Words of wisdom -- think twice before choosing your SSD

Gorilla Power

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 19, 2010
478
0
SSDs are the way to go. They make your notebook run fast as hell and in turn give you a 'desktop' power feel. However, since you need to burn holes in your pocket buying one, do your research very well before committing to a purchase. Here's my story in short.

At the present moment, the Intel X-25M G2 Postville is used as the reference to compare every other SSD on the market. I was convinced with its very high Random 4K Read speeds since that's what matters the most to get the "snappy" feel. Anyways, I headed over to Anandtech.com to read more about it but there I come across the OCZ Vertex LE (Limited Edition) 100GB SSD that apparently outperforms the Intel SSD in every aspect.

It uses the (very expensive) SandForce SF-1500 Enterprise Class controller that breathes fire in its lungs. Very fast. Furthermore, I read on OCZ's common PDF note that its also famous for GC (Garbage Collection), which works independent of the OS and maintains a steady performance of the SSD on the long run.

Bonus: while the Intel has a bottleneck on the Sequential Write speeds (70 MB/sec max), the OCZ Vertex LE outperforms it by exhibiting speeds as high as 250 MB/sec, while at the same time matching Random Read / Write performance.

I was convinced. This was the one I wanted. I thought to myself that if I really would spend so much money on an SSD, let me get the best one at my price range.

So I waved goodbye to the now 'crapshack' Intel and swiftly ordered an OCZ LE. Mind you, LE = Limited Edition and apparently there were only 5000 manufactured. This is because OCZ being the very first adopter, got a good deal on SF-1500 controllers from SandForce. As soon as they ran out it will be the end to that.

Today morning I had some free time and ventured out on the internet to learn more about SSD firmwares. Its an expensive piece of hardware - I want to take the best care of it. I head over to the OCZ forum and that's where everything changed.

To my utter horror, the moderator (OCZ employee) addressed complaints about low performance on the Vertex LE saying that [Macs]:

they do not run LE at full speed, infact no where near. From initial tests we already know you will not see 250+ reads or writes on a mac, more like what you get in your test.
-- http://tinyurl.com/9vwe53

It immediately occurred to me that this doesn't happen to other SSDs running the same controller as the OCZ. I was not surprised that this was exactly what another forum member pointed out, to which the rep said :

First thing is the LE is a Sandforce based drive, it does NOT work like an Indilinx based drive. There is NO idle time garbage collection on an LE. I am waiting to see what we can publish to educate you guys regarding just how the drives controller works...for now do not think it works like a regular Vertex as it does not.
Regarding the speed of the drive on a macbook pro, one of my beta testers has documented speed limitation on his platform Vs placing the drive on his desktop PC....on the macbook it is notably slower
-- http://tinyurl.com/2ctuvvp

I was totally dumbfukked.

EUR. 360 on a 100GB SSD and its going to perform like cheap crap on my Mac ? I felt bad for showing my middle finger to Intel last night. Anandtech did PCMark Vantage tests - the most real life reproduction of consumer computer usage - of the Intel G2 comparing it to the OCZ V LE on the same article and Intel did very, very well.

I learned my lesson and ordered an Intel X-25M G2 160GB for EUR. 380. I was too late to cancel the OCZ order since it was already handed over to the shipping department. I will need to receive it and then return it at my own cost. Lucky for me there is no restocking fee to pay in Germany, you can return any item you buy within the first 14 days without being obliged to give reasons for it. Bad thing is that EUR. 360 for the OCZ drive will remain blocked till whenever the shop issues me a refund. Maybe a week.

Depending on your system, make sure you do your research well before buying an SSD.

Thanks for listening.
 

chopper dave

macrumors regular
Jul 23, 2007
139
0
I am VERY curious about this since I have a Sandforce SSD (Corsair F100) in my new i7 MBP. One interesting thing is that with the new MBP Apple is using a different SATA controller by Intel, rather than the NVIDIA one in the machines from this thread. Nonetheless, I am also getting slow (20MB/s) 4k read/write using XBench.

Has anyone done the same test in OSX vs. Win7/bootcamp to see if it is an OS or hardware problem?

With a little research on the Corsair forums, I found that even new drives seem to respond very well to a secure erase (only can be done easily in Linux apparently) so I will try that next week and report back.

