The economy solid-state disk strikes the right balance between performance and price
OCZ has had its share of problems out of the gate with its low-end, consumer solid-state disk drive, the Apex Series SATA II. But its most recent economy SSD, the Agility Series SATA II 2.5-in., appears to be a successful effort to correct old problems with fresh technology. The Agility has ample cache to boost write performance and, most important, uses a higher-end controller. Yet it is only slightly more expensive than the Apex, which is still being sold.
The Agility SSD series is touted by OCZ as a great solid-state drive for people on a budget. While OCZ won't say so, for all practical purposes, it's the replacement for the Apex drive, which has had issues related to the JMF602 flash controller from JMicron Technology Corp., a company located in Hsinchu, Taiwan. (JMicron said it rushed its controller to market and has since corrected firmware-related issues.)
An OCZ spokeswoman said the company's goal is to offer a breadth of SSD options based on cost and performance, so "we don't discontinue any series if they continue to do well. We have many customers that don't seem to have any trouble at all with JMicron-based drives, and they prove to be the best cost option for them," she said.
Even so, the array of SSDs from OCZ is getting a little confusing. There are a number of different series: Vertex EX, Summit, Vertex, Apex, Solid and now Agility. The drives use a number of different controllers as well, from vendors such as Indilinx, Samsung and -- in the bargain drives -- JMicron.
Like the higher-end Vertex drives, the Agility uses Indilinx Co.'s Barefoot controller, which has a whopping 64MB of cache. That helps to greatly improve write speeds and reliability over the Apex, which has no cache.
All that extra cache, and the new controller, costs just a bit more than you'd pay for the Apex drive. The Agility 120GB SSD goes for $329 on Newegg.com, while the Apex sells for only $24 less.
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