In-Depth with the OCZ Core Series Low-Cost SSD

Last week, we got our hands on a 64GB OCZ Core Series SSD and posted our initial findings, which were pretty encouraging. After an additional week and dozens of tests performed on the Core Series and three other drives for comparison’s sake, we still have warm feelings for the Core Series, because it opens single applications lighting fast, but we also have some qualms with its performance under heavy stress, particularly when zipping a file. Other Drives Tested Before we give the OCZ Core Series a star rating, we’ll want to compare it to more SSDs with MLC memory. We won’t get into it here, but for those who don’t know much about the NAND memory used in SSDs, there are two kinds: the more-expensive SLC (single-level cell) and the less-expensive MLC (multi-level cell) memory. To keep prices low, OCZ uses MLC memory in the Core Series. For this round of tests, we were able to compare the OCZ Core Series to one other MLC-based SSD, a 60GB Super Talent MasterDrive MX, along with a much more-expensive SLC disk, a Samsung SATA II 64GB, and a garden-variety 250GB 5,400rpm hard drive, the Western Digital Scorpio Blue. While the MasterDrive sits in the same price price range ($250 – $300) as the Core Series, the Samsung gave us an opportunity to see how the new drive stacks up against units that are triple the price, and the Western Digital is just a typical hard drive that any notebook might have pre-installed. Test Bed As in our earlier test, our system was a Gateway T6828 with a 1.83-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 3GB of RAM. All tests were conducted on identically configured installations of Vista Home Premium (we restored each from a disk image). File Copying Last week, we showed you the results of our initial file copy test, but we were able to explore a few more situations since then. First, we took 5GB of mixed media files (MP3s, JPGs, movies) and copied them from an external USB drive to the hard drive. Then we copied, the same 5GB of files from one folder on the hard drive to another. Finally, we repeated the same internal file transfer under “stress,” with an AVG Free 8 virus scan running and a full screen CamStudio screen capture both running during the transfer.

As you can see, the Core Series did really well on the internal copy test and held its own on the external test, but performance just sunk when it was asked to perform multiple tasks at the same time.

Zip Test

We also tested the drives by using 7-zip, an open-source zip utility, to zip our 5GB media folder. Then we took the zip file and uncompressed it.

While unzip performance was actually excellent, zipping seems to be the OCZ Core’s kryptonite. The 20:58 (yes, that’s 20 minutes!) time it turned in was twice as long as its nearest competitor. Perhaps there’s something about archiving that just doesn’t agree with it. We were so surprised at this number, we ran the test a second time to be sure and got 21:14!

We think the drive may just have a hard time reading and writing large amounts of data at the same time as was required to zip all these files, because application launch times under normal conditions were excellent as you can see on the next page.

Next Page: Application Tests >>

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. Yazmin Harper Says:

    Needless to say I feel somewhat rebellious but I know I will follow tests. The Core Series are confortable. Tests of like watered down the Western Digital.

  2. Wout Mertens Says:

    Could the slowness under stress be related to incompatibilities with the SATA controller?

    Here’s a user that has similar issues:

    Can you try running the Core on some other motherboards?

  3. Gooble Gobble Says:

    Why not just admit OCZ’s drive is not better than the Samsung drive. Clearly no more tests need to be carried out. I think Kudos to Samsung for doing a sterling job, normally its the bigger brute brands that arent that good but this is not the case with the SSD’s tested here. However, its going to be at least another 12 months before anyone will actually start buying these things. I mean £3000 for a 256+GB is just a complete waste of money. Until then these are just experiments in my eyes and a way to recoupe the R&D costs.

    Peace and Good Will to Oompa Loompas!

  4. Genius Guru Says:

    HITS THE NAIL SQUARELY RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF THE HEAD. I’ve done hours of file copy comparison tests as well as other tests (such as zipping files) & the results here mirror my own. Copying files from one partition to another or anything were the drive has to do two or more things at once brings these core series to their knees.

    In some tests Samsung SSD II is anywhere from 150% to 750%+ percent FASTER. Sure Samsung SLC cost more, but core series 120-143MB/s MB/s ” RATING ” is very deceiving.

    Compared to Samsung SLC 80-100MB/s ” RATING ” which is telling you NOTHING about real world performance such as zipping files etc. but nevertheless people will base everything on that ” BOX RATING ” when making their purchase decisions.

    I didn’t compare battery run time, so now that I see it clearly here, my Samsung SSD is going BACK into my Laptop.

    I originally bought 4 of these core series to replace our Samsung SSD drives thinking to sell the more expensive Samsung drives while getting similar performance from these promising looking 120-143MB/s ” RATINGS ” of the core series. NOT!

    REALLY deceiving thing here about 120-143MB/s” RATINGS ” is, I have found that even the old model Samsung SATA 1 drive which can be found on ebay for much less than the SATA II model, even this older SATA 1 Samsung SSD version (Rated at only 40-60MB/s is FASTER THAN CORE SERIES in many circumstances. Especially Multitasks such as file zipping, copying from one area to another, or anything were the drive has to do two jobs or more at one time.

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