If all else fails, luckily I have a Win7 desktop that will happily receive this bum drive and I'll get an Intel g3 when they come out in 6 months.
 

cyrexo

macrumors newbie
Apr 19, 2010
5
0
Hey :)

so u are from germany *g*. You will get the shipping rate for your return back because the item is more worth then 40 euros. So be happy ;)

It would be nice if you could check the Vertex le on your mac (which one do u have?) before sending it back.


I'm in front of the same decision but don't want to spend to much money on outdated hardware like the intel :/
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,741
146
And that is why people on this forum (myself included) have found that the Intel X-25M G2 was the best value SSD that out performed many of it's competitors. However, no one has said that the Intel outperforms the OCZ and most will agree that the OCZ is superior but not the best value for your money.
 

Gorilla Power

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 19, 2010
478
0
Hey :)

so u are from germany *g*. You will get the shipping rate for your return back because the item is more worth then 40 euros. So be happy ;)
Ah thanks for letting me know that, yes, I confirmed it with Alternate.de. :)

It would be nice if you could check the Vertex le on your mac (which one do u have?) before sending it back.
Sorry, then I'd have to install OSX all over onto the Vertex, run and erase the disk again before repacking it. Not to mentioned having to open my MBP multiple times. That's too much work.. I want to return the parcel to the shop unopened. After having learnt this there's no way I will go with OCZ.
 

MBHockey

macrumors 68040
Oct 4, 2003
3,937
170
New York
I had a rough go with an OCZ Vertex last year. Drive died and their customer service was abysmal. When I finally got a refund I purchased an Intel G2 160GB drive and haven't looked back. It's been running for about 6 months now without a single issue.

I doubt I'll look toward a different company for SSDs any time soon.
 

Mark Booth

macrumors 68000
Jan 16, 2008
1,623
454
Garbage Collection is an Indilinx/OCZ collaboration:

http://hothardware.com/News/OCZ-and-Indilinx-Collaborate-On-New-SSD-Garbage-Collection-Scheme/

The Vertex LE uses a SandForce controller, not an Indilinx controller. This information has been readily available for months.

SSD manufacturers are switching to SandForce controllers for their high-end SSDs because the SandForce controllers are faster.

Here's an article published just yesterday that compares many different SSD drives:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/3667/oczs-agility-2-reviewed-the-first-sf1200-with-mp-firmware/1

Yes, you do need to choose wisely. When I purchased my OCZ Vertex back in early 2009, it was simply the best choice offering good bang for the buck performance relative to Intel's offering. Thankfully, Indilinx and OCZ released subsequent firmware updates that gave it Garbage Collection and the drive hasn't suffered any speed degradation since.

Is the standard Vertex the fastest SSD on the market? No. But, quite frankly, I believe the speed difference between the slowest SSD and the fastest SSD is a bunch of nit picking. Compared to a platter hard drive, ALL SSDs are fast. Blazingly fast! So, the real issue is finding the right SSD for your Mac that is reliable and doesn't suffer speed degradation. Next take into consideration cost per GB. Then, finally, ask yourself whether owning the fastest SSD made is worth it, considering the other factors.

OCZ Vertex (standard) 120GB can be purchased at Amazon right now for $339 (US) after $20 rebate. I paid about $400 a year ago so $339 seems like a bargain to me! :)

Mark
 

Mark Booth

macrumors 68000
Jan 16, 2008
1,623
454
There is little doubt that the OWC Enterprise SSDs are very fast and reliable and won't suffer from speed degradation. But remember, to achieve those features, they use a significant portion of the storage for redundancy. So, their 200GB SSD is really a 256GB SSD with 56GB permanently reserved for housekeeping.

Me, personally, I just can't bring myself to justify 200GB of storage for $729 when I can have 120GB of storage (My Vertex gives me 119GB+ formatted capacity) for $339. OWC is nearly $400 more for only 80GB more storage. Particularly when, in everyday use ("real world" use), I don't think I could tell the difference in speed.

