by Robert Tanner on March 5, 2012 in Storage
SSDs are expensive and often don’t offer enough capacity to meet user needs. The recent SSD caching craze attempts to alleviate both these issues, but OCZ has done one better. Combining a RevoDrive 3 with a 1TB HDD the RevoDrive Hybrid offers a self-contained SSD caching solution that is guaranteed to work.
There’s an adage about complexity; the more complex something is the more that can go wrong. While this is not necessarily true in this case, we would be negligent if we declined to mention that we did run into one such issue ourselves. During testing after an otherwise normal, standard reboot, we were promptly greeted with a warning screen and a data synchronization and integrity check between the mechanical drive and the cache SSD.
After a brief nine seconds, this check failed and the device became unbootable. Although a simple reinstall resolved the problem, when it comes to a complex device such as OCZ’s RevoDrive Hybrid, such issues won’t be unheard of. It’s also worth mentioning again that any unexpected power loss, forced shutdown, or similar event can require a lengthy verification of the SSD cache in order to prevent any data corruption from potentially occurring. It goes without saying that SSD users should always back up their data, and keep the backups current!
As the Hybrid functions like a cache drive, the first time a program is installed or run, the data will always be pulled from the mechanical drive. Only with subsequent runs will performance increase as the Dataplex software figures out what to cache and what to put in cold storage, although during our testing we often saw performance jump significantly or max out even by the second run and remain constant even to the fifth run.
One advantage to the Hybrid over many other caching solutions is simply the size of its SSD. In total it has 120GB (128GB if counting over-provisioning) to play with, which will ensure even users that run a very large gamut of programs and tasks won’t see cache data quickly evicted from the SSD cache. Caching solutions 25GB or less will always have caching contention as a primary issue, because if the cache data gets evicted then the user has to settle with regular hard disk drive performance until it is re-cached. In my personal opinion, if electing to go the SSD caching route then a capacity around 120GB is the best route to go with for exactly the above reasons.
So, all that said what are some reasons to consider an OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid? If looking for affordable SSD-level performance without having to pay full SSD prices, then that’s one reason. Another is if you either are tired of, or don’t wish to play the program swap game where the OS and only some programs are installed onto a small SSD while the rest are relegated to a HDD. Frankly in this age where just the average digital Steam game library can fill a 120GB drive by itself, there is some appeal to having a full terabyte to install all programs, commonly used files, applications, and the core OS without having to worry about space constraints. While only 120GB of that 1TB can be cached at any one time, it’s guaranteed to be the most frequently used apps, programs, and files and it should ensure relatively good, consistent performance for them regardless of just how many programs, games, or data files you may utilize.
Let’s face it, pricing will make or break a product like the Hybrid. Given the cost of a similar spec 120GB SSD and 1TB hard drive when sold separately falls around $350 give or take, the original launch $495 MSRP was simply pricing the drive out of the market. Thankfully I was satisfyingly surprised to see that no longer seems to be the going price. At the time of this writing OCZ’s RevoDrive Hybrid 1TB can be found for $330, or as low as $299 if mail-in rebates are your cup of tea. Given this price is cheaper than most self-built alternatives it should be an appealing option for the average user that wants easy SSD performance but without the price a super large capacity SSD.
The OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid currently is only offered in a 120GB/1TB model, although the potential is there for OCZ to release a 240GB, 4-way SF-2281 controller option for positively bleeding edge performance. Of course that would negate the price advantages too, so it’s hard to say whether we will see such a thing. Regardless the RevoDrive Hybrid is truly a unique product, and is positioned in that niche between full-fledged SSDs and HDDs where previously only discrete caching SSDs once stood.
For an all-in-one, truly unique SSD caching solution the OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid offers not only long-term convenience, but current prices means it also offers an attractive value over the do-it-yourself caching route. While there is some risk in any complex SSD caching solution, the added convenience to having the SSD caching and disk drive combined in a self-contained, highly tuned device as the RevoDrive Hybrid certainly adds to the convenience factor while also decreasing the chances of unexpected issues arising. To make it even better OCZ includes a full 3-year warranty on the Hybrid meaning should any part or either drive fail, OCZ will have you covered. With that in mind and given the current $299 price we have no trouble recommending the RevoDrive Hybrid as a suitable alternative to typical SSD caching solutions.
OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid PCIe Hybrid SSD
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