OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD Review

Author: Roger Cantwell
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/ocz_agility4_256gb/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Today I will be looking at one of the latest solid-state drive offerings from OCZ, the 256GB Agility 4. OCZ has built their reputation on manufacturing high quality memory and solid state drives for every corner of the market, from enthusiast level to the average user. The Agility 4 uses the new IndiLinx Everest 2 platform and was engineered to offer best in class performance across a wide range of applications. With lightning quick read and write speeds when connected to a SATA III compatible motherboard, the Agility 4 could breathe new life into storage solutions.

The Agility 4 utilizes asynchronous MLC NAND, allowing for a lower cost-per-gigabyte over other solid state drives. Performance wise, the Agility 4 utilizes the SATA III interface and is capable of 48,000 IOPS read and 85,000 IOPS write, as well as sequential reads/writes up to 420/410 MB/s respectively, allowing for unparallelled system performance.

 

Specifications:

Sequential Reads
420 MB/s
Sequential Writes
410 MB/s
Random 4k Read IOPS
48,000 IOPS
Random 4k Write IOPS
85,000 IOPS
Usable Capacity (IDEMA)
256GB
NAND Components             
2Xnm Asynchronous Multi-Level Cell (MLC)
Interface
SATA III / 6Gbps (backwards compatible with SATA II / 3Gbps)
Form Factor
2.5 Inch
NAND Controller
Indilinx Everest 2
DRAM Cache
Up to 1GB
Dimensions (L x W x H)
99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3 mm
MTBF
2 million hours
Data Path Protection
ECC corrects up to 78 random bits/1KB
Data Encryption
256-bit AES-compliant, ATA Security Mode Features
Product Health Monitoring
Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) Support
Power Consumption
Idle: 1.3 W    Active: 2.5 W
Operating Temperature
0°C ~ 70°C
Ambient Temperature
0°C ~ 55°C
Storage Temperature
-45°C ~ 85°C
Shock Resistance
1500G
Serial ATA (SATA)
Fully compliant with Serial ATA International Organization: Serial ATA Revision 3.0.
Fully compliant with ATA/ATAPI-8 Standard Native Command Queuing (NCQ)
Operating System
Windows XP 32-bit /64-bit; Windows Vista 32-bit / 64-bit; Windows 7 32-bit / 64-bit; Linux;
Mac OS X
Other Performance Features
Ndurance 2.0 Technology (Reduced Write Amplification without Compression, Advanced Multi-Level ECC, Adaptive NAND Flash Management)
Service & Support
3-Year Warranty, Toll-Free Tech Support, 24 Hour Forum Support

With the release of the Agility 4 series solid state drives, OCZ leverages the Indilinx Everest 2 platform featuring SATA III 6GBs transfer speeds, as well as incorporating the latest technology when it comes to NAND flash memory to create some of the most reliable solid state drives available today.

Another new feature for the Agility 4 series is NDurance 2.0, a cutting edge management suite developed exclusively for Indilinx solid state drives. NDurance 2.0 handles multilevel ECC, adaptive NAND flash signal processing as well as the Redundant NAND Array (RNA).

Shown in this photo is the heart of the Agility 4, the IndiLinx Everest 2 controller. The Everest 2 is surrounded by eight flash memory chips on both sides of the PCB; the two smaller IC chips seen in the photo are the DRAM memory that the controller utilizes.

Here we have a block diagram for the Ndurance 2.0 technology. Built into the advanced Indilinx Everest 2 platform, Ndurance 2.0 is a sophisticated memory management suite that greatly increases the life span of NAND flash memory based solid state drives. It features multilevel ECC technologies including Redundant NAND Array functions along with adaptive NAND flash management. Ndurance 2.0 significantly lowers write amplification without the loss of performance caused by data compression

Test Setup:

 

 

Benchmarks:

Comparison Hard Drives:

The OCZ Agility 4 is clearly the best value at roughly $0.08 cents per gigabyte . Corsair's Force GT 60GB runs about $1.31 more. Even though the mechanical SATA drives are overall less expensive and offer more storage, by the time you factor in the loss in performance there is no comparison.

For this test we use custom files to measure the time it takes to copy 100MB, 500MB and 1000MB between partitions.

It was a tie between OCZ's Agility 4 256GB and Corsair's Force GT 60GB for first place in the file copy portion of testing.

This next test measures the time it takes from the moment the Windows loading screen appears until the desktop becomes available.

Windows 7 boot time on the Force GT barely edged out the Agility 4.

For second part of the test, we measured the amount of time between the moment the OS' shutdown button is clicked until the computer fully powers off.

Once again the Agility 4 overcomes the competition by six seconds.

For this test measure the amount of time it takes for Just Case 2 to load to the main menu.

SiSoftware Sandra Professional is an excellent all around benchmark capable of testing every component in your system including hard drives, memory and processors.

HD Tune measures the read and write speeds of your hard drive.

PCMark Vantage is another all-in-one benchmark. Some of the featured tests include graphics, gaming and web browsing.

PCMark 7 from Futuremark includes tests for your system's processor, memory, hard drive and many other components.

Storage benchmarks have traditionally been designed for mechanical hard drives, but AS SSD was created as a more effective way to measure solid state drives. AS SSD measures the drive's sequential, random read and write performance along with the access time. In the benchmarking queue is OCZ's Agility 4 256GB, followed by Corsair's Force GT 60GB and Seagate's Barracuda 1TB.

The ATTO disk benchmark measures the read and write performance of disk drives by using various transfer sizes and lengths.

Once again the results are shown in the following order: OCZ's Agility 4 256GB, Corsair's Force GT 60GB and Seagate's Barracuda 1TB.

The Corsair Force GT 60GB completely dominated the Agility 4 256GB in this test.

With the Agility 4 series, OCZ has introduced new features which offer an overall boost to performance, for instance the Ndurance 2.0 NAND flash management suite designed to increase the life of your SSD along with correction capabilities up to 128-bits per 1KB of data. Ndurance 2.0 also helps to eliminate the deterioration of NAND flash. The drive's low latency access times of 0.04ms reads and 0.02ms writes meanwhile help your applications or games load faster.

Overall my time spent testing the Agility 4 256GB was a real treat from the moment I installed Windows 7 onto the SSD. The Agility 4 offered quick response times as well as ample room for all of our test suites with room to spare. If you are looking to upgrade from an older Sandforce-based solid state drive, I would highly recommend you check out the Agility 4 series. It is available in several storage capacities ranging from 64GB up to 512GB, and offers the lowest cost per gigabyte compared to other solid state drives of the same size.

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