OCZ technology has made some great strides in the SSD space since they jumped into it. A dazzling array of options and formats brings more choices to the consumer, allowing buyers to find products to fit their specific needs (and budgets). Support for the end user is a continuing process at OCZ, since anyone can check out their forums for firmware updates, SSD care tips, and the latest news.
On the bench today is OCZ’s latest SATA3 offering, the mid-ranged OCZ Agility 3 240GB. OCZ produces low-, mid-, and high-end SandForce SATA3 drives, marketed as the Solid, Agility, and Vertex series.
The Agility 3 drives are designed to be a balance of performance and value, and offer three capacities to choose from: 60, 120, and 240 GB. Sporting an advertised 525MB/s Read and 500MB/s write and a 4K IOPs at 45,000 (180MBps), “mid-range” hardly seems to be a fair adjective for this product. Coming it at over $450 for the 240GB drive definitely earmarks these drives for the performance enthusiast over the mid-range system builder. However, at only $125 for the 60GB model, keeping that particular drive in stock might be a problem retailers enjoy having.
Founded in 2002, San Jose, California-based OCZ Technology Group, Inc. has built on its expertise in high-speed memory to become a dominant player in the manufacturing and distribution of solid state drives (SSDs), a disruptive, game-changing technology that is replacing traditional rotating magnetic hard disk drives (HDDs). SSDs are faster, more reliable, run cooler, and use significantly less power than the HDDs used in the majority of computers today. In addition to SSD technology, OCZ also offers high performance components for computing devices and systems, including enterprise-class power management products as well as leading-edge computer gaming solutions.
The packaging for the Agility 3 drive is the same packaging they have used for some time now. Sophisticated and elegant, the drive itself is shipped in an ESD bag and inserted into a cardboard knockout that holds the drive firmly in the center of the poster board thickness packaging. The color scheme used on the external packaging (lime green and black) is carried over to the sticker on the drive itself.
Although the internal knockout packaging contains slots to support a 3.5” mounting bracket, the Agility series do not include any. While this is one way to save money on shipping a product, of not retail cost, the thin metal brackets included with the Vertex series are missed here. This being the case, the drive was not mounted in the test station, but left to sit by itself atop the mechanical storage drives.
The drive itself is a standard 2.5” form factor. This provides compatibility with most laptops in production today, but necessitates the use of an adapter for most conventional cases on the market. Many newer cases are including 2.5” brackets or mounting points for SSDs now, so if you’re building a completely new PC, the lack of the bracket’s inclusion is not as important.
The drive features a black metal upper half and a dark chrome appearance on the bottom SSD plate. The top plate is accented with a generic Agility 3 sticker, with no hint of data density. The color scheme on the packaging is continued here as well, lime green on black. Some bubbling was noticed on the logo sticker. Although it will not effect the performance of the drive, it could cause tear points sliding it in or out a drive cage.
The bottom plate carries labels for the specific model number of the drive, as well as some cautionary advice (“Do not drop!” and “Do not press!”). A separate sticker includes the SN and UPC code.
Opening the drive up reveals an extremely clean setup. The SandForce 2281 controller is the centerpiece here, providing the speed an reliability that DuraWrite technology has brought to the SSD market. A single 2281 controller can support up to 512GB of NAND memory, and 500MBps at 128K size. NCQ is supported up to 32 queue depth, and AES drive encryption of 128 or 256 bits is also on offer.
The memory chips them selves are Micron built 128Gbit chips, a total of 16 are included on the PCB (8 front, 8 back), for a total data density of 256GB. Micron part number 29F128g08cfaaa is labeled on each chip. As this is the largest model of the Agility 3 series, there are no empty NAND spots left on the PCB, and larger drives would require moving to 256Gbit chips.
The last feature to note on the PCB are the dual LED indicators located next to the SATA data port. The one LED indicates power to the drive, and is visible from outside the drive as a soothing green glow. The other LED is labeled FLT, and would indicate a fault or failure of the drive. Once installed inside of a computer case, neither LED will be readily visible, however.