Product Reviews – OCZ Revo Drive 3 x2

June 28, 2012 by Andreas in Blog & News

A review of drives is not a priority objective on this site and I do not have the technical background like some folks at hardware review websites may have, nor do I attach great importance to countless benchmarks. However, I could get my hands on this Revo Drive and it really made a huge difference for me, so I thought I should share my experience with this product in a real life work environment with my readers.

The Revo Drive 3×2 is the second generation of the Revo Drive 3 and it is a flash based drive, actually on a PCIe card connected to your computer through a PCI Express slot. The reason is, that ordinary S-ATA connections do not offer the bandwidth and speed this drive is able of. Actually, not even the PCI Express 1.0 standard is sufficient, so you must have at least one PCI Express 2.0 slots to be able to run this beast. Check your motherboard carefully on that, because some older and cheaper boards only have one fast PCI Express slot where you would ususally want to see your graphic card. Hence, for the Revo Drive you need another one.

With modern computers and boards this should not be a problem. However, what may indeed be a problem is the fact, that currently only drivers for Windows 7 are available. This is an important limitation taking into account that roughly 92.5% of desktop computers run Windows, of which some 42-44% are running Windows 7. So opting for this drive means that you have to go for Windows 7 too.

If that is ok for you, you will have the choice of a 240, 480 and 960 Gb version of the Revo Drive 3 x2. They are almost identical in their technical specifications let aside the capacity. With the 240 Gb version already setting you back some 550 EUR, the larger sized versions are even far more expensive, both nominally as well as on a EUR per GB basis. I assume that most enthusiasts with a limited budget will therefore go for the 240 Gb version.

Technically the Revo Drive 3 x2 is a kind of RAID drive on the PCI Express card, which is the reason why it can be so fast. However, it should be noted, that it is running in RAID 0, so data is being splitted among the flash memory. Some people might consider this to be a data security matter, however, personally I think that it is not a problem because you will hardly ever have your most important data on the Revo Drive itself, but the main purpose will be to use it for the operating system, applications and some files you currently work with. Being integrated everything into one card, the risk of any trouble with the RAID 0 is lower than it would be if you had e.g. 2 physically separated S-ATA drives. An option in the drive’s BIOS to configure the RAID mode would have been nice, but it is not there.

Now, when you receive it you just have a black box, with the drive, a driver CD, a sticker and some notes in it. I guess that OCZ is guessing well that someone buying this drive will know what it is for, how to install it and how to use it. Installation is quite easy. The card is not excessively large or thick and it sticks well into the PCIe slot. I would recommend not to have it right adjacent to the graphic card, where it could get too hot for the drive. I have sufficient space so for me heat has not been an issue so far, in smaller cases with more powerful graphic cards and hotter processors, this however could become a matter.

Once installed in the slot, you boot up and after the ordinary BIOS from your board, you will see the OCZ Revo Drive BIOS. It informs on the connection speed, typically 5 Gbit/s and it takes surprisingly long to move on to the next step here. So do not expect your PC to boot up much faster than before, because what you save from the Revo Drive being faster, you lose when it is initialized. Installing Windows is easy,  just use the CD with the driver supplied to be able to install onto the Revo Drive. You can create partitions just like with every other drive if you like, though I assume that few people will do that with the 240 Gb version. I did it, as I have a limited number of applications I am going to install and I wanted to reserve have the capacity to be my “working disk”.

Installation has been very easy and of course I wanted to see what the Revo Drive is capable of. The Windows performance test was predictably not helpful, because the drive easily scored the top score of 7.9. So I gave it a try with the installation of some applications, downloaded from the web, things like antivirus software, Firefox, etc. It was amazing how fast things installed, actually things were so fast, that it was difficult to keep click “next”, “continue” and “finish” buttons fast enough to keep the drive entertained. The next thing I tried was copying a 1,2 Gigabyte file from my C to D partition. Had the Revo Drive been a little bit faster, I would not even have seen the “copy windows” that pops up when copying files. It was done instantly. 1200 Megabytes in about 1 second. Absolutely amazing. I thought of giving the drive a more decent task, assembling a panorama from various TIFF files. A task which also depends on the processor and RAM you have, but to some extent on the drive too, because PT Gui creates some large temporary files in due course. Again I could hardly believe the performance. The task which took a couple of minutes was done in a matter of some 15 seconds. I moved on to opening a 16 Gb file in my graphic application. Something that could have taken 10 minutes with my previous Velociraptor. With the Revo Drive in a matter of a few seconds I was able to start editing the file. Absolutely amazing.

Though already convinced that I had obviously made a good buy, I tried some other things. Two days later, when I was done with installing most applications I need, I started opening up applications and files as fast as I could to see whether and when the Revo Drive would start to slow down. I had at least 70 instances of applications opened up, including the 1200 Megabyte image, but still, things keep opening up instantly. I went on to Firefox opening up 2 windows and more than a hundred tabs within each, loading a rich variety of websites including some with panoramas, flash, and large news websites, but nothing slowed down. I got bored and stopped. I could have everything opened up, no noticeable performance drop whatsoever, everything kind of instantly at my hands. Even copying files from or to internally connected S-ATA harddisks was noticeable faster now. Totally convinced now, I downloaded the ATTO Disk Benchmark, to compare the Revo Drive with my other S-ATA connected drives. While I could achieve something like 120 Mb per second with the Velociraptor, the Revo Drive really sports the 1500 Mb for reading and 1225 Mb for writing, as advertised by OCZ. I repeated the test and got result up to 1640 Mb for reading and 1300 Mb for writing in some test runs.

The Revo Drive entirely changed the way I use my PC. It is a small revolution in computing for me, as I can continue to work on photos, regardless the size, no time to wait, editing gigapixel images is easily possible now, stitching panoramas is a matter of seconds, everything is almost instantly at my hands. True, the Revo Drive is not cheap, but if you get done what you want to do with your PC in a fraction of the time required before, that gives me hours every week, I can dedicate to be out in the field shooting photos rather than waiting for my PC to do what I want it to do.

I would not want to go back to anything less than this Revo Drive. However I like to note that it does not make much sense to have it if you do not have the tasks that really entertain it. If you want it for office work, yes, things will of course be a lot faster too, but the drive will be “bored” most of the time, because you do not give it enough things to do to note the difference over some other fast S-ATA flash drive that might cost you only 20% of what the Revo Drive costs. However, if you do things that really demand performance which is photography, video editing, gaming, database server, things like that, the Revo Drive is absolutely great and well worth the money. In case you go out to get one, check carefully that it is this drive and not the older one or the “max” edition. You can do so by looking at the part number, which clearly identifies the drive: RVD3X2-FHPX4-240G.

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