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

Looking for a solid-state drive to replace your aging hard drive? The OCZ ARC 100 series has what you need at the price you want. Here's CNET's full review.

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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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5 min read

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.

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7.5

OCZ ARC 100 series solid-state drive

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.

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.

oczarc100-3.jpg
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 thick2.5-inch, 7mm thick2.5-inch, 7mm thick
Controller OCZ Barefoot 3 M10OCZ Barefoot 3 M10OCZ Barefoot 3 M10
Flash memory A19nm Toshiba Multi-Level Cell (MLC) FlashA19nm Toshiba Multi-Level Cell (MLC) FlashA19nm 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 IOPS75,000 IOPS75,000 IOPS
Max random write 80,000 IOPS80,000 IOPS80,000 IOPS
Power consumption idle .6W.6W.6W
Power consumption active 3.45W3.45W3.45W
US suggested retail price $74.99 $119.99 $239.99
Endurance 20GB/day for 3 years20GB/day for 3 years20GB/day for 3 years
Warranty 3-year3-year3-year

Most affordable on the market

Set to go on sale on August 13, the OCZ ARC 100 has the most affordable price to date among SSDs. It's the first SSD on the market that, at launch, costs just 50 cents per gigabyte (except for the 120GB capacity model which, at its $75 price, works out to about $0.63 per gigabyte). All other drives generally cost closer to $1-per-gigabyte mark. As with all SSDs, the street price of the OCZ ARC 100 will likely soon drop even lower, making it an easy choice for regular home users.

SSD US street price (in dollars per GB)

WD Black 2 Dual Drive $0.17OCZ ARC 100 (240GB) $0.50OCZ ARC 100 (480GB) $0.50Plextor M6S (256GB) $0.51Samsung SSD 840 Evo (500GB) $0.51Plextor M6S (512GB) $0.56OCZ ARC 100 (120GB) $0.63Samsung SSD 840 Pro (512GB) $0.64SanDisk Extreme II (240GB) $0.67SanDisk Extreme II (480GB) $0.67Sandisk Extreme Pro (240GB) $0.67Sandisk Extreme Pro (480GB) $0.67OCZ Vector 150 (480GB) $0.69Samsung SSD 850 Pro (1TB) $0.70Samsung SSD 840 Pro (256GB) $0.72Samsung SSD 850 Pro (512GB) $0.78Intel SSD 730 (240GB) $0.79Samsung SSD 850 Pro (256GB) $0.79
Note: Measured in dollars per gigabyte, based on current price on Amazon.com. MSRP used for reviewed product. The lower number indicates better value.

Decent performance

With its low pricing, I didn't expect much from the ARC 100, and indeed, it didn't blow me away with its performance. In fact, compared to other 2014 SSDs, it was the slowest. But still it's faster than many drives that came out last year. The most important factor is that it's much more affordable than it is slower when compared with the current top drives on the market.

In a sequential data transferring test, when working as the main drive that hosts the operating system and performing both writing and reading at the same time, the new drive scored a sustained speed of 164MBps. When working as a secondary drive, it registered 289MBps and 386MBps for writing and reading, respectively. Compared to the Samsung 850 Pro and the SanDisk Extreme Pro, the new ARC 100 was clearly trailing behind in these tests. However, its read and write speeds were about the average among SSDs released in the past two years.

CNET Labs' SSD data transfer performance

SanDisk Extreme Pro 250.98 450.59 457.46Samsung 850 Pro 246.25 454.32 448.11OCZ ARC 100 series 163.53 289.39 385.71Seagate 600 SSD 192.26 259.01 275.21Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 236.18 269.78 270.8Transcend SSD720 145.26 230.58 269.55Intel SSD 730 Series 189.52 265.53 266.84WD Black 2 Dual Drive 174.65 114.66 228.2Plextor M6S 155.34 144.78 227.89SanDisk Extreme II 224.27 255.86 203.42OCZ Vector 150 231.42 265.32 200.46
  • As OS Drive (Read and Write)
  • As Secondary Drive (Write only)
  • As Secondary Drive (Read Only)
Note: Measured in megabytes per second. Longer bars indicate better performance.

Moving on to tests with the PC Mark benchmark suite, the new OCZ ARC 100, again scored lower than the top recent SSDs, though not by much.

PC Mark 8 overall storage performance

Samsung 850 Pro 4,979 267.32SanDisk Extreme Pro 4,957 244.17Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 4,948 236.18OCZ ARC 100 series 4,948 203.72Standard Laptop HDD 2,042 6.83
  • Storage score
  • Storage bandwidth (MB/s)
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance.

The same thing happened in PC Mark 8 for applications. The OCZ ARC 100 ranged from just a few milliseconds to a few second slower than the top drives on the market, in completing a setup of heavy tasks using popular applications, such as Photoshop, Excel, Word, and so on.

PC Mark 8 storage application performance

Samsung 850 Pro (RAPID) 58 133.9 355.7 28.2 9.1 9.1Samsung 850 Pro 58.1 133.8 369.8 28.3 9.1 9.2SanDisk Extreme Pro 58.4 133.9 361.1 28.3 9.2 9.2OCZ ARC 100 series 58.9 134.7 362.3 28.4 9.4 9.3Standard laptop HDD 138.9 366 565.19 51.7 26.6 27.4
  • World of Warcraft
  • Battlefield 3
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
Note: Measured in seconds. Shorter bars indicate better performance.

In all, the OCZ ARC 100 is definitely not one of the fastest SSDs on the market, but in most cases, you won't be able to notice the difference between it and other, faster drives. And it will without question improve a computer's performance a great deal for those moving on from a hard drive.

Conclusion

Traditionally, SSDs have always been expensive, and now OCZ now changed that somewhat with the ARC 100 series.

The new drive is not for hardcore users who want to squeeze every bit of performance out of their system, nor is it for those who do a lot of writing to their internal storage. For the rest of regular users, however, it strikes a great balance between cost and performance gain. If you can live with its short three-year warranty (which is only short when compared to the 10-year warranty, introduced by the Samsung 850 Pro and SanDisk Extreme Pro), the ARC 100 series is an excellent buy.

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7.5

OCZ ARC 100 series solid-state drive

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 7Support 7
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