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Help me make the right choice please (OCZ Agility 3)

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June 20, 2011 9:52:22 PM

Hello!

> I am a multimedia editor, mainly handling pictures and videos in media editing software like Photoshop, Premiere, AfterEffects and some 3D applications.

> My latest build is almost 2 years old and consists of a QuadCore Intel Core i7 920 CPU (no over-clocking), Asus P6T6 WS Revolution motherboard, 6x Corsair XMS3 CM3X2G1333C9 (totalling 12GB of RAM), EVGA nVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 Video Adapter in an Antec Tower Twelve Hundred. I'm running Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64.

> I have never owned hard disks better than Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1500341 (I do have a dozen TBs of internal and external storage, but not on better devices) and I have never tested SCSI, SAS or SSD units, nor have I played with RAID configurations before.

> I could say that the fastest Hard Disk I had and still have is a GB of RAM that I spare for Firefox to use for its profile and cache folders (redirecting everything using folder junctions), but that's just a virtual hard disk and it basically translates to letting Firefox have its fun with 2GB of my RAM.

> What I would like to learn from this forum is what would be the best SSD solution for me? I would like it to be something withing the 120GB range with a budget limited to 250 Euro. I'm going to make some serious investments in the current build, but currently I don't want to pay more than 250 Euros for SSD storage.

> Here's a general overview of my scheme for the 120GBs of SSD I plan to get:
1. Install Windows 7 Ultimate x64;
2. Install and keep almost all of the minor but important utilities on the SSD;
3. Use folder junctions to move the larger software solutions to a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11;
4. Store my Firefox profile and cache folders on the SSD (and drop the RAM Disk I am currently using);
5. Tell all kinds of applications to store their temporary files on the SSD drive (for instance the Photoshop temporary file, Premiere previews, temp downloads);
6. Temporarily store large video files I will be working with in Premiere (so I can get quick feedback when scrubbing the time-line with Full HD videos);
7. Store VMware virtual computers virtual system hard disks on the SSD (for better performance when it comes to starting up and various operations).


Even though my motherboard doesn't support SATA 6Gbps, I currently have in mind buying 2 x OCZ Agility 3 SATA III 2.5" SSD and setting them up in RAID0. Please tell me if this is the right choice considering the above plan for using the SSD space. If I'm on the wrong path, please do correct me and suggest better options. Thank you for your time.
a c 353 G Storage
June 21, 2011 1:58:45 AM

Concur - Hold off on OCZ Sata III, until OCZ can get their act together!! As Gene O indicated just look at their SSD forum. Bear in mind this will be predominately people with problems, more important is OCZ's actions, or should I say INaction.

Have 2 Agility III - One worked Fine - other forget, could not load windows (SB notebook). The SSD is OK, but firmware is totally incompatable.

Go with Intel, or M4. Do NOT use C300, or M4 in raid0 - You lose Trim and marvel controller is rather poor on CG (Could also be tru of Intel 510 as it also uses marvel controller, but firmware is more controlled).
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June 21, 2011 8:27:50 AM

Thank you Gene O and RetiredChief.

Wouldn't a RAID0 configuration help me more when working with large (video) files?

Would a single OCZ Vertex 2 120GB OCZSSD3-2VTX120G be a better option for what I want to do?
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a c 353 G Storage
June 21, 2011 9:13:29 PM

Raid0 Improves Seq read/writes - So yes it would speed up working with larg video files, Large spreadsheed, and large Jpeg/bitmap photos.
Raido does lttle to nothing for small file random read writes, nor access time. So little change in boot time and program load time.
Raid0 - No Trim, must rely on built in CG.

As I indicated, I'm staying away from sata 6 Sandforce 22xx drives, At least Corsair did a volentary recall (They had both Firmware/Hardware issue), While OCZ has basically just "shoved" it to the consummer. Even if they EVENTUALLY fix their product, In my books they can shove it, I'll go with the 2nd fastes (Probably would never know the diff) and Smile.
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a b G Storage
June 22, 2011 5:55:43 PM

With all due respect retired Chief.

