OCZ Agility Series SATA II 2.5" 120GB SSD

Posted by on Thursday, September 3, 2009 - 4:14am

OCZ AgilityOCZ is one of those companies who looks out for everyone. No matter if you are a hard core gamer with lots of money to buy extreme gear or a budget minded individual that has to make every dollar count, they have you in mind. With this way of thinking, OCZ have released several classes of solid state drives ranging from the Solid series to the Vertex EX. Our first review of a SSD will consist of a model from their mainstream line up: Agility. The Agility is based around a Indilinx controller backed by Elpida 64MB cache chip. These two components gives the Agility its performance numbers. What keeps the Agility a low cost alternative to other solid state drives with similar number is the inexpensive NAND modules used. But just how inexpensive is the Agility? Just how fast is the Agility? Read on and find out.

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Introduction to the OCZ Agility

There several reasons why many of us would decide to get a solid state drive over a standard magnetic one. SSD's have no moving parts. This means the chances are the SSD would survive the test of time. With a SSD, you do not have to worry about disk developing bad sectors nor laser arms going bad. So the reliability factor favors the SSD. Matter of fact, price is the major reason the entire industry hasn't already switched over to them.

If you are looking for a more technical reason for electing to get a SSD, I would say it begins with the lightning fast data access. Because data is stored on NAND memory and not a disk, the retrieval of data is almost instantaneous. This is due to the NAND modules being linked in parallel to add up to ultra fast access and really respectable write times.

There are also reasons why many of us will have to wait to go the route of the SSD. The main reason would be the price in which you would have to fork out. Visiting Newegg to do a quick look up of solid state drives reveals for $73 you can have a 16GB SATA SSD. This is far more expensive that most SATA hard drives on the site. For $75 you can have yourself a 640 HDD. For an enthusiast who wants to go fast them you have to pay for it.

OCZ is one of those companies who looks out for everyone. No matter if you are a hard core gamer with lots of money to buy extreme gear or a budget minded individual that has to make every dollar count, they have you in mind. With this way of thinking, OCZ have released several classes of solid state drives ranging from the Solid series to the Vertex EX. Our first review of a SSD will consist of a model from their mainstream line up: Agility. The Agility is based around a Indilinx controller backed by Elpida 64MB cache chip. These two components gives the Agility its performance numbers. What keeps the Agility a low cost alternative to other solid state drives with similar number is the inexpensive NAND modules used. But just how inexpensive is the Agility? Just how fast is the Agility? Read on and find out.

A word from OCZ about the Agility

Offering your system the incredible performance of flash-based storage, the OCZ Agility Series delivers the performance and reliability of SSDs at less price per gigabyte than other high speed offerings currently on the market. The OCZ Agility Series is the result of all the latest breakthroughs in SSD technology, including new architecture and controller design, blazing read/write speeds, and 64MB of onboard cache.

Perfect for notebooks and desktops alike, the Agility Series is ideal for energy-efficient mobile computing to extend battery life, increase the speed of access time, and provide a durable alternative to conventional hard disc drives with superior shock resistance. High capacities and low power consuming NAND flash technology provide the necessary performance and battery life boosts generated by the proliferation of mobile gaming and new ultra-thin laptops.

The OCZ Agility drives feature a durable yet lightweight alloy housing, and because OCZ SSDs have no moving parts, the drives are more rugged than traditional hard drives. Designed for ultimate reliability, Agility Series SSDs have an excellent 1.5 million hour mean time before failure (MTBF) ensuring peace of mind over the long term. All Agility Series SSD drives come backed a two year warranty and OCZ’s legendary service and support.


 

Specifications

 
  Available in 30GB (32), 60GB (64), 120GB (128) capacities*       
  64MB Onboard Cache       
  Seek Time: <.1ms       
  Slim 2.5" Design       
  99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm       
  Lightweight 77g       
  Operating Temp: 0C ~ 70C       
  Storage Temp: -45C ~ +85C       
  Low Power Consumption: 2W in operation, .5W in stand by       
  Shock Resistant 1500G       
  RAID Support       
  MTBF 1.5 million hours    

Timings

  Read: Up to 230 MB/s       
  Write: Up to 135 MB/s       
  Sustained Write: Up to 80 MB/S

Closer look

If you have never seen or held a SSD before, you will be surprised just how small the drive is. Nothing like the standard mechanical hard drive, but more along the size of a standard 9.5mm laptop drive. After a second of thinking about it, what other size could they be as they are used in laptops as well. Unlike the typical laptop drive, the SSD is much lighter in weight and has no moving parts.

