OCZ Agility 3 review: OCZ Agility 3

OCZ Agility 3

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo

SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

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The OCZ Agility 3 is a small step down from its big brother, the OCZ Vertex 3. The new drive is slower and doesn't include a drive bay converter to conveniently fit in a desktop computer. Other than that, it shares the same design and features as the Vertex 3, meaning it can be used in any application where current SATA hard drives would be used.

ocz-agility-3-120gb.jpg
7.3

OCZ Agility 3

The Good

The <b>OCZ Agility 3</b> solid-state drive supports SATA 6Gbps and offers fast performance. The drive works in any SATA-based storage application and is relatively affordable.

The Bad

The OCZ Agility 3, though fast, is noticeably slower than other SATA 6Gbps SSDs without being proportionaly cheaper. It's capped at only 240GB, takes a long time to format, and doesn't come with a drive bay converter to fit in a place of a 3.5-inch hard drive.

The Bottom Line

With fast performance and a competitive price, the OCZ Agility 3 SSD makes a very good replacement hard drive for any computer, especially one that has built-in support for SATA 6Gbps.

With speed that's easily twice that of a regular platter-based hard drive, the Agility is best suited for a laptop or a high-performance desktop, especially one that supports SATA 6Gbps. At its street price of around $470 for the 240GB capacity ($240 for 120GB, $140 for 64GB), the Agility 3 is slightly cheaper than other SSDs. That's not much of an advantage, however, as it's noticeably slower than other SATA 6Gbps SSDs.

That said, the OCZ Agility 3 is still very fast, even among SSDs, and will increase a computer's performance significantly compared with a regular hard drive. For more SSD options, however, don't forget to also consider the Vertex 3, the Plextor PX-256M2S, or, if your computer only supports SATA 3Gbps, the Samsung 470.

Design and features

Drive type 2.5-inch solid state
Connector options SATA 3Gbps, SATA 6Gbps
Available capacities 60GB, 120GB, 240GB
Product dimensions 9.5 mm, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 240GB
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

The OCZ Agility 3 and the OCZ Vertex 3 share the same shape, dimensions, and port design as a standard 9.5mm, 2.5-inch internal hard drive. Unlike the Vertex 3, however, the OCZ Agility 3 doesn't come with a drive bay converter, meaning it will be a little tricky if you want to use it with a desktop computer. As the drive has no moving parts, however, you can probably get away with leaving it inside the computer's chassis without screwing it tightly to a drive bay. The Agility 3 looks good and feels solid with its partly aluminum housing.

Like the latest SSDs we've reviewed, the Agility 3 supports SATA 3 (6Gbps). It also works with SATA 2 (3Gbps) at that standard's slower speeds. To take advantage of the drive's top speed, you'll want to use it with a SATA 3 controller, such as that of a computer powered by Intel's new Sandy Bridge chipset.

We tried the Agility 3 with Mac, Windows, and Linux computers, and it worked well with all of them, just like any regular SATA hard drive. Like the Vertex 3, the Agility 3 took a significantly long time to be formatted. In our trials it took about 5 to 7 minutes to be quick-formatted using Windows 7. Note that other drives, including the Seagate Barracuda XT, take just a few seconds to be quick-formatted.

According to OCZ Technology Group, the Agility has very low power consumption of just 2.5 watts when active (1.5W when idle), offers shock resistance up to 1,500G, and supports RAID configurations.

Cost per gigabyte
Though not proportionally to its slower performance, the OCZ Agility 3 is indeed cheaper than its peers. At about $1.95 per gigabyte, the Agility 3 is the most affordable among SATA 3 SSDs and the second-most affordable among all SSDs we've reviewed. Comparing cost per gigabyte, the Agility 3 is just 1 cent more expensive than the Samsung 470, which doesn't support SATA 3. The drive is still much more expensive than regular hard drives, however. For example, the 3TB Seagate Barracuda XT, which offers the top amount of storage on a single drive to date, costs just 8 cents per gigabyte.

