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?
Like other 240GB SandForce drives, the Agility 3 uses 256GB of NAND, with 16GB devoted to overprovisioning. Unlike the Vertex 3 and OWC’s Mercury Extreme Pro, which use synchronous NAND for their storage, the Agility 3 uses asynchronous, which is slower.
Does the cheaper NAND in the OCZ Agility 3 make a difference? Yes and no.
The good news is that the Agility’s use of cheaper NAND only becomes a problem in a few situations, most of which are unlikely to impact home users. The slowdown is only apparent in tests that read and write large amounts of incompressible data to disk, like AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark. Since a large part of SandForce’s speed advantage is its compression algorithm, the slower NAND in the Agility 3 can’t keep up, and the Agility 3 clocked in around 210MB/s reads and 240MB/s writes in those tests. In tests that more closely mirror most real-world scenarios—such as PCMark Vantage and PCMark 11, Premiere Pro, and IOmeter—the Agility 3 performs nearly as well as SF-2281 drives that use synchronous NAND.
Unless you often write a lot of incompressible data to disk, you’re not likely to notice much speed difference if you opt for the Agility 3, and you’ll save some scratch—a 240GB Agility 3 was about $65 cheaper than the same size Vertex 3 as of press time.
Asterisk (*) denotes highest score. Our current test bed is a 3.1GHz Core i3-2100 processor on an Asus P8 P67 Pro (B3 chipset) running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. All tests used onboard 6Gb/s SATA ports with latest Intel drivers, except 3Gb/s SATA tests, which used onboard 3Gb/s Intel SATA ports.