OCZ ARC 100 240GB SSD Review

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It wasn’t that long ago when the future of OCZ was in doubt, which came as sad news to many in the PC enthusiast community. Luckily, almost immediately after filing bankruptcy, they were promptly swooped up by the Toshiba Group. The acquisition seems like a match made in heaven with Toshiba being a worldwide leader and manufacturer of NAND flash. The marriage definitely affords OCZ the opportunity to be much more competitive in the saturated SSD market. Today, we’ll be looking at the 240 GB version of OCZ’s ARC 100, which uses their proprietary Barefoot 3 M10 controller, and of course, Toshiba’s A19 MLC NAND. So, let’s take the ARC 100 for a spin and see what OCZ has in store for us.

Specifications and Features

The ARC 100 SSDs are available in three capacities – 120 GB, 240 GB, and 480 GB. Each offers slightly different performance claims, but all three are relatively close.

Performance 120GB 240GB 480GB
Seq Read Speed 475 MB/s 480 MB/s 490 MB/s
Seq Write Speed 395 MB/s 430 MB/s 450 MB/s
Random Read (4K QD32) 75K IOPS 75K IOPS 75K IOPS
Random Write (4K QD32) 80K IOPS 80K IOPS 80K IOPS
Steady State Random Write (4K QD32) 12K IOPS 18K IOPS 20K IOPS

Listed below are the specifications as provided by the OCZ product page. The drive is only 7 mm thick, which makes it compatible with most laptops on the market. As mentioned earlier, the ARC 100 uses OCZ’s proprietary Barefoot 3 M10 controller and Toshiba’s MLC A19 NAND. The drive offers 256-bit AES-compliant encryption, SMART support, TRIM and Idle Time Garbage Collection, and is backward compatible with SATA 3 GB/s controllers. The ARC 100 comes with a unique 3-year ShieldPlus warranty.

OCZ ARC 100 Specificatiions
Physical
Usable Capacities 12o/240/480 GB
NAND Components Toshiba A19nm Multi-Level Cell (MLC)
Interface Serial ATA (SATA) 6Gb/s (SATA III)
Controller OCZ Barefoot 3 M10
Form Factor 2.5 inch, 7mm height
Dimensions 100.20 x 69.75 x 6.70 mm
Weight 110g
Reliability / Compatibility
Data Path Protection BCH ECC corrects up to 44 random bits/1KB
MTBF 2.0 million hours
Encryption 256-bit AES-compliant
Serial ATA Fully compliant with Serial ATA International Organization:
Serial ATA Revision 3.2.
Fully compliant with ATA/ATAPI-8 Standard NCQ
Operating System Windows, Linux, Mac OSX
Power Requirements Standard SATA Power Connector
Target Applications Client Desktops and Laptops
Environmental
Power Consumption Idle: 0.60W Active: 3.45W
Operating Temp 0°C – 70°C
Storage Temp -45°C – 85°C
Shock Resistance 1000G/0.5ms
Vibration (Operational) 2.17Grms (7-800Hz)
Vibration (Non-operational) 3.13Grms (5-800Hz)
Certifications UL C/US, FCC, CE, C-Tick, KCC, BSMI, VCCI, WEEE
Additional
Performance Optimizations TRIM (requires OS support), Idle Time Garbage Collection
Service/Support 3-Year ShieldPlus Warranty, Toll-Free Tech Support,
24 Hour Forum Support, Firmware Updates

There are many features the OCZ marketing team wants to make sure you’re aware of. So, let’s start by giving them an opportunity to explain a couple key points.

Solid Performance for Notebooks and PCs

Think an SSD upgrade is out of your reach? Think again. With OCZ’s ARC 100 Series, get lasting SSD performance and an exceptional computing experience, all while delivering an excellent value for flash storage thrill seekers.

Putting Hard Drives to Shame

Imagine faster boot-ups, snappier file transfers, improved energy efficiency, and system responsiveness that make you wonder why you put up with that hard drive for so long. If you’re ready to make the leap to a more durable alternative to spinning discs, the ARC 100 Series is ready to take on your storage challenges at an upgrade-friendly price point.

