OCZ ARC 100 series solid-state drive review: A great deal for those on a budget

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The Good The OCZ ARC 100 series is the most affordable solid-state drive on the market. The drive has good performance and supports encryption.

The Bad The new SSD doesn't come with any accessories or software, it has a short three-year warranty, and its performance ranks behind that of other recently released drives.

The Bottom Line All things considered, the OCZ ARC 100 series is an excellent upgrade to a sluggish computer, thanks to good performance and affordable pricing.

7.5 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

The OCZ ARC 100 series is the most affordable solid-state drive (SSD) currently on the market, at the suggested retail price of just $75, $120, and $240 at launch for 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB, respectively. (Prices for the UK and Australia will be announced when it's available for purchase later this month.) You can expect the street price to be even lower.

The catch is, in my testing, the drive fell clearly behind other 2014 SSDs, such as the recently reviewed (and much more expensive) Samsung 850 Pro or the SanDisk Extreme Pro . And it has just a short three-year warranty.

That said, the OCZ drive still proved itself in my trials to have decent enough performance and sufficient features to be a great buy.

If you want to give your aging computer -- which likely still uses a regular spinning hard drive as it main storage device -- a significantly boost in performance, this is the replacement drive you've been waiting for. On the other hand, if you don't mind spending more for the fastest model available, check out this list of the top SSDs on the market.

The new OCZ ARC 100 is a standard 2.5-inch 7mm solid-state drive. Dong Ngo/CNET

Standard design, no accessories

The OCZ ARC 100 series is an SATA standard internal drive for laptops that uses the standard 2.5-inch design, with a thickness of 7mm. The drive is compatible for virtually any application where a regular standard SATA hard drive is used. It supports the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) but will work with SATA and SATA 2, too.

Unlike previous drives from OCZ, the new ARC 100 drive comes in a spartan package that includes just the drive itself. There's no software or any other accessories included, such as an SATA-to-USB adapter or even a drive-bay bracket. (A drive bay bracket makes it easier to install a 2.5-inch drive into the drive bay of a desktop computer.)

The omission of the bracket is not a deal-breaker, however. Since SSDs don't have any moving parts, you can actually leave it hanging loose inside a desktop. On the other hand, an SATA-to-USB adapter and clone software would be a great help should you want to migrate your computer from a hard drive to the new SSD.

Relatively low endurance

On the inside, the new drive is powered by OCZ's latest Barefoot 3 M10 controller and uses A19nm Multi-Level Cell (MLC) Flash memory from Toshiba. This combination allows for low pricing while still offering performance and enterprise features such as self-encryption. At the same time, the drive has a shorter endurance rating compared with those of other recent SSDs, however.

Endurance is the number of program-erase cycles an SSD can perform before you can't write to it anymore. (Read more about SSD endurance here.) OCZ claims that you can write 20GB to the new ARC 100 per day, every day for three years before it runs out of P/E cycles, just about one-fourth the endurance of the SanDisk Extreme Pro. The Samsung 850 Pro has twice the endurance ratting of the SanDisk.

In reality, the new OCZ drive's endurance is still plenty, since most of us don't write 20GB to our drives, and definitely don't do so every day. That said, if you're looking to do a lot of write-intensive tasks, such as Hi-Def movie editing, the new ARC 100 is not the drive you want.

OCZ ARC 100 series specs

120GB 240GB 480GB
Drive type 2.5-inch, 7mm thick 2.5-inch, 7mm thick 2.5-inch, 7mm thick
Controller OCZ Barefoot 3 M10 OCZ Barefoot 3 M10 OCZ Barefoot 3 M10
Flash memory A19nm Toshiba Multi-Level Cell (MLC) Flash A19nm Toshiba Multi-Level Cell (MLC) Flash A19nm Toshiba Multi-Level Cell (MLC) Flash
Interface SATA III (6Gb/s) SATA III (6Gb/s) SATA III (6Gb/s)
Max sequential read 475 MB/s 480 MB/s 490 MB/s
Max sequential write 395 MB/s 430 MB/s 450 MB/s
Max random read 75,000 IOPS 75,000 IOPS 75,000 IOPS
Max random write 80,000 IOPS 80,000 IOPS 80,000 IOPS
Power consumption idle .6W .6W .6W
Power consumption active 3.45W 3.45W 3.45W
US suggested retail price $74.99 $119.99 $239.99
Endurance 20GB/day for 3 years 20GB/day for 3 years 20GB/day for 3 years
Warranty 3-year 3-year 3-year

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