Introduction

For the last few years, OCZ's consumer SSD lineup has primarily consisted of two models: Vertex and Agility. The history of these two goes all the way back to 2009 when OCZ realized that they can differentiate their SSDs by equipping them with different quality NAND. In first and second generation Vertex and Agility SSDs, the difference between the NAND was the manufacturer and process node. First generation Vertex used strictly Samsung NAND, whereas Agility opened the doors of cheaper prices by using Intel and Toshiba NAND. Back then, Samsung was in control of the SSD and NAND market, which allowed them to price themselves higher than others. With second generation Vertex and Agility, OCZ switched to SandForce's SF-1221 controller and Vertex 2 used Micron NAND, while Agility 2 used Intel NAND. 

The Vertex 3 and Agility 3 finally brought some clearer differences. The difference was no longer the manufacturer, it was the actual NAND interface. 25nm IMFT NAND and ONFi 2.x brought us synchronous logic and transfer speeds of up to 200MB/s. However, manufacturing ONFi 1.0 NAND is cheaper, which is why IMFT has continued to manufacture slower asynchronous NAND. After all, there are many products that don't benefit from the faster interface, such USB 2.0 memory sticks. Once again, OCZ saw that there was a niche for slightly cheaper and slower SSDs with asynchronous NAND. This time around OCZ wasn't the only one, though, as there are numerous other SandForce SSDs with asynchronous NAND (Mushkin Chronos, Corsair Force 3 and Patriot Pyro to name a few). 

With the Vertex 4, OCZ switched to Marvell silicon, rebranded it Indilinx Everest 2 and built their own custom firmware. Vertex 4 used synchronous NAND which meant that there was room for an Agility 4. As expected, a month after the release of Vertex 4 OCZ launched Agility 4 with the same Everest 2 controller but with asynchronous NAND instead. 

NewEgg Price Comparison (8/31/2012)
  60/64GB 120/128GB 240/256GB 480/512GB
OCZ Agility 4 $65 $100 $190 N/A
OCZ Agility 3 $62 $90 $175 $330
Plextor M5S $70 $85 $200 N/A
Crucial m4 $73 $110 $210 $400
Intel 520 Series $100 $132 $230 $500
Samsung 830 Series $85 $119 $230 $570
OCZ Vertex 3 $70 $85 $180 $500
OCZ Vertex 4 $65 $110 $190 $530

Pricing is very close to the Vertex 4, which is similar to what we saw between the Agility 3/Vertex 3. 

As always, the pricing table is just to give us some idea of pricing. Prices change on a daily basis, hence it's advisable to follow the prices for a few days before pulling a trigger. NAND pricing can be extremely volatile, often resulting in heavy discounting.

The Agility 4 and Test Setup
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  • MadMan007 - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Given that performance mode significantly affects HDTach, it might be useful to run some of the other broad tests like AnandTech Storage Bench with a drive that's more full. The results posted for that test may reflect the 'ideal' performance of a drive that isn't very full, and I can imagine most users would at least reach the second performance plateau with a drive that's actually being used to store OS and applications, if not the third tier. If so it could make quite a difference in the results. Reply
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    I second this. Why would I buy a drive with more than twice the capacity I need, when the drives will just be outdated junk in a couple of years? I'd like to see the real-world performance of these SSDs after they've been filled over 50%. Reply
  • rs2 - Sunday, September 02, 2012 - link

    Third.

    'Performance mode' is a hack and a gimmick. The drive suddenly loses 50% of its performance as soon as it 25% full. And then another 60% of what's left if you go past 80%. That's just absurd. While many users may well stay under the 80% capacity mark, very few will stay under 25% long-term.

    Any benchmarks of this drive should be done at a minimum of 25% capacity to better reflect the real-world performance that most users will see.
    Reply
  • semo - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    This is your standard bait and switch sale tactic from OCZ but at least they are more upfront about it this time. When they swapped the innards of the Vertex 2 and completely changed the specs (both performance and capacity, for the worse) they never told anyone.