Additional features include the drive’s longevity, use of quality components, excellent mixed workload performance, and affordability. All images and descriptions below courtesy OCZ.

ocz_arc100 (1)

Next Generation A19nm MLC NAND Flash
Cutting-edge A19nm process geometry NAND offers excellent value for consumer desktops and laptops

ocz_arc100 (2)

Proprietary
Proprietary Barefoot 3 M10 controller technology delivers superior sustained speeds over the long term

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Lasting Performance
Advanced suite of NAND flash management to analyze and dynamically adapt as flash cells wear

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Bang for the Buck
Designed for value-minded users who want a performance SSD with no tricks up its sleeve

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Enhanced Endurance
Emphasis on endurance, rated for 20GB/day of host writes for 3 years (typical client workloads)

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Superior Mixed Workload Performance
Excels in both incompressible and compressible data types such as multimedia, encrypted data,. ZIP files and software

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Ultra Slim
Sleek alloy housing offers ultra-slim sub-7mm z-height for use in the latest thinner form factor notebooks

ocz_arc100 (8)

Secure
Superior reliability with in-house technology and high quality components based on the latest technology

Retail Packaging/Product Tour

The retail box is mostly colored in the familiar OCZ blue and has a large picture of the ARC 100 on the front. Around back, you’ll find a basic set of specifications and a couple marketing blurbs. The box sides have additional branding and model information. Inside the box, the ARC 100 is housed in a plastic clam-shell with the product documentation enclosed as well.

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The ARC 100 features a metal housing that exudes a quality feel from the moment you hold it. One side of the drive has a OCZ sticker applied that completely covers it. At the back, another smaller sticker is applied with model and serial number information. At the business end of the drive are the standard SATA power and data connections.

ACR 100 Top Side

ACR 100 Top Side

ARC 100 Bottom Side

ARC 100 Bottom Side

SATA Connections

SATA Connections

With the case opened, we can have a look at the PCB and its components. There are eight 16 GB Toshiba A19 NAND flash packages on each side of the PCB that make up the total raw capacity of 256 GB, which means 16 GB is reserved for other tasks such as over provisioning. The Barefoot 3 M10 controller is slightly down-clocked (352 MHz vs. 397 MHz) from the faster M00 version found on the Vector 150, but the two are pretty much identical otherwise. A thermal pad was found covering the Barefoot 3 M10 controller, which means the casing is being utilized as a rudimentary heatsink. The ARC 100 uses a pair of 256 MB Micron 4XK77 D9PSH DDR3 SDRAM modules (512 MB Total) for caching and garbage collection functions.

Casing Opened

Casing Opened

PCB Top Side

PCB Top Side

PCB Bottom Side

PCB Bottom Side

Barefoot 3 M10 Controller

Barefoot 3 M10 Controller

Toshiba NAND

Toshiba NAND

Micron Cache Memory

Micron Cache Memory

Software – OCZ’s SSD Guru

SSD Guru is OCZ’s new look desktop software that’s a good compliment to the ARC 100. From the Overview tab, the utility can provide a host of information on the SSD and your overall system. Under the Tuner tab, you can initiate Trim or set the over provisioning parameters. The Maintenance tab has the firmware update and secure erase options. The Settings tab lets you set the utilities logging, monitoring, and proxy server options. The Help tab has OCZ contact and support information.

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Testing and Benchmarks

Test System

Here is the breakdown of the components used in our test bed.

Test System Components
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VII Formula
CPU Intel i7 4790K Devil’s Canyon
Memory G.SKill TridentX DD3-2400 MHz 2x8GB @ 1866 MHz 9-9-9-24
SSD Various (See Comparison List)
Power Supply Corsair HX1050 Professional Series
Video Card EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified
Cooling EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block–360mm Radiator–MCP35X Pump

Our comparison samples include a couple high capacity SSDs in the Samsung 850 EVO (500 GB) and Patriot Ignite (480 GB). We’ll also include data from the Kingston HyperX Savage (240 GB) and Kingston HyperX 3K SSD (240 GB).

