Author: Pier-Luc Gendreau
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/ocz_agility_60gb/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
As you might recall, a few months ago we looked at the world's first SATA 6 Gbps hard drive from Seagate, and were left with mixed feelings. The 2TB behemoth was fast, but not exactly impressive, considering the price tag. For that kind of money, we noted a solid state drive was a much better option as far as performance goes, and we're going to address that today with actual performance results.
OCZ sent us their 60GB Agility SSD, built around the famous Indilinx controller and MLC flash. The drive supports the TRIM command, currently only available in Windows 7, and is also available in 30GB, 120GB and 250GB capacities. Promising 230 MB/s read and 135 MB/s write speeds, it is much faster than any hard drive on the market. Of course, nothing is free and this massive performance comes at the cost of capacity. In fact, for the same price, you can get a 2TB hard drive which represents over 30 times more storage.
As you are most likely aware, solid state storage is fast, but is it quick enough to justify the premium? Read on to find out!
The OCZ Agility comes in a centimeter thin, light box about as long as a standard hard drive and just an inch or so wider. Fortunately, the packaging is fairly rigid and solid state drives are, by nature, more forgiving to impacts. ON the front side, OCZ showcases some of the merits of SSD's including fast access times and low power consumption. On the opposite side, you'll find the drive's specifications including the advertised read and write performance of 230 and 135 MB/s, respectively.
You'll also find the rather impressive, but hard to prove, 1.5 million hours mean time before failure, or MTBF for short. This is on par with mechanical drives so OCZ is apparently confident their drives are highly reliable and 3 year warranty is on par with Seagate's and Western Digital's mid-range drives.
The SSD itself sits inside an anti-static bag and is tightly held into place surrounded by some sort of thick, rigid foam.
The drive's casing is made out of an aluminum alloy, tastefully decorated on the front with the model's name clearly written. On the back side, you'll find some information including the drive's rated power consumption, which stands at 1.75. For comparison, Seagate's 2TB Barracude XT draws 9.84W and my netbook's 80GB drive is rated at 2.43W. The Agility is powered by standard SATA 3 Gbps connectors so there's nothing special about installing it.
To test OCZ's Agility, I will be using ASUS' P7P55D Premium motherboard paired with an Intel Core i7-870 and 4GB of memory running at 1600 MHz. The same platform will be used for upcoming storage reviews as well.
Intel Core i7 870 "Lynnfield" (Socket LGA1156)
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Installing an operating system is heavily dependent on hard drive performance so I timed how long each drive took to decompress and copy files off the disc as well as install Windows. Once it was up and running, I calculated how long it took to boot and shutdown the computer.
Using WinRAR, I will compress our custom 100MB, 500MB and 1000MB files using the best compression setting in the ZIP format and time how long it takes the system to complete the task. At the same, I will be performing a full system scan with Microsoft Security Essentials. Both tests are fairly heavy on the hard drive and are a good indicative of actual performance.
The charts pretty much speak for themselves, the OCZ Agility is all round faster than even the fastest mechanical hard drive and by a significant margin. Everything from installation to boot and shutdown times was noticeably quicker and our WinRAR test also showed an excellent performance improvement.
SiSoftware Sandra 2009
Sandra, by SiSoftware, is a tool capable of benchmarking about every component found inside a computer. In this case, we are using the physical disk tool, which measures read and write performance of a given drive.
HD Tune is an application for benchmarking hard drives. Beside the drive itself, the speed they can reach also depends on the chipset's performance.
The Agility once again comes out on top on both of these synthetic benchmarks, but HD Tune is more geared toward regular hard drives.
Futuremark PCMark Vantage
PCMark is a benchmarking suite from FutureMark, who also make the renown 3DMark. It includes many tests to calculate overall system performance including hard drive performance. The hard drive suite performs tasks such as scanning for viruses, streaming, recording and more. It is a fairly good indicative of general real-world performance.
While most other storage benchmarks are designed with mechanical hard drives in mind, AS SSD, developed by Alex Schepeljanski, is built specifically for solid state drives. The application measure sequential and random read and write performance as well as access time.
The storage specific test in Vantage has a strong bias toward SSD's, with OCZ's Agility scoring about three time as much as the hard drives. As for AS SSD, we don't have any other comparison drives yet, but it's still possible to draw some conclusions. First of all, sequential reads and writes are good, although they don't quite live up to the drive's specifications. The most important figure, however, are the small, random reads and writes since that's a huge part of a normal usage scenario and the Agility does well in this regard. The sub-millisecond access times are also miles better than a run of the mill hard drive.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
OCZ rates their SSD's using this particular benchmark and it turns out that, using the v1.4 firmware, the Agility's write speeds are just advertised, hovering above 130 MB/s for files 16MB and larger. Read performance comes slightly short of its rated speed, topping out at 218 MB/s. However, simply upgrading the firmware to v1.5 provides a significant improvement on write speeds, reaching close to 165 MB/s. If you own one of OCZ's SSD's, make sure you check out their forums to get the latest version.
Solid state drives are built with high performance in mind and OCZ's Agility certainly delivers the goods. Not only does it turn in some great numbers in our synthetic benchmarks, although not quite as good as the drive's specifications suggest, actual, real-world performance is day and night when put head to head against a mechanical hard drive.
Everything from installing Windows and software in general was noticeably quicker, software from the web browser to heavier applications launch significantly faster. Hard drives tend to slow down and eventually grind to a halt under stress, but it simply never happened with the Agility.
The drive does have a weakness though and that it storage space. Whereas Seagate's latest high-end hard drive sports a whooping 2TB, this solid state drive clocks in at a meager 60GB. However, OCZ really markets these as an operating system drive and to store a few of your key applications where storage speed really matters. A bare Windows 7 x64 Ultimate install with all the latest updates applied leaves you with about 40GB, which leaves enough space for a couple browsers, Photoshop, development apps and even a game or two.
A few other advantages SSDs have is the fact that they have no moving part and thus are completely silent. In a desktop, it's often not a huge plus, but I did notice it immediately when I installed the Agility in my netbook, an ASUS Eee 1000H. Where the stock Seagate drive used to scratch and grind for what seemed like forever, the SSD just got the work done without whining about it. Even though I haven't run any sort of scientific battery life measurements, it does seem to last a tad longer, breaking in at slightly over four hours. I also noticed that, unlike with my previous hard drive, the fan barely ever fired up so power draw definitely took a step, or two, downwards.
Which of these two should you choose? Well, why not get one of each! In fact, OCZ is clear about that -- SSD's are meant to be used as boot drives and should be paired with a high capacity HDD to cover your ever growing storage needs. At $200 for a mere 60GB, they're obviously not in the same realm as HDD's as far as price-per-gigabyte goes, but the Agility is also clearly faster than any of them.
With the Agility, OCZ has the most affordable SSD built around the Indilinx controller, which nets you the all important TRIM command under Windows 7, and the currently available $30 mail-in-rebate only sweetens the deal. Sure, it's not the ridiculously cheap storage HDDs offer, but I must admit that after having used OCZ'S Agility for a couple weeks, I definitely feel the difference when I go back to a mechanical drive. Is the Agility worth the investment? Without any hesitation -- yes!
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