Overall, the Solid State Drive (SSD) trend is still not that viral – Put it simply, they are very expensive for the amount of memory being offered. However, at the end of the day an SSD is an SSD. And where there is an SSD, such as the OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 series, you can expect a heckuva performance upgrade. By the way, the Vertex 4 series comes with a 5 year warranty on each purchase, what more could you ask for?
Some Background Information about OCZ Vertex SSD Drives:
Before launching with the actual OCZ Vertex 4 256GB review, I’d like to talk about the company and the subject of “affordable” Solid State Drives. These passages are meant to illustrate the importance and superiority of SSDs against regular hard drives.
The fastest SSD brands are:
- Samsung 830 Solid State Drive
- Crucial M4 Solid State Drive (Available in Multiple Storage Space Categories)
- OCZ Vertex 4 Solid State Drive
When we talk about SSDs in general, the fact that these drives don’t have a higher BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) rates, micro chipped MLCs and NANDs, higher cycle speed and such gimmicks, makes them far superior to conventional hard drives. This is one of the reasons as to why Solid State Drives are expensive when compared to your regular hard disk.
Solid State Drives – A General Price Per GB Estimate
OCZ has been in the market for a while now. Prior to the 256GB Vertex 4 series, the company has released other models. They were slightly inferior to this one due to performance difference and etc. Not to mention the fact that OCZ claims zero BSoD incidents, the Vertex 4 256GB is supposedly the best of its kind.
My experience was slightly different. Concerning the Blue Screen of Death incident, I encountered it after weeks of rigorously using the OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 series hard drive. It was shocking for me as much as it has probably surprised you. Was it false advertisement? No, the BSoD was in fact kind of my fault.
I will be talking about it in detail later on, when we’ll be jumping to the Blue Screen of Deaths in Solid State Drives section of this review. For now, let’s see how it went with the OCZ SSD Vertex 4.
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Highlights – What I Loved the Most?
- Quick Startup Time – The OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 takes a minimum of 30 seconds to completely load the OS to home screen. If you have a freshly formatted PC, this startup time can be minimized.
- Photoshop latest edition and side apps loads faster on SSDs.
- I work with Lightroom as well; the experience was superb.
- Encoding high definition videos to low format and vice versa is faster when using Vertex 256GB Solid State Drive.
- Bluray Disc Rips, especially with AnyDVD app, the OCZ Vertex SSD timing was 13 minutes. When compared to my Seagate 1TB hard drive, the total time was 33 minutes. Demux coding took only 1 minute on SSD and 25 minutes on Seagate regular 1 TB drive.
Any Bad Stuff about OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 Drive?
Particularly, there are no setbacks to buying Vertex 4 SSD, or any other Solid State Drive. Part of the reason is that these drives are the latest of their kind; they have quick boot time and overall high performance, without any BDoS issues or whatsoever.
Even if there are Blue Screen of Death Issues in Solid State Drives, they are minimal. But then again, keeping the worst case scenario in mind, what if your OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 Solid State Drive crashes on you, or does not satisfy you within 30 days of its purchase? I normally recommend people to buy products through Amazon.
If your purchase is within serviceable warranty, you can contact OCZ for a repair or unit replacement. Otherwise, you can directly return the hard drive to Amazon for a replacement unit or a refund. Personally, I don’t see any issues coming up. OCZ has given a 5 year warranty on the OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 drive, which boasts of the company’s confidence in its products.
The only issue I had with this drive was when I first encountered my Blue Screen of Death. Since I mentioned that I will be talking about it in detail, here’s what happened.
The Blue Screen of Death Issue with OCZ Vertex 4 256GB Drive:
It was a normal routine day. I was using Windows OS, when suddenly, the system crashed and the blue screen of death appeared. For a Solid State Drives, the BSoDs are more of a myth, since these drives are far more superior to stumble upon such errors. Bad things do happen, and when they happen, you have to be prepared in advance.
The fact the SSD is still a young technology; we often mistake it for regular hard drives. The firmware is a crucial element to help you keep your Solid State Drive in pristine running condition. It was my fault that the blue screen of death occurred so soon after a few weeks past my Vertex 4 SSD purchase.
By default, the Vertex 4 250GB comes with Firmware version 1.4.1 or perhaps version 1.4.0. It the moment, there is version 1.5 available on the internet. You need to upgrade your SSD to the latest version to avoid any BSoD and performance hitches. However, while doing so, you have to understand that UPGRADING HARDWARE to latest firmware version is a risky process.
DO IT AT YOUR OWN RISK.
How to Upgrade the OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 to Latest Firmware 1.5 Version?
Here’s a quick run down of the firmware upgrade for Vertex 4 Hard drives. Do note that the following guide is written in a general sense. Improvise a little and you can apply the steps to all models of Vertex 4 series Solid State Drives, or SSDs from any other company.
- First you need to backup all data saved on your 256GB Vertex 4 Hard Drive. If you don’t know how to create backups, you can use the operating system’s default backup feature. You can also take help from internet.
- Connect the Vertex 4 to a laptop or other portable device.
- Hold the “Option” key if you are using Mac and select the “Internet Recovery” option from the popup menu.
- Format the Drive using storage space allocation and partitions to your liking.
- Go to official OCZ Technology website for Firmware Upgrade now. They have stated down the instructions at their web page, in case you are lost or don’t know how to follow the process.
- Download the OCZ Technology Tools Utility and “Burn” it to your CD Rom or a portable device.
- Restart your computer. Press Del, F1, F2 or Options Key or whatever to go to the System Settings Menu.
