Radeon R7 SSD (AMD/OCZ) Review

Radeon R7 SSD (AMD/OCZ) Review

When is an OCZ SSD not an OCZ SSD? Well that’s when AMD get their hands on it… meet the AMD Radeon R7 SSD.

radeon_r7_ssd_boxradeon_r7_ssd_bundle

AMD use reasonably straight forward packaging design for their Radeon R7 SSD. We get their branding and capacity on the front and some product info on the back. Inside the drive is suspended in a plastic casing and we find some product documentation, a bracket for installing the drive in larger 3.5inch bays and some screws. Also present is the a code for Acronis True Image which allows us to copy our existing OS/Drive contents to the SSD without the need for a re-install.

radeon_r7_toolradeon_r7_tool2radeon_r7_tool3radeon_r7_tool4

Also available to Radeon R7 SSD users is the OCZ Toolbox and it is shown above. It allows us to monitor and maintain our drive in Windows, including the ability to update our firmware.

The AMD Radeon R7 SSD

radeon_r7_ssdradeon_r7_ssd_base

Similar to the recent OCZ drives we have seen the Radeon R7 SSD uses an all metal casing and to the top a branding sticker is applied.  A second sticker with some product detail is applied to the base and beside it we can see the SATA 6GB/s power and data connectors. OCZ and AMD have gone with a 7mm (thick) form factor for this model.

In terms of internal components for the Radeon R7 SSD we see that, at least for now, this is not just a re-branded drive. Our internal components start with OCZ own Barefoot 3 M00 controller, that is a part we would find in OCZ’s high end Vector drive. It is paired with A19nm Toshiba MLC flash and the only drive we have seen to use that NAND so far other than this model is the new ARC 100 SSD which OCZ launched last week (using a M10 controller). Capacities of 120, 240 and 480GB are available with our review sample being the 240GB version. The drive is rated for 550mb/s read and 530MB/s write in its fastest configuration with the 120GB having a 550/470MB/s split. So that puts this drive in the higher end of the performance scale for SSDs, however AMDs product documentation would seem to suggest they are targetting a mainstream-ish price (performance is shown against the likes of the Samsung 840 Evo and SanDisk Extreme Pro). Power use when active is 2.70w max with idle dropping to 0.6w. Endurance level is noted as 30GB/day host writes for 4-years which is the length of the warranty.

In terms of other features we get support for 256-bit AES encryption, BCH ECC (correction) up to 44 random bits/1KB and we can Secure Erase our drive using OCZ Toolbox to set it back to a fresh state. Also worthy of note is the presence of TRIM and idle time garbage collection to ensure our drive maintains its performance for as long as is possible.

radeon_r7_ssd_capacity

Conclusion

NOTE: Full Performance figures can be found after the conclusion 

This is not the first time AMD have expanded their product lines by working with a 3rd party. Their Radeon gaming memory for example, which we often use in our review systems, is produced with Patriot. What this approach gives us is the confidence that the parts will be thoroughly validated with AMD hardware with the peace of mind that a well known manufacturer is behind the drive technology. Its not too different an approach to what many SSD manufacturers do really, for example Intel using Marvell controllers on some drives, rather than their own controller.

In the case of using OCZ tech for their Radeon R7 SSD, we cant really fault AMDs choice of partner. OCZ have an impressive and proven controller in the form of Barefoot M10 and we know that Toshiba NAND is right up there with the best. Add a metal casing along with decent software suite to the mix and that makes for a very attractive purchase. Of course that all depends on how aggressively AMD can price a joint venture like this. So we wait to see how that pans out. (Current indications are £59, £97, £177 and €74, €122, €195 exc VAT for the three capacities)

In terms of performance, that was pretty much what we expected when starting to test the Radeon R7 SSD. The OCZ controller allows us to hit peak speeds which can compete with the best drives in the industry. The move to A19nm MLC NAND doesn’t have any detrimental effect either, we