We tested the first SandForce-based solid-state drive three months ago when OCZ treated us with a sample of the Vertex 2 Pro. As a true newcomer to the SSD market, the new controller surprised us with encouraging results, but the fact remained that this was an enterprise-class product and few consumers would ever get their hands on one of these drives. At the time, we were also told that a successor to the original consumer-centric Vertex would arrive just months later.
Then last March we got a taste of what the Vertex 2 with the OCZ Vertex Limited Edition would be about. This was part of a limited and somewhat obscure deal in which OCZ produced 5,000 units of faster solid-state drives that were equipped with a hybrid SandForce SF-1200/1500 controller. The Vertex LE delivered performance that was comparable to the unreleased Vertex 2 Pro that used the high-end SF-1500 controller.
Hard to tell if OCZ overestimated demand, but it's been almost two months and you can still buy the limited edition drives, which come in 100GB and 200GB variants. We still had to wait for the true successor to the hugely popular Vertex, however, and here it is ready for testing in our lab and is expected to hit store shelves soon.
The OCZ Vertex 2 is based on the cheaper SandForce SF-1200 controller and is expected to outperform the Vertex LE. However, this isn't a mainstream part. OCZ is targeting performance-oriented users with the Vertex 2 while lowering the price of the original Vertex to serve the mainstream segment.
The new SSD range from OCZ is rounded off by the Agility 2, which also uses the SF-1200 controller and should offer the Vertex 2 a slightly less aggressive and cheaper option. The original Agility SSDs target the lower end of the spectrum with the Solid 2 and the upcoming Onyx drives based on a new Indilinx Amigos controller.
Currently, the original Vertex for the 120GB version sells for around $ 350. This is considered a good value considering that Intel drive prices have come down. The Vertex 2 is $ 399 for the 100GB model, while the 50GB and 200GB drives are $ 219 and $ 769, respectively. The question that remains is what kind of performance improvements we can expect and whether this justifies the price premium. Read on to find out.