OCZ RevoDrive 120GB PCI Express SSD

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The OCZ RevoDrive 120GB is easily the fastest SSD we've tested and was particularly dominant in our file copy and application tests. However, as it is essentially composed of a pair of SandForce-based SSDs running in RAID 0, we were expecting more than a 15% performance increase. It is true, however, that large portions of our test suite consist of pre-compressed data which may have had a negative impact on SandForce performance. We were also disappointed that it lacks both TRIM and garbage collection to prevent performance degradation over time; this lack may be the fatal flaw which cuts short the life cycle of this product in the marketplace. Its energy efficiency isn't great either, as we estimate it uses about the same amount of power as a typical 7200 RPM hard drive.

The most interesting thing about the RevoDrive is the interface. SSDs with internal RAID are not a new development but putting it on a PCI Express 4x card eliminates any possible bottlenecking by the 3 Gbps interface common to most SATA SSDs. The recent announcement of the SATA 6 Gbps compliant Vertex 3 line by OCZ may negate the advantage of PCI-E though. According to OCZ, the RevoDrive has a maximum read speed of 540 MB/s which shouldn't be able to fill a 6 Gbps pipe. If you own or are planning on purchasing a SATA 6 Gbps board in the near future, a pair of Vertex 3's may be preferable.

The OCZ RevoDrive 120GB is an incredibly fast drive, but with a street price of about US$270, it has one of the worst performance to dollar ratios in the business, representing a classic case of diminishing returns — you're paying a lot more for a marginal improvement. Is it worth the extra cost over a single Vertex 2? For many potential buyers, the answer is probably no, but that can be said of most computer components in its price range. A super-fast drive is a luxury that every user would like to have, but not many would be willing to plunk down that much cash for one.

If your pockets are extremely deep, you might go one step further and try the OCZ RevoDrive X2 instead. It is basically a RevoDrive with four controllers in RAID 0 rather than two and garbage collection, which may be critical if you want to retain the performance you're paying for. OCZ also has a line of enterprise drives, the Z-Drive R2/R3, which use an PCI-E 8x interface with either a four or eight way RAID.

ERRATA / COUNTERPOINT: According to a spokesperson from OCZ Technology who contacted us some hours after this review first went live...

1. "Neither the REVO or the REVO X2 support TRIM; however, because the drives are SandForce based, both have garbage collection." More on this later.

2. "There is no architectural difference between the REVO and the REVO X2 aside for the addition of 2 more controllers resulting in an increase in performance."

Many thanks to OCZ Technology and the OCZ RevoDrive 120GB sample.

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(Editor's Note of Historical Interest: This is not the first slot-card SSD we've tested. SPCR veterans may recall the Cenatek Rocket Drive, a solid state PCI card based on SDRAM that emulates a hard drive, which we reviewed back in late 2002. It had many limitations and the cheapest board without any RAM was $800 but easily ran many rings around a 7200 RPM performance drive of the day.)

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB & Momentus 750GB
Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB vs. WD Caviar Blue 1TB
New high areal density 2-and-3 TB Greens from WD
Consumer SSD Battle: WD, Kingston, OCZ, Intel
WD Caviar Black 2TB & VelociRaptor 600GB
Seagate Momentus XT: The Best of Both Worlds?

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