OCZ already ships two drives with the blazing-fast SF-2281 controller—the Vertex 3 and the firmware-tweaked Max IOPS Vertex 3. So, why a third? Like its predecessors the Agility and Agility 2, the Agility 3 is OCZ’s “mainstream” SSD for this generation. So what distinguishes it from the Vertex 3, and is there any reason to buy it?
In our roundup of solid-state drives, Intel’s entrant bore Marvell’s 9174 6Gb/s SATA controller, rather than an Intel one. While the Intel 510 SSD performed respectably among its 6Gb/s SATA peers, it’s not the top-to-bottom Intel drive fans have been waiting for. That drive is finally here, and despite the Intel 320 Series nomenclature, this is the third generation in Intel’s X25-M series of mainstream solid-state drives. But is a drive with a 3Gb/s SATA controller really going to cut it in 2011?
In last month’s roundup of solid-state drives, Intel’s entrant bore Marvell’s 9174 6Gb/s SATA controller, rather than an Intel one. While the Intel 510 SSD performed respectably among its 6Gb/s SATA peers, it’s not the top-to-bottom Intel drive fans have been waiting for. That drive is finally here, and despite the Intel 320 Series nomenclature, this is the third generation in Intel’s X25-M series of mainstream solid-state drives. But is a drive with a 3Gb/s SATA controller really going to cut it in 2011?
We’ve seen a few USB 3.0 external drives here at Maximum PC, and we do appreciate the long-overdue speed boost. It’s nice to have file transfers limited by drive speed again, rather than the interface—the 33MB/s maximum was killing us. And while we appreciated the boost we got from USB 3.0 in WD’s My Book 3.0 and the Vantec NexStar 3 SuperSpeed enclosure, the former was only as fast as the mechanical drive within it and the latter couldn’t even match the speeds of the drives it enclosed.
It’s great to have a USB 3.0 interface on a mechanical drive, but wouldn’t it be nice to combine USB 3.0 with SSD? With a theoretical bandwidth limit exceeding 5Gb/s, why wouldn’t you? Thankfully, OCZ did. The Enyo is a compact anodized aluminum brick stuffed with MLC NAND and a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port.
OCZ clearly hopes the perceived rarity of its Limited Edition Vertex drive will increase desire for the product. A limited run of 5,000 is one way to do that. But if you’ve got a drive with performance this good, wouldn’t you want everyone to buy one?
Like the OWC Mercury Extreme Enterprise, the OCZ Vertex Limited Edition is a 100GB drive built on the SandForce SF-1500 controller. It’s the same architecture as OCZ’s cancelled Vertex 2 Pro, and when the 5,000 Limited Edition drives run out, there will doubtless be a successor waiting.
The SSD market is a meritocracy. Controller companies live and die on the strength of their products. Who had heard of Barefoot before its Indilinx controller pushed SSD speeds to new heights? SandForce is another promising young company whose controllers have started appearing in drives, including this month’s OCZ Vertex LE and the OWC Mercury Extreme Enterprise.
OWC markets mainly to Mac users, but don’t hold that against its SSD. It’s a modern, SandForce SF-1500-powered drive that supports TRIM. And given that OS X doesn’t support TRIM, well, we don’t even think that platform deserves performance this good.
We’re not mad. We’re just disappointed. When Plextor announced in February that it, too, was entering the SSD market, we were cautiously optimistic. After all, more competition is always a good thing, and Plextor wouldn’t put out a subpar product just to try to capitalize on a trend—would it?
The Plextor PX-128M1S is the first drive we’ve tested that is built on the Marvell 88SS8014-BHP2 “Da Vinci” controller—and if its performance is indicative of the platform as a whole, we hope it’s the last.
Western Digital has finally dipped its toe into the SSD pond, a move we’ve been expecting since last year’s acquisition of SiliconSystems. The first consumer SSD to be born of this acquisition is the SiliconEdge Blue. Can one of the biggest names in mechanical hard drives compete in the solid state world?
Western Digital seems to be banking on two things with the SiliconEdge Blue: first, that seeing Western Digital’s name on an SSD will draw consumers, and second, that the strength of its custom firmware and rigorous performance testing will enable it to compete with drives running the high-performing SandForce and Barefoot Indilinx controllers. WD won’t say whose controller the SiliconEdge Blue uses, but it’s not developed in-house and it isn’t SandForce or Barefoot.