The Bottom Line
- Good Overall Performance
- SATA III Interface
- Limited Capacity Makes It Best Suited As A Boot Only Drive
- Priced Higher Than Similar Performance SATA II 60GB SSDs
- No 3.5-inch Drive Tray Adapter Included
- 60GB (55.9GB Formatted) Storage Capacity
- 2.5-inch Laptop/Desktop Internal Form Factor
- SATA III Interface
- SandForce 2281 Controller
- Up To 525MB/s Sequential Read (180MB/s uncompressible)
- Up To 475MB/s Sequential Write (65MB/s uncompressible)
- 1.5 Watt Idle / 2.7 Watt Active Power Consumption
- TRIM Support With Compatible OS
- 2 Million Hours MTBF
- Three Year Warranty
Guide Review - OCZ Agility 3 60GB 2.5-inch SATA III SSD
Jun 13 2011 - OCZ's Agility 3 is labeled as a midranged performance solid state drive by the company. It uses the same SandForce 2281 controller found on their Vertex 3 high performance drives. The primary difference between the two has to do with the synchronous NAND memory modules on the Vertex 3 while the Agility 3 uses asynchronous memory. The result is some solid reported read speeds but slower writes.
The 60GB version of the OCZ Agility 3 is the smallest of the drives in the series and uses a fewer number of channels compared to the larger 120GB and 240GB models. This means that it has the slowest read and write speeds of the but but it still goes well beyond the speeds that can be attained with a mechanical hard drive. Of course, the 60GB drive is much more affordable with a list price of $170 compared to $280 and $490 respectively for the larger drives. This makes it much more appealing to those looking to put it into a small travel laptop or as a boot drive for a desktop PC.
When talking about performance, OCZ like to use numbers as high as 525 MB/s read and 475 MB/s write speeds when advertising the drive. It should be noted that these are theoretical maximum's under specific conditions which I will go into more on my testing below. If you dig down to the OCZ Agility 3 product sheet, you will find some numbers pulled from the AS-SSD benchmark that list much more reasonable numbers of 180 MB/s read and 65MB/s write.
Why the difference between the two? The SandForce controllers will compress and uncompress data as it is being written to the SSD. As a result, data that can be compressed will offer a greater level of write speeds than data that can't be compressed. The problem is that most data that consumers deal with now is either already compressed or has very limited ability to be compressed. The result is that consumers will likely see numbers closed to the compressed numbers than the marketing numbers given by OCZ.
CyrstalMark is a nice benchmark that is suitable for running on hard drives or solid state drives. This gives it a good basis of comparison to a traditional hard drive. Below are the results from the OCZ Agility 3 60GB on the SATA III interface of a Intel Z68 motherboard with an Intel Core i5-2500k processor and 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory:
- Sequential: 171.2 MB/s Read, 75.25 MB/s Write
- 512K: 163.9 MB/s Read, 75.5 MB/s Write
- 4K: 24.34 MB/s Read, 57.5 MB/s Write
- 4k QD32: 48.39MB/s Read, 72.88 MB/s Write
The results from CystalMark are very close to the uncompressible data numbers that were reported by OCZ. The sequential performance is slightly better than what cat be achieved with a mechanical drive but the random numbers are much greater. This makes the drive well suited as either a boot or primary OS drive. It still isn't as faster as the larger drive models but still a nice boost.
AS-SSD is a benchmark is specifically built for testing out SSDs and it what OCZ used to get their secondary set of numbers. This makes it an important test and the same setup of an Intel Z68 chipset with i5-2500k CPU and 8GB of memory on a SATA III port were used for the following results:
- Sequential: 166.74 MB/s Read, 72.43 MB/s Write
- 4k: 15.85 MB/s Read (4057 iops), 48.21 MB/s Write (12341 iops)
- 4K-64Thread: 50.81 MB/s Read (13007 iops), 70.35 MB/s Write (18010 iops)
- Access Time: .157ms Read, .317ms Write
My results closely mirror the numbers given by OCZ. The read speeds were slightly slower for sequential data but higher write numbers were achieved. The 4k-64Thread results were essentially identical.
The other key test from AS-SSD is the compression data tests. This tests to see the maximum throughput when the data can be compressed between 0 to 100%. Now 100% compressible data is pretty much non-existent but it does show the maximum theoretical capabilities of the drive. The Agility 3 with this type of data was able to achieve 465MB/s reads 486MB/s writes which is below OCZ's claims. Now at 50% compress results, the drive achieved 250MB/s reads and 131 MB/s writes.
SATA III vs. SATA II
Now many consumers with older computers do no have SATA III ports built onto their motherboards. Because of this, I ran the tests also using the native SATA II ports on the Intel Z68 chipset. The results were just even so slightly slower than the SATA III but within 1%. The only area where this showed a difference is in the compressible data test. Here the limits of the SATA II interface were present as 100% compressible data could only achieve 267 MB/s reads and 242 MB/s writes. At the 50% compression rate, it falls to 195MB/s reads and 100MB/s writes. The gap between the SATA II and SATA III interfaces is narrowing but there is still a sizable margin.
So, what does this mean? For most users, the Agility 3 will perform just fine if you have a SATA II interface. In fact, unless you have a lot of data that can be compressed as it is written, the SATA III interface won't make much of a performance improvement. Of course, this is the case with the 60GB drive that has fewer channels and performance as a result, The larger 120GB and 240GB drives will perform much better with SATA III.
Pricing and Older Drives
The big problem that the Agility 3 60GB drive has right now is the price. With street pricing averaging $135, it isn't the cheapest 60GB solid state drive on the market. In fact, the older Vertex 2 60GB drives are priced around $115 for the same level of capacity. The Vertex 2 uses the older SandForce 1222 controller but it has a more robust firmware and NAND memory for roughly the same level of performance. As a result, the Agility 3 doesn't pull far enough in front of the older drive, especially when using an older SATA II interface.