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It's been a slow and steady race but SSDs are finally starting to overtake hard drives as the primary choice when it comes to personal computer storage. Even though they still can't rival the price per gigabyte of hard drives, with so much of our lives now being stored either on the web or on external devices like NAS appliances, the need for masses of storage in our notebooks or PCs is diminishing. Meanwhile, concerns over power usage and portability play totally into the hands of SSDs. Also, the performance advantage of SSDs makes a huge difference whether you're talking about a notebook or a high-end gaming PC. All in all, SSDs are fast becoming a genuine choice for more than just the bleeding-edge enthusiast. So, let's see if the model I'm looking at today is the pick of the bunch.
The Apex Series comes under the banner of 'mainstream sold state drives' according to OCZ's website, despite having quoted read and write speeds of 230MB/s and 160MB/s, respectively. These figures dwarf those of OCZ's 'performance' line, the 64GB version of which we have already reviewed, and compare very favourably with Intel's mainstream SSD, the X25-M, which we found to be blisteringly fast. So, it will be interesting to see exactly how this drive performs.
As with many SSDs we've reviewed in the past, despite its relatively high-price, this drive comes very modestly packed with just a slim cardboard box enveloping a stiff foam insert, in which is set the SSD itself. Not that you need anything more to keep the drive sufficiently protected but there's definitely a pang of disappointment that your new £300+ purchase greets you with so little flair.
The drive itself is of the conventional 2.5in form factor so will fit in most 12in, or greater, notebooks and, with the help of a 2.5-to-3.5in drive adapter, most desktop PCs as well. It uses the now ubiquitous SATA II interface, which gives theoretical transfer speeds of 300MBps, to enable those theoretical transfer speeds to become something of a reality.
Unfortunately, SATA II, or not, this drive didn't really hold up to its performance claims. Adding it as a spare drive to our normal test bed we ran the read portion of the HDTune Pro hard drive test suite and got suitably impressive results. However, running the write test we were met with a highly erratic performance graph. Write speeds continually fluctuated between 0.1MB/s and 153.2MB/s right the way across the drive. This resulted in an average write speed of just 63.1MB/s - far from the 160MB/s we were expecting.
We repeated the test three or four times, variously rebooting the PC and reinstalling the drive in-between to ensure this wasn't a one-off but every time it gave a similar result. Indeed, on one occasion it was even worse, reaching a maximum of 58.9MB/s and averaging 18.3MB/s with an access time of 2.2 seconds. However, this did appear to be an anomalous result.