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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  • CaedenV - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - link

    The entire Agility/Vertex 2 line was pretty bad. The 3's had a rough start with several major firmware updates, but after that they have really upped their quality quite a lot. Not saying that they would hold a candle to the likes of Crucial, Intel, or Samsung, or that they should be trusted in a 'mission critical' role (because they shouldn't). But as budget drives for a home system, they are really not bad.

    I was burnt also with some of the early power supplies, which were absolutely trash. But after OCZ purchased PC Power and Cooling they really turned things around, and my most recent OCZ power supply has some of the most accurate voltages I have seen for anything near it's price range (and that is before rebate). Again, they are not for anything mission critical, but they are also not advertised for it, nor priced for it. The current ones at least work more than well enough for home use.

    At any rate, they are a budget company, and as such they are hit-and-miss. Complaining that a budget oriented company like OCZ does not compare on quality to the likes of a high-end company like Samsung is like comparing a Nissan to a BMW. They both sell cars, but they are not remotely in the same market.
  • celestialgrave - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - link

    Did I miss it or was power not checked this time? Perhaps safe to assume very close to the Vertex 4 for power consumption?
  • hasseb64 - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    AnandTech, why are you given OCZ a FW variable in your tests?
    I thought that AnandTech was a serious hardware site?
    Do not let OCZ or any other sloppy company get a 2nd chance with a “FW at consumer development strategy”.
  • Superneato - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    I'm assuming the Agility 4 is the boot drive in this test. Exactly what method is used to TRIM the drive manually? I have the same question regarding how the drive was secure erased for this test.
  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    I just use Windows' Disk Management to format the drive, which will TRIM all user accessible LBAs.

    As for secure erase, I use Linux and its Terminal (basic hdparm commands).
  • Superneato - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    You can format the boot drive from inside the booted OS? I must be missing something or do you have the test SSD installed as a secondary drive?

    Thanks for the fast reply.
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    All SSDs are tested as secondary drives. Using it as a boot drive can create more variables (the OS may be reading/writing in the background, which would affect the results).
  • poccsx - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    I still can't figure out who makes the fastest SSD, they all seem to have their strengths and weaknesses.
  • albtocxhtrqm - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    nice review but when I look for a ssd i look for price and reliability and then speed. I don't see the reliability factor tested here.
    Why not a reliability index based on reviews on 20. 50. 100 main websites like amazon, newegg, tigerdirect etc..

    For instance:
    OCZ Agility 512GB, september 06, 2012, 38% 1 star

    The more websites the more reliable this index would be.
  • Eryxx - Thursday, October 11, 2012 - link

    I did it, I succumbed to my inner cheapness and saved a few $$ by buying an OCZ Petrol 128G ~7 months ago.

    Sure, it was faster than my WD Cav. Black 640GB, but from Day 1, the SSD gave me issues. I had to back it up weekly, do a secure erase using the OCZ Linux tools, then reimage the drive to keep it running correctly. If I let it go longer than a week without doing this, it would begin randomly locking up the system. Still, when it worked, it was much faster, so I suffered through.

    One day, the Petrol simply could not be detected by the BIOS, like it was just gone. Couldn't do anything with it, even the Linux tools could no longer detect it, so RMAd back to OCZ.

    Roughly 10 days after the Petrol failure, I received a brand-new Agility 4 128GB. Oh, joyous day, right? No.

    Right out of the package, my BIOS cannot see this drive. I've tried every procedure recommended by OCZ and dozens of users on their forums, this thing will not show up in AHCI mode, period. It WILL appear in IDE mode, and even in AHCI it DOES show up in Win Explorer and Device Manager once you boot with another drive.

    Yes, I've updated the BIOS, isolated the drive so it's connected all alone, new SATA cable, different ports, reflashed the SSD firmware, blah, blah, blah, this thing just won't detect in my system in AHCI. Will yet another drive fare any better? I highly doubt it, but I have little recourse but to try, or possibly wait for another firmware revision which might solve this.

    If you check the OCZ forums, there are a lot of other posts with similar issues on the Vx4/Ag4 line, so I don't seem to be alone in my misery.

    OCZ for your next SSD? Caveat emptor, my friend.

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