If you didn't like the look of yesterday's mech drives, just have a gander at what OCZ's come up with.
SandForce is the Intel of the SSD world, despite Intel's best attempts to be the Intel of the storage world. In the last two years this young company has created the finest SSD controllers on the market, showing Intel a thing or two about delivering premium performance at affordable prices. The latest controller from the company is the SandForce SF-2281, and thanks to a healthy relationship with OCZ, the Vertex 3 was one of the first drives on the market to utilise it.
Before even considering this speed demon you'll need to check that your motherboard has SATA 3 ports; if you're stuck with SATA 2 this drive will actually perform slightly slower than many other SATA 2 SSDs. But if you do have the requisite port, get ready for some mind-blowing performance figures.
Now, we thought the last generation of SSDs were already stupidly quick, but the Vertex 3 makes them look positively slugglish. In our CystalMark benchmark this drive clocked a slightly insane 504MB/s sequential read - that's twice the speed of Intel's popular X25-M.
This performance extended to every benchmark, wiping the floor with the previous generation of drives in every regard. There's only one drive in the roundup that can keep up with the Vertex 3 - the Kingston HyperX, which is also packing the same SandForce SF-2281 punch. However, the Vertex demolishes the HyperX in sequential write performance, while the HyperX has a slight lead in the 512k write performance, which is arguably more useful in day to day operations unless you're frequently moving massive files around. The Kingston is slightly more expensive per gigabyte though, which is to be expected given its smaller capacity.
This drive ships with a lengthy 3 year warranty, which is a must given our previous experience with OCZ drives (two of which failed in just 12 months), but by all accounts the latest SandForce controller should finally rid the OCZ family of any reliability concerns. If you're looking for the very fastest storage performance, look no further than the Vertex 3.Available from OCZ Technology, retailing for $499.APC rating: 9/10 (Editor's Choice)