    Anand was even reluctant to report on this shifty marketing practices but eventually caved in, only to have OCZ say sorry and not issue a mass recall...
    Reply
  • Craigster586 - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - link

    My Vertex 3 120gb is around 75% capacity. After reading your post I ran a Disc Benchmark using the latest Pass Mark software. With 8 programs running and 4 downloads My overall result was 2296. with 220MB/s Read and 215 MB/s write. Taking into consideration I'm at about 3/4 capacity running 8 programs with multiple downloads. I think my SSD is Performing quite well. Im not gonna say I'm not lucky. These drives are known to crash I bought it knowingly But I've had mine since they been on the market and havn't had a single issue. However i did update my SSD's firmware to the latest edition again thats at your own risk but it worked for me with no issues. Reply
  • Craigster586 - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - link

    Vertex 3 120Gb PassMark Disc Bench Mark

    Disk Mark
    #1 - Seagate ST3300622AS (300GB) 456.4
    #2 - WDC WD5000AAKS-00V1A0 (500GB) 580
    #3 - Seagate ST31000528AS (1TB) 709
    #4 - SAMSUNG MZ7PC064HADR-000 (64GB) 2846
    #5 - SAMSUNG HD103SJ (1TB) 850
    #6 - INTEL SSDSC2CW240A3 (240GB) 3434
    This Computer 2296

    Disk - Sequential Read
    #1 - Seagate ST3300622AS (300GB) 62.0
    #2 - WDC WD5000AAKS-00V1A0 (500GB) 78.4
    #3 - Seagate ST31000528AS (1TB) 100.4
    #4 - SAMSUNG MZ7PC064HADR-000 (64GB) 461.9
    #5 - SAMSUNG HD103SJ (1TB) 118.5
    #6 - INTEL SSDSC2CW240A3 (240GB) 393.6
    This Computer 220.4

    Disk - Sequential Write
    #1 - Seagate ST3300622AS (300GB) 61.2
    #2 - WDC WD5000AAKS-00V1A0 (500GB) 78.5
    #3 - Seagate ST31000528AS (1TB) 90.9
    #4 - SAMSUNG MZ7PC064HADR-000 (64GB) 155.4
    #5 - SAMSUNG HD103SJ (1TB) 112.3
    #6 - INTEL SSDSC2CW240A3 (240GB) 225.4
    This Computer 216.8

    Disk - Random Seek + RW
    #1 - Seagate ST3300622AS (300GB) 2.94
    #2 - WDC WD5000AAKS-00V1A0 (500GB) 3.58
    #3 - Seagate ST31000528AS (1TB) 4.80
    #4 - SAMSUNG MZ7PC064HADR-000 (64GB) 169.6
    #5 - SAMSUNG HD103SJ (1TB) 4.13
    #6 - INTEL SSDSC2CW240A3 (240GB) 330.6
    This Computer 197.7
    Reply
  • akumaburn - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    That is true.. however..

    The drive recovers its performance afterwards. What they mean is that if you all the sudden wrote 120GB of data unto their 256GB drive the performance of your drive will drop to about half-this is normal. Give it a few hours of idle time, do a trim and reboot and you're back up to 100%.

    I have a vertex 4 and can vouch for this, it does slow down, but if you give it a few hours for its internal space management to do its thing it will speed up again to near 100% performance.
    Reply
  • LB-ID - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    A fool and his money are soon parted, and anyone who buys an SSD from OCZ is a fool. They treat their customers like beta testers, and mock them when they have issues. No thanks, I'll stick to far more reliable products from far more reliable companies. Reply
  • ashrafi - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Nice article ,
    at the end ,
    "agility 4 for significantly less than the Crucial m4 of Samsung SSD 830 "
    little correction
    "agility 4 for significantly less than the Crucial m4 or Samsung SSD 830 "
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Fixed! Thanks for the heads up :-) Reply

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