- Set the “Boot from Disc” or “Boot from USB” option to Enable. Set the Boot Device Priority for the USB or CD Rom so that the system will read the data on that drive after restart.
- Save Changes and restart the system. This will boot it from the Disc, using the OCZ Technology Tools Utility.
- If you downloaded the latest OCZ Tools Utility, you will still need to connect to the internet via Ethernet Cable. The touchpad or Wi-Fi will not work on your laptop because you are basically in System Menu Interface. Same goes for PC owners; you will not be able to use your Mouse.
- By default, the OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 Update Menu will show up. Choose “Y”.
- Choose “Y” again to perform Normal Update on AHCI Setting.
- You will be asked to repeat the process. Select “S”.
- System/ Interface will restart.
Congratulations. Either you have successfully upgraded the Vertex 4 OCZ 256Gb to latest firmware, or you have toasted it. If your firmware is not up to date, you can run the process again to confirm. The latest firmware comes with faster boot times, temperature issues resolved and an overall quiet performance.
My Experience with the OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 SSD:
Since I mentioned that Vertex 4 has overall increased performance against other SSD brands, it fulfilled my expectations pretty well. Apart from boot time, the individual program load time was a mixed baggage. Some applications, particularly videogames varied in load timings.
Crysis 3, for instance, took more time, as compared to BioShock Infinite. However, both these games had relatively lightning fast load times when compared to normal hard drives.
My System Specs / Test Bed for OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4:
RAM: 8 GB Kingston 1333 MHz Bus Speed
Processor: Intel Quad Core Q Series (I know it is a shitty process but bear with me please)
Hard Drive: 1 TB Seagate, 500 GB Western Digital, 300 GB Hitachi
Motherboard: Intel Series Express Chipset
OS: Windows 7 64 Bit Ultimate Edition
Display: MSI GeForce 460GTX
Box Packaging: The OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 SSD came in a nicely packaged box. Inside the protective thick foamy layer, the SSD was shining in its full glory. There is a 2.5’’ to 3.5’’ Adapter plate. It is not attached to the SSD.
On the flip side, there is a sticker that Vertex 4 sends with each new purchase of OCZ Technology 256GB SSDs. It says, “My SSD is Faster than your HDD”, which is a fact of course. The drive itself is sealed tight inside a transparent plastic packaging; it is hard and takes a little bit of effort to open.
Initial Drive Setup: The first wrinkle will come to you if you don’t know how to install a hard drive, or an SSD for that matter. You can take your computer to the vendor if you don’t know how to complete the setup process.
By default, the OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 comes with two setup utilities. There is the official OCZ Technology Tool Box utility, which supposedly runs from inside the Windows OS. Mac users can download the OCZ Utility from the official OCZ website and then write the program to a bootable media.
I normally install the hard drives manually by restarting them and then going to the MS Dos Mode. A lot of people don’t know how to use MS Dos, since the modern generation of users comprises of youngsters who haven’t even seen the software. First you need to format the entire drive and then you can create the partitions, using your Windows OS installation CD.
Keep the Default Drive C: partition to 40 GB, and not more than that. 40 Gigs are enough to support basic software installation, including the OS and its upgrades for future reference.
Vertex 4 Performance in Windows: The OCZ 256GB Vertex 4 series SSD performs really well in Windows. There was a solid improvement which showed the drive’s enhanced load time capabilities clearly. In case of hard drives, I am not a huge benchmarking freak; I know the difference when I am using the SSD.
On the contrary, if you are looking for some stats, you can see PassCode Benchmark stats for OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 SSD. You can also install any other stress test software via an internet search to compare SSD performance against different settings.
I noticed that on a fresh Windows Installation, the starting animation doesn’t even complete. The SSD is that fast. Experts will beg differ at this point because they know that freshly formatted hard drives/ SSDs have relatively faster load times.
The reason is that there are no additional installed applications/ programs. Plus, the drive allocation tables are clustered together in a clean layout, which results in overall fast loading times.
But when we talk about SSDs in context of disc performance, we know that an SSD is way better than normal hard drives. In fact, even if you end up installing multiple programs which affect startup, you will still notice a very SLIGHT degradation in the OS boot timing. A Hard drive, on the other hand, with same number of programs installed, will have slow performance. This is a fact.
Additional Tips to Prolong Your SSD Life and Performance:
These tips are necessary if you want to keep your SSD performance intact. It doesn’t matter if you bought a OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 SSD or any other SSD, as long as you are taking care of the drive and managing its contents neatly, you will be crunching our years of unparalleled performance.
On a technical note, Solid State Drives are not able to ReWrite Data. Every time you install or re install a program, the SSD completely removes the relevant memory block and then writes the data to it again. Hence, as a result, the SSD performance degrades. There’s no doubt that a Solid State Drive has excellent output, but due to limited erase cycles, you have to be careful with them.
- Turn off your Windows Indexing Services and Windows Search Service.
- The Pre-Fetch and Super-Fetch services are not important. Deactivate them
- Paging File needs to be Eliminated/ Killed.
- Go to MsConfig through Start Menu Command Line and Uncheck all Startup Programs that are not important.
- System Restore Option is not need if you know your way around OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4.
- AHCI Mode in BIOS is better than conventional mode.
All in all, the OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 Solid State Drive was a great experience for me. I did not have any issues with the drive or whatsoever. Definitely, I will be choosing SSD over a HDD in future if given the option again. For now, m gonna have to bid farewell. See you guys later. Don’t forget to checkout Vertex 4 and other SSD Brands at Amazon.