A ‘measuring stick’ seems to have evolved in the SSD arena where performance can be separated by the type of data being tested. Some SSDs excel in transferring compressible data while others in incompressible data, such as we might see in music, video and photography.
Our report today will evaluate the new OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD which houses the Indilinx ‘Everest 2’ platform, a platform that has been a true leader in incompressible data testing as seen in our Vertex 4 review this past April.
COMPRESSIBLE VS INCOMPRESSIBLE DATA
If I were to look back at the most common questions that I have addressed in the various forums, the top two are that of how an SSD can benefit the consumer and installation worries. The third is easily the question of compressible vs incompressible data and it usually comes in the form of “Why do my tests not match manufacturers specifications?” This is the bi-product, for the most part, of a SSD purchase where the manufacturer is using a LSI SandForce Flash Storage Processor (FSP) and not understanding that performance specifications have been arrived at through use of compressible of ‘o Fill’ data.
Understanding the difference between compressible and incompressible data then becomes key in the consumers SSD choice. Compressed data is representative of typical computer operating systems and applications, whereas incompressible data is representative of files such as photographs, videos and music. For the average user, either choice would be fine and one could not physically tell the difference between the two in typical system use, however, when it comes to incompressible data, things change just a bit.
For a gamer, the quick and almost instant loading of very complex scenes is vital in tournament play and especially with online competition. For a photographer, the ability to transfer tens of thousands of pictures a week quickly with a drive that does well with incompressible data saves time and increases productivity significantly. The same results can be drawn of those that create music and video’s in their daily duties as the swift transfer and manipulation of highly incompressible files is paramount.
OCZ AGILITY 4 256GB SATA 3 SSD
The exact scenarios are where OCZ hopes the Agility 4 might fall in and this SSD follows in the footsteps of the Vertex 4 that we reviewed previously. The Vertex 3 pulled in incompressible performance of 462MB/s high sequential transfer while, in the same benchmark, returned an incredible 105MB/s for low 4k random write performance which is key in the visible upgrade we see when moving from a hard drive to SSD. The difference between the two is that of value and the type of NAND flash memory being used. The Agility is the value oriented drive with the lesser performing asynchronous NAND flash memory while the Vertex 4 has the premium synchronous memory meant for enthusiasts. How would they fare with the Everest 2 platform though?
SYNCHRONOUS VS ASYNCHRONOUS MEMORY
OCZ has changed their provider of memory from Intel, as was the choice for the Vertex 4, to Micron which is being used in the Agility 4. Technically, there really was no change as both Intel and Micron work jointly together in there production of memory as part of IM (Intel Micron) Flash technologies which one could explore here.
As both manufacturers (and IMFT) produce synchronous and asynchronous NAND of almost identical exterior characteristics, there are really only two ways to identify the type ofmemory in use, these being through performance results or the NAND identification. For Micron, the difference is simply an ‘A’ to a ‘B’ in the identification name.
The memory on the left is the more affordable asynchronous type while that on the right is synchronous. The only change that is consistent in the identification is that of the last letter of the product code.
i just installed the Agility4 in my early 2010 Macbook Pro 13inch which is only SATA II but the difference is magic. I only use for normal word and spreadsheet, some video and picture editing, i also run a virtual machine [VM Ware] with windows, but so far its just been great. I would def recommend this SSD.
But then again, its my first SSD….
Enjoy as you are experiencing the same as we all did on our first transition! Tx for the comment!
Thanks Les. I just ordered the 512 version of this model for $323 from Amazon.com for my old early 2008 Harpertown 3.2GHz 32GB Mountain Lion OS X 10.8 Mac Pro. The goal is simply to be able to edit tags and crush dance music in iTunes which is an incredible dog of a tag editor. Hope this model SSD will make all the waiting a thing of the past. I’m canceling my $337 order for a “used like new” 480GB Sandisk SSD. Did I do the right thing Les?
I have to say I am very impressed with, not only the drive and performance but also, the price…win win I think!
Les, I can’t tell the difference between a $323 512 Agility 4 and a $550 512 Vertex 4. Their overview pages on the OCZ Tech website look identical except for the additional charts and video on the Vertex overview page. Could you give us the executive summary on the $227 difference between the same size two models please? Do you really get $227 worth of better performance – especially on SATA II computers?
The different is that the Vertex 4 use synchronous NAND and the Agility 4 use asynchronous NAND. theoretically the Vertex 4 should be better. but the difference wouldn’t be worth $227, especially on a SATA 2 computer IMHO
Hey Les can you give me some advice on this SSD vs. Samsung 830? they can be found for around the same price on NewEgg. the Agility seems to be faster but the Samsung more reliable (OCZ SSDs have had quite a lot of error in the past). what do you think? also since I’m a computer musician so which one of these 2 drives will offer me better performance with incompressible files? thank you!
AS a computer musician, I might be looking for the best incompressible performance I can find which goes along with the Indy controller in the OCZ.
I am about to RMA my SECOND Vertex 2 120GB SATA II SSD… LOTS of wasted time re-creating my environment! What is the more recent “reliability” experience with OCZ drives? I do LOTS of video (screencapture) production (professor)
I have a MacPro 2006, which I Carbon Copied my OS from a Corsair 128Gb to an OCZ Agility 4 256GB. I have freeze up after sleep, and everything seems to lag or be slow to perform when using the OCZ Agility 4, but not the Corsair.
Would a clean install be advisable? Any other suggestions welcome.
I would always start with a clean install yes. I might also Google to see if what you are experiencing is common for that setup; I am not aware of such.