|OCZ Agility-EX SLC SSD OCZSSD2-1AGTEX60G|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 30 September 2009|
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OCZ Agility EX Conclusion
Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate. The first section is performance, which considers how effective the OCZ Agility EX performs in operations against direct competitor products. For reference, OCZ specifies that the 64GB OCZSSD2-1AGTEX60G Solid State Drive should offer a maximum 255 MBps read and 195 MBps write performance. In many of our benchmark tests, the Agility-EX SSD performed at or above this rating. The Agility EX offered its highest performance of 246/234 MBps read/write in Everest, followed by 258/193 MBps in Crystal DiskMark, then 232/205 MBps in HD-Tach, and finally ATTO Benchmark scored 261/175 MBps. It's important to note that 'clean' NAND offered vastly better performance results than those with used NAND sectors on this SLC drive. IOPS performance was extremely high in Iometer, with the Agility EX (firmware 1.31) out-producing all other SSDs tested (including the Intel X25-E Extreme). In HD Tune there was better 4K IOPS out of the Corsair X256 or OCZ Turbo, but the Agility EX prevailed by a large margin in the random IO tests.
Manufacturers have been forced to use some creative ideas to help lure consumers to their product. SSD technology already carries a premium price tag over the alternative, which is why product presentation becomes so important. OCZ takes the mainstream Agility SSD series packaging back to basics with a simple-yet-catchy green appearance, while at the same time delivering critical product information and specifications for the untrained consumer.
Solid State Drives are a lot like spark plugs: you see them just long enough to install, and then they're forgotten. OCZ keeps production costs down on the Agility EX-series SSD with a uniform black painted enclosure identical to all of their other SSD products, and uses an adhesive label for each product series with underside specifications. Because Solid State Drives are like their Hard Disk Drive counterparts in that they place function before fashion, anything above and beyond a simple metal shell is more than what's expected of the appearance. To this end, I still prefer that manufacturers utilize sealed plastic enclosures (such as the MOBI 3000) to prevent moisture or electrical shock damage; an unlikely trend to return to the industry.
Construction is probably the strongest feature credited to the entire SSD product line, and OCZ products have never been an exception. Solid State Drives are by nature immune to most abuses, but add to this a hard metal shell and you have to wonder what it would take to make this drive fail. If an OCZ Agility EX SSD Series product does happen to fail during the 3-year warranty period, end-users can contact OCZ via the company website or extensive support forums. Fortunately, there's also a toll-free telephone number for support or customer service questions (800-459-1816).
Although I would personally rate the Indilinx IDX110M00-FC chip among the best desktop SSD controllers available (price and performance are superior to the latest Intel and Samsung controllers), the 'Barefoot' product series is the most particular controller Benchmark Reviews has ever tested. A perfect example is the difference between performance benchmark results, which are only consistent if you ensure every test uses 'clean' NAND. Benchmark Reviews re-tested the collection of Indilinx-based SSDs after NAND cleaning tools such as Sanitary Erase (SE) were made available, and there was a night-and-day difference between results. While garbage collection (GC) functionality is in development for upcoming Indilinx firmware updates, there currently isn't any TRIM support available at the SSD level, which means you'll be using 'dirty' NAND and suffering sub-optimal performance even in a Windows 7 environment. There are tools like SSD Wiper which are meant to help restore peak-level performance by scheduling GC to 'clean' used NAND sectors, but this kind of tool adds the same excessive wear to NAND components that disk defragmenting poses. In the end, controllers incorporating a native TRIM function will be the solution, and OCZ will likely be the first to offer it. Unfortunately, it isn't here yet.
As of October 2009, only the 64GB (60GB advertised) capacity is available for the Agility EX series. The OCZ OCZSSD2-1AGTEX60G Solid State Drive is currently sold at NewEgg for $399. With the exception of NAND speed the OCZ Agility EX shares identical construction with the Vertex EX, which performed at or below the Agility-EX despite a rating that gives it a 5/15 MBps read and write advantage. Regardless, the Agility EX is the obvious choice over the Vertex EX when you consider price, which has the 64GB OCZSSD2-1VTXEX60G selling for $659, amounting to an unrealistic $260 expense for similar performance results. Unless SLC is a mission requirement, there are several SLC options to consider. The 32GB OCZ Turbo OCZSSD2-1VTXT30G model sells for $155, while the 64GB OCZSSD2-1VTXT60G model is listed for $249. A larger 128GB Vertex Turbo OCZSSD2-1VTXT120G lists for $439, allowing double the capacity of the Agility EX at the expense of SLC NAND.
The added expense of SLC construction is considered minimal in comparison to the added NAND lifetime it provides for mission-critical enterprise server systems. Since the Agility EX is now the most affordable SLC Solid State Drive on the market, it seems logical that corporate environments will take advantage. Nevertheless, more than a few retail consumers might also choose to pay for the added security of Single Layer Cell construction. In terms of performance and functionality, OCZ needs to hustle and offer firmware-based TRIM support, thereby solving 'dirty' NAND performance issues for the early adopters of Microsoft's Windows 7 O/S. Regardless, OCZ has brought the price of SLC SSDs down to nearly $6/GB with the Agility EX, something many MLC products have yet to do. The performance is on-par with the fastest MLC SSDs, such as the Corsair X256 and OCZ Vertex Turbo, but the Agility-EX also dramatically outperforms the ultra-premium SLC Intel X25-E Extreme. The Indilinx Barefoot controller has proven itself to be a very popular chip for SSD makers, and the OCZ Agility EX exploits the highest order of SLC performance. It may take some extra effort to maintain pristine-level NAND performance on a full-time basis until native TRIM support in enabled, but the SLC SSD market has never seen a faster portable storage product for the money. The OCZ Agility EX-series SSD is a high-performance storage product recommended for Enterprise servers and performance enthusiasts wanting the absolute best performance from their computer system.
+ Impressive 246 MBps read and 234 write bandwidth with EVEREST
- Limited to 64GB capacity
Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
Nomination: 2009 Editor's Choice Award for SLC SSD Products.
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