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Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3
Closer Look: OCZ Agility 3 SSD
SandForce SF-2281 SSD Controller
Features and Specifications
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
PCMark Vantage HDD Tests
OCZ Agility 3 SSD Conclusion

SSD Testing Methodology

Solid State Drives have traveled a long winding course to finally get where they are today. Up to this point in technology, there have been several key differences separating Solid State Drives from magnetic rotational Hard Disk Drives. While the DRAM-based buffer size on desktop HDDs has recently reached 64 MB and is ever-increasing, there is still a hefty delay in the initial response time. This is one key area in which flash-based Solid State Drives continually dominates because they lack moving parts to "get up to speed".

However the benefits inherent to SSDs have traditionally fallen off once the throughput begins, even though data reads or writes are executed at a high constant rate whereas the HDD tapers off in performance. This makes the average transaction speed of a SSD comparable to the data burst rate mentioned in HDD tests, albeit usually lower than the HDD's speed.

Comparing a Solid State Disk to a standard Hard Disk Drives is always relative; even if you're comparing the fastest rotational spindle speeds. One is going to be many times faster in response (SSDs), while the other is usually going to have higher throughput bandwidth (HDDs). Additionally, there are certain factors which can affect the results of a test which we do our best to avoid.

SSD Testing Disclaimer

Early on in our SSD coverage, Benchmark Reviews published an article which detailed Solid State Drive Benchmark Performance Testing. The research and discussion that went into producing that article changed the way we now test SSD products. Our previous perceptions of this technology were lost on one particular difference: the wear leveling algorithm that makes data a moving target. Without conclusive linear bandwidth testing or some other method of total-capacity testing, our previous performance results were rough estimates at best.

Our test results were obtained after each SSD had been prepared using DISKPART or Sanitary Erase tools. As a word of caution, applications such as these offer immediate but temporary restoration of original 'pristine' performance levels. In our tests, we discovered that the maximum performance results (charted) would decay as subsequent tests were performed. SSDs attached to TRIM enabled Operating Systems will benefit from continuously refreshed performance, whereas older O/S's will require a garbage collection (GC) tool to avoid 'dirty NAND' performance degradation.

It's critically important to understand that no software for the Microsoft Windows platform can accurately measure SSD performance in a comparable fashion. Synthetic benchmark tools such as HD Tach and PCMark are helpful indicators, but should not be considered the ultimate determining factor. That factor should be measured in actual user experience of real-world applications. Benchmark Reviews includes both bandwidth benchmarks and application speed tests to present a conclusive measurement of product performance.

Test System

  • Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 EVO (Intel P67 Sandy Bridge Platform, B3 Stepping)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4 GHz Quad-Core CPU
  • System Memory: 4GB Dual-Channel DDR3 1600MHz CL6-6-6-18
  • SATA 6Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 10.1.0.1008
  • SATA 3Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 10.1.0.1008
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-Bit with Service Pack 1

Storage Hardware Tested

The following storage hardware has been used in our benchmark performance testing, and may be included in portions of this article:

Test Tools

  • AS SSD Benchmark 1.6.4067.34354: Multi-purpose speed and operational performance test
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46: Spot-tests static file size chunks for basic I/O bandwidth
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1a by Crystal Dew World: Sequential speed benchmark spot-tests various file size chunks
  • Iometer 1.1.0 (built 08-Nov-2010) by Intel Corporation: Tests IOPS performance and I/O response time
  • Lavalys EVEREST Ultimate Edition 5.50: Disk Benchmark component tests linear read and write bandwidth speeds
  • Futuremark PCMark Vantage 1.02: HDD Benchmark Suite tests real-world drive performance

Test Results Disclaimer

This article utilizes benchmark software tools to produce operational IOPS performance and bandwidth speed results. Each test was conducted in a specific fashion, and repeated for all products. These test results are not comparable to any other benchmark application, neither on this website or another, regardless of similar IOPS or MB/s terminology in the scores. The test results in this project are only intended to be compared to the other test results conducted in identical fashion for this article.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3Robert17 2011-06-22 14:12
Good review Olin.
I note in your rating under "cons" that you say "some manufacturers offer 5 yr warranty"; in the section for specifications OCZ lists "5 yr consumer life cycle". Is there something I don't understand? Is there or is there not a 5 yr warranty?
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# Only 3-Year WarrantyOlin Coles 2011-06-22 14:18
ocztechnology.com/ocz-agility-3-sata-iii-2-5-ssd.html
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# Fix the imagecubebomb 2011-06-23 11:16
The title and the image are different

