OCZ RevoDrive X2 240GB PCIE SSD

It seems like only yesterday that we first got our hands on OCZ's original RevoDrive which ultimately earned the Legit Reviews Innovation Award. Its RAID-0, dual SandForce controlled SSD goodness outpaced nearly every other drive we had tested. Along comes the second generation, dubbed the RevoDrive X2 and we were giddy with geek fueled excitement to see just how well it performed. I'll spoil it now and sum it up in one word - WOW.

RevoDrive X2- CARD

Featuring four(!) of the lovable SandForce SF-1200 controllers in a RAID-0 configuration, the RevoDrive X2 doubles up on the original RevoDrive using the same x4 PCI-E interface. Available in 100GB to 960GB capacities, the largest drive also doubles what the original RevoDrive offers. The drive we received is of the 240GB variety, which currently retailing for a hair under $640. Obviously, at that price this isn't going to be a card for the masses but enthusiasts with a few extra bucks will be drawn to it like moths to flame.

RevoDrive X2- BOX

The box design is exactly the same except for the X2 designator on the box and the "R" logo is what you'll see on the center of the card.

RevoDrive X2- BOX

The back of the box shows the model and capacity of the drive inside, along with some brief specifications. The full list of specifications from OCZ are below.

OCZ RevoDrive X2 Specifications and Features

 
100GB-160GB Max Performance 240GB-960GB Max Performance
Read: Up to 740 MB/s Read: Up to 740 MB/s
Write: Up to 690 MB/s Write: Up to 720 MB/s
Sustained Write: Up to 550 MB/s Sustained Write: Up to 600 MB/s
Random Write 4KB (Aligned): 100,000 IOPS Random Write 4KB (Aligned): 120,000 IOPS

RevoDrive X2- BOX OPEN

The actual drive comes packaged more like a video card than an SSD and as well it should, since it's just another PCI-E device like a video card.

RevoDrive X2- CONTENTS

Included in the box, in addition to the drive, is a guide booklet and a boastful (yet accurate) sticker which we have seen similar in other drive packaging.

RevoDrive X2- SIDEBYSIDE

At first glance, the two cards look identical but if you look closer, you'll see the drive at the top has screws in the PCB holes which hold the second tier PCB in place above the right half of the main card. The top card is the X2 while the lower is the original RevoDrive. Read on for more detailed pictures and descriptions.

RevoDrive X2 - Closer Look

The OCZ RevoDrive X2 is installed simply by sticking it in an available PCI-E slot. No wires, no mess. A few words of wisdom we'll pass on though. Do not use the x1 PCI-E slot as it will cripple the drive performance. The drive is meant for x4 PCI-E and above. Also, make sure you check your motherboard documentation carefully as to the proper way to populate your PCI-E slots because the slot speeds are typically dependent on how they are populated.

RevoDrive X2- BACK

The back of the card looks not unlike that of the original RevoDrive except for the telltale screws that fill the PCB holes. The NAND is aligned in orderly rows of four on one end.

RevoDrive X2- NAND

The NAND is branded as Intel 29F32G08AAMDB, which is 34nm MLC NAND and exactly what we saw on the original RevoDrive.

RevoDrive X2- FRONT

Around the front on the main board, we find more NAND and two SandForce SF-1200 (SF-1222) controllers while the daughterboard sports the remaining NAND and the two additional controllers.

RevoDrive X2- CONTROLLERS

Due to the RAID 0 array, TRIM is not supported but idle garbage collection is - as are the other features employed through SandForce's DuraClass technology.

RevoDrive X2- PCB

As far as the architecture is concerned, the PCB is exactly the same as found on the first RevoDrive. Just like the original, behind the "R" logo, near the center of the card is the actual SiI3124 Silicon Image RAID controller which is a "single-chip PCI or PCI-X to 4-port Serial ATA (SATA) host controller". This allows the RevoDrive X2 to act as a SATA boot drive with the help of the Pericom PI7C9X130 PCI-E-to-PCI-X reversible bridge chip.

