OCZ Revodrive X2 SSD Review

The OCZ Revodrive X2 isn’t your grandmother’s old hard drive. This thing uses a PCI-e slot with x4 bandwidth mode for extreme speeds in both write and read. OCZ sent over a 240 GB model that can read at up to 740 MB/s, write up to 720 MB/s, and perform up to 120,000 IOPS which are astounding numbers, especially compared to mechanical drives.

Could also be called "Speed Demon"

Could also be called "Speed Demon"

Specifications and Features

This was the first time I had held a PCI-e SSD in my hands and it gave me butterflies since I was so excited to see exactly how fast it is. When it first arrived, I couldn’t get the box opened fast enough. Getting a new toy to test always makes me revert to being a five year old on Christmas day, but this made me even more anxious than usual. Take a look at these stats:

100GB-160GB Max Performance 

  • Read: Up to 740 MB/s
  • Write: Up to 690 MB/s
  • Sustained Write: Up to 550 MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB (Aligned): 100,000 IOPS
220GB Max Performance 

  • Read: Up to 730 MB/s
  • Write: Up to 690 MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB (Aligned): 100,000 IOPS
240GB-960GB Max Performance (tested) 

  • Read: Up to 740 MB/s
  • Write: Up to 720 MB/s
  • Sustained Write: Up to 600 MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB (Aligned): 120,000 IOPS
460GB Max Performance 

  • Read: Up to 730 MB/s
  • Write: Up to 700 MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB (Aligned): 120,000 IOPS

More specs that aren’t as exciting:

  • Available in 100 GB to 960 GB (1 TB) capacities
  • PCI-Express interface (x4)
  • For use as primary boot drive or data storage
  • 4 x SATA
  • Internal RAID 0
  • 181.07 (L) x 21.59 (W) x 125.08 mm (H)
  • Shock Resistance: 1500 g
  • Seek Time: 0.1 ms
  • Operating Temp: 0 °C ~ 70 °C
  • Storage Temp: -45 °C ~ 85 °C
  • Power Consumption: 4.3 W Idle, 8.3 W active
  • MTBF: 2,000,000 hours
  • 3-Year Warranty
  • Compatible with Windows XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64

One thing to keep in mind if you are considering this drive is that not all motherboards will boot from the PCI-e slot.  Make sure you check the motherboard compatibility list to see if your board has been tested. For instance, the Biostar TP67XE would not recognize the drive at first, but Biostar has released an updated BIOS so that is fixed now.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the drive is designed to use a x4 PCI-e slot.  On a board that has three PCI-e slots, the last one might default to an x1 speed, like the Asus P8P67 Pro does.  You might be able to override this in the BIOS and force it to x4 mode in case your other two slots are taken up by GPUs. Otherwise, the card will work fine at x1 mode, which is still pretty fast but not optimal.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this SSD is really four drives in RAID, so Windows will need RAID drivers installed first to be able to recognize the drive. The drivers are available on OCZ’s website so you can either slip-stream them into your Windows disc for fresh installs or put them on some other media so you can load them before the Windows install process. When I was booting off my test HDD I had to install the drivers before I was able to run benchmarks on the drive.

Here is what forum member icebob had to say about doing a fresh install on the original Revodrive:

disconnect any other drive, disable any onboard raid controller,set sata to ide, go to ocz and load drivers (they don’t come with the drive!) and load both (32 and 64) on usb stick. install windows and when at the drive choosing page load 32 bits drivers first, even if you install 64 bits os and right after install the 64bits drivers after it should be peice of cake!

Pretty packaging

Pretty packaging

Lots of words on the back

Lots of words on the back

A box within a box

A box within a box

A nice sticker is included

A nice sticker is included

Sandforce controllers

SandForce controllers

Only uses up one slot

Only uses up one slot

Yes, more angles.

Yes, more angles.

Solid State memory packet in everywhere

Solid State memory packed in everywhere

Backside again

Backside again

Two PCBs to fit it all into a tiny package

Two PCBs to fit it all into a tiny package

Benchmarks

Test Setup

  • Intel i7 2600k processor
  • Asus P8P67 Pro motherboard
  • Zalman CNPS9900 heatsink
  • Patriot Sector 5 Viper II 2×2 GB @ DDR3-2133 c9 RAM
  • NZXT HALE-90 850 W PSU
  • PowerColor Radeon HD 6870 GPU
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

For comparison, I’ll be using a standard Seagate 7200.11 1 TB mechanical HDD as well as the performance numbers Hokiealumnus got in his review of the OCZ Vertex 2 and the Patriot Inferno. He used a different system for his tests so the numbers are not 100% directly comparable, but they are still close enough to draw general conclusions about relative performance.

First up are the obligatory benchmark screen shots. Notice how the Revodrive X2 blows the mechanical HDD out of the water.

