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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  • Wardrop - Sunday, September 02, 2012 - link

    You guys should work on some kind type reporting method, e.g. when you highlight a portion of text in the article, is shows a button in the top-right (or bottom-right) of your selection with something like "report error". Clicking it yields a little popup form with a textarea and a submit button. On submit, it emails the author with the URL, the selected text containing the error, and the users comments.

    I'm not sure who your web developers is, but I personally wouldn't find this to be a difficult thing to implement in any of my Ruby applications (not Rails by the way), assuming you've already got some kind of popup framework. It'd be a matter of adding a bit of JavaScript into your article template/layout to handle the text selection button, and popup form. After that, it's just a matter of adding an endpoint on the server, e.g. http://www.anandtech.com/report_error/<article_... to handle the POST request and send the email off.

    It would be a two hour job probably, but it depends on the framework you guys are using obviously, and the experience of your developer in doing this kind of thing.

    Would be a worthy time investment considering that for every article, there's usually quite a number of typographic errors reported by users.
    Reply
  • KZ0 - Sunday, September 02, 2012 - link

    If not for any other reason - at least not to bloat the comment section with typo reports. I love how responsive you guys at AT are to comments and critizism, and how fast you respond, but reading about corrected typos isn't that interesting. Reply
  • maximumGPU - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    Agreed! Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    I find their performance mode more disturbing than even SF's performance gap with compressible vs incompressible data... Conclusion makes total sense, it'd have to be a rather large discount for me to consider it or recommend it over the m4, 830, or M5S... Add to that all the PR problems OCZ still has due to being the first name a lot of people think of regarding last year's SF fiasco, and OCZ has a long road ahead to grab some positive mind share again. Reply
  • Zoomer - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    For these results to be valid, the drive has to be at most half full. Thus, this 256 GB drive would be effectively only have 128GB of usable capacity...throwing $/GB out the window. Reply
  • jb510 - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    I asked Anand about this drive a month or so ago in comparison to the Crucial m4. In part due to his reply I ended up buying a m4 and have been very happy with it. Still glad to see the full report of the agility4, it was tempting at the time both the m4 & a4 were $400 with the a4 being substantially newer to market. Reply
  • Runamok81 - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    In a move reminiscent of OCZs villainous 32nm / 25nm debacle,
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4256/the-ocz-vertex-...

    OCZ is shipping TWO flavors of this drive into the retail channel without informing consumers. It seems anandtech received the better performing (more reliable) micron NAND SSD. Why won't OCZ ship THEIR flavor of their drive for Anandtech to test?

    http://images.tweaktown.com/content/4/8/4881_10_oc...

    Along with its rumored increase in failure rates (tweaktown/newegg and amazon reviews), I'd be curious to see if there is a performance difference between the two flavors of the drives.

    Fool me once, shame on you OCZ! Fool us twice, who should be ashamed?
    Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Asynchronous NAND drives had lower power consumption in past iterations - to what extent is this still true? How come there is no power consumption graph?

    Also, the A4 is slower overall in the storage bench tests than the Agility 3? What's going on here? This doesn't look like progress to me...
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Vertex 4 and Agility 4 require special power testing hardware which I don't have (our regular tools don't work with them for some reason).

    As for Agility 3 vs Agility 4, as I said in the article, Agility 3 gets away with async NAND because of real-time compression used by SandForce.
    Reply
  • chris81 - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Please make the same text which appears in all SSD reviews italic. It would ease skipping these:
    The four corners of SSD performance are as follows...
    Reply

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