Solid state drives are the future of data storage and OCZ is considered by many to be the pioneering company in this field. I've been working with SSDs for a little over two years and have seen this technology advance like no other. Early drives like the OCZ Apex were fast and innovative for their time, but controller technology and general understanding of SSD technology hadn't yet matured. Drives would often stutter in Windows due to poor controller design / lack of cache. Windows XP simply wasn't designed for solid state drives which meant you oftentimes had to tweak a SSD / modify Windows for better performance. Pricing on early SSDs put them out of reach of most consumers.
The SSD technology of today is worlds better than what we had in 2009. Better understanding of the technology, mature controllers, Windows 7, SATA 6Gb/sec and even the PCI-e bus have all advanced things to a point where SSDs are coming close to mainstream adoption. Pricing is also much more attractive as well as evident by the drive we are looking at today, OCZ's Agility 3 240GB unit. The Agility 3 is one of three new SATA 6Gb/sec SSDs and is classified as a high-performance drive alongside the higher-end Vertex 3. The 240GB Agility we have on hand retails for $489.99, or roughly $2.04 per GB. There's still a premium on cutting edge SSD technology but it is cheaper than it was two years ago by nearly $.50 per GB.
Our Agility 3 sample arrived in traditional OCZ SSD packaging; a thin cardboard box about the size of a slim external optical drive. OCZ uses the same box design across all of their new SSDs with the only difference being the accent color. Green represents the Agility line while red is reserved for the value Solid 3 series and Silver is used on the box art of the Vertex 3. A description of the drive and a specifications chart can be found on the back of the box. Inside is the drive itself, warranty into and a SSD sticker. Notably missing is an adapter to use the drive in a desktop. Some newer cases are now shipping with support for SSDs but if you have an older chassis, you will either need to pick up a separate adapter or get creative on how you mount the drive (if you mount it at all). Below is a list of specifications borrowed from OCZ's website.
When comparing the 240GB specs to the Vertex 3, the Agility 3 has slightly slower max read / write performance. Random write 4k IOPS is also about 15,000 slower than the Vertex 3. Even still, 525MB/sec read / 500MB/sec write is nothing to frown about.
Let's move ahead and take a closer look at the new Agility 3 from OCZ.