First off.. OCZ's issues have not anything to do with the recall of Corsair's 120GB models. Corsair used a reference PCB design(only on the 120GB versions) and had differing issues that manifested into similar problems that many are mistaking to be the same issue. OCZ did not have those issues as they do not use reference designs and spec their own stuff. A BSOD or hang should NOT be lumped into the same causual issue and many are quick to assume that. Have to look much deeper than that and the very fact that Corsair did not recall other models using the same exact controller and firmware should be a big clue.


Secondly.. small random read/writes do actually go up VERY significantly with incompressible data. This has to do with the amount of SSD channels used across the array. The wider?.. the better.

Lastly.. OCZ has newer firmware that has fixed the issue for all but a tiny minority. And with those few remaining?.. it's tough to say if they may have other underlying issues(most are trying to avoid secure erases and starting fresh which is terrible troubleshooting protocol of course). The fact is that the players involved here are many. The hardware is so new all around on these 6G setups, that there are a multitude of underlying issue preventing the Sandforce controller from playing nicely as it came off the bench at the start of the game. OCZ is at Sandforce's mercy(as are all others when problems arise) and it's not at all like they are just dragging their feet here. Sandforce requires the vendor to replicate issues and provide specific detail as to the systems/configs that are affected and that takes time when all of us beta-testers and customers are forced to test and respond with synapses views of issues and systems/configs used. This of course takes time.

IMHO, this is THE worst thing about Sandforce. Limited in house certification for the very hardware that their chips will be used with. It all trickles down onto the vendors and ultimately the public and slowly makes its way back up the food chain until new firmware can be issued to circumvent the issues found.

Also IMHO, Sandforce deserved to be slapped with a massive class action lawsuit shortly after the initial release of the first gen controller. Would have helped reduce some of the "same sh*t.. different day" stuff we see going on here.

Even still though?.. if you have hardware/configs that play nicely with a Sandforce controller?.. they are on top of the food chain for a reason. These drives are far from just being good benchmark/e-PEEN drives and make an OS feel like one of the strongest sub-system's on your machine. Which of course has been long overdue for years.

So to finally add to the OP's original question?.. you'll want at least 120gigs of space as that's the greatest defense against speed/life degradation for any SSD. You want ultra low latency and huge small file random performance. For a vid/gfx machine you want fast incompressible data sequential write speeds. And just as important, you want fast idle and on-the-fly recovery(vids/gfx consume large amounts of fresh blocks as they are scratched to the C-drive for editing regardless of where you store them).

To get all that from Sandforce(or any others, IMHO)?.. you would need to use 2 midsized(120GB) drives with the newest 6G controller(regardless of whether or not you even have 6G mobo capability as Sandforce in particular has much improved designs with the newest chip). All the other drives mentioned above will have no better write speeds with that type of data either. In fact.. many of them will suffer slightly less performance due to increased latency, slower write speeds(this is VERY important for your intended usage model and should not be underestimated) and slower recovery.

Fact is that Sandforce's GC and on the fly recovery is so awesome that it can easily be used in raids for long periods of time without issue. This is what makes the Revo and IBIS drive's a reality. Sandforce's use of TRIM is unlike any other and often just set TRIM-marked blocks aside for later use when really needed(on-the-fly recovery) or during low activity powered on states(logoff idles work wonders for recovery with these drives).

If your GB per logged on session is not too high(20-30 gigs per logged on session/day)?.. you could in fact get by with 2 x 60GB Agy3 drives. Incompressible write speeds will suffer though with maximums of around 130MB/s.

I would suggest saving a bit longer and going with the Vertex 3 Max IOPS as they provide about 240MB's incompressible write speeds and huge small file performance. I can speak from experience for the requirements of a vid/gfx workstation since that's exactly what this one(and 2 previous one's) was spec'd for.

