OCZ Agility 2 60GB £130
17th Aug 2010 | 11:13
Low cost Sandforce SSD for the win?
OCZ Agility 2 60GB - Overview
Is the OCZ Agility 2 the low-capacity, low-cost Sandforce SSD of choice? There's only one way to find out...
Anyone who wants the best performance from their PC will know the advantages of using a high speed solid state drive for system files and important applications.
The question is, which one?
There are a lot of SSDs around with wildly varying prices and performance. OCZ alone has eight different product lines in a range of sizes from 32GB to 400GB. It gets a little confusing.
There's the Onyx, the Vertex, the Vertex 2, the Vertex LE, the Vertex 2 LE, the Vertex EX, the Vertex 2 EX, the Vertex 2 Pro and, finally, the drive we're looking at today, the Agility 2.
OCZ classifies the Agility 2 as its second tier range behind the Vertex 2. As one of the very few drives which use the new and much anticipated Sandforce SF-1200 controller, though, it's a class above most existing SSDs available.
There are a load of technical advantages to the new controller but the key one is that it supports the TRIM feature in Windows 7 and Linux kernels from 2.6.33 on, which streamlines the Agility 2's ability to write data over other drives which use an older architecture.
But what does that mean in performance terms?
OCZ Agility 2 60GB - Benchmarks
We pitted the Agility 2 against OCZ's other Sandforce powered option, the Vertex 2, as well as an older but similarly sized model from Kingston's V+ series.
The ATTO scores give us throughput for large sequential read and write tests, while AS SSD looks at a broader spectrum of random data access and the drive's behaviour in the most common and challenging scenario, handling many small chunks simultaneously.
The notable score here is the incredible 4K random write speeds of this second tier drive.
Maximum sequential read/write speeds
Average read/write speeds
64K random writes
OCZ Agility 2 60GB - Verdict
There are two ways to look at the performance of the new Sandforce controller.
On the one hand, it's a game changer. By clearing a path to empty pages in the memory cells for new data to barrel through, the SF-1200 turns the read/write performance metric for common tasks upside down.
Both the Agility 2 and the Vertex 2 can lay down files into storage faster than any other SSD we've seen so far.
There is a big 'but' coming.
The write performance is only one statistic out of many. In read speed tests, which are more important for boot times and the majority of tasks that count in every day use, the Agility 2 is fast but not a clear winner.
Kingston's V+ series and even Crucial's much cheaper realSSD are competitive to the point that they're often marginally ahead.
You could easily, and in fact we will, argue that the differences here are academic. In the read tests that really matter, the movement of lots of small files, there's no difference at all.
The overall balance of performance marks the Agility 2 out as by far the superior drive.
Time for big 'but' number two, though, and this time it comes from OCZ's own overly well endowed product line.
The Vertex 2 is based on almost identical technology to the Agility 2, but marginally faster throughout. If you shop around, though, the two drives are available for almost identical cash. In fact, the 60GB Vertex 2 is £10 cheaper at two stores at the time of writing.
Which puts us in the odd situation of really liking the Agility 2 and acknowledging it as a step forward for SSDs in general, but unable to really recommend it.
Buy the Vertex 2 instead. OCZ will presumably be just happy either way.
Up until now, SSDs have had one sided performance, reading files very quickly but being much slower to write data down onto the drive. Thanks to the new SF-1200 controller, the Agility 2 is has almost symmetrical read/write performance in sequential tasks.
With no real world price advantage over its marginally faster stablemate, the Vertex 2, however, it's hard to think of a reason why you'd choose this instead of its smarter sibling.
A superb drive, but no reason to buy it over the faster Vertex 2.