OCZ Vertex 3.20 20nm 240GB SSD Review

Author:Hugh Briggs

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Wednesday, April 03, 2013

OCZ releases the Vertex 3.20 240GB SSD as part of the continued restructuring of its product lines. With 20nm NAND and a LSI SandForce SF-2281 controller the Vertex 3.20 SSD is geared for budget conscious buyers, and today we test it with the other top value-oriented SSDs.

OCZ Vertex 3.2 240 GB SSD Basics

The OCZ Vertex 3 was originally released in 2011, and now OCZ is releasing the new OCZ Vertex 3.20 revision with the seemingly ever-present SF-2281 and new 20nm NAND. The only significant difference with the new 3.20 version is the transition from 34/25nm to synchronous 20nm NAND.

The specifications of the Vertex 3.20 remain largely the same, with 550 / 500 MBps in sequential read and write speed. The random IOPS are a bit slower than the original Vertex3, coming in at 65,000 / 35,000 read and write.

OCZ has taken the step of designating a new SKU for this release, in stark contrast to the manner in which the original Vertex 3 NAND was swapped from 34nm to 25nm NAND without any word to the customers. The previous change in NAND left customers with slower SSDs and lower capacity than the original version. This led to widespread customer outcry and OCZ had to take steps to address the unsatisfied customers. This regrettable incident occurred under the 'previous administration,' and the different approach this time around speaks volumes to the new focus on customer service from OCZ.

The last time that we visited an OCZ product was in November of last year, with the launch of the Vector.

At the time OCZ was in the midst of a hasty transition to a new CEO, with the previous CEO Ryan Peterson leaving under duress, and the outlook for the company was certainly grim. The financial situation was so dire that OCZ was unable to file its quarterly earnings report due to the impact of murky customer incentive programs, and a SEC investigation was looming. This lead to a drubbing in the stock market and shares slipped into the dollar range.

Another challenge facing OCZ was the sheer number of products it was selling. The proliferation of products led to a dilution in resources for support and further development. One of the immediate orders under the new administration was a vast reduction in the number of products offered, which led to 150 SKUs being cut from the ranks.

OCZ has also made several other key moves in the past months, tightening inventory, removing the lion's share of debt, and gaining a new line of credit from Hercules Technology Growth Capitol. There are still remaining issues and two quarters of financial reports need to be filed by April 8th. However, with the new credit line from Hercules we presume there was considerable research to provide enough faith in OCZ's financial health to warrant the loans.

OCZ emerges as a slimmer company more focused on returning to its new core competency; building SSDs. The future is certainly much brighter for OCZ with its enterprise business moving forward and new products on the horizon.

As the world’s largest SSD manufacturer, OCZ certainly excels at building and selling SSDs, and today the Vertex 3.2 is being introduced to become the company's primary value offering. The impetus for the change to 20nm for the Vertex 3.20 is the continuing consolidation of OCZ's product line. Several SSD models are currently being phased out of production.

This reduction leaves the Vertex, Agility, and the Vector lines as the consumer offerings from OCZ. The Vertex models will appeal to those in the market for an inexpensive SSD, and will compete with the likes of the Intel 335 and the Kingston V300. There is also the competitive TLC products from Samsung that are making the value market a tough competition.

Part of OCZs stated mission during restructuring has been to focus on the enthusiast class SSDs and eventually reduce its presence in the value market. This is sound reasoning with the major foundry players coming into the picture with value offerings. The brutal competition with companies that produce its own NAND will leave razor slim margins for those who remain. As OCZ retreats into the high end market it will also be continuing its advance into the enterprise realm, hoping to re-image the company into an enterprise SSD company.

The success of that endeavor will certainly be more challenging than the dominance OCZ has gained in the consumer market, and today we will take a look at the new Vertex 3.20 in comparison to other value products to see how it stacks up.