Speed saves time and has squat to do with benchmarks or SSD specs,.. or even personal brand preference for that matter. I just buy what works for me and performs the best(I've tested more than 40 SSD's so far so I have some overview there too). Sandforce does that and despite others having issues(which most have now been eliminated with the newest firmware)?.. I highly recommend the newest V3 controller for a vid machine. Hope that helps
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June 22, 2011 7:58:30 PM

I picked up an Agility 3 120GB on Amazon for fathers day, got it in my PC (4gb 800MHz Patriot RAM, Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0GHz, Asus P5K-E/Wifi-AP, everything stock speed and on the bleeding edge beside the drive.) and it SMOKES my old system. no BSOD issues yet but just switching out the drive creates a HUGE increase in user experience from what i've found. You'd have to be a pretty hardcore enthusiast to need these in a RAID 0 Config.

As a benchmark I had gone from a completely blank drive to a windows 7 machine with all the drivers and updates running steam in under an hour on a 10mbps Fibre connection. I was blown away to say the least.
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a b G Storage
June 22, 2011 8:53:57 PM

I recommend a single 120GB or higher SSD for your OS, important apps and data. Put the less important stuff on a hard drive. I have two Vertex 2 drives (one for PC and one for laptop) and both perform flawlessly. The C300, M4, and Intel drives are also very good.

DO NOT put your Photoshop scratch disks or Premiere temp files on the SSD as this can shorten its lifespan. Use a hard drive RAID 0 array for your large temp files, hard drives do not have the same write limitations as SSDs.
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a c 353 G Storage
June 23, 2011 7:33:15 PM

@ groberts101
You could be correct on the improvements for random small file. Based this on HDD's, Question how does raid0 improve access time on an SSD and Not on a HDD.

Everyting else I said, I stand by!!
Up untill this SF22xx problem, I have highly recommended OCZ - But after buying one and tring it in a SB notebook and reading the forums - No longer and will actively try to steer away from!!
While "They" say it affects less than 1%, I'm not convinced that is an accurate indication as it would probably be higher if: (1) Individuals have shyed away from buying due to reading about the problems. (2) Figures probably do NOT take into account the returns to stores because it did not work because of "Compatabilty issues"

Firmware 2.08, did not work, firmware 2.09, helps but from what I've heard at the expence of performance.

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a b G Storage
June 23, 2011 8:17:14 PM

My guess is that access time improvements come from the use of raid by the chip and it's internal algorithms is all I can imagine.

All I can say is that they are measurably snappier in access times and there seems to be some Intel trickery going on versus single drive mode. Other than that speculation?.. only other thing I can say is that with Sandforce controllers the latency is kept very minimal whereas with HDD and even slower SSD the access times are typically added in a cumulatory fashion as the array gets wider. IOW, access/latency increases with each additional drive added until you get some percievable lag on wider(4 or more) arrays.

And yeah.. I hear ya about problems changing perspectives in short time.

I will add though, that 2.08 fixed issues for a few and the latest 2.09 is just a temporary workaround until other players involved here start to play ball together. Sandforce and others are working together to implement system wide(bios OROM's, drivers, OS, etc) improvements and another intermediate fix is already on the drawing board as we speak.

Also consider that once Intel releases their Sandforce drives?.. the trickle down benefit will be there for all other sto enjoy.

And I'll leave you with this thought. If R0 is said to be of little importance to "most" but the extreme or power user.. than why the big ta-do about some minor speed reductions. It's not even 2% in most cases that see it. Also keep in mind that the vast majoruty of the one's who post about losses are the one's who have chopped up/troubleshot installs who actually refuse to secure erase and start fresh. When the maps and registers on these very complex controllers get pooched?.. SE/fresh is always best to rebaseline the drive. In fact.. testing immediately after a firmware flash has been shown to slow these things down even on a good day.

Not making excuses really, just sayin' there's more to it than just a "slow firmware" being pushed on folks. Better to lose 5MB/s and not BSOD, eh? Personally?.. I would just leave firmware alone if the system is working fine without issue. OCZ even says the same thing.

Great to compare notes as usual RetiredChief.
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a c 353 G Storage
June 23, 2011 9:55:31 PM

The problem is not so much OCZ, it's sandforce and they are the ones that ultimatly have to fix it. My Bitch is the way OCZ is handling it.