Now, if the OWC 200GB SSD was in the $575-$600 range, now we're talking turkey! :)

Mark
 

AshStorm

macrumors member
Apr 16, 2010
68
0
I just got my MBP so have been trying to learn and research as much about SSD's as possible. Appreciate you posting your experience. I'll add a few things people might find noteworthy

If you're on the fence on taking the plunge now (like me) and waiting to see what the next gen gives us

I believe the Vertex 2's and Agility 2's are expected to hit the shelves in the next couple of weeks.

Conversely, the rumored release of the next gen of Intel SSD's is Q4 (Even bigger grain of salt on this one).

If you're looking to dive in now, I just learned that some of the A-DATA SSD's are actually the Intel's just rebranded. On Newegg, if you pull up the 80 and 160 SSD's, you'll see the packaging shows INTEL X-25M SERIES. My brother went this route awhile ago and he mentioned he saved a few hundred bucks (He bought two of the 80's for his MBP) and is completely satisfied.
 

runebinder

macrumors 6502a
Apr 2, 2009
846
31
Nottingham, UK
Good thread, planning on buying a SSD a bit later down the line and I had looked at the Vertex LE which seemed quite good, know better now. So atm a intel or standard Indilinx Vertex are the best bets?
 

AshStorm

macrumors member
Apr 16, 2010
68
0
Just went over to Anandtech after writing the above post and they put up a review for the Agility 2's with benchmarks. What timing!
 

Gorilla Power

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 19, 2010
478
0
Benchmarks are always impressive guys, however, we're a Mac family. Most of us have MacBook Pros and Apple blocks the SATA data flow on notebooks.. that's what the OCZ rep wrote on the forums. This means we'll never get the performance that we see on the benchmark figures on our notebooks.

I just want everyone to be aware of this because when the performance standards are pulled down, there will be multiple SSDs going shoulder-to-shoulder and consequently will influence one's purchase decision.

If you knew an SSD to have a premium feature of 250 MB/sec write speeds and then come to know that it won't be anything near to this when you plug it in an MBP, would you want to pay for the premium ?

I got 100GB OCZ Vertex LE for EUR. 350 and then picked up a 160GB Intel X-25M G2 for EUR. 380. Only 30 Euros more but the logical difference is big to me.
 

tdream

macrumors 65816
Jan 15, 2009
1,094
42
Crucial RealSSD also has problems too. Check out the crucial forums and there's no official answer for issues with macbooks...

The Intel x25m is still the king in terms of price, performance and reliability.
 

AshStorm

macrumors member
Apr 16, 2010
68
0
Benchmarks are always impressive guys, however, we're a Mac family. Most of us have MacBook Pros and Apple blocks the SATA data flow on notebooks.. that's what the OCZ rep wrote on the forums. This means we'll never get the performance that we see on the benchmark figures on our notebooks.

I just want everyone to be aware of this because when the performance standards are pulled down, there will be multiple SSDs going shoulder-to-shoulder and consequently will influence one's purchase decision.

If you knew an SSD to have a premium feature of 250 MB/sec write speeds and then come to know that it won't be anything near to this when you plug it in an MBP, would you want to pay for the premium ?

I got 100GB OCZ Vertex LE for EUR. 350 and then picked up a 160GB Intel X-25M G2 for EUR. 380. Only 30 Euros more but the logical difference is big to me.
On the same note, I noticed that there is a specific version of the OC Vertex's marketed as "Apple / Mac" edition. Does anyone know if there is actually anything that benefits us or is it just an attempt to price gouge Apple users?
 

tmiw

macrumors 68020
Jun 26, 2007
2,183
487
San Diego, CA
I wish Intel came out with 256 GB SSDs. 160 seems small to me, but their stuff seems more reliable than what I'm hearing about other brands. :(
 

MBHockey

macrumors 68040
Oct 4, 2003
3,937
170
New York
Benchmarks are always impressive guys, however, we're a Mac family. Most of us have MacBook Pros and Apple blocks the SATA data flow on notebooks.. that's what the OCZ rep wrote on the forums. This means we'll never get the performance that we see on the benchmark figures on our notebooks.

I just want everyone to be aware of this because when the performance standards are pulled down, there will be multiple SSDs going shoulder-to-shoulder and consequently will influence one's purchase decision.

If you knew an SSD to have a premium feature of 250 MB/sec write speeds and then come to know that it won't be anything near to this when you plug it in an MBP, would you want to pay for the premium ?