The Agility comes in three different storage capacities: 30GB, 60GB and a 120GB. Each of the units have their own read/write times. The 120GB model we will be taking a look at today is rated at 230MB/s read and 135MB/s write which are both maximums. We will wait until the testing section of the review to see if we reach these numbers and see just what the sustained numbers are.

Looking at the drive from the top, we see a black plastic shell decked out with a green and white sticker that will states the model name. We see that the SSD products from OCZ do not have the flash that their memory possess.

The bottom of the drive has an aluminum plate that protects all the dedicate internals of the Agility. There isn't too much heat dissipation needed, so this the why there is lack of metal on such a drive. Covering the aluminum plate is a white sticker with product detail. The label states the product name as well as the size of the drive. The rest of the data on the sticker is not for internal usage.

You can find SSD with a couple of different interfaces: PATA, PCIeand SATA. A larger majority of the SSD on the market will be of the SATA type and is just what the Agility uses as an interface.


 

Testing Methodology

The testing of a SSD is not at complex as say ram or a motherboard. Because this is new technology there are not many benchmark suites out there to test them in the way they are suppose 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 of these jobs are. Microsoft's Windows Vista and Seven are the ideal solutions for such a drive, but we decided to go with the latter of the two as Seven is the future. The current release candidate of the product is about as close to the actually release as it gets, so we decided to load our test bench with it.

Testing Hardware:

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X58
Processor: Intel Core i7 920
Ram:OCZ Blade DDR3 PC12800 6GB Tri-Channel
Video Card: XFX HD 4770
HDD: Seagate 7200.11
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 1000
Case: Open Air
Cooling: Coolermaster 212 Plus
OS: Windows 7 RC
Competition:
Western Digital VeclioRapter 150GB

Testing of the OCZ Agility

Sisoftware Sandra 15.12

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.

When it came down to using Sandra, we saw numbers that were better than what OCZ advertises. At the same time, we saw it clearly outperformed the WD Raptor.

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.

Not only did we see more the same from HD Tune but we saw how much less CPU the SSD used to accomplish it's task.


 

CrystalDiskMark 2.7.4

CrystalDiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds.

ATTO


 

Conclusion

OCZ is beginning the SSD movement, just like they did with memory, by dominating it. We saw OCZ release several series of ram to fit the needs of every individual leaving the guess work to a minimum. The same approach is being seen in the SSD series as well. If you venture over to the OCZ website, you will see many lines of SSD, each with their now characteristics and price point.

The Agility series is right in the middle of the SSD line up. It has performance numbers in line with their high end Vertex, but with pricing all its own. How could they accomplish this? Well it is simple. They implemented the aid of the Indilinx controller and inexpensive NAND modules. Throw in 64MB of cache, you have the making of a real competitor. Speaking of competition, how many companies out there have solid state drives that are rated at 230MB/135MB read and write respectively? A few to be honest. Now I ask you, " how many with these number be had for about $300 or so?" None. This why the Agility is a great buy.

OCZ's Agility is an amazing product. I was so impressed by the numbers, size and low energy levels that I replaced my mechnical hard drive; a Western Digital VelcioRaptor with this unit. We ran test after test to prove that regular hard drive can not touch a solid state drive but the true test comes in the form of actual usage. We saw a decrease in boot up times, applications opened faster and we saw a quicker jump between levels on video games. This are all the things a regular Joe uses a computer for. Now think about what this could do from a professional, video editor, music maker or animator.

There is a saying that speed kills. And that is what the SSD is going to do to mechanical drives.....kill them. Yet, we won't see the regular hard drive be put to rest until the prices drop even more, which will be some time from now. But if you have to the extra funds to purchase a SSD, it will be well worth it. And the OCZ Agility should be one of the first to considered.

Highly recommended

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