OCZ Agility 4 256 SSD Review – 57p per GB!


If you are in the market for a competitively priced high capacity Solid State drive, then today’s product will be particularly interesting. It wasn’t so long ago that we were waiting for Solid State pricing to crack the £1 per GB barrier.
The Agility 4 is a value oriented SSD, and the 256GB model we are reviewing today tips the scales at 57p per GB via ARIA. That’s an incredible price point, but is it fast enough to offer a viable solution for the demanding enthusiast audience?
I was impressed with OCZ’s Vertex 4 when I reviewed the 512GB model back in April. I was actually that taken with the unit that I reviewed the 128GB with the firmware 1.4 update again in June. The Agility is the value based unit which uses different, lower cost asynchronous NAND flash memory.
Agility 4 Overview:
  • SATA 6Gbps Interface
  • Best-in-Class Indilinx Controller Technology
  • Up to 85,000 Random 4K Write IOPS
  • Available in 64GB to 512GB Capacities
  • Access Latency as Low as 0.02ms
  • Strong performance at Lower Queue Depths
  • TRIM Support
The OCZ Agility 4 256GB ships in a tough plastic blisterpack with the Solid State drive itself in plain view from the front.
OCZ include a little user leaflet on the product and a ‘My SSD is faster than your HDD’ sticker. No 3.5 inch adapter with this bundle.
The Agility 4 is finished in a black metal chassis with a sticker on the front highlighting the product range. On the rear is a detailed sticker with serial number and capacity information.
The naked PCB of the Agility 4 256GB. This drive uses the Indilinx Everest 2 IDX400M00-BC controller along with two Hynix DDR3 256 DRAM cache chips. There are 16 x Micron 25nm Asynchronous MLC NAND flash memory chips onboard. Each of these chips is 16GB to deliver a total capacity of 256GB.
When formatted in Windows 7, this is reduced to 238GB.
On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source.
For testing, the drives are all wiped and reset to factory settings by HDDerase V4. We try to use free or easily available programs and some real world testing so you can compare our findings against your own system.
This is a good way to measure potential upgrade benefits.
Main system:
CPU: Intel Core i7 2700k
Cooler: Thermaltake Frio OCK
Motherboard: Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Memory: ADATA DDR3 2000mhz 9-11-9-24
PSU: ADATA 1200W
Graphics: Sapphire HD6950 Flex Edition
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit Enterprise
Monitor: Dell U2410
Other Drives (used in Core i7 2700k system above):
Visiontek Racer Series 120GB
Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120GB
Mushkin Chronos 240GB
Kingston HyperX 3k 120GB
OCZ Vertex 4 512GB
OCZ Vertex 4 128GB SSD Review (firmware 1.4 update)
Transcend SSD720 128GB
Kingston SSDNow V+200 90GB
OCZ Octane 512GB (V1.13 fw)
Mach Xtreme MX-DS Turbo 120GB
Corsair Performance Pro 256GB
Samsung 830 Series 512GB
Patriot Pyro SE 240GB
Patriot Wildfire 240GB
MemoRight FTM Plus 240GB SSD
Patriot Pyro 120GB SSD
OCZ RevoDrive 3 x2 480GB
Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD OCZ Agility 3 240GB
OCZ Vertex 3 240GB
OCZ Vertex 3 MAX IOPS 240GB
ADATA S511 240GB
Intel 510 120GB
Corsair F100 100GB
OCZ Vertex 2 120GB
Crucial Real SSD C300 64GB
MemoRight FTM.25 115GB SSD
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB
PCIe drives test system:
OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid 1TB HDD/SSD &
OCZ RevoDrive 3 x2 480GB
Test System:
CPU: Intel Core i7 990x @ 4.8ghz
Cooler: Corsair H100 Performance Liquid Cooler
Motherboard: Asus Rampage III Black Edition
Memory: 12GB Kingston DDR3 @ 1600mhz 9-9-9-24
PSU: ADATA 1200W
Graphics: Nvidia GTX580
Chassis: Lian Li X2000F
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit Enterprise
Monitor: Dell U2410
Software:
Atto Disk Benchmark
CrystalMark
AS SSD
PCMark 7
IOMeter
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call Of Pripyat
All our results were achieved by running each test five times with every configuration this ensures that any glitches are removed from the results. Trim is confirmed as running by typing fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify into the command line. A response of disabledeletenotify =0 confirms TRIM is active.
