Agility EX is a high-end SSD for the masses

By , Computerworld |  Storage, disk drive, OCZ

The Agility EX also uses the popular Indilinx controller, which offers users a better overall computing experience with faster application loading, snappier data access, shorter boot-ups and longer battery life, according to OCZ.

Testing performance

For a test laptop, I used a Dell Latitude D830 with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor running Windows XP Professional SP2. I connected the drive using an adapter in my laptop's optical drive bay, then tested it using ATTO Technology's ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.34,and Simpli Software's HD Tach v3.0.4 benchmarking utilities. While I was able to successfully test both read and write performance with the ATTO software, HD Tach had problems properly measuring write performance. So, I only have read performance measurements from that utility.

ATTO's benchmark utility revealed read/write times very close to OCZ's claims: the drive achieved 245MB/sec sequential read and 190MB/sec sequential write time.

The HD Tach benchmarking utility showed a consistent 197.3MB/sec average read speed and a random access time of .1 milliseconds. CPU utilization was an unimpressive 11%.

Next, I copied a 4GB folder consisting of 1,619 files of varying sizes, including text documents, photos and video, from the desktop to the My Documents folder on the C drive. The folder transfer took 1 minutes, 20 seconds -- impressive. I then retested the Intel X25-E SSD with the same folder. The file transfer took 57 seconds, shaving 23 seconds off the Agility's time and showing how those extra parallel channels really help.

In the end, OCZ's Agility EX SSD may be slightly slower than Intel's X25-E SSD, but it's also half the price -- something to consider the next time you're looking for a hyper-fast and very reliable SSD. The only drawback to this drive, other than price, is the lack of capacity. While 60GB may be enough space for many users, anyone with serious gaming or work requirements will easily outgrow that.

SSD strategies

For PC owners, one option would be to use the SSD in the primary drive slot to run the OS and I/O intensive apps, and put a slower, higher-capacity hard disk drive in the expansion slot as storage and for slower apps. (You'll need an adapter to fit the 2.5-inch drive into the 3.5-inch drive slots typically used in desktop computers.) Laptop owners could use the SSD as a primary drive and then use a drive adapter in the optical drive slot for a secondary hard disk drive.

SSD drives have come a long way in a short time: capacities have grown while prices dropped. They're still much more expensive than traditional hard drives on a per-gigabyte basis; that's especially true for SLC models like the Intel X25-E and OCZ's Agility EX. For the time being, they remain something of a niche product that appeals to a small, but growing, fan base.

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