What do you do when you’re addicted to the speed SSD’s provide, but you need more space than your budget will allow in an SSD? You look to OCZ’s RevoDrive Hybrid 1TB. OCZ has come up with an all-in-one HDD/RevoDrive caching solution for those power users that NEED all that space. It’s based on the standard 100GB RevoDrive 3, but then for a boost in storage capacity OCZ straps a 1TB Toshiba 2.5” HDD to its back. The Hybrid solution eliminates the SATA bottleneck and the need for a motherboard based caching solution, as everything that is needed is ready to drop into any available PCI-e slot.
The OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid comes with its own caching software (downloadable) called DataPlex. The caching software allows “hot” data (frequently/recently used) to be stored on the SSD, while “cold” data is relegated to the HDD. According to OCZ their “Advanced caching algorithms learn user behavior and adapt storage policies to ensure optimal performance for each individual user.” Let’s check it out.
Let’s take a look at the package contents and the physical make up of the RevoDrive Hybrid 1TB:
- Asus Rampage Extreme IV
- Intel Core i7 3820
- 8GB Gskill Ripjaw 2133mhz
- HIS Radeon HD 7970
NOTE: The OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid must be installed as the primary drive, or the caching software will not work correctly. So you’ll either need to image your OS to install to the Hybrid or you’ll be installing from scratch.
In the interest of fair play I wanted a fresh clean OS in order to put this drive through its paces, so I opted for the fresh install. Having experience with RevoDrives before, the first thing that I do when installing an OS to one is to go to the OCZ website and make sure that I have the latest drivers downloaded to a flash drive. The RevoDrive Hybrid needs a free PCI-e x4 slot (A PCI-e x16 or x8 slot works just fine). Simply boot to your installation media, select Load Drivers, navigate to the drivers you just downloaded, and select the proper file (x86 or x64). Once the file loads the two drives available on the Hybrid solution will appear in the drive list. In order for the caching software to work properly you’ll need to select the 1TB Toshiba HDD as the target for the OS. Once the install is complete, install the downloadable caching software from OCZ. You’ll need to input the DataPlex license key, that is located on the back of the drive itself, in order to get the software installed. This also requires an internet connection to verify the key is still available. Should you ever need to uninstall the DataPlex software, make sure you do so while you have an active internet connection, that way OCZ marks the License key as available for install again. I made the mistake of installing the OS, installing the DataPlex software, and then ruining the OS installation (more on that later). The key was not marked as uninstalled, so when I tried to reinstall the software… I couldn’t. In order to reset the key, you need to open a support ticket with OCZ, give them the license key and ask them to reset it. Not hard, but time consuming. 2 days for me. I tried to get it reset over the phone, but they “couldn’t” do it.
Before we get to the benchmark results I want to cover something that is not well documented, and something that literally drove me a bit nuts until I found out what I was doing wrong. Do you have a UEFI BIOS, if so then read on. When you first install the drive and are getting ready to boot to your installation media, first enter the BIOS. You need to make sure that your first boot device is the legacy CD drive and not labeled as EFI CD Drive or UEFI CD Drive, etc… If you try to install your OS using the EFI CD Drive setting, all will initially go well. But as soon as you install the OCZ DataPlex software… your boot information will be wiped and you will not be able to boot back into the OS. So be cautious. Use the legacy setting for the CD Drive boot and you will be just fine.
Alright now it’s time to check out the actual performance. Seeing how the RevoDrive Hybrid is such an odd duck, I honestly don’t expect to see earth-shattering, SSD-crushing numbers. I am fairly certain that Hybrid drive will excel in reads, as that is what it is designed to do. I will be adding our test results to our recent SSD testing results in an attempt to find a place for this drive. Our testing suite will consist of CrystalDiskMark (Random, 0 Fill, and 1Fill), AS-SSD, ATTO, and IOMeter). That should run the gambit of incompressible and compressible data to give a nice overall feel of the drive. Most drive manufacturers report specifications based on compressible data benchmarks, that seem to inflate the numbers compared to the more real world based incompressible data. Let’s take a look at it all and break it down as we go.
