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Old 06-17-2011, 07:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD


OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD
By: Dan Durland

Introduction

Today I'll be testing the newest addition to the OCZ Agility line of SSD's (Solid State Drive), the Agility 3 120GB. In the past I have tested the OCZ's Agility 2 60GB SSD by comparing its performance to a 1st generation Agility 120GB drive.

The 1st generation Agilty SSD was a SATA II (3Gb/s) drive built around the Indilinx controller and MLC NAND flash memory. The Agility 2, while it is still a SATA II (3Gb/s) drive using MLC NAND flash memory, was built around the Sandforce SF-1200 controller. The Sandforce SF-1200 controller employs a special data compression technique to reduce the number of required writes to the drive, resulting in faster performance and less drive wear in normal operation. This bring us to the Agility 3 which has been upgraded to support the SATA III (6Gb/s) specification as well as a new Sandforce controller, the SF-2281. I'm not an engineer so I really cannot explain what the difference is in the new Sandforce controller other than that it's been optimized for the SATA III (6Gb/s) interface. However, considering that the SATA II (3Gb/s) bandwidth limit was being reached, the new SATA III (6Gb/s) interface has the potential to offer large performance increases with the bandwidth being doubled.

Features and Specifications

As of today's date the Agility 3 is available in a 60GB ($150-$170), 120GB ($235-$270) or 240GB ($390-$400) drives.
  • Available in 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB Capacities
  • 2X Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND Flash
  • Interface: SATA 6Gbps / Backward Compatible 3Gbps
  • Form Factor: 2.5 Inch
  • Controller: Sandforce SF-2281
  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm
  • Weight: 77g
  • Shock Resistance: 1500G
  • Certifications: RoHS, CE, FCC
  • MTBF: 2 million hours
  • Power Consumption: 2.7W Active, 1.5W Idle
  • Operating Temp: 0C ~ 70C
  • Ambient Temp: 0C ~ 55C
  • Storage Temp: -45C ~ 85C
  • ECC Recovery: Up to 55 bits correctable per 512-byte sector (BCH)
  • Product Health Monitoring: Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T)
  • Operating System: Windows 7, Vista, XP 32-bit/64-bit, Mac OSX, Linux
  • Power Requirements: Standard SATA Power Connector
  • Performance Optimization: TRIM (requires OS support)
  • Seek Time: .1ms
  • RAID Support
  • 3-Year Warranty, Toll-Free Support, 24-Hour Forum Support, Firmware Updates
60GB Peak/Maximum Performance
  • Max. Read: up to 525MB/s (SATA 6Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Max. Read: up to 280MB/s (SATA 3Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Max Write: up to 475MB/s (SATA 6Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Max Write: up to 260MB/s (SATA 3Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Random Read 4KB: 10,000 IOPS (40 MB/s) - IOmeter
  • Random Write 4KB: 50,000 IOPS (195 MB/s) - IOmeter
  • Maximum Random Write 4KB: 80,000 IOPS (310 MB/s) - IOmeter
  • Sequential Read: 180 MB/s - AS-SSD Benchmark
  • Sequential Write: 65 MB/s - AS-SSD Benchmark
  • 4K Random Read: 12,500 IOPS (50 MB/s) - AS-SSD Benchmark
  • 4K Random Write: 17,500 IOPS (70 MB/s) - AS-SSD Benchmark
120GB Peak/Maximum Performance
  • Max. Read: up to 525MB/s (SATA 6Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Max. Read: up to 280MB/s (SATA 3Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Max Write: up to 500MB/s (SATA 6Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Max Write: up to 260MB/s (SATA 3Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Random Read 4KB: 20,000 IOPS (75 MB/s) - IOmeter
  • Random Write 4KB: 50,000 IOPS (195 MB/s) - IOmeter
  • Maximum Random Write 4KB: 85,000 IOPS (330 MB/s) - IOmeter
  • Sequential Read: 195 MB/s - AS-SSD Benchmark
  • Sequential Write: 130 MB/s - AS-SSD Benchmark
  • 4K Random Read: 23,000 IOPS (90 MB/s) - AS-SSD Benchmark
  • 4K Random Write: 35,500 IOPS (140 MB/s) - AS-SSD Benchmark
240GB Peak/Maximum Performance
  • Max. Read: up to 525MB/s (SATA 6Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Max. Read: up to 280MB/s (SATA 3Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Max Write: up to 500MB/s (SATA 6Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Max Write: up to 260MB/s (SATA 3Gbps) - ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Random Read 4KB: 35,000 IOPS (135 MB/s) - IOmeter
  • Random Write 4KB: 45,000 IOPS (175 MB/s) - IOmeter
  • Maximum Random Write 4KB: 85,000 IOPS (330 MB/s) - IOmeter
  • Sequential Read: 190 MB/s - AS-SSD Benchmark
  • Sequential Write: 210 MB/s - AS-SSD Benchmark
  • 4K Random Read: 38,000 IOPS (150 MB/s) - AS-SSD Benchmark
  • 4K Random Write: 50,000 IOPS (200 MB/s) - AS-SSD Benchmark
Image Gallery

