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It’s been a long time since we tested a single-level cell (SLC) SSD, as the market has moved almost entirely over to multi-level cell (MLC) designs. MLC is favored because it’s cheaper to produce and each cell can store two bits of data, rather than one, so you can cram more storage into each flash unit. On the other hand, SLC is faster and is rated for 100,000 read/write cycles, as opposed to 10,000 for MLC. Naturally, SLC is preferred for enterprise solutions, while MLC has captured the consumer market. But with the introduction of the (relatively) affordable Agility EX series, OCZ is hoping to win back some of the consumer market for SLC.
The 60GB Agility EX pairs the popular Indilinx Barefoot controller—responsible for this generation’s blazing-fast, stutter-free SSDs—with 64GB of onboard SLC NAND. It’s worth noting that this is the same capacity as a standard 64GB SSD; OCZ just uses a binary naming convention. In our tests, the Agility EX’s sustained read speeds topped off at around 197MB/s, or approximately six percent slower than the second-gen Intel X-25M. Sustained write speeds, at 175MB/s, were the same as with the Patriot Torqx, an MLC drive using the same Indilinx controller. But the Agility really shone in application tests, with a five percent faster Premiere Pro encoding time and a 13 percent higher PCMark Vantage HDD score than the Torqx.
At $400, the Agility EX is twice as expensive as 64GB MLC drives using the same architecture. But its performance is right up there with the best we’ve ever tested. The fact that its life span is 10 times that of an MLC drive is attractive, to be sure, but seems unnecessary for consumers—after all, how many of you are still using 10-year-old hard drives? The Agility EX is a great drive, but SLC life spans (and SLC prices) may just be overkill, even for enthusiasts.
Blazing-fast speeds; 10x the life span of MLC drives.
Costs twice as much as MLC drives of same capacity; do consumers need a 60GB drive that lasts for decades?
|OCZ Agility EX (SLC) ||Patriot Torqx (MLC)||Intel X25-M G2 (MLC)|
|Capacity ||60GB||128GB ||160GB|
|Average Sustained Transfer Rate Read (MB/s)||197.5 ||205.4 ||209.1|
|Average Sustained Transfer Rate Write (MB/s)||175.5 ||175.1|| |
|Random Access Read (ms) ||0.11 ||0.11 ||0.13 |
|Random Access Write (ms) ||0.24||0.31 ||0.08 |
|Premiere Pro (sec)||647 ||674 ||696 |
|PCMark Vantage Hard Drive||24,070 ||21,247 ||23,288 |