Tuesday, July 5, 2011

OCZ Vertex 2 Upgrade

I have been testing a couple of different hard drives over the last month looking for better performance in my Macbook Pro. First I upgraded from a Seagate Momentus 7200 RPM to a Seagate Momentus XT 7200 RPM hybrid drive. The Hybrid is a 500GB mechanical hard disk with 4GB of NAND flash on board to help accelerate frequently used files. Last but certainly not least I tried an OCZ Vertex 2 SSD drive. A 250GB hard drive and all ll I can say is WOW this is an amazing upgrade. It is a little hefty price wise but makes a phenomenal performance difference on a computer.

First I ran the Xbench program to performance test the same machine with several different hard drives. My first baseline test was using the Seagate standard mechanical 7200RPM hard drive. My computer overall score was 132.88 and when I first installed the new drive performance dropped slightly to 130.00. After a week of running the hybrid it stored slightly higher at 133.13. I was never able to tell a difference in performance in the real world between the hybrid and regular mechanical drive.

Drive Type
Xbench Score
Hybrid Day 1
Haybrid One week

Then came installing the OCZ Vertex 2. This drive is phenomenal. It is a little smaller than the other drives in the test only storing 250GB of data. However the computer boots faster, login is faster, and programs launch faster it makes my computer feel like a whole new machine. Now I will say the price point for this upgrade is kind of high. The Vertex 2 weighs in at $379 for the 240 GB model. Anything smaller isn’t particularly useful with our large media files and constant growing collections of MP3’s and movies.

To balance my need for storage and with the need for speed I went with a dual drive configuration in my laptop. I got an Optibay to put the 500 GB mechanical drive in and put the SSD in the primary bay. The optical drive was removed and put in an external enclosure with a USB interface. Frankly I almost never use the DVD drive anymore so swapping it out for some extra storage was an easy decision. Now my laptop is rocking 750GB of storage. I keep the Music, Pictures, and Movies on the larger mechanical drive and the OS, documents, and all the files I need fast access to on the SSD drive giving me the best of both worlds.

The prices are still high and capacities are still limited to 480GB but the prices are falling rapidly and with some management of media SSD’s are ready for the mass market. Other World Computing a couple of weeks ago announced their Electra 6G line of SSD drives. These are the first SATA III drives with 500MB per second transfer speeds and for the first time a 500 GB drive under $1000.00.

Pricing is still a little high but if you need the speed and have it in the budget it is a worth while upgrade. I predict in the next year prices will drop to point where SSD drives become a very reasonable must have upgrade. They certainly make a massive performance difference on any computer. There may be additional benefits when OS X Lion ships later this month since the OS is being optimized for SSD drives.

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