In our first three pictures we have the front and back of the box along with a shot of the contents. While it really does not matter, I noticed the paper stock used to make the box has been downgraded to brown cardboard.



The next three pictures are of the drive itself. The first two pictures are of the front and back of the drive while the third picture is a close-up of the power and sata cable connections.



In these last two pictures I have removed the drive cover to expose the Sandforce SF-2281 controller as well as the Micron 25nm NAND Flash modules.



Installation and Setup

Installing the drive is a fairly simple procedure of mounting it in your case and attaching a power and data cable to the drive. If you're installing the drive to a case with 3.5" drive bays you will need to buy a 2.5" to 3.5" drive adapter as one is no longer provided with the drive. OCZ recommends using a SATA III data cable, as do I, but I did try a standard SATA cable and it seemed to work satisfactory. To ensure maximum performance I highly recommend attaching the sata cable to the first SATA 6Gb/s port on your motherboard, this is often labeled as SATA6G_0 or SATA6G_1. The Agility3 is backwards compatible with a SATA 3Gb/s data port but you will experience a loss in performance. Once the drive has been installed in the case, and the data cable has been attached to the drive and the motherboard our final step is to attach a SATA power cable from the power supply to the drive.

So now that the drive is installed in the computer we need to install the Operating System to the drive. I highly recommend doing a fresh install of your operating system to ensure maximum performance and stability. But with that said, I have successfully cloned the operating system to the drive using Clonezilla. However you cannot clone a drive with a larger partition than what will be available on the new drive. If your present operating system is on a 500GB single partitioned drive you cannot clone the drive to a 120GB drive. The existing drive to be cloned has to be of equal size or smaller than the new drive.

If you're doing a fresh install of your operating system then the procedure is the same as installing the operating system to a regular Hard Disk Drive. One recommendation that I'll make is to detach all your other drives from the system, except the SSD and the DVD/ROM, to ensure that your new drive is assigned as the C: drive. Once the operating system is installed you can reattach your other drives and assign the disk label of your choosing. The second recommendation that I'll make is to install the drive with AHCI mode enabled in your system bios.

With AHCI mode enabled and your operating system freshly installed the first step I take is to update all of my system drivers. Most people really don't think much about their drives, as in HDD, Optical or SSD, when updating their drivers. But I have found the Intel AHCI SATA driver to be less than desirable when it comes to stability with all of the SSD drives I have tested. After installing your Chipset drivers I recommend using the Roll Back Driver feature, found in the Device Manager Properties settings for your controller, to load the Microsoft AHCI driver.

Finally, once you have your OS updated and the drivers installed, I recommend going through the SSD Tweak Guide we have posted. If you have any questions free free to ask them in the forum.

Test Setup

The OCZ Agility 3 120GB drive will be tested with my newly updated i7 2600K system where as the results for the Agility and Agility 2 drives are from my old i7 920 system.
Agility 3 Test Setup
  • Intel i7 2600K
  • Asus P8P67 Deluxe
  • Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600
  • EVGA GTX 480 SLI
  • OCZ ZX Series 1250 Watt
  • OCZ Agility 3 120GB - Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • Seagate SATA 250 GB Data Drive
Agility & Agility 2 Test Setup
  • Intel i7 920
  • EVGA E760 X58 Classified
  • Corsair Dominator 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3 2000
  • EVGA GTX 480 SLI
  • Cooler Master 1250 Watt
  • OCZ Agility 2 60GB - Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • OCZ Agility 120GB - Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • Seagate SATA 250 GB Data Drive
Software