Test Method

Each SSD is Secure Erased (SE) to make sure we get the best results possible. We do this before each and every test run to give the comparison samples the best environment possible for testing. For today’s OCZ ARC 100, we used their SSD Guru software to SE the drive before each benchmark run. Below are the tests we run with a brief description.

  • Crystal Disk Mark – Run at Default Settings (5 Pass)
  • AS SSD – Run at Default Settings
  • ATTO – Run at Default Setting with QD Set to 10
  • IOMeter 2010 – Run Manually with QD32 for the 4K Tests

Performance

As you look through the benchmark charts below, you are going to see the ARC 100 falling slightly behind the more expensive drives in the comparison group. However, it does manage to meet or exceed its advertised speeds in most cases. The ARC 100 is meant to bridge the gap between price and performance and offer a good “bang-for-the-buck.” As you’ll see below, it’s still a very speedy drive that throws out competitive performance numbers.

CrystalDiskMark, for the most part, uses random incompressible data to test read and write performance. Incompressible data testing will typically result in performance numbers a little under what manufacturers claim, which is what we see in this case. The 4K tests are noteworthy here as we don’t normally see numbers that good on value SSDs.

CrystalDiskMark Read Results

CrystalDiskMark Read Results

CrystalDiskMark Write Results

CrystalDiskMark Write Results

AS SSD is widely regarded as the toughest benchmark on SSDs as it uses 100% incompressible data samples for read and write testing, which represents the worst case scenario for obtaining data transfer speeds. Here again, we see decent 4K results from the ARC 100, and it came pretty close to advertised read/write speeds as well. The read/write access times are right on par with the other drives in the comparison list, and the AS SSD overall score is a respectable 1057.

AS SSD Read Results

AS SSD Read Results

AS SSD Write Results

AS SSD Write Results

AS SSD Access Time Results

AS SSD Access Time Results

AS SSD Scoring Results

AS SSD Scoring Results

IOMeter has the ARC 100 reaching its advertised speeds during the 2MB read/write tests and throwing some very good 4K results. The 4K IOPS testing had the ARC 100 surpassing the advertised 80K write, but it fell a little short of the advertised 75K read IOPS. Still, a pretty good showing for a drive in this class.

IOMeter 2MB/4K Read and Write Results

IOMeter 2MB/4K Read and Write Results

IOMeter 4K IOPS Results

IOMeter 4K IOPS Results

IOMeter 2MB IOPS Results

IOMeter 2MB IOPS Results

ATTO Disk Bench is what most manufacturers base their speed claims off of. As you can see, the ARC 100 exceeded the read speed claims with a high mark of 502 MB/s. The write test had its best result on the 64K run and topped out at 434 MB/s.

ATTO Read Results

ATTO Disk Bench Read Results

ATTO Disk Bench Write Results

ATTO Disk Bench Write Results

We like to perform a quick run of Anvil’s Storage Utility to see if it agrees with what we recorded above. We run the benchmark twice – once with 100% incompressible data, and then again using the 0-Fill option. The results pretty much mirror what we’ve seen in the previous benchmarks.

Anvil 100% Incompressible Data

Anvil 100% Incompressible Data

Anvil 0-Fill Results

Anvil 0-Fill Results

Conclusion

The OCZ ARC 100 proved to be a very capable SSD and had no problem performing as advertised. The SSD Guru software is an added plus and will definitely help you get the SSD tuned for optimal performance. The 3-year ShieldPlus warranty program is another great feature that makes dealing with any issues simple and hassle free for the end user.

Naturally, one of the most attractive things about the ARC 100 is its price. The 240 GB version we reviewed today can be had for just under $100 at Newegg, which makes it one of the least expensive options at just 41 cents per GB. At a price like that, even a budget minded system build would be a perfect home for the ARC 100 240 GB SSD. Excellent performance, a great warranty program, and a good software package in SSD Guru all add up to a value that’s tough to beat at $99. The OCZ ARC 100 is easy to recommend and is a worthy recipient of our Overclockers Approved stamp.

Overclockers_clear_approved

Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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