Three months ago we tested the first SandForce-based solid-state drive when OCZ treated us with a sample of the Vertex 2 Pro. As a true newcomer to the SSD market, the new controller took us by surprise with encouraging results, but the fact remained that this was an enterprise class product and few consumers were ever going to lay their hands on one of these drives. At the time we were also told that a successor to the original consumer-oriented Vertex would be arriving just a few months down the road.

Then last March we got a taste of what the Vertex 2 would be all about with the OCZ Vertex Limited Edition. This was part of a limited run and somewhat obscure deal that had OCZ producing 5,000 units of speedy solid-state drives armed with a hybrid SandForce SF-1200/1500 controller. The Vertex LE delivered performance that was comparable to the unreleased Vertex 2 Pro, which used the high-end SF-1500 controller.

Hard to say if OCZ overestimated demand but it's been almost two months and you can still buy the Limited Edition drives that come in 100GB and 200GB flavors. Yet, we were still left waiting for the true successor of the highly popular Vertex, and here it is, in our lab ready for testing and expected to be hitting shelves pretty soon.

The OCZ Vertex 2 is based on the more affordable SandForce SF-1200 controller and it's actually expected to outperform the Vertex LE. This is not a mainstream part, though. OCZ will be targeting performance oriented users with the Vertex 2 while dropping down the price of the original Vertex to service the mainstream segment.

Completing OCZ's new SSD line-up is the Agility 2 that will also use the SF-1200 controller and should offer a slightly less agressive and more affordable option to the Vertex 2. The original Agility SSDs will target the lower end of the spectrum, along with the Solid 2 and the upcoming Onyx drives that will be based on a new Indilinx Amigos controller.

Currently, the original Vertex is selling for around $350 for the 120GB version, which is considered to be an ok value considering that Intel drives have been dropping in price. The Vertex 2 will be priced at $399 for the 100GB model, while the 50GB and 200GB drives will cost $219 and $769, respectively. The question remains what kind of performance improvements we can expect and whether it justifies the price premium. Read on to find out.