CrystalDiskMark has 3 test settings: Random, 1Fill, and 0 Fill. The random test setting tests primarily incompressible data, while the 0 Fill and 1 Fill tests are primarily compressible.
When compared to the SSD list the CDM Random tests put the RevoDrive Hybrid behind all the current SATA III drives, but ahead of the Vertex 2. Move towards more compressible data in the 0 Fill and 1 Fill tests and we can see the RevoDrive Hybrid come into it’s own. We can thank the RevoDrive 3 cache board for that.
AS-SSD is geared more towards reporting what we can expect as everyday performance. It uses entirely incompressible data and it shows.
The RevoDrive Hybrid looks a little lackluster up against the pure SSD’s on the incompressible data front. It’s overall incompressible data performance is still below that of the current SATA III SSD’s, but still marginally faster than the Vertex 2. Don’t forget that we’re testing an actual mechanical HDD and cache setup here. The RevoDrive 3 cache board is pulling the lowly HDD out of the performance grave and putting up numbers formerly capable by only a standalone SSD.
ATTO is the iconic benchmark for SSD performance. When the manufacturers want big numbers this is where they turn. ATTO utilizes compressible data so the scores seem a bit inflated. However, it can still be a very revealing benchmark when comparing drives.
As you can see, the RevoDrive Hybrid shines as the file size increases. Once we hit the 64k Read size and 256K Write size the RevoDrive Hybrid pulls ahead… way ahead, and doesn’t look back. The RevoDrive 3 cache board is doing a majority of the work here. The end result looks highly favorable for the RevoDrive Hybrid.
IOMeter is a bit old, but still a great way to test SSD/HDD performance. It is infinitely configurable, and Overclockers.com has standardized their tests for this benchmark. 4KB read/write and 2MB read/write.
Again, as with the other tests, we can see that once the file sizes start to increase the RevoDrive Hybrid takes a commanding lead in the Read category. 4KB performance is a little lackluster, but to be expected. Same with the 2MB Writes.
BootTimer is not equally comparable across multiple systems, but you can get the gist of what a fresh Win7 64bit install on my test system looks like. Boot up in 12.682 seconds? Thank you very much.
The OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid is an odd duck. It shows blistering compressible data performance, but is a little “lacking” on the incompressible data front. On paper, the random data performance puts the RevoDrive Hyrid in front of one of the best SATA II SSD’s on the market. Can you say a 1TB Vertex 2? When things turn compressible though, the RevoDrive pulls ahead and stays ahead of even the best of the latest SATA III SSD’s. Our test charts show it up against pure SSD’s which may be a little unfair, but at this price point you can’t expect us not too. I was tempted to put this drive up against the Seagate Momentus XT, which would be its closest competition, but having seen the performance of a Momentus XT… it wouldn’t even have been worth it. The RevoDrive Hybrid crushes it.
This drive is built for a niche market. It’s not for everyone. Most people would be more than happy with a medium sized SSD paired with a large HDD. However, if you use/move/manipulate large files on a regular basis, this drive is perfect for you. While it may not be as fast as a 240GB SSD in certain areas… remember, it’s 4 times larger. As we speak the price of the RevoDrive Hybrid has dropped to a very competitive $329.99 (299.99 AMIR), which is cheaper than the 120GB RevoDrive 3 and right in line with a majority of the SATA III 240GB SSD’s. This drive may not be for everyone. Many users reading this find themselves looking at the 120GB range of SSD’s as a decent bargain, and many of you are probably pushing the envelope on that 120GB for an OS drive. How big is your steam folder? Are you an amateur/professional multimedia manipulator? The RevoDrive Hybrid is the only all-in-one solution for these unique power users. The versatility of the all-in-one package would be a great addition to any workstation looking for a quick pick me up, as well as allow more people to get into the luxury of OS caching without requiring a specific motherboard chipset to do so as with Intel SRT. OCZ has cleverly dropped the price of this drive right into the mix of popular SSD sizes right now, and the 1TB storage capacity is going to stick out like a sore thumb. I’d say OCZ hit an awkward nail on the head with this one, and they did it with a bit of ingenuity, which is why I always like working with OCZ’s latest and greatest.
–Nick Borden (nzaneb)