There are several pros and cons to weigh when evaluating a SSD but perhaps the most important today is deciding between a single-level cell (SLC) or multi-level cell (MLC) drive. SLC and MLC refer to the type of flash memory used in the SSD. SLC memory stores a single bit of data per cell while MLC memory can store multiple bits per cell. Having only one bit of data per cell makes SLC memory much faster and less prone to data errors. Cell life is also prolonged in SLC memory. Flash memory cells have a limited number of write cycles and once this limit is reached, the cell can no longer be used. Typically, MLCs wear out between 1,000 and 10,000 writes while SLCs can last up to 100,000 before expiring. SLC memory seems to be the clear winner, but of course these memory chips come at a hefty premium. Expect to pay around 5x as much for a decent SLC SSD as you might pay for a comparable MLC drive.
Taking all of this into consideration, most users simply can't afford / stomach the pain to spend $800 for only 64 GB of storage capacity regardless of what kind of memory it uses. But, these same users also desire something that is quick and won't cause stuttering / pauses when used as an OS drive, a common problem with early generation SSDs. For those that fall into this category, OCZ created the Apex Series of solid state drives. Utilizing an internal RAID 0 configuration to help eliminate poor performance and stuttering, can the OCZ Apex live up to our expectations of what a midrange MLC-based SSD should deliver?
OCZ sent over their 120 GB version of the Apex for our review, essentially the middle class, as there are 60 GB and 250 GB versions available as well. The Apex arrived in the tiny (compared to traditional 3.5" hard drives) retail package seen above with an orange and white color scheme. A photo of the drive is shown on the front with a description of the drive and specifications on the reverse. Below is a complete list of specs, borrowed from OCZ's website.
Both read and write speeds look good on paper. Continue ahead as we take a look at the included contents and get acquainted with the OCZ Apex SSD.