I got 100GB OCZ Vertex LE for EUR. 350 and then picked up a 160GB Intel X-25M G2 for EUR. 380. Only 30 Euros more but the logical difference is big to me.
What? And it only affects OCZ drives? :rolleyes:

On the same note, I noticed that there is a specific version of the OC Vertex's marketed as "Apple / Mac" edition. Does anyone know if there is actually anything that benefits us or is it just an attempt to price gouge Apple users?
There is no difference. They are 100% identical except for the sticker. Same firmware, same hardware.
 

Mark Booth

macrumors 68000
Jan 16, 2008
1,623
454
Gorilla Power,

If Mac performance benchmarks are what you are looking for, then you should look at sites that specialize in the Mac. I've seen OCZ reps (and others) post inaccurate information regarding Mac performance on the OCZ forums.

So, you think that Vertex LE won't achieve 250MB/s in a MacBook Pro? Well, then what about these test results which were just posted two day ago?

http://www.barefeats.com/mbpp19.html

Looks to me like sequential reads/writes exceeded 250MB/s with some of the SSDs!

The OCZ Vertex (standard) used in that test is my 1-year old Vertex in my MacBook Pro i7. I ran the tests a few days ago for Robert. I got 265MB/s sequential large reads with my "lowly" Vertex (standard).

Thanks to the SandForce controller, your Vertex LE would surely surpass my Vertex (standard) in small block reads/writes. Meaning, the SandForce LE would be among the fastest tested in the new MacBook Pros.

Now go back and compare the Intel X25-M G2 to the Vertex LE, particularly in 2MB sequential writes:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2944/9

The Intel is less than half as fast as the Vertex LE in those 2MB sequential writes.

As I stated earlier, when it comes to speed, ANY SSD is going to whoop a platter hard drive. But even my 1-year old Vertex (standard) is a tad bit faster than an Intel X25-M G2.

Mark
 

Gorilla Power

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 19, 2010
478
0
What? And it only affects OCZ drives? :rolleyes:
:) That's not what I meant. I'm saying that if you don't get the performance of a particular drive (OCZ in this case) that you're paying a premium for, you may want to purchase a different one. I'm not bad mouthing OCZ, just making sure everyone knows the facts.

There is no difference. They are 100% identical except for the sticker. Same firmware, same hardware.
Exactly. The difference is just in the stickers.


Gorilla Power,

If Mac performance benchmarks are what you are looking for, then you should look at sites that specialize in the Mac. I've seen OCZ reps (and others) post inaccurate information regarding Mac performance on the OCZ forums.

So, you think that Vertex LE won't achieve 250MB/s in a MacBook Pro? Well, then what about these test results which were just posted two day ago?

http://www.barefeats.com/mbpp19.html

Looks to me like sequential reads/writes exceeded 250MB/s with some of the SSDs!

The OCZ Vertex (standard) used in that test is my 1-year old Vertex in my MacBook Pro i7. I ran the tests a few days ago for Robert. I got 265MB/s sequential large reads with my "lowly" Vertex (standard).

Thanks to the SandForce controller, your Vertex LE would surely surpass my Vertex (standard) in small block reads/writes. Meaning, the SandForce LE would be among the fastest tested in the new MacBook Pros.

I saw that page a few days back, I think I got the link from another of your posts. However, whatever I posted comes straight from an OCZ employee from an OCZ forum. I appreciated his honesty and openness on stating what he did and frankly speaking, I'd like to believe him more because he knows better than many others including me.


Now go back and compare the Intel X25-M G2 to the Vertex LE, particularly in 2MB sequential writes:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2944/9

The Intel is less than half as fast as the Vertex LE in those 2MB sequential writes.
If you read my first post carefully, this is exactly why I was so induced to buy the OCZ V LE. I even posted the same Anandtech link as you. But, and its a big but, dreams got shattered when I read the OCZ forum posts and the mod's replies. This thing costs a heck lot of money and I'd rather stick with something tested and proven, ie. the Intel. I don't want to pay a huge price on a car for its top speed when I don't have the proper road to drive it on at its max. I'm not at all saying that OCZ is bad, just pointing out the reality.

Also, the X25-M G2 is curiously missing from the benchmarks. Anandtech's show similar figures for the Sequential Read / Write on the Intel.
 
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