OCZ Vertex 3 LP (low profile) SSD review
OCZ's low profile Vertex 3 SSD is designed to be an upgrade for laptops that can only take 7mm drives
OCZ's Vertex 3 low profile (LP) solid state drive (SSD) is aimed at those of you who have laptops that only take 7mm thick, 2.5in drives. It provides an upgrade path that is more about increasing speed and efficiency rather than adding a higher capacity (at least for the model we looked at), and it's definitely a good solution for any of you who want to move on from a mechanical drive to a zippy SSD.
- Good performance
- Well built
If you have a slimline laptop that can only take a 7mm, 2,5in drive, then OCZ's Vertex 3 low profile SSD is made for you. It will provide fast speeds compared to a regular hard drive and it will also bring with it the other benefits of solid state storage: no noise, less heat and better power efficiency. However, it is quite heavy.
Price$ 129.00 (AUD)
The benefits of an SSD are numerous, but the most important factors for laptop usage are increased speed, a lack of moving parts, no noise and a cooler operating temperature. Furthermore, an SSD will give you a slightly longer running time when you're on battery power, and some models may also make your laptop feel lighter.
When it comes to weight though, the OCZ Vertex 3 LP is positively hefty at about 120g. It only has flash memory chips inside, rather than metal platters and a motor, yet it feels about the same weight as a mechanical, 2.5in hard drive. In fact, it ended up weighing about 10g more than the 500GB WD Scorpio Black hard drive we replaced in our test system. It's a metal drive that's definitely sturdily built and it has one of the strongest enclosures we've seen in a long time — you could say it puts the 'solid' in solid state drive. But if you install this SSD in a laptop thinking it will noticeably reduce its overall weight, you'll end up disappointed.
What won't disappoint you is the speed of the drive. It's a sure step up from a mechanical drive in terms of throughput and overall system responsiveness. We tested it in a Dell Latitude E6420 laptop, but we had to be careful when installing it in this laptop as it has a regular-thickness (9.5mm) drive bay rather than a 7mm thick bay. This meant that we had to guide the drive in slowly to ensure that the connectors lined up correctly before securing it. On laptops that are designed to take 7mm thick drives, installation should be less fiddly.
A drive like this is meant to be used as a system drive, as this is what will give you the speed boost. You'll need to make sure that you have a backup of your laptop's system image, either on optical discs or on a USB drive, and you'll need to note that because of this drive's relatively small capacity of 120GB (111GB formatted), you probably won't be able to transfer all your data files to it without running out of space.
The 120GB model is best suited to a work laptop, or a laptop that will only be used for Web browsing and basic multimedia tasks. If you're a gamer, for example, looking to upgrade your laptop, then you might get frustrated at the lack of space once you start installing many games — we'd recommend at least a 240GB model for upgrading a gaming laptop. The Vertex 3 is available up to a 480GB capacity. That said, there probably aren't any gaming laptops out there that can only take a 7mm thick drive.
In terms of specifications, the Vertex 3 LP features a SATA 3 (6Gbps) interface, it uses a SandForce SF-2281 controller, and its flash memory technology is of the multi-level cell (MLC) variety, which is usually found in lower-priced SSDs. It also supports TRIM, which is a command that aims to boost write performance by reclaiming space after files have been deleted so that new data can then be written in the same space.
The performance of this drive, especially when reading data, is very fast. It clocked a read rate of 423 megabytes per second (MBps) in CrystalDiskMark, which to give you a perspective on what a leap this is when upgrading, is 327MBps faster than the WD Scorpio Black (500GB) hard drive that was originally supplied with our laptop. It's still not the fastest read rate we've seen though; for example, it's about 10MBps slower than what the latest Intel SSD 335 Series achieved in the same test.
The write performance of the Vertex 3 wasn't as fast as its read time in CrystalDiskMark (not many SSDs are though), where it scored 174MBps. That said, it's still a very fast rate, and 77MBps faster than the WD drive it replaced. Against the Intel SSD 335, which also uses MLC technology, it's 137MBps slower. In our file duplication tests, the Vertex 3 recorded a rate of 112MBps, which isn't the fastest result we've seen in this test, but it's still over 70MBps faster than the WD hard drive.
If you're not a stickler for benchmarks, then you'll find the overall performance of the OCZ Vertex 3 to be very swift indeed. The main benefit is that applications and files will load so much quicker than they would when coming off a mechanical drive. Furthermore, the boot time of a laptop will be increased when using this drive. We timed the cold boot time to be 27sec, which is an improvement of 13sec on our test laptop over the mechanical hard drive when running a fresh copy of Windows 7 Pro. The OCZ's boot time was the same as the Intel drive's time on the same test system.
Battery life on our test laptop was improved when using the Vertex 3 over the conventional WD hard drive. The WD hard drive lasted for 3hr 4min in our battery rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video file. The OZD lasted 3hr 17min, while the Intel drive lasted 3hr 21min.
The target market for this drive is those of you who own laptops that can only take low profile, 7mm thick drives. This includes laptops such as Lenovo's 12.5in ThinkPad X230. It's a drive that performs well and, in addition to providing a speed boost over a mechanical drive, it will also increase battery life slightly and reduce heat emissions and noise. The only drawback is that it is a noticeably heavy drive. It has a retail price of $129, which equates to $1.16 per formatted gigabyte, and a three-year warranty.
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