OCZ ARC 100 240GB
£69 inc VAT • ocz.com
The OCZ company appeared early in the history of SSDs as a specialist in performance drives, and still makes high-specification drives under its new owners Toshiba. But the ARC 100 is a valuefocused solid-state drive, bringing enough of the virtues of PC flash storage to woo potential disk upgraders, at a most attractive price.
We were sent the 240GB version of the ARC 100 to review, which at the time of writing could be found for just £69. Even in this smaller capacity that represents a price of just 28.8p per gigabyte, making it the best value in this group of six. You can also find the ARC 100 in 120- and 480GB sizes.
Before going bankrupt in 2013, OCZ had a reputation for dying and defective SSDs. However, since Toshiba bought the company in 2014, it has been groomed into a professional, consumer-focused company with an impressive after-sales policy.
OCZ calls this the ShieldPlus warranty, extending for three years for this model. In the event of a fault, there’s no need for your receipt, just quote the serial number, and if the support team deem the drive as defective you’ll get an advance replacement SSD sent out with free shipping, before you need to return your dud unit.
While most SSDs are using controllers made by Marvell, with SandForce still popular with some brands, OCZ is pressing into service the expertise it bought with the acquisition of Indilinx. Variants of the Indilinx Barefoot 3 are used in all its SATA-based drives, and here it is backed with 512MB of DDR3 DRAM as cache; although OCZ has not revealed this latter specification.
This controller is designed to deliver good sustained performance in long-term use, and does not suffer from slowdowns when presented with incompressible data. For flash-memory silicon, OCZ is using its parent company’s toggle NAND with a 19nm process size.
OCZ offers its own software for Windows and Linux with which to update and optimise the drive, SSD Guru. For Mac users there’s a bootable ISO for download, which can be written to an optical disc or USB drive.
We were not expecting the fastest speeds from this budget drive, so were pleasantly surprised by some of the results that placed the ARC 100 ahead of more expensive products. In the simple sequential test, the OCZ did prove to be the slowest, the only drive not to peek above the 500MB/s parapet, although this should be of little concern on daily use. Sequential reads reached 489MB/s and writes 447MB/s.
As promised by OCZ, the Indilinx Barefoot controller does not use any on-the-fly compression tricks to accelerate speed, and CrystalDiskMark reported practically the same speeds for random and compressible data: to wit, 426- and 427MB/s for reads, and 431and 432MB/s for sequential writes.
Small file performance was very good, with 4kB random reads at 27MB/s – a little lower than most but only by a megabyte or three per second – while 4kB random writes were actually the highest on test at 127MB/s. That’s a clean-drive result which will likely drop once the drive reaches steady-state level, but still impressive.
For IOPS the ARC 100 was in good company, approaching 100,000 IOPS for random writes at 90,300 IOPS, and around 80,000 IOPS for random 4kB reads at the same 32 queue depth. VERDICT: This may be only OCZ’s budget drive but it offers great performance with plenty of all-important support to provide peace of mind to anyone concerned about moving to solid-state storage.