Performance
We stacked the OCZ Agility 3 up against a few SATA 3 SSDs and hard drives on the market, including the 3TB Seagate Barracuda XT, the Plextor PX-256M2S, and of course its brother the Vertex 3. Overall, the Agility was very fast in our testing but it was sometimes noticeably slower than the Vertex 3.

In the boot-time test, the Agility 3 took a very short time, just 29.7 seconds, while the Vertex 3 took 29.1 seconds and the Plextor PX-256M2S took 28.2 seconds. Note that this boot time includes the computer's hardware initialization, which takes about 15 seconds. The Agility 3 was similarly fast at shutting down, taking just 6.7 seconds.

In the Office performance test, in which we time how long the computer takes to finish a comprehensive set of different concurrent tasks including Word, Excel, and file transfer and compression, the Agility 3 took the third place with a time of 390 seconds, after the 338 seconds of the Vertex 3 and the 383 seconds of the Plextor PX-256M2S.

It seems the drive's speed doesn't affect music conversion much, as the test machine took exactly the same amount of time--113 seconds--as all the drives we've reviewed. However, in our multimedia multitasking test, in which the computer converts a high-definition movie from one format to another while iTunes is doing a heavy job of music conversion in the background, the Agility was the second-slowest, taking 331 seconds, just 9 seconds less than the Seagate Barracuda XT hard drive.

All the tests above are designed to gauge a computer's performance as a whole, meaning the hard drive only plays a small role in the final score. The throughput test is the most important test for showing the drive's real-world performance in transferring data from one place to another. We conduct the throughput performance test by timing how long it takes for a drive to finish copying a large amount of data from one place to another. With hard drives, we do this both with the drive as the main bootable drive hosting the OS and while using it as a secondary backup drive. The Agility 3, though clearly slower than its peers, did well in both cases.

As the main drive of a computer, the Agility scored 101.67MBps, compared with the Seagate Barracuda XT's 51.1MBps. Note that in this case the drive performs both reading and writing at the same time. When used as a backup drive and performing writing only, the Agility 3 did much better at 207.75MBps, again about doubling the Barracuda XT's performance. While these numbers are impressive, they were still around one-third and one-fifth lower than those of the Vertex 3, which scored 150.01MBps and 260.71MBps when used as a main and backup drive respectively. For this reason, if the Agility 3 cost around $350 for the 240GB capacity rather than $470, we'd consider it an excellent drive.

Nonetheless, we were happy with its performance. For general daily usage, from application loading to boot time to playing games, we noticed almost no distinguishable difference between the Agility 3 and the Vertex 3. However, if you're in the business of having to deal with large chunks of data at a time, such as editing HD movies or copying lots of data rapidly from one place to another, the Vertex 3 or the Plextor PX-256M2S seems like a better deal.

System performance scores (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Multimedia multitasking  
iTunes  
Office  
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
321 
113 
394 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
323 
113 
393 
Seagate Barracuda XT
340 
113 
391 
OCZ Agility 3
331 
113 
390 
Plextor PX-256M2S
323 
113 
383 
OCZ Vertex 3
322 
113 
338 

Boot and shutdown time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot time  
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
12.2 
56.2 
OCZ Agility 3
6.7 
29.7 
OCZ Vertex 3
5.8 
29.1 

Data transfer scores (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive  
As OS drive  
Plextor PX-256M2S
261 
162.03 
OCZ Vertex 3
260.71 
150.01 
OCZ Agility 3
207.75 
101.67 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
126.33 
58.05 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59 
47.12 

Service and support
OCZ backs the Agility 3 with a three-year warranty, which is decent, and similar to what the Samsung 470 and the Plextor PX-256M2S have. When it comes to storage device warranties, the length of the warranty is the most important factor, and it would be even better if OCZ offered a five-year warranty for the Agility 3 as Seagate Technology does for the Momentus XT.

Conclusions
Increase the Agility 3's performance a bit and lower its price a sizable notch and the Agility 3 would be one of the best deals on the market. In its current state, however, the drive still makes a very good replacement drive for any computer, be it a desktop or laptop, Mac or PC, especially one that has built-in support for SATA 6Gbps.

ocz-agility-3-120gb.jpg
7.3

OCZ Agility 3

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 8Support 7