When the OCZ Vertex 2 review was published, I lamented a lack of sufficent drives to test a RAID array of Vertex 2s. What I didn’t know at the time was the next review sample our friends at OCZ would send provided just such a scenario. Welcome to the OCZ RevoDrive X2.
The RevoDrive X2 is OCZ’s second take on the RevoDrive series. Like its predecessor, the RevoDrive X2 uses SandForce 1222-based SSDs in combination with a SiliconImage 3124 RAID controller to achieve greater performance. Where the two parts diverge is the X2’s use of a daughter card housing an additional two SandForce 1222 controllers and SSDs. These two additional SSDs help the RevoDrive X2 provide a significant performance boost over the original RevoDrive.
- Read: 740MB/s
- Write: 690MB/s
- Sustained write: 550MB/s
- 4K Random write (aligned): 100,000 IOPS
- Interface: PCI Express x4
- Internal RAID 0
- Power consumption: 4.3W idle, 8.3W active
- MTBF: 2,000,000 hours
- 3 year warranty
The RevoDrive X2 series has the ability to act as a boot drive. Booting from a RevoDrive X2 requires a motherboard capable of booting from PCI Express though. A list of motherboards known to work (and required BIOS revisions where needed) can be found on OCZ’s web site.
Also of note is the lack of TRIM support with the RevoDrive X2. While the individual SSDs do certainly support it, RAID controllers are unable to pass those commands on to individual drives in the array. To compensate, the RevoDrive X2 uses idle garbage collection. When the RevoDrive is idle, its controller looks for and marks available addresses for clearing.
Installing & Setup
Putting the RevoDrive X2 into a system is just like installing a GPU. Remove a slot cover from the case, insert card, secure it, and you’re good to go. It feels a little strange to put this card in an x16 slot due to the connector length and the lack of that little hook at the end of a PCIe x16 card, but the RevoDrive sits securely in the slot.
During POST, a setup utility is available to do some basic maintenance such as deleting/creating a RAID volume and low-level formatting (different than a secure wipe). The Silicon Image controller supports RAID-0, 1, and 5. Multiple RAID sets can be made during this process, but performance will likely be affected since the RevoDrive X2’s performance expectations depend on a four-SSD RAID set.
If you want to use the RevoDrive X2 as your boot device, you’ll have to change the boot order in your BIOS. Incidentally, the Gigabyte benchmark board lists the SSD as “SCSI SiI RAID-0” (the controller the drive uses for RAID), and not as a RevoDrive X2. Once the boot order is set and Windows is installed, the computer boots from the RevoDrive X2 just like any other storage device.
Atto Disk Benchmark shows off the speeds a storage device is capable of. Thanks to some highly compressible data, Atto shows off a best-case scenario for SSDs.
The RevoDrive X2 is about 2.7x faster than the Vertex 2 under Atto for both read and write speeds. It’s around the same speed gain seen moving from a hard drive to the Vertex. There are a couple of cases where the difference is much smaller, but those sizes aren’t able to use the RAID array effectively so it’s not entirely unexpected.
CrystalDiskMark measures the read/write speed for storage devices using a series of sequential and random tests of various sizes.
Read speeds in CrystalDiskMark are close between SSDs in the 4K test, but after that the RevoDrive X2 leaves everything in the dust. Write speeds are much closer, but the RevoDrive X2 still holds a significant advantage over the Vertex 2, maintaining a 70% lead.
AS-SSD simulates a heavy workload test for devices and, as its name implies, is primarily targeted at SSDs. Data written to the storage devices is uncompressible, providing a worst-case scenario for writing to the drive. Tests involve sequential and random reads and writes.
Again, the results are similar with AS-SSD. The RevoDrive X2 performs far better than our other test drives, but 4K performance is much closer.
PCMark Vantage HDD
Part of the PCMark Vantage benchmark, the storage component evaluates the performance of hard drives and SSDs. Tests include a Windows Defender scan; data streaming performance in Alan Wake; image importing to Windows Photo Gallery; Windows Vista Ultimate startup time; and video editing using Windows Movie Maker; video playback, streaming, and recording in Windows Media Center; adding music to Windows Media Player; and application load times for Microsoft Word 2007, Adobe Photoshop CS2, Internet Explorer 7, and Outlook 2007.
The only time the RevoDrive X2 falls behind the Vertex is during Movie Maker. Otherwise the RevoDrive X2’s speed advantage is clear.
So how do the synthetic benchmarks compare to real uses?
We use EasyBCD to force Windows to a boot selection screen to allow for a consistent starting point. The time is stopped when the Windows finishes loading and the “ready” cursor is presented (the “busy circle” disappears from the arrow icon).
Actual application performance is gauged by load times for the first level of Crysis: Warhead and Adobe Lightroom.
Windows 7’s boot time is aided slightly by the RevoDrive X2, as is the load time for Lightroom. The one oddity is the load time for Crysis: Warhead. I don’t have an explanation for this, but it’s actually a couple of seconds slower than the Vertex 2. To be certain of the results, the tests were run multiple times on both drives. Each time the outcome was the same. Now the reality is that it’s very unlikely that the time difference between the RevoDrive X2 and Vertex would be noticed, so it really isn’t a big deal, but it is still surprising.
DataRAM’s RAMDisk is our product of choice for some real world file transfer testing. Using a RAMDisk provides a significantly faster storage medium to allow already fast SSDs to not experience a bottleneck transferring to/from a mechanical drive. The folder for Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. is the test data.
As expected, the RevoDrive X2 is significantly faster than the other drives, taking just over half the time required by the Vertex 2 in the read test and completing the write test in two-thirds of the time.
The OCZ RevoDrive X2 100GB’s retail price is $449.99, although current pricing (at publication time) on Newegg is $409.99: OCZ RevoDrive X2 OCZSSDPX-1RVDX0100 PCI-E MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD). It’s expensive, but enthusiast-class parts usually come with a price tag that matches their performance. The downside is, for a similar price to the 100GB RevoDrive X2, four 50GB Vertex 2s can be purchased and put into a RAID array to achieve similar performance with a much larger capacity. The advantage to the RevoDrive X2 is its simplicity: most folks don’t want to bother with configuring a RAID array, and may not have room in a smaller case for multiple drives.
Put simply, the RevoDrive X2 is a no-compromise solution from OCZ that provides incredibly quick transfers, boot times, and application load times. That speed comes at a cost though, and may put it out of reach for most folks. However if your motherboard supports booting from a PCI Express slot and you can afford the premium price, the OCZ RevoDrive X2 makes a fantastic primary drive. The OCZ RevoDrive X2 is awarded the Icrontic Stamp of Approval.