OCZ ARC 100 240GB SSD Review
OCZ’s transformation over the last year or so has been nothing short of drastic and the new ARC 100 series is yet another step towards their ultimate goal of a streamline, more profitable lineup. After the successive launches of highly-regarded SSDs like the RevoDrive 350, Vector 150 and Vertex 460 into the consumer market, it’s hard not to get excited about where OCZ is heading.
With all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding their latest releases, some forgot that OCZ’s lineup was missing something. High end and even mid range SSDs were being offered but the only way value-conscious consumers would go with an OCZ drive was to get a hefty mail in rebate on a previous generation example. With the ARC 100, that all changes since these new SSDs have been purpose built from the ground up to offer a nearly unbeatable price to performance ratio
OCZ’s current consumer roadmap is all about consolidation for their various series in order to save on overhead costs. We are now seeing the OCZ’s own Barefoot controller architecture cascading down throughout the lineup and, as is befitting of Toshiba’s stewardship, Toshiba 19nm NAND permeating ever corer of the product stack.
The ARC 100 features Toshiba’s latest generation A19nm MLC NAND along with OCZ’s own Barefoot 3 controller while the Vector series will also be receiving an A19 makeover. Other SSDs from the competition have been utilizing these modules for some time now but this will be their first outing in parallel with Barefoot 3 M10.
Moving into 2015 OCZ will see a drastic shift with a new controller architecture dubbed JetExpress. JetExpress will include parallel native support for PCI-E, SATA and NVMe, finally bringing every upcoming drive under a single unified ecosystem.
With prices ranging from just $80 for the 120GB, $120 for 240GB and $240 for 480GB, the ARC 100 is obviously meant for the value-oriented market above all else. However, that doesn’t mean OCZ have looked the other way when it comes to performance and, more important, performance longevity. By using sufficient over-provisioning, an in-house controller that’s situationally adaptable and high endurance NAND, this could be the cost conscious SSD entry level users and even some enthusiasts are looking for.
When placed directly against both higher and equally priced SSDs, the OCZ ARC 100’s on-paper specifications are indeed impressive. Sequential read and write numbers are competitive but what’s noteworthy is the stability of the ARC’s write performance throughout its capacity range. Most of the other SSDs exhibit a substantial drop in write throughput as the number of NAND modules decreases but not OCZ’s newest value drive. This should lead to more predictable expectations regardless of which model you buy.
Right now very, very few companies have the ability to release an entirely in-house built and designed SSD, but thanks to Toshiba, OCZ is one of them. This gives them an amazing amount of freedom on the hardware, software, and pricing sides of the equation. They simply don’t have to deal with or rely upon other companies to create a fully functional solid state drive which is why the ARC 100 can be delivered with mainstream performance but at a cut-rate price.
Like the Vertex 460 and Vector 150 before it, the ARC 100 comes housed inside a durable full metal chassis that uses the newer and thinner 7mm form factor. This does allow it to fit inside Ultrabooks and other slim and light mobile devices without any issues. Unfortunately, OCZ has opted to forgo both the 2.5mm adapter bracket and 2.5” to 3.5” adapter but we can’t forget this is a value drive.
The ARC 100’s internal layout bears more than a passing resemblance to the Vertex 460. It uses sixteen 19nm Toggle Mode NAND ICs, the M10 variant of the excellent Barefoot 3 controller and two 256MB DDR3 Ram ICs as a cache buffer.
Unlike the Vertex series it uses the aforementioned Toshiba branded Advanced 19nm Toggle Mode MLC NAND. This second generation 19nm Toggle Mode NAND ICs are not only smaller but are also slightly faster than their predecessors found inside the Vertex 460. For most consumers the differences are not going to be noticeable, but they should certainly help boost overall performance and may prove to be a key differentiator in the ARC’s segment.
This ultra-low asking price combined with high performance components is the secret to the ARC 100 and the reason it will quickly grab knowledgeable consumers’ attention. Up until now value drives have either come with good NAND but a mediocre controller, or a good controller but mediocre NAND…or mediocre NAND and mediocre controller. Quite literally no one has been able to give consumers both a powerful controller and powerful NAND without significantly increasing MSRP. Not Intel. Not Samsung. Not even Crucial.
The ARC 100 may be something of a rarity but we do have to wonder how much massaging has been done in order to make sure there’s some separation between it and the other drives in OCZ’s lineup. On paper at least it can come within 15% of a much more expensive Vector and that's impressive.
One other thing we need to mention is the ARC 100's warranty. OCZ has implemented what is called their new ShieldPlus Warranty. All of the details (as per OCZ) are below. To us, this is one of the most enticing additions we have seen from any SSD manufacturer to date.
All ARC 100 SSDs are engineered and tested to ensure superior quality, reliability, and compatibility and also come backed with OCZ’s brand new “ShieldPlus Warranty”, an industry-leading approach to service that eliminates all the hassle surrounding support and warranty claims consumers often have to deal with.
With no original proof of purchase required, end-users simply provide their ARC serial number and a dedicated OCZ customer service representative will provide high-caliber troubleshooting and support. In the event that the product is determined to be defective, a brand-new ARC SSD of the same capacity will be advance shipped to the customer.
When the replacement is received, end-users will find a pre-paid return label and need only to place their original drive in the box for a free return to OCZ. With the value added ShieldPlus Warranty there is no support hassle, no endless return loops, no shipping costs, and end-users will benefit from significantly reduced downtime to maximize their SSD experience and productivity.
OCZ ShieldPlus is available in both North America and EMEA at time of launch, and additional supported regions will be announced in the future.
With the security of the ARC’s ShieldPlus Warranty, OCZ’s valued customers will have the peace of mind that they not only have a quality solid state drive, but also the very best service and support should they ever require it.
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