#i.imgur.com/2qaBU.png
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# RE: Fix the imageOlin Coles 2011-06-23 11:19
Sure enough, they are. I'll fix that right now.
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# conssadegh 2011-07-27 09:45
why dont you mention to the weak firmware & frequently hang & freeze of this bad new ssd & just advertising this!!!!!!!!!!
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# RE: consOlin Coles 2011-07-27 09:53
Did my benchmark result give you the impression that this SSD had weak firmware? Did I ever mention freezing or crashing?

I can't just make things up out of thin air; I only report what I experience first-hand.
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# RE: RE: consReza 2011-08-03 11:20
I agree with @cons!
I had a Corsair Force 3 series (120Gig) that uses this controller and for one week i tested this and re-installed windows thinking it was a driver problem or mobo or something else. I realized it was the Disk.
It didnt last more then 1-2 day or sometimes 1h before Windows froze. Also the installation refused to create the System partition on it for some reason when i had a second disk connected.
so yes this controller is very bad and i recommend people staying away from it until its confirmed its fixed.

I now use an Intel 510. It worked right away. System partition no problem, stability = rock solid.

You can find more info about my nightmare and what i tested here:
##tomshardware.co.uk/forum/294888-12-corsair-system-freeze#t2002139

Tomshardware (@jaquith) was extremely helpful and gave lots of useful tips on the matter but sadly this is a hardware issue rather then software.
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# Makes Me CryGrrr Power 2011-08-01 23:09
Loved the speed and convenience of my Agility 3.... until it crashed, and wouldn't be detected on boot. A cold power-out reboot fixed this, but this happened at least once every 24 hours.
I sent it back. Within 48 hours of my second one, the same thing. OCZ recommended upgrading the firmware. Tried it. Wouldn't work. They recommended another whole bunch of steps, but frankly, I'd just like to buy something and have it work. I already built my own system, I don't want to spend hours or days messing with this stuff.
Tried system with a different drive, worked fine. Ran my SSD in a friend's system- same result. Sent it back to my supplier.
Received a replacement. Installed it on Sunday, crashed last night. I will never buy an OCZ product again.. sorry guys.. :(
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# RE: Makes Me CryOlin Coles 2011-08-02 08:00
Thank you for reporting your experiences with this product!
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# RE: Makes Me CryReza 2011-08-03 11:21
Read what i said above and

##tomshardware.co.uk/forum/294888-12-corsair-system-freeze#t2002139

The problem is the Disk and not your pc sadly :(
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# RE: OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3David Ramsey 2011-08-02 08:05
Gee, mine's working great. So far.
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# Machine dependent freezing....Neil 2011-09-09 01:08
Installed Ubuntu on a 60gb OCZ agility ssd installed in a Compaq mini cq10 netbook, then transferred the drive to an Acer Aspire L350. Worked fine for a day but had one or two unexpected reboots, not specifically related to playing a movie that I noticed. I don't recall if a video had been running at the time, but I was just highlighting files to copy from an external WD Passport drive at the time it first rebooted. Seemed to work excellent for several hours after that, without any other signs of problems.


Put the ssd into my netbook. Worked fine for the entire duration of visiting a friend and copying about 30 gb of files to it. Put the ssd into my Acer .... Worked fine for a few minutes, but crashed about thirty seconds to a minute into watching a video. Reboots, then same again each time. Seems to work fine until I start watching a movie. Tested whether it was just that video that caused the reboot, but it wasn't the case. Other videos did the same. So I installed a different video player. I still hung after about thirty seconds or so with a different player. Took it out of the Acer and connected it to a sata to usb adapter, with external power source..... Worked long enough to copy off the movies to the other drive. Still seems to be working as an external drive, and for the netbook, but the real # is that I bought it specifically for the acer....