I even agree that it's a small percentage (Although really think the % is slightly higher).

My problem was not BSODs, but that the Install would not work on Laptop (Samsung RF711-S01), Had to use my Intel G2, will probably buy the Intel 510. This is a compatability issue as The agility III is not defective, it will work on my SB desktop. The Toolbox has no problems with it when connected to my I5-750 system.

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July 19, 2011 1:21:45 PM

Thank you all for the valuable input. After canceling the order for Force Series™ 3 120GB SATA 3 6Gb/s Solid-State Hard Drive I ordered SSD 2.5" 120GB SATA II, X25-M Solid-State Drive.

It is the first time I'm getting a SSD drive; I have read a lot of reviews and user feedback about SSDs and I'm learning more and more about them every day. Initially I was concerned with performance, now I'm more interested in getting a drive that is less likely to have functional issues. I've noticed the Intel drive got better reviews overall so I went for it.

I understand now that RAID0 increases sequential read and write speeds on large files, doesn't help much when handling small files and that access time is determined by the slowest drive in a configuration. I also learned that it's good practice not to frequently write lots of data to avoid wearing cells.

(I actually wanted to post this the day I ordered the SSD, but I didn't. It was a wild tab in firefox which I revised today. The SSD I got isn't even initialized yet, had a lot of work to do. Will come here for more questions about SSDs if I bump into any issues. Thanks!)
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a c 353 G Storage
July 19, 2011 3:21:53 PM

ENJOY
I have the Intel G2 80 gig drive. Orginally was my boot drive for I5-750, Repaced with a Pheonix pro 120 gig drive and used the Intel SSD as a data drive. Ordered a OCZ agility III for a new laptop (Samsung RF711-S01 (SB)), which would NOT work, so I moved the Intel SSD over to it as a boot/program drive - Has work FLAWLESSLY.

As you indicated Reliability is more important than performance - and in day-to-day usage that preformance difference is only arround 10->15% higher in the High-end SSds, hardly noticable.
If you look at Tom's recent SSD review (Best SSD for Jul 2011 SSDs- shows comparision to high end SSDs) the bottom line was:
Quote: As a point of comparison, a file operation completes 85% faster on a low-end SSD than it does on a high-end hard drive, but there is only an 88% speed difference between a high-end hard drive and a high-end SSD. End quote
Ref: http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 966-7.html

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November 2, 2012 9:18:45 PM

LordConrad said:
I recommend a single 120GB or higher SSD for your OS, important apps and data. Put the less important stuff on a hard drive. I have two Vertex 2 drives (one for PC and one for laptop) and both perform flawlessly. The C300, M4, and Intel drives are also very good.

DO NOT put your Photoshop scratch disks or Premiere temp files on the SSD as this can shorten its lifespan. Use a hard drive RAID 0 array for your large temp files, hard drives do not have the same write limitations as SSDs.



Hi Lord Conrad, I am considering which SSD drive to install in my mac book pro in order to work with large photoshop files. Your comment on not using it as a scratch disk or for temp files is concerning. How great of an effect would using an SSD drive for Photoshop scratch disks have on the overall lifespan? I am unsure if I can install more then 2 ssd drives on my laptop.

Thank you.
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a b G Storage
March 3, 2013 11:29:14 AM

Virgilius said:
Hi Lord Conrad, I am considering which SSD drive to install in my mac book pro in order to work with large photoshop files. Your comment on not using it as a scratch disk or for temp files is concerning. How great of an effect would using an SSD drive for Photoshop scratch disks have on the overall lifespan? I am unsure if I can install more then 2 ssd drives on my laptop.

Thank you.

Sorry this reply is so late. There are varying reports about the effects of using your SSD as a Scratch Disk. The worst case scenario I've heard is that SSD life was reduced to 1 year.

If your laptop has room for two drives, I suggest using one SSD as your main drive and one HDD for your data/scratch drive.
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