OCZ Agility 3 240GB Review

IMG 9034 OCZ Agility 3 240GB Review

Enter the Agility 3 – the low-cost offshoot of OCZ's Vertex 3. With the same SandForce controller but slower NAND flash, is the Agility 3 a good deal for those seeking an economical 6Gbps SSD?

Top-notch solid state drives make for interesting stories – the question is, do you really need that much performance? The jump from a hard drive to an SSD is immediately noticeable. However, the difference between a good SSD and an excellent one can be hard to tell in actual usage. If you are working within a tight budget, or would rather trade off performance for greater capacity, it would be prudent to look for a more economical model.

OCZ has launched the Agility 3 and Solid 3 series, targeted at the mainstream and value market respectively. Both drives use the same SandForce SF-2281 6Gbps controller as the flagship Vertex 3, but OCZ has managed to lower prices by using cheaper flash memory. This can lead to significantly lower prices as the biggest share of a SSD's cost comes from the flash memory, even though performance is in large part determined by the controller.

OCZ has sent us their Agility 3 240GB. While we would prefer to test the far more affordable 120GB part, this drive should suffice as a barometer for the difference between the two series.

IMG 9029 OCZ Agility 3 240GB Review

Inside the box we have a 3.5" tray adapter, an installation guide, a sticker and mounting screws for the adapter.

IMG 7499 OCZ Agility 3 240GB Review

Under the Hood

Our particular drives uses Micron 25nm asynchronous NAND compliant to ONFI 1.0. This looks to be a double whammy for performance: firstly, asynchronous NAND is slower than the synchronous NAND found on the Vertex 3. Secondly, ONFI 1.0 is only specified for 50MB/s per die, compared to 133MB/s for the ONFI 2.0 flash used in the Vertex 3.

IMG 9040 OCZ Agility 3 240GB Review

Specifications

OCZ's specifications, however, are far more optimistic. Across the board, there is not much difference between the Vertex 3 and Agility 3.

  OCZ Agility 3 240GB OCZ Vertex 3 240GB OCZ Agility 3 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 120GB OCZ Agility 3 60GB OCZ Vertex 3 60GB
Max Read 525MB/s 550MB/s 525MB/s 550MB/s 525MB/s 535MB/s
Max Write 500MB/s 520MB/s 500MB/s 500MB/s 475Mb/s 480MB/s
Random Write 4KB 45,000 IOPS 60,000 IOPS 50,000 IOPS 60,000 IOPS 50,000 IOPS 60,000 IOPS
Maximum 4K Random Write 85,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS 80,000 IOPS 80,000 IOPS


The Agility 3 is available in 60GB, 120GB and 240GB capacities.

Usable Capacity

The Agility 3 240GB uses 16 x 128Gbit NAND dies for a total of 256GB raw capacity. As SandForce controllers reserve a single die's worth of area for error correction data and OCZ further allocates some area for overprovisioning, the usable capacity in Windows is only 223.6GB.

  Advertised Capacity Usable Capacity
(before formatting)
OCZ Agility 3 240GB 223.6GB
Intel SSD 510 250GB 232.9GB


Test Setup

Motherboard Intel DH67BL
Processor Intel Core i3-2100 (SpeedStep, C-State disabled)
Memory 2 x 4GB DDR3-1333
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 2000
Storage Western Digital WD3200AAKS
Power Supply Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
Drivers Intel Chipset Drivers 9.2.0.1030
Intel Rapid Storage Technology 10.5.0.1027


The following solid state drives were tested:

  • Corsair X128 128GB (Indilinx Barefoot, Samsung 50nm MLC)
  • Kingston SSDNow V+ 96GB (Toshiba T6UG1XBG, Toshiba
  • OCZ Vertex 3 240GB (SandForce SF-2281, Intel 25nm MLC)
  • OCZ Agility 3 240GB (SandForce SF-2281, Micron 25nm MLC)
  • OCZ Vertex 2 120GB (SandForce SF-1222, Intel 34nm MLC)
  • Intel SSD 320 300GB (Intel PC29AS21BA0, Intel 25nm MLC)
  • Intel SSD 320 120GB (Intel PC29AS21BA0, Intel 25nm MLC)
  • Intel SSD 510 250GB (Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2, Intel 34nm MLC)
  • Strontium Matrix 120GB (Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2, Micron 25nm MLC)
  • Strontium Gamma 115GB (SandForce SF-1222, Micron 25nm MLC)
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