ATTO benchmark - Revodrive X2

ATTO benchmark - Revodrive X2

ATTO benchmark - Seagate 7200.11

ATTO benchmark - Seagate 7200.11

HDTach Long - Revordrive X2

HDTach Long - Revordrive X2

HDTach Long - Seagate 7200.11

HDTach Long - Seagate 7200.11

HDTach short - Revordrive X2

HDTach short - Revordrive X2

HDTach short - Seagate 7200.11

HDTach short - Seagate 7200.11

IOMeter 2m read - Revodrive X2

IOMeter 2m read - Revodrive X2

IOMeter 2m read - Seagate 7200.11

IOMeter 2m read - Seagate 7200.11

IOMeter 2m Write - Revodrive X2

IOMeter 2m Write - Revodrive X2

IOMeter 2m write - Seagate 7200.11

IOMeter 2m write - Seagate 7200.11

IOMeter 4k random read - Revodrive X2

IOMeter 4k random read - Revodrive X2

IOMeter 4k random read - Seagate 7200.11

IOMeter 4k random read - Seagate 7200.11

IOMeter 4k random write - Revodrive X2

IOMeter 4k random write - Revodrive X2

IOMeter 4k random write - Seagate 7200.11

IOMeter 4k random write - Seagate 7200.11

The most notable things here are that IOMeter confirmed the claim that the Revodrive X2 could do approximately 120,000 IOPS in the 4k Random Write test. This is due to OCZ’s proprietary SandForce firmware, similar to that on the Vertex 2. The ATTO Benchmark more or less confirmed OCZ’s claim that the Revodrive X2 had a maximum read of 740 MB/s and maximum write speed of 720 MB/s (I got 742 MB/s and 711 MB/s respectively). Comparatively, the OCZ Vertex 2 could do approximately 50,000 IOPS and 285 MB/s read.

While those are certainly impressive numbers, they don’t really correlate to real world use that well. Don’t worry though, because there is one test that will surely impress any computer user regardless of their tech level: Windows boot time.

Windows boot time - Revodrive X2

Windows boot time - Revodrive X2

Windows boot time - Seagate 7200.11

Windows boot time - Seagate 7200.11

You are seeing that correctly; the Revodrive X2 only took about 8 seconds to get into Windows while the mechanical Seagate 7200.11 close to 44 seconds. To get even more perspective on how fast that really is, the OCZ Vertex 2 and Patriot Inferno both booted Windows in around 20 seconds when Hokiealumnus tested them.

Conclusion

The OCZ Revodrive X2 certainly is the King of the Hill when it comes to consumer desktop drives. It soars above all other SSDs and HDDs. Simply put, this drive is amazing. Unfortunately, it costs a lot to be King and the 240 GB model is available at most retailers for around $570. While I could only see myself spending that kind of money in the case that I just won the lottery, this drive is more than worthy of being Overclockers Approved.

- splat

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Discussion
  1. Thank you for doing the review splat. I was parting out for a new build and included a RevoDrive in the budget. Reading the review has helped me determine what parts I need to look at. (In terms of a motherboard, that won't give hassle, well a hassle that does not take an engineer to fix anyway.)

    I never considered there was inherent issues with PCI-e booting issues. I just wanted to get a speedy drive, be it pricey... Loading drivers are not much of an issue. It working right is. (Adding the OCZ compatibility link was golden and some other insights.)

    The review has helped me. I am retooling the build. Hoping I can do the RevoDrive and not have to overshoot my budget with a board that does work with the drive. With what I expect out of this particular build.
    here is my Revodrive x2 240gb ,P67 , 2600K and my Kingston SSD V series 30gb x4 raid 0 (on onboard Intel raid controller) X58 ,I7 920 ... both systems have Windows 7 and very few programs installed...the Kingston drives are "low end" as you know... so I don't what the data like the lower write times tells you (other than they are low end) so I will offer these up as discussion fodder!...haha

    vertex 3 240gb x2 (when you can get 2) $1060.00 , x4 $2120.00

    vertex 3 120gb x2 (when you can get 2) $ 640.00

    ouch...be awhile before the vertex 3 is a "gb for the buck" winner ,





    splat
    Also note that jumping from 2 drives to 4 drives doesn't double the performance so there is some added overhead or latency.



    Yeah, this sort of dampened my enthusiasm for my proposed 4 x V3 RAID0 setup. But the 4 x V3 Atto scores still look good. However, it appears that a 2 x V3 RAID0 still beats the current Revo x2 and maybe here is where the sweetspot is.

    deathman20


    Since its 4 drives in a Raid0 is there trim issues with it or is that taken care by the OCZ's bios settings?


    Revo, or any SSD RAID setup, do not have TRIM. They still have GC though. Supposedly, TRIM is not as important as GC because TRIM basically acts as a marker while GC actually does the work of cleaning the drive.

    @Mr Alpha: Thank you for the lesson. I think I'm like you that I think a Revo is only a polished RAID setup. I do not believe it is worth the premium it commands.
    EarthDog
    Mr Alpha...:


    deathman20
    Drive sounds like a lot of fun. Looks very nice.

    Since its 4 drives in a Raid0 is there trim issues with it or is that taken care by the OCZ's bios settings?


    Bobnova
    I think probably the Sandforce controllers are sata, there's four of them.

