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.
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
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.