OCZ Agility 4 256GB Reviewccokeman - August 27, 2012
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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History has shown that the solid state drive has had a profound impact on the end user. Drastically reduced access times and much faster read/write throughput have been benefits to users willing to make that jump from a traditional spindle drive to a NAND-based solution. OCZ has led the way through several iterations of it popular Vertex and Agility lineup, with the former the high end offering and the Agility targeted at the mainstream. Version four for each drive maintains this status quo with the Agility 4 targeted for use by the mainstream user. As such OCZ has targeted both of the impediments to SSD adoption in both capacity and cost. Priced at $189, the Agility 4 256GB delivers capacity and a price per GB of less than 75 cents. Not bad at all when you look at just strictly the price point. Having already looked at several drives based on OCZ's own Indilinx Everest 2 controller, including the OCZ Vertex 4 and OCZ Octane, it has been shown that OCZ's acquisition of Indilinx has paid dividends.
The feature set of the Everest 2 platform include a SATA 6Gb/s interface, advanced ECC engine, superior NAND flexibility for use with 2Xnm Asynchronous Multi-Level Cell NAND from different suppliers, a three-year warranty, NDurance 2.0 technology featuring Reduced Write Amplification without Compression, Advanced Multi-Level ECC, Adaptive NAND Flash Management, TRIM support, Static and Dynamic wear leveling, and Redundant NAND Array™ (RNA) Technology. The Agility 4 comes in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities, with pricing ranging from $85 to $379 depending on the capacity. Performance wise the OCZ Agility 4 is rated to deliver sequential read speeds of up to 420MB/s with sequential writes of up to 410MB/s and random 4K read/writes of 48,000/85,000 IOPS on the 256GB drive I will be looking at today. If the Agility 4 delivers on these marks it should prove to offer another drive in OCZ's product stack that hits the mark on price and performance. Let's see what it has to offer.
The packaging for the Agility 4 is purely no frills mainstream. Packed in a plastic clamshell enclosure, the Agility 4 can be viewed easily on store shelves. OCZ has put the capacity in the lower left corner of the product sheet with the 'Indilinx Infused' logo at the top right. The back side of the package illustrates additional features of the drive including the use of MLC flash memory, Indilinx Ndurance technology, TRIM support, and that the Agility 4 uses the SATA 6Gbps interface. Aside from the features OCZ has a short introduction to the Agility 4 drive and why it is better than spindle-based drive. Inside the clamshell is a product installation guide with warranty information and a sticker that can proclaim your use of an OCZ SSD.
OCZ's Agility 4 drive is built within the confines of the industry standard 2.5" form factor allowing for usage scenarios including notebook and desktop applications. Instead of using a casing made from aluminum and steel or just steel, the two piece design is made from plastic to house the PCB and a steel shell to provide stability and use as a thermal conductor to carry away the heat from the Everest 2 controller. Much like the Vertex 4, the Agility 4 is built around the OCZ/Indilinx Everest 2 controller and is available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Drive mounting locations are standard for the 2.5" form factor. The casing is held together with four screws instead of clips. OCZ installs a tamper seal on just one of the screws to validate the warranty and provide proof of tampering. OCZ's Agility 4 uses a SATA III or 6Gb/s interface and is backwards compatible for usage in earlier systems, however the drive performance will be reduced to the limits imposed by earlier interfaces. Once inside the drive housing, the OCZ-built PCB is a snug fit. A large, thick thermal pad is used to allow the heat generated by the Everest 2 controller to flow to the steel half of the drive housing.
Built around the Everest 2 platform controller, OCZ's Agility 4 is equipped with an Indilinx IDX400M00-BC 8 channel NAND controller. Much like the Vertex 4, the Agility 4 uses 16GB 25nm OCZ-branded Micron Synchronous Multi-Level Cell NAND modules to make up the 256GB capacity on this drive. Wrapped around the controller in a circular pattern on the OCZ-branded PCB are eight NAND modules per each side of the PCB. Located between the Indilinx IDX400M00-BC controller and the 6Gbps interface is a Hynix 512MB DDR3 module; another populates the opposite side of the PCB for a total of a 1GB worth of DRAM cache. Equipped with the latest firmware, the Agility 4 is rated to deliver sequential read speeds of up to 420MB/s and sequential writes of up to 410MB/s, along with up to 85,000 Random 4K Write IOPS.
Packed full of all the tools put into the Octane and Vertex 4, the Indilinx Infused Agility 4 should offer a good mix of performance to go along with the low cost per GB.