OCZ Agility 3 120GB Solid State Drive

Posted by on Friday, July 22, 2011 - 6:55pm

OCZ Agility 3Now that SATA III has replaced the aging SATA II bus by becoming available on chipsets from both AMD (2010) and Intel (2011), OCZ have released updates to their SSD lines in order to take advantage of this new 6Gb/s interface. Beginning with the new Solid 3 series (value) and ending with the Vertex 3 (max performance). For those looking for a solution more in the middle we find the Agility 3, being had for a fair price but still packing a wallop in the performance department.. The Agility 3 line is available in three sizes: 60GB, 120GB and 240GB. Today's 120GB sample should continue to impress us just as previous OCZ products have, so lets get on with the show. 

Introduction to the OCZ Agility 3 120GB Solid State Drive

OCZ definitely is no stranger to the PC industry. They were a long time leader in both the affordable and enthusiast desktop memory manufacturing business. OCZ have ventured past RAM (discontinued) and decided to concentrate more on solid state drive, flash drive and power supplies. When it comes to solid state drives, OCZ have made it a point to be the larger and most dominating company in the industry. We have reviewed a few of their drives here on Pro-Clocker and have been quite happy with the product in the past, so we are expecting good things to come from this concentrated devotion to their storage lines.

Now that SATA III has replaced the aging SATA II bus by becoming available on chipsets from both AMD (2010) and Intel (2011), OCZ have released updates to their SSD lines in order to take advantage of this new 6Gb/s interface. Beginning with the new Solid 3 series (value) and ending with the Vertex 3 (max performance). For those looking for a solution more in the middle we find the Agility 3, being had for a fair price but still packing a wallop in the performance department.. The Agility 3 line is available in three sizes: 60GB, 120GB and 240GB. Today's 120GB sample should continue to impress us just as previous OCZ products have, so lets get on with the show. 

OCZ’s take on the Agility 3

OCZ Agility 3 SATA III Solid State Drives are designed and built to provide an exceptional balance of performance and value. The Agility 3 Series implements the cutting-edge SATA 6Gbps interface to deliver excellent sequential and random data transfer rates, significantly improving your computing experience over hard drives.

In addition to enhanced performance, an Agility 3 upgrade promotes cooler, quieter, and more energy efficient conditions compared to traditional mechanical hard drives. With no moving parts, SSDs provide peace of mind with their superior durability and reliability. Unique and innovative, Agility 3 SSDs deliver a one-of-a-kind storage solution.


Specifications

  • Available in 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB Capacities
  • MLC NAND Flash
  • Interface: SATA 6Gbps / Backwards Compatible 3Gbps
  • Controller: SandForce® 2281
  • Native TRIM support
  • Seek Time: .1ms
  • Slim 2.5" Design
  • 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm
  • Lightweight: 77g
  • Operating Temp: 0°C ~ 70°C
  • Ambient Temp: 0°C ~ 55°C
  • Storage Temp: -45°C ~ 85°C
  • Low Power Consumption: 2.7W Active, 1.5W Idle
  • Shock Resistant up to 1500G
  • RAID Support
  • Compatible with Windows 7, Vista, XP 32-bit/64-bit, Mac OSX, Linux
  • MTBF: 2 million hours
  • 3-Year Warranty

Features

  • 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

Closer look

If you have ever seen a solid state drive up close then you know there isn’t really much to see from the outside; the Agility 3 follows suit. With many SSD drive manufacturers have a tendency to have the drive’s performance to do the talking. In the case of the Agility 3, OCZ that’s that the max read and writes of the drive is 525MB/s and 500MB/s respectfully. But the main kicker here would be the 85,000 IOPS maximum 4KB writes (240GB model). The Agility 3 also supports TRIM, which is a feature of Windows 7 with proper system configuration, in effort to keep the drive optimized for sustained peak performance.

Here we have a few shots of the Agility 3 from the top of the drive which is made of plastic. Matte black in color the drive is not bad looking to the eye. The product label displays the OCZ logo, website URL and product model.

The bottom of the unit has another product label which gives details on the handling of the drive, official product name, serial number and a warranty void sticker covering one of the screws that keeps the shell intact.

Voiding the warranty we removed the sticker to get a glance at the inside of the drive and see what makes it tick. The first thing one would notice would be the SandForce SF-2281V which powers the unit and allows it to take advantage of the SATA III protocol. Researching the chip on SandForce’s website the controller is rated at 500/500MB/s read and write.

