Review Index:
Feedback

OCZ Technology Agility 3 SandForce 240GB SATA 6G SSD Review

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology
Tagged: ssd, sata, sandforce, ocz, 6Gb

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction

Just over a month ago, OCZ released the Vertex 3, an immediate follow-up to the Vertex 3 Pro. At the time they promised an even cheaper solution at some point down the line. We've now seen that come to pass. Following the same convention as with the last series, the lower cost solution will be called the Agility 3. This is meant to be a mid-grade performance drive, as there is to also be a 'Solid 3' model on the horizon, but for today we'll focus on the new Agility.

Specifications

60GB Max Performance*

  • Max Read: up to 525MB/s
  • Max Write: up to 475MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB: 50,000 IOPS
  • Maximum 4K Random Write: 80,000 IOPS

120GB Max Performance*

  • Max Read: up to 525MB/s
  • Max Write: up to 500MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB: 50,000 IOPS
  • Maximum 4K Random Write: 85,000 IOPS

240GB Max Performance*

  • Max Read: up to 525MB/s
  • Max Write: up to 500MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB: 45,000 IOPS
  • Maximum 4K Random Write: 85,000 IOPS

    *Max performance achieved using Native SATA 6Gbps chipset. Please refer to product sheet for additional performance metrics.

Their * note is very important. You won't be able to hit the best possible performance marks without using these newest SATA 6Gb/sec drives in conjunction with native SATA 6Gb/sec storage controllers. There are just too many bottlenecks and other irregularities seen with the aftermarket / add-on solutions at this time, and they just can't stack up against a good native chipset implementation.

Packaging

View Full Size

The Agility comes packaged in the now standard simplistic packaging typically offered with OCZ units. They've even included the same "My SSD is faster than your HDD" sticker seen with the Vertex 3, though I think a sticker like that ought to be "My SSD is faster than your SSD", but hey, that's just me.

What makes it cheaper?

That last pic up there points out the primary reason for the reduced cost of the Agility 3. While the Vertex 3 uses the newest flash memory in ONFi 2.0 Synchronous data transfer mode (133 Mb/sec), the Agility 3 mates the same controller to ONFi 1.0 flash utilizing the Asynchronous (50Mb/sec) data transfer mode. The slower speed is not that big of a deal in practice, since the SandForce talks to 4 banks of flash, pairing them up to create 8 virtual channels. Combine that with the on-the-fly encryption and compression algorithm of the SF controller, and there should be no problem saturating SATA 6Gb/sec just like the Vertex 3 is capable of.

View Full Size

source: IDF 2010 flash memory presentation

To put it simply, regardless of die shrinks and other factors, the higher 'grade' of ONFi a flash chip supports, the more it costs. Think of it as similar to CPU 'binning', where they are all essentially the same die, but some perform better / faster than others, so they are considered a higher grade and sold accordingly. In this case, the Agility 3 uses flash memory is still fully capable, but just not at the same speed as that used in the Vertex 3.

June 1, 2011 | 03:04 AM - Posted by ThorAxe

I tested a Vertex 2 120GB against an Agility 3 120GB on an X58 (3Gb) and found them to be very close in most things with the Vertex having a slight advantage except for Random Read/Write 4KB (QD=1) and burst speeds.

I realize that the Agility 3 is designed for 6Gb so my test is not entirely fair.

June 23, 2011 | 09:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

dude, they both peak at 275mb/s which is max speed for sata 3gbps...its not exactly a wonder why u cant see much of a difference when you put a 550mb drive on a 275mb line and compare it with a 275mb drive

June 8, 2011 | 05:05 AM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Allyn: another good review. I'm just adding this Comment to remind you about our private correspondence, in which we discussed a test to determine if TRIM works on OS software RAIDs when the RAID members are formatted as "dynamic" partitions.

Cheers and ... thanks for the great reviews!

MRFS

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.