Crystalmark is a useful benchmark to measure theoretical performance levels of hard drives and SSD’s. We are using V3.0.1 x64.
Sequential performance is excellent, scoring over 400 MB/s in the write test. 4k QD32 performance is also very strong.
We switch to 0×00 mode, which deals with compressible data. Sequential read performance improves in this mode although all the other results stay pretty much the same. This highlights the strength of the Indilinx Everest 2 controller – strong with both compressible and incompressible data.
Above, some included compares from other leading solid state drives which we have reviewed in recent months.
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.
The Indilinx Everest 2 controller can’t compete with the LSI Sandforce 2281 controller in regards to sequential read and write throughput performance. That said, the results are still excellent, scoring over 400 MB/s in both the read and write tests.
Some comparison results from other leading products available on the market today.
AS SSD is a great free tool designed just for benching Solid State Drives. It performs an array of sequential read and write tests, as well as random read and write tests with sequential access times over a portion of the drive. AS SSD includes a sub suite of benchmarks with various file pattern algorithms but this is difficult in trying to judge accurate performance figures.
This particular test deals with incompressible data, which showcases the strength of the Indilinx Everest 2 controller when compared against the raft of LSI Sandforce 2281 controlled drives. The Agility 4 slots in right behind the more expensive OCZ Vertex 4 units at the top of the chart. Fantastic results, especially for a ‘budget’ drive.
Some other comparisons from leading manufacturer drives, which we have tested in recent months.
PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.
Strong results for the Agility 4, scoring 4617 points.
IOMeter is another open source synthetic benchmarking tool which is able to simulate the various loads placed on hard drive and solid state drive technology.
We test with both 4k random read and 4k random write, as shown above.
IOPS performance is certainly not lacking, scoring around 73k write and 65k read in the 4k random tests. This is considerably higher than almost all of the LSI Sandforce 2281 drives we have tested recently. Even the high performance ADATA XPG SX910 256GB which we reviewed last week is outperformed by this Agility 4 256GB.
It doesn’t matter how good any of the synthetic suites are, the real meat of the testing has to be under absolute real world conditions. This proves difficult as to record results we have to narrow down fluctuation. Therefore while we would say these are the most useful results to get from this review, there is always going to be a slight margin for error – its not absolutely scientific.
Firstly we installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit Edition onto each of the drives and performed a clean update from Microsoft with all patches and security fixes. We then install a basic suite of software, such as Office, Firefox and Adobe Design, then we install AVG free antivirus. We used a digital watch for this startup and repeated the test five times for each drive – once we had these five results we averaged the results and took that for the final figure.
The drive boots in 23 seconds, falling in beside the Mushkin Chronos 240GB.
Strong results with the STALKER level load time, scoring 18 seconds. A second slower than the Vertex 4, but right beside some high performance LSI Sandforce 2281 powered units.
OCZ have the leading Solid State drive right now with their Vertex 4. There is no doubt that the LSi Sandforce 2281 controller has the edge in pure compressible throughput, however the Indilinx Everest 2 delivers excellent balanced results with both compressible and incompressible data streams.
We have already published several positive reviews of the Vertex 4 128GB and 512GB and it has been interesting today to ascertain overall performance from the value focused Agility 4.
OCZ have managed to cut the dropping prices even further by utilising less expensive asynchronous Micron NAND flash.
There is no question that the Agility 4 isn’t as fast as the Vertex 4, but in the ‘real world’ we would be hard pressed to notice any difference. While our reviews primarily focus on pure technical data, in everyday situations there is often only 1 or 2 seconds difference between the Vertex 4 and Agility 4.
You can buy from ARIA for only £146.34 inc vat, which works out at around 57 pence per GB. This can surely be classed as one of the finest high capacity Solid State bargains of 2012.
That said, the biggest challenge OCZ face is that their Vertex 4 256GB is available for only £39 more now, at around £185 inc vat. If you need ultimate performance then the £39 is well spent, however for most of us, the Agility 4 is more than enough.
On a pure value for money basis via ARIA, the Vertex 4 costs 72p per GB, and the Agility 4 costs 57p per GB.
Pros:
  • bargain price point for the capacity.
  • excellent storage and boot drive.
  • IOPS is strong.
  • good performance with incompressible and compressible data.
Cons:
  • Vertex 4 is faster and only £39 more expensive.
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