Conclusion, Pricing, and Final Thoughts
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WAIT! I thought these drives were supposed to be different!?!?

Before we get into the pros and cons, we need to point out the actual difference between these drives.  Since none of our standard tests highlighted this, I whipped up a custom IOMeter profile to highlight this difference.  What it really boils down to is tuning, and that tuning is specific to random writes.  Since these drives were meant to be used under a Windows 7 environment (or a previous OS with a properly aligned partition), they are highly optimized for writes aligned to the standard NTFS 4k cluster boundaries.

Time (sec) OCZ Vertex 2 OCZ Agility 2 Corsair Force F100 OCZ Vertex LE
0 32000 32000 32000 32000
5 26000 26000 16000 26000
10 26000 10500 16000 26000
30 26000 10500 16000 26000
60 26000 10500 16000 26000

The above table was made from my watching a modified version of one of our fragmentation tests as it ran, with each drive starting from the same initial state.  This test threw 4k aligned, random 4k writes at the drive.  All values are in write operations per second.  All 4 drives were able to ‘burst’ the first few seconds at 32,000 IOPS, but after those first seconds, the field split very quickly.  Vertex 2 and Vertex LE hold 26,000 for a good few minutes before starting to slow further.  Agility 2 appears to back down to 10,500 within 10 secs of the test start, but seems to hold that figure indefinitely.  The Corsair F100 goes for the middle ground, maintaining 16,000 IOPS from the first few seconds on.  Pausing the test and letting the drives catch their breath results in an effective ‘reset’ of performance, meaning that if you give the Agility 2 a few seconds of idle time, it will give you another 10-second burst at 26,000 IOPS before dropping to 10,500 again.

Keep in mind our standard IOMeter tests and all other benchmarks (including bulk file copies) showed very little difference between the 4 drives.  To show these differences, I had to throw 100% random writes at them.  Don’t let these specs alter your buying choice unless you are potentially very heavy on random writes.  The best example I can think of is running simultaneous VM images all stored on the same SSD.

SandForce Roundup! Corsair Force F100 vs. OCZ Vertex 2 vs. OCZ Agility 2 - Storage 35

Conclusion:

PROS:
  • Outstanding write performance.
  • Good IOPS scaling at higher queue depths.
  • Excellent read performance.
CONS:
  • Over-Provisioning results in higher cost/GB than the competition.
Pricing      

Current cheapest available pricing snapshot (as of this writing):
(all 100GB models)
For comparison:
  • Intel X25-M G2 160GB: $2.59/GB 
  • WD Velociraptor 600GB: $0.46/GB
At the moment the new units hold a price premium as they are just now hitting the market.  I suspect they will quickly fall to the LE’s $360 price tag, and push even lower over the coming weeks as there are now more SandForce based units to choose from.  When the Vertex LE came out, it was understood it would be a limited run, but with three more SandForce-based SSD’s hitting mass production, we expect them to catch on much faster provided the prices come down a bit further.

Final Thoughts:

These three new SandForce-1200 based models performed very well in our testing, competing with Intel in IOPS and completely dominating in write performance.  The only thing really holding these drives back from total market domination is the price.  That awesome write performance comes at the cost of heavy over-provisioning, which leads to less flash available for the user and therefore a higher cost/GB.  Users not focused on write performance will likely migrate to lower cost alternatives, but for absolute stutter-free writes, SandForce has proven itself a worthy contender indeed.

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