The memory used on the Agility 3 comes from Micron and have 29F64G08CBAAA printed on them. After more research we find that each module is 8GB and with there being sixteen modules total gets us 128GB (total storage capacity) and 112GB usable (formatted capacity). To get the final "120GB" advertised capacity, 8GB is set aside for the SandForce controllers ECC and also for any cells damaged during operation by normal wear-and-tear [over-provisioning]. The Micron NAND utilized are built on a 25nm manufacturing process and are MLC flavored.


Testing Methodology

The testing of a SSD is not as complex as say, RAM or a motherboard, but due to this technology still being relatively new there are not many benchmark suites out there to test them in the way they are intended to be used. However, we are taking the most popular of the benchmark applications available to get you some idea of how fast the read and writes jobs are performed. Microsoft's Windows Vista and Seven are both well suited to run on an SSD but Seven is the future and has TRIM support, making it the ideal solution. So that is what we have loaded onto our test bench. 

Testing Hardware

Motherboard: ASUS P67
CPU : Intel Core i5 2500K
Ram: Patriot Sector 5 1333 4GB Dual Channel (9-9-9-24)
Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 5870
HDD: Hitachi 1TB
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 850 (Sponsored by Thermaltake)
Case: Open air
Cooling: Xigmatek Aegir SD128264
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit
Thermal compound: Arctic Silver 5


Results

HD Tune Pro 3.50
HD Tune Pro is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as: write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

CrystalDiskMark 3.0
CrystalDiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds. (Please note that the reason behind the "low" write speed is based on two things: First is the SandForce controllers using a writing technique that compresses the data, achieving higher write performance, and the second is CystalDiskMark benchmarks with already compressed data. These are essentially write speeds that one could expect with the transfer of large compressed archives or a compressed ISO.)


AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50
FinalWire Ltd. today announced the immediate availability of AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50 software, a streamlined diagnostic and benchmarking tool for home users; and the immediate availability of AIDA64 Business Edition 1.50 software, an essential network management solution for small and medium scale enterprises.
The new AIDA64 update implements AVX-optimized benchmarks for the upcoming Intel Sandy Bridge processors, adds a brand new video encoding benchmark, and supports the latest AMD and nVIDIA graphics processors.

AS SSD
The synthetic tests to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are carried out without using the operating system caches. In Seq-test measures the program how long it takes to read a full 1 GB of file to write respectively. In the 4K test the read and write performance for random 4K blocks is determined. The 4K-64-THRD-test corresponds to the 4K procedure except that here distributes the read and write operations on 64 threads. This test should be SSDs with Native Command Queuing (NCQ) differences between the IDE operation mode where NCQ is not supported, and represent the AHCI mode. The additional compression test can measure the performance of the SSD as a function of compressibility of the data. This is especially the controllers that are used to increase the performance and life of the cell compression is important.

Sisoftware Sandra
We are pleased to announce the launch of SiSoftware Sandra 2011, the latest version of our award-winning utility, which includes remote analysis, benchmarking and diagnostic features for PCs, servers, mobile devices and networks. A year ago, SiSoftware released Sandra 2010 with full support for Windows 7; in the 18 months since the launch of Windows 7, more than ever before we have seen the line blur between PC and entertainment hubs. Two months ago we released a Blu-Ray benchmark, now we have added a brand-new Media Transcoding benchmark using the new Media Foundation of Windows 7. We have also added yet another benchmark (GP Cryptography) which allows direct comparison of CPU performance (using crypto instruction sets) and GPGPU/GPCPU/GPAPU performance.


Red = Tested Results


Conclusion

The OCZ Agility 3 is a great replacement for the enthusiast looking to take their systems to the next level. Boasting incredible performance numbers with the help from the SandForce SF-2281 controller, we can not find a reason to continue using a mechanical hard drive as a O/S or application drive. With the help of the SATA III interface we see the Agility 3 constantly seeing 500MB/s transfer rates according to the benchmark applications we ran.

If you must know, and we are sure you do, the Agility 3 series does support TRIM at all three sizes to make sure your performance stays up there even with a 'dirty' drive. To top it all off they are also back by a three year warranty. A quick look at Google shopping we see the pricing ranging around the $200 mark for the Agility 3 120GB model we tested, with 60GB falling in around $100 and 240GB around $370.

 

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