OCZ REVODRIVE

The mother and daughter boards connect in the middle of the larger card and are held securely by four screws. The spot for this connector is visible on the original RevoDrive. We even mentioned in our review of that drive that the SiI3124 chip supported up to four controllers and we had visions of an X2-type drive surfacing in the future. The future is now.

RevoDrive X2- CONNECTOR

On to the benchmarks!

OCZ RevoDrive - Drivers, RAID & Boot

In order for either of the OCZ RevoDrives to operate properly and be seen by Windows you need to install the OCZ drivers first. You can download these drivers on OCZ's website and you'll need to burn them to disk or place them on a USB drive to load during the Windows install process. If you do not perform this step, the Windows installation application will not recognize the RevoDrive as a valid choice for installation. This is explained in the installation guide and is a very important step.

Device Manager

If you try to access the RevoDrive as a secondary drive from another instance of Windows, you'll need to go to device manager, expand the Storage Controllers node, right-click on the RAID device (it should show as not working properly) and choose "Update Driver Software...". Browse for the folder where the drivers are stored and Windows will take care of the rest.

RevoDrive X2 BIOS

Upon boot during the BIOS load, you should see the above screen which lets you know the BIOS has identified the drive and allows you to enter the RAID utility.

RevoDrive X2 BIOS

Once in the utility, there are several options to choose from. No changes should be necessary as the RevoDrive X2 is configured properly right out of the box.

RevoDrive X2 - Test System

TEST SYSTEM

All tests were performed on a fresh and up-to-date install of Windows 7 Pro x64 with no other applications running and using AHCI mode set through the BIOS. Synthetic Benchmarks were run with the OS loaded on a 30GB Vertex SSD. The ASUS P6T (BIOS v1701) motherboard uses an ICH10R south bridge chipset which supports TRIM. In between every test, the drive was secure erased. As such, all results should be indicative of optimal performance. All components were set to their default speeds and are listed below:

Intel LGA 1366 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Core i7 920

Motherboard

ASUS P6T Deluxe V1 (1701)

Memory

CORSAIR XMS3 3GB DDR3 1333

Video Card

Gigabyte GeForce GT 430

Hard Drive

OCZ Vertex 30GB

Power Supply

Corsair HX1000

Operating System

Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit

Comparison Drives & Other Models We Have Tested

Since there are so many SSDs out there now with different controllers, we started a reference table of which controllers are used by each drive to help you compare results. Different controllers definitely perform differently and each has various strengths and weaknesses. Like CPU's, even identical drives will have variations in performance and part of that variance may be attributable to the NAND flash used.

 SSD MODEL
CONTROLLER(S) TRIM Support?
OCZ RevoDrive X2 240GB
(4x) Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)
No*
Corsair Force 40GB Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222) Yes
Intel X25-V 40GB Intel G2 Yes
G.Skill Phoenix Pro Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222) Yes
Patriot Inferno 100GB Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222) Yes
OCZ RevoDrive 120GB
(2X) Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222) No*
ADATA S596 128GB JMicron JMF612 Yes
Corsair Force Series 120GB Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222) Yes
Patriot Zephyr 128GB JMICRON JMF612 Yes
Patriot Torqx 128GB Indilinx Barefoot Yes
Kingston 30GB V Series SNV125-S2 Toshiba T6UG1XBG Yes
Kingston 128GB V Series SNV425-S2 JMICRON JMF618 Yes
Corsair Force Series 100GB Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222) Yes
Corsair Nova Series 128GB Indilinx Barefoot Yes
Intel X25-M 160GB G2 SSD
Intel PC29AS21BA0 Yes
Micron RealSSD C300 (6Gbps) 256GB Marvell 88SS9174-BJP2 Yes
* TRIM is not supported due to the RAID controller.

As with the original RevoDrive, we cannot show the screenshot of the CrystalDiskMark Info tool as we normally do at this point in the review as CDM Info simply does not recognize it. Nor does it (again) show in the Intel Rapid Storage Technology application.

