OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD Review
With nearly every company trying to expand their SSD lineup, there has recently been a veritable explosion of value orientated drives for consumers to choose from. However, long before most manufacturers were paying any attention to this end of the market, OCZ were hard at work creating multiple options including the venerable Agility line. The products housed within the Agility range have never been considered the fastest around, nor were they the least expensive drives on the market. They did however strike that enviable balance of performance and price which made them appealing to a wide customer base.
With the introduction of the surprisingly budget friendly Vertex 4 SSDs, it was only a matter of time before OCZ turned their attention towards updating the aging Agilities. With the recent release of the Agility 4 256GB they hope to further blur the line between high performance and budget orientated models. To help do precisely that, the new Agility 4 actually uses the exact same Everest 2 controller found in the Vertex 4.
Of the many benefits to opting for Indilinx’s Everest 2 controller, the largest is its compressed file handling abilities. No matter how compressed the data, this controller won’t be subject to the performance drop-offs which characterize LSI SandForce’s first and second generation controllers. This situation was further augmented when the SF2281 controller was paired with ONFi 1 asynchronous NAND, as it was in the Agility 3. While the Agility 4 still does rely upon this same ONFi 1 NAND, the newer controller’s features should keep it from suffering a similar fate.
With a combination of affordable NAND and a new controller that has been largely developed in-house, OCZ’s Agility 4 256GB is quite well priced. At $175 it undercuts higher end drives like SanDisk’s Extreme but may have some issues competing against other industry players like Crucial’s excellent but slightly flawed V4.
With its black and green color scheme, the Agility 4’s exterior is not all that different from past models. Unfortunately, while the neon scheme of the last generation has been replaced with a more subtle green, the half plastic case of the Agility 3 has been carried over to the Agility 4.
The layout of the various components may looks quite different when placed alongside an Agility 3 but the overall architecture is quite similar - albeit with one or two major points of convergence - to the Vertex 4 line’s. There are 16 NAND ICs populating the PCB’s 16 circuit slots alongside a large Indilinx branded Everest 2 controller chip and two external RAM chips. The only major difference between OCZ’s upper and mid tier drives is the use of ONFi 1 instead of ONFi 2 NAND and the RAM chips’ capacity. Instead of the Vertex 4’s whopping 1GB of onboard cache, the Agility 4 has access to 512MB via a pair of Hynix DDR3-1333 256MB ICs.
Likely due to its price, the Agility 4 does not come with a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter. Many of OCZ’s competitors have seen fit to include such an inexpensive accessory and this potential limitation should be taken into consideration before buying this SSD. However, with an asking price of only $175 the Agility 4 256GB unique attributes may allow it compete on overall value and not just price, lack of included accessories or not.
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