vector series is distinguished with cobalt blue. The packaging is strewn with promo slogans. The only really useful information is the storage capacity and part number of the SSD.

The box contains everything necessary and even more. Besides the SSD, there is an adapter with screws to install the 2.5-inch drive into a 3.5-inch bay, a frivolous sticker “I ♥ my SSD”, and a license for the backup utility Acronis True Image HD which can help you move all data from your old HDD to the new SSD. The Vector is the first SSD from OCZ to be shipped together with that software but top SSD makers have long been providing such software tools with their products, so there’s nothing unusual about that.

The most unusual thing is the SSD itself. The Vector is completely different from previous OCZ products. It has a steel case with a height of 7 millimeters, differing dramatically from OCZ’s earlier SSDs with flimsy plastic housings. The solid metal feels reliable and it is quite a pleasure to hold a Vector in your hand. The downside of steel is its mass, so the SSD weighs 115 grams or about twice as much as competing products with aluminum cases. You should take this into account if you need an SSD for your ultrabook. Although its form-factor (7 mm high) is compatible with slim notebooks, the Vector will make them considerably heavier.

 

The top panel is covered with a sticker that tells you the series name. The back sticker is more informative: part number, serial number and model name.

The 256 GB Vector contains a PCB that looks conventional in size and design but carries three types of unusual chips.

 

First of all, it is the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller which is marked as IDX500M00-BC. Manufactured on 65nm technology, it has a peak heat dissipation of 2 watts. That's why it has contact with the case via a thick thermal pad.

Second, we can see 256 MB DDR3-1600 chips from Micron here. Our 256 GB Vector contains two such chips, one on each side of the PCB, so the total size of the SDRAM buffer is 512 MB. The PCB has one more place for such chip, which could be populated in the 512 GB version.

Third, there are a lot of flash memory chips: 16 in total, each with a capacity of 16 gigabytes. Marked with the OCZ logo, the chips are actually conventional MLC flash memory from Micron or Intel. Each has two 64-gigabit semiconductor dies.

The current firmware for the Barefoot 3 controller is version 1.02. Hopefully, unlike with the Vertex 4, the new SSD won’t be getting too many firmware updates in the near future. The press materials from OCZ promise that every firmware version will have passed through a long validation process, so we can hope that updates will all be appropriate and not too frequent.

The manufacturer suggests that you use the OCZ Toolbox utility to manage your SSD. Besides updating firmware, it lets you perform a Secure Erase and view SMART attributes. The latter feature isn't quite useful with the Vector because the number of accessible attributes is limited. Moreover, some key parameters like Host Writes or Total NAND Programming Count may change spontaneously. Hopefully, this problem will be solved with firmware updates.

 
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