    Then the OCZ chip(s?) are a PCIe 4x sata RAID controller that lumps it all together and shoves it out the PCIe bus.
    The setup of the Revodrive X2 is this: Four normal SandForce SF-1222 controllers. Two one the main PCB with the associated flash and two on the daughterboard.

    These are connected via SATA2, with the normal SATA2 bandwidth, to a Silicone Image 3142 PCI-X RAID controller. Does the fact that the whole thing is on a PCB and not going through SATA cables matter? I suppose the latency might be slightly lower but if it makes a difference I do not know.

    The Silicone Image RAID controller has 1GB/s of bandwidth going over PCI-X and is connected to a Pericom PCI-X to PCIe 1.0 bridge. This give you 1GB/s of PCIe bandwidth in both directions.

    All in all, from a functional standpoint, it is not all that different from any other RAID setup with SSDs. All the same TRIM issues apply.

    Comparing performance to a onboard RAID I suspect the differences come down to how the Silicone Image RAID controller compares with the ICH10R or whatever other controller you are comparing with. An interesting limit is the 1GB/s of bandwidth. Four SandForce controllers should be able to saturate that. That may be why overclocking the PCIe bus improves performance.
    deathman20
    Drive sounds like a lot of fun. Looks very nice.

    Since its 4 drives in a Raid0 is there trim issues with it or is that taken care by the OCZ's bios settings?
    Im not certain, but as in other OCZ drives, there is no TRIM in raid at this time. it would have GC which works just fine in my experience with both the x2 and Vertex in R0. Again, not sure though.
    I think probably the Sandforce controllers are sata, there's four of them.

    Then the OCZ chip(s?) are a PCIe 4x sata RAID controller that lumps it all together and shoves it out the PCIe bus.
    Drive sounds like a lot of fun. Looks very nice.

    Since its 4 drives in a Raid0 is there trim issues with it or is that taken care by the OCZ's bios settings?
    Mr Alpha...:
    EarthDog
    Is there less overhead since its all on one card? More? No difference than when plugged in to a mobo? Better controller on revox2 vs controllers on mobo?
    splat
    I agree the controller has a lot to do with it which is why the Revodrive X2 is much faster than the Revodrive1, and why raiding 4x V2 won't be exactly the same as 1x Revodrive X2.
    The Revodrive and the Revodrive X2 have the same controller. They both use a SiI3124, a 4 port SATA2 PCI-X RAID controller. The only difference is that on the Revodrive the RAID0 consisits of two SF-1222 controllers while on the Revodrive X2 the RAID0 consists of four SF-1222 controller.
    so those are vertex3s on sata3 (600MBps). so in our theory, 2x V3 would be 1200MBps, which should be the same as 4x V2, which is the same as 1 Revodrive X2. Also note that jumping from 2 drives to 4 drives doesn't double the performance so there is some added overhead or latency.

    I agree the controller has a lot to do with it which is why the Revodrive X2 is much faster than the Revodrive1, and why raiding 4x V2 won't be exactly the same as 1x Revodrive X2.
    Got these 2 RAID examples from the OCZ Forum. Couldn't find any with 4 drives. These figures already blow away the current Revo x2. In AS SSD benches my Revo x2 never passed 180MB/s in Seq Write.
    theres more at play than simply putting 4 drives in raid0. at least thats what my intuition tells me. which is why i'm sticking to "its similar but different" until someone comes along with numbers to prove otherwise.
    splat
    i'd say if you were to get 4 vertex2's in raid0 you'd end up with speeds similar to the revodrive x2, but i wouldn't expect them to be the exact same.


    Actually, I am thinking of stringing together 2 or more Vertex 3's. I already have one V3 and I intend to add to it when funds, and my wife, permit. This won't hurt as much as fleshing out an obscene sum in one go for the next gen Revo. Hopefully, when I have collected 4 V3's it will be just as fast, if not faster, than the new Revo. The best part is that I will be able to give 1 to my son when he marches off to university and 1 to my wife (or maybe I'll just leave her with her spinners) after I'm done playing. :)
    Is there less overhead since its all on one card? More? No difference than when plugged in to a mobo? Better controller on revox2 vs controllers on mobo?
    splat
    i'd say if you were to get 4 vertex2's in raid0 you'd end up with speeds similar to the revodrive x2, but i wouldn't expect them to be the exact same. Similar to putting two graphics cards in crossfire or sli, it doesn't straight up double the speed. It would certianly be an interesting test tho. I'm sure there are statistics on scaling when putting multiple HDDs in raid0 somewhere on the net if you search hard enough.
    But the Revodrive X2 is also four Vertex 2 drives in RAID 0.
    i'd say if you were to get 4 vertex2's in raid0 you'd end up with speeds similar to the revodrive x2, but i wouldn't expect them to be the exact same. Similar to putting two graphics cards in crossfire or sli, it doesn't straight up double the speed. It would certianly be an interesting test tho. I'm sure there are statistics on scaling when putting multiple HDDs in raid0 somewhere on the net if you search hard enough.