None of the drives will be tested bare or with a minimal amount of software. All of the drives have Windows 7 64-bit fully updated along with all of my usual applications installed. No one buys a drive just to leave it empty so why test it that way. All of the drives have been fully tweaked using the SSD Tweak Guide.
  • AS SSD Benchmark
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • CrystalDiscMark
  • Everest Ultimate
  • HD Tune Pro
  • Passmark Performance Test
  • PCMark Vantage
  • PCMark 7
Test Results

AS SSD Benchmark



While this benchmark is fairly popular I really don't see it telling me much. I don't have the test rating for each drive listed, but the Agility 3 did have the highest result. I guess the 4K-64Thrd write portion of this benchmark makes the biggest difference, because the Agility 3 really dominated that test.

ATTO Disk Benchmark



The Atto Disk Benchmark shows a much clearer picture of the performance levels between these 3 generations of drives. While we see a significant performance boost from the Agility to the Agility 2, the Agility 3 just totally dominates with a peak value of 538 MB/s Read and 513 MB/s Write.

CrystalDiscMark



CrystalDiskMark is a benchmark similar to the AS SSD Benchmark, but the results appear to be more reliable with the Agility 3 showing a clearer picture to it's top performance rating.

Everest Ultimate



Everest Ultimate is an older, but well known benchmark that is now called AIDA64. The Agility 3 results were almost identical with both Everest Ultimate and AIDA64 so I used the Everest results since that is the program I previously used when testing the Agility and the Agility 2. We can see the Agility 2 is outperforming the Agility while the Agility 3 dominates them both.

HD Tune Pro



Here we see a performance increase with each generation of the Agility with the Agility 3 reaching a peak value of 524 MB/s Read and 487 MB/s Write.

Passmark Performance Test



Once again we more or less see the results increasing in performance through the generations. But it's the Sequential Read result that caught my attention, at 441 MB/s it is more than twice the value reported by the As SSD or CrystalDiskMark benchmarks.

PCMark Vantage



With the exception of the Windows Defender and Windows Vista Startup tests we once again see the performance of each drive increasing through the generations with the Agility 3 clearly showing its superiority.

PCMark 7



The final benchmark I ran is also the newest benchmark I ran and it's just not showing me anything of real value. I fully expected PCMark 7 to show us results similar to PCMark Vantage, but that is obviously not the case. If I were to make a purchasing decision based upon these PCMark 7 results it would have to go with the first generation Agility. The first generation Agility is a great drive, but in my opinion its performance is not as strong as this benchmark makes it out to be.

Conclusion
Pros
  • Superior Performance
  • No Moving Parts
  • Quiet
  • Produces Little to No Heat
  • TRIM Support
  • 3-Year Warranty
Cons
  • Expensive
While a few of the tests showed us erratic results, in the majority of my testing the Agility 3 showed its muscle by dominating its older siblings by a large margin. And while the Agility 3 is quite expensive when compared to the common Hard Disk Drives we have used in days past, the price per performance level has reduced tremendously. I can hear some of you now, "How can you say the price per performance level has reduced tremendously when the Agility 3 cost more than a Agility or Agility 2 drive?" I say this because the first generation Agility 120GB drive included in these test results was priced significantly higher than the Agility 3 120GB drive when it was introduced to the consumer. In fact, if I didn't buy the original Agility on sale and with a rebate it would have cost over $300; the Agility 3 with up to double the performance can be purchased for just over $200 if you catch the right sale.

Is the Agility 3 the ultimate buy? Maybe not, but if your motherboard has 6Gb/s support then anything less should be a crime. In the past few years I've upgraded almost every component in my system at least twice and the most noticeable difference has been the addition of the SSD. If you want to finally spend your money on an upgrade that will make you sit up and notice then OCZ has you covered and the Agility 3 should be at the top of your list.

I would like to thank OCZ Technology for allowing me to evaluate the Agility 3 120GB SSD and I'm awarding it 4.5 Stars.