I think I'm going to use it where it seems to want to work properly, namely in the netbook, and start pricing an Intel 510. I've seen other similar good reviews of the 510 to what Reza mentioned above, but I didn't bother to look into it before taking the ssd leap of faith with OCZ. I was hoping the bad press OCZ has been getting was just a vocal minority. I might be joining them.....


Something about the Ubuntu installation just doesn't like the ssd running in my Acer, but has no problems with the netbook. Next thing to try would be to reinstall with the drive in the acer, but a live usb of Ubuntu won't boot on the acer, and I don't have a cd drive at the moment, nor an install disk.

I'm going to have to get an external CD drive, and a burnt copy of Ubuntu Live before I can try that.....
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# Machine dependent freezing....Neil 2011-09-09 01:34
Ignore, or delete that last comment....

The acer just rebooted while playing 30 seconds of a video from a regular hdd. Different copy of Ubuntu, different drive... leaves only the Acer itself to blame.

Guess that I'm not going to be shopping for an Intel 510 until after I get a new machine.....

The process of elimination solved that mystery. The ssd is still working fine.

You'd think that would be good news....
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# RE: OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3David 2011-10-14 09:53
I have an Agility 3 60GB. I've had it in my acer slim desktop for the past 12 hours and I've not had a problem. I'm currently running Windows 8 Developer's Preview build 8102 (official pre beta release) I'm pretty happy with the performance of even faster booting due to the OS and the SSD. I'll eventually get around to installing win 7.
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# RE: OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3Howard 2012-02-13 02:54
Just pulled the trigger on buying the 120GB version of this drive. I was waiting to get my first SSD when the price went to $1.00 per MB. After reading the thorough review, (thanks Colin) and the posted feedback, I hope I'll be one of the satisfied ones. I will be doing a fresh, Windows 7, install on older hardware and will check and update the firmware immediately. I had read something on another site about the SATA driver on the motherboard and plan to get the latest BIOS and drivers as well. Thanks for the review and feedback.
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# RE: RE: OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3Howard 2012-02-13 02:58
Sorry, Olin, for the misspelling of your name!
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# RE: RE: RE: OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3Olin Coles 2012-02-13 07:24
It happens a lot, Howard... I curse my parents. OCZ recently published a firmware update, so it could be the last update we see for this drive for quite a while (which is a good thing). I really think you'll enjoy the SSD!
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3Howard 2012-02-13 09:07
Olin,
Thanks for the reply! I am really looking forward to the drive. I have a question, if you don't mind. I am currently running XP and am planning to install the new SSD to my systemas a second drive, temporarily, to perform the firmware update before installing Windows 7 on it. From what I read on the OCZ website it states that you can't perform the update running XP. I created an Ubuntu Linux CD and tried it out. When I downloaded the Linux firmware update instructions it looks like it is not very user friendly, (no GUI,) and may be beyond my comfort level. As a firmware update is not supposed to lose data, should I install Windows 7 on the SSD first and then upgrade the firmware? Any downside that you can think of? Thanks again for your great review of the drive and any assistance you can provide.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3Olin Coles 2012-02-13 09:16
As much as I love and miss Windows XP, I admit that it's not the best fit for a SSD. I highly suggest Windows 7, if not for the added TRIM garbage collection and improved AHCI support, at least have it for DirectX 11 graphics support in games. As for the firmware update, the Linux version is actually pretty easy if you follow the instructions. Please visit the OCZ forum for more details and firmware update guides.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: OCZ Agility 3 SSD AGT3-25SAT3Howard 2012-02-13 09:23
I don't plan to use the SSD on XP, only to upgrade the firmware and then load 7. If it's important to upgrade the firmware before loading 7, I will follow your advice and try to muddle through the Linux steps and see what happens. I had read about trim, etc, and know that it is not supported in XP. Defrag turned off as well! Thanks again!
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# Easier if SSD is not the boot driveBruce Bruce 2012-02-13 09:22
Are you hooking the OCZ Agility up as a secondary drive in a running system? I've had the best luck doing it that way....
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# RE: Easier if SSD is not the boot driveHoward 2012-02-13 09:26
Bruce Bruce, Yes, but only to upgrade the firmware. Then I am planning to do a fresh install of Windows 7 with a standard drive to hold programs and data.
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