World Exclusive: OCZ Agility 4 128GB SSD Review
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OCZ Technology has launched right on the heels of the venerable Vertex 4 a new series of Agility drive, the Agility 4. The Agility series is OCZ technologies premium value drive. Today we are going to take a look at the brand new 128GB Agility 4. OCZ is touting the Agility 4 as a drive that performs much better than SandForce Driven drives such as the Agility 3, when dealing with multi-media or incompressible data. Here’s what OCZ themselves have to say about the Agility 4: “The Agility 4 Series provides leading performance over a broad spectrum of applications, making use of asynchronous MLC NAND to offer an excellent cost per gigabyte. Agility 4 SSDs are innovatively engineered to deliver excellent file transfer rates and superior system responsiveness, all while providing a more durable, reliable, and energy efficient storage solution compared to traditional hard drives. Designed to take full advantage of the SATA III interface, the Agility 4 unleashes ultimate productivity, gaming, and multimedia applications for users seeking both stand-out speeds and exceptional value. Mirroring real-world performance scenarios over a broad spectrum of consumer desktop and mobile applications, Agility 4 SSDs are designed to provide a superior user experience and extreme performance over the other current solutions available on the market. With the cutting-edge Indilinx Everest 2 platform, Agility 4 is optimized for consistent, high speeds with the complete spectrum of file types and sizes including both compressible and incompressible data for balanced performance like no other drive you've experienced.”
So what we have is another Asynchronous NAND equipped drive like the Agility 3, only this time with an OCZ Technologies proprietary “Indinlix Infused” Everest II Solid State Flash Processor instead of the LSI SandForce 2281 SSD Flash Processor found in the Agility 3. OCZ’s choice of Asynchronous flash chips is an effort to offer lower priced solid state drives to the mainstream consumer. The drive is very reasonably priced. I bought this one at MicroCenter for $99 bucks.
What we saw with the Agility 3 was, the use of Asynchronous Flash caused the drive take a 2 fold performance hit. The first being that Asynchronous flash doesn’t allow the SSD processor or “controller” to read incompressible DATA nearly as fast as compressible data. The second being the use of a LSI Sandforce SSD processor (which relies on compressing data for speed) in conjunction with the asynchronous NAND flash, causes doubly reduced write performance when writing incompressible data. It would appear on the surface that OCZ has remedied one of the two performance hits present on the Agility 3 by introducing the Agility 4. Because the Agility 4 has an Everest II controller at its heart, the incompressible write performance hit should be virtually eliminated, the reason being that unlike the SandForce controller in the Agility 3, the Everest II controller does not distinguish between compressible and incompressible when writing data, the performance is the same either way. Having already reviewed the Vertex 4 128GB (here) we know first-hand that the Everest II SSD processor has no equal when it comes to writing incompressible data, particularly 4k random writes. We know the Agility 4 will take a performance hit due to asynchronous flash but how much and exactly where? Is the performance hit worth the savings offered? To find the answers to these questions, we present you with our in-depth review of OCZ Technologies Agility 4 128GB