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Old 06-18-2011, 08:03 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD

Thanks for reviewing this! I was borderline on buying it or not, and you've just confirmed my decision
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Old 06-18-2011, 08:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD

Hah, I bought an Agility 3 60GB just yesterday. Good review, though
Quote:
I say this because the first generation Agility 120GB drive included in these test results was priced significantly higher than the Agility 3 120GB drive when it was introduced to the consumer.
was a bit waffley IMO. Doesn't actually make any difference though :P
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD

Thanks for your work!
Given that OCZ gave you these drives to test, do you still have other preferences? I've read some really mixed reviews from customers saying that drives are failing more often than what I consider acceptable. Seems that something with no moving parts should so much more dependable than it's counterparts of mechanical drives.
Other thoughts- I don't know if I need 250G r/r, 500G r/r or 750G r/r drives since the price is influenced dramatically as the specs go up. From where I grew up "faster is ALWAYS better" . I always try to buy the best since my experience has always been painful purchase at first but happier with products in the long run.
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD

Faster is better, but the newest isn't always the best.
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD

Quote:
Originally Posted by LA1978chik View Post
Thanks for your work!
Given that OCZ gave you these drives to test, do you still have other preferences? I've read some really mixed reviews from customers saying that drives are failing more often than what I consider acceptable. Seems that something with no moving parts should so much more dependable than it's counterparts of mechanical drives.
Other thoughts- I don't know if I need 250G r/r, 500G r/r or 750G r/r drives since the price is influenced dramatically as the specs go up. From where I grew up "faster is ALWAYS better" . I always try to buy the best since my experience has always been painful purchase at first but happier with products in the long run.
Your Welcome

I've played around with a few other brands of SSD's, mostly in PC's I've built for my friends. With that said the last two SSD's I actually bought were OCZ drives, they are the fastest I've seen. I should have my review of the OCZ Vertex3 posted by this weekend.

For some reason most people will only post a review at an online store like Newegg if their unhappy. Some people will post a positive review but the majority of people just don't.

OCZ may have more reviews reporting drive failures but they also sell a lot more SSD's than the other brands. When your selling twice as many drives it makes sense that you would have a few more defective drives reported. And standard hard drives have a lot of defects also, the last HDD that I bought at BestBuy was a DOA. I've seen a lot of HDD's die right after the warranty expired and I do have a few that are close to 10 years old, but SSD's haven't had a chance to reach 10 years old yet. My oldest SSD is 2 years old and I haven't had any problems with it, the Agility 120GB. Most of the bad reviews I've read by customers could be fixed by using the correct driver (Microsoft AHCI driver instead of the Intel driver) and tweaking the OS for the SSD.
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaymate View Post
Your Welcome

I've played around with a few other brands of SSD's, mostly in PC's I've built for my friends. With that said the last two SSD's I actually bought were OCZ drives, they are the fastest I've seen. I should have my review of the OCZ Vertex3 posted by this weekend.

For some reason most people will only post a review at an online store like Newegg if their unhappy. Some people will post a positive review but the majority of people just don't.

OCZ may have more reviews reporting drive failures but they also sell a lot more SSD's than the other brands. When your selling twice as many drives it makes sense that you would have a few more defective drives reported. And standard hard drives have a lot of defects also, the last HDD that I bought at BestBuy was a DOA. I've seen a lot of HDD's die right after the warranty expired and I do have a few that are close to 10 years old, but SSD's haven't had a chance to reach 10 years old yet. My oldest SSD is 2 years old and I haven't had any problems with it, the Agility 120GB. Most of the bad reviews I've read by customers could be fixed by using the correct driver (Microsoft AHCI driver instead of the Intel driver) and tweaking the OS for the SSD.
I've owned my fair share of OCZ drives (Agility, Agility 2, Vertex 2) and while I have had good luck with all of them except the original Agility there are some valid concerns regarding the Sandforce controllers. That's not to say those issues are OCZ's fault however, the problems are common to all Sandforce drives and to give OCZ credit they generally offer very good support if something does go wrong.

I've read more than enough horror stories from people with dead Sandforce drives on other sites that I would hesitate to buy one at the moment. While it is possible that configuration tweaks could have averted some of those failures if a drive is so fragile that running the wrong ACHI driver can kill it something is seriously wrong.
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD

I was looking at a 60gb ssd.. What would you all recommend out of the OCZ Agility 3 60gb, the Force Series 3 60gb and the Force Series GT 60gb?
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