Back in April, we reviewed OCZ's Vertex 4 SSD and claimed that its Indilinx 2 controller had been successful in competing with SandForce, though, not in beating it. In May, however, we announced that OCZ was claiming performance boosts of up to 210 per cent with its latest v1.4 firmware.
It's since been understood that this performance boost wasn't without its drawbacks and, a significant one at that. Since v1.4, the Vertex 4 now operates in one of two modes, 'Performance' or 'Storage'. To be clear, no matter which mode the drive runs in, performance is still on-par with or superior to that found in v1.3. Previously, users were forced to chose between enhanced performance or use of the latter 50 per cent of their drive capacity, transforming the Vertex 4 into a true double-edged sword.
That's right, once a Vertex 4 running v1.4 passes 50 per cent of capacity, performance drops off significantly as the drive switches modes, heading back towards the figures seen in earlier firmwares, presenting quite the difficult choice for users; more space or more performance.
Whilst OCZ does not intend to abandon its dual-mode system any-time soon, it has however re-jigged things in its latest v1.5 firmware, released at the end of last week, boosting general drive performance yet again and reducing the effects of mode-switching to offer much more sweet and far less sour than in v1.4.
New performance claims - v1.4 vs v1.5
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It's interesting to note that performance on the 256GB and 512GB models is now identical. This indicates an interesting business decision by OCZ. Initially, the firm's drives all shipped with 1GB of DDR3 RAM as a buffer, however, with the intention that this would eventually remain on only the 512GB model, with smaller capacity drives eventually being cost-cut to utilise 512MB chips.
These figures suggest that OCZ perhaps only plans to perform these cost-cutting measures on the 128GB model, which maintains an 80MB/s lower write speed, leaving its upper two models to compete over storage as opposed to performance.
Though the exact cut-off is not known, OCZ has confirmed that it has raised the bar on Performance Mode, allowing users to utilise a greater portion of their drive at full speed, with the drop-off now a more gradual process, with improved performance even in the worst-case scenario.