RevoDrive X2- LED

So with that, we'll move on to the benchmarks!

ATTO & AS-SSD Synthetic Benches

ATTO v2.41

ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant in the SSD world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes with the total length being 256mb.

RevoDrive X2- ATTO

Benchmark Results: ATTO is one of the benchmarks the SSD companies use to display drive performance for their marketing data. The RevoDrive X2 absolutely killed all other drives in the comparison and modestly exceeded OCZ's specs for write and just a hair below on reads. Either way, the performance is simply amazing.

RevoDrive X2- ATTO GRID

AS-SSD Benchmark

We have been running the AS-SSD Benchmark app for over a year now and found that it gives a broad result set. Many testers are using the 4k file size read/write results for the IO Meter benchmark which is an old tool and the AS-SSD benchmark essentially shows the same metric in its results set. The programmer worked very hard on this software and continues to make updates often so if you use it, show him some love.

RevoDrive X2- AS-SSD

RevoDrive X2- AS-SSD GRID

Benchmark Results: The X2 didn't come away with the best scores on all counts here but it was close. The numbers on the SandForce drives are lessened on this benchmark because the testing employs incompressible data and the SandForce drives perform best with compressible data. The scores are still very impressive and came close to breaking the 1,000 mark for a total score.

HD Tach & CrystalDiskMark Synthetic Benches

HD TACH 3.0.4.0

HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device as possible.

RevoDrive X2- HD TACH

RevoDrive X2- HD TACH GRID

Benchmark Results: Surprisingly, the RevoDrive X2 didn't take any of the top scores here but didn't miss out by much. For the most part, all of the SandForce drives perform pretty much the same regardless of their configuration.

CrystalDiskMark 3.0.0h

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.

RevoDrive X2- CRYSTALDISKMARK

RevoDrive X2- CRYSTALDISKMARK GRID

Benchmark Results: CrystalDiskMark also uses incompressible data which doesn't allow the controller to perform at its best but the X2 handily smoked all other drives in the sequential read/writes and nearly took the other top scores in the 4k tests as well.

PCMark Vantage Synthetic Benchmark

PC Mark Vantage

PCMarkVantage

PCMark Vantage v1.01 measures the performance of the latest PC hardware across a variety of common scenarios. PCMark Vantage supports both system level and component level benchmarking and comprises several different test suites but for the purposes of this review, we stuck with just the HDD suite. The nice thing about PCMark Vantage is that you can submit your scores online and compare against others.

RevoDrive X2- PCMARK VANTAGE

RevoDrive X2- PCMARK VANTAGE

Benchmark Results: The RevoDrive X2 makes a clean sweep here, besting the marks posted by all other drives in the comparison by wide margins. It's going to be a while before we see another drive come along and post better numbers.

RevoDrive X2- PCMARK VANTAGE GRID

OCZ RevoDrive X2 - Real World Tests

One of the most common operations performed on a PC is moving/copying files. Using a free application called Teracopy, we copied large numbers of two file types from one folder to another on the same drive. Teracopy allows us to objectively measure the time of transfer and using the same drive prevents other devices from tainting the outcome. The operation requires the drive to perform both sustained read and writes simultaneously. The first was a 2.12GB collection of mostly JPG files (with a few .MOV files thrown in) of variable sizes which were taken at CES in January of 2010.

RevoDrive X2- JPG COPY

The second was a collection of MP3 files of various sizes that totaled 4.65GB collectively. These file types were chosen due to their wide use and mixture of file sizes and compression levels.

RevoDrive X2- MP3 COPY

Install Results: Moving nearly 5GB of data in less than 40 seconds is an amazing accomplishment and makes for snappy computer use. Anyone working with large or a large number of files on a consistent basis will see a drive like the RevoDrive X2 save them a lot of time over the long run.

RevoDrive X2- FILECOPY CHART

We also timed the installation of a few rather lengthy applications/suites as app installs is something everyone does and waiting for completion can be a drag. We used Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, Microsoft Office 2010 Professional and Futuremark's 3DMark Vantage as our test subjects with all install settings at default. Both were installed from an installer located on the target drive itself as installing from another drive, especially an optical drive, would cause a bottle-neck that would corrupt the results. The timing for these had to be done via stopwatch so there should be about a half second +/- error margin. Again, with the source and target drives being the same, concurrent read/write activity is required.

 DREAMWEAVER

RevoDrive X2- APP CHART

Install Results: The differences in install times weren't as dramatic, but there was still a noticeable improvement over the times posted by the other drives.

Last but not least, everyone's favorite is the Windows startup/shutdown time check. This is one of the big reasons you want an SSD as your boot drive!

This test was also performed with a manual timing method via stopwatch and should also carry the same half second +/- margin of error. The methodology employed was to force the BIOS to allow user selection of startup drive after load and begin timing from the time the enter button is pressed until the Windows desktop appears on the screen. All of the instances of Windows were identical and freshly installed with only the NVIDIA video driver manually installed.

RevoDrive X2- WINDOWS CHART

Install Results: While the start up time didn't yield better results, the shutdown time dropped by 2 seconds which, in terms of Windows, is RIGHT NOW.

We'll wrap this with a look at the total drive capacity and our final thoughts.

Capacity, Final Thoughts & Conclusions

As you should expect by now, the drive capacity that is actually usable is diminished by overprovisioning and a little bit claimed by Windows. The overprovisioning helps with drive maintenance and adds to the lifespan of the drive. The 240GB RevoDrive X2 allots the user 223GB of usable space which is more than enough for most users, even if not using a secondary drive for storage.

RevoDrive X2- WIN 7 PROPERTIES

The numbers put up by the RevoDrive X2 are insane and part of the reason it can reach such numbers is the PCI-E interface. A normal SATA II connection allows a theoretical bandwidth limit of 3Gbps or 375MB/s. I say theoretical because there's overhead that must be accounted for so you never reach that rated throughput. When you kick up to 6gbps/750MB/s of SATA III, you are still capped out well before the scores seen by the X2. Even the x1 PCI-E slot never exceeds 625MB/s so the x4 or above interface is necessary to reach the potential of this beast.

RevoDrive X2- SIDE

So can you duplicate the RevoDrive X2 performance with four SandForce drives and your very own RAID array? With an add-in RAID card, you sure could. But the economics don't work in your favor. Plus, setting it up and finding room for four SSDs with cables and a RAID card in your system just makes it all the more unappealing. The simplicity of this design can't be beat.

RevoDrive X2- SIDEBYSIDE

A quad-drive set-up of 40GB SSDs will set you back around $450 at best and a quality raid card will add another two bills minimum (don't forget a fan for that guy!). Plus you have nowhere near the total storage capacity. So, the $640 retail price for the 240GB RevoDrive X2 starts looking like more of a bargain in comparison. While TRIM is not supported, you always have idle garbage collection working for you and the proprietary DuraClass technology doing its thing to keep this guy humming along. Even if you lost 20% of the factory fresh speed, you'd still be better off than with most other SSD options in terms of raw performance.

RevoDrive X2- LED

On a final note, we'd be remiss if we didn't tell you to do your homework before making a purchase, as is the case with all emerging technology. Some motherboards may not play nice with either versions of the RevoDrive and/or may require a BIOS update for compatibility. While we had no issues on our test ASUS board, we had to load a beta BIOS for an MSI Big Bang XPower board before we could get things working correctly. As always, OCZ offers great support and their forums are a wealth of information which is a good place to start your research. Now that the original RevoDrive has been out in the wild for a bit, support from motherboard makers should be on the rise.


Legit Reviews Editor's Choice Award

RevoDrive X2- CARD

Legit Bottom Line: OCZ has taken the already impressive RevoDrive and kicked it up to a whole new level with the RevoDrive X2. It simply rocks. It's hands-down the fastest SSD we have used and its elegant simplicity in use and installation makes it all the more appealing for users of all levels. If you are the type that has to have the fastest and best of everything, this is the drive to have.