The storage we’ve been waiting for: OCZ RevoDrive 120GB review

We have written a lot over the past few months about our hopes of new storage technologies entering the market – after all storage speed is the biggest bottleneck in computing today. Some interesting products that attempt to solve these issues have been released one being the ACARD ANS-9010. While it offers amazing speed it has one key downfall; it’s based on random access memory and when it loses power it loses all your data for good. OCZ in the meantime have been designing their own solutions to solve our storage woes starting with their range of vertex SSDs and more recently with the release of the RevoDrive.

The RevoDrive is based on flash storage – the same flash storage you would find on an SSD – so it doesn’t suffer from the same data loss issues as the ACARD ANS-9010. It also does away with the SATA interface and connects to the system via a PCI-Express 4x slot taking up only a single PCI-Express space. By taking advantage of the higher bandwidth offered by PCI-Express the RevoDrive is able to deliver much higher theoretical transfer rates of up to 540MB/s read and 480MB/s write. These speeds make the ACARD ANS-9010 look slow – and this is the same unit we described in our December print issue last year as being the fastest storage we have ever seen.

It is not just the PCI-Express interface that is giving the RevoDrive its massive advantage it’s that it actually provides the equivalent of two separate SSDs in a RAID-0 configuration. This is achieved by including two 120GB drives on the single card and then using a RAID controller chip to perform a hardware RAID all without the end user having to perform any configuration. OCZ has had a stroke of genius in pairing the PCI-Express interface with a SandForce controller the same chip found on all the fastest SSDs on the market. When you take all these innovative technologies throw in the ability to boot from the device and add a generous 120GB of space you have the most impressive specifications on the market today.

When we got the RevoDrive onto our test bench we found the performance results were nothing short of spectacular. We used HD Tune to test read and write speeds and came up with a jaw dropping 312.5MB/s average read speed and 288.3MB/s average write speed. While the new generation of SATA3 SSDs are achieving amazing results they don’t get close to these sorts of sustained performance figures. In our 4K random read and write testing which is designed to simulate the disk usage of an average user we saw figures three times greater than any current consumer storage medium available. Where the RevoDrive really shines is during Windows boot; booting from BIOS to desktop in less than seven seconds it smashed the previous record of nine seconds held by the ACARD ANS-9010.

The installation and setup was a breeze; after installing the driver the RevoDrive appeared in Windows just as any other traditional hard drive would and it was just as easy to install Windows onto the drive. This device isn’t without its problems though as there are a number of motherboards that have issues detecting the drive and any user wanting to purchase a RevoDrive will need to ensure they have a free 4x or greater PCI-Express slot.

But all told this is the storage solution we have been waiting for; it provides lightning fast data transfer speeds it’s reliable and it’s practical. The OCZ RevoDrive is even affordable costing only slightly more than a comparable SATA-based SSD. It really does tick all the boxes.

Available from OCZ retailing for $400.
APC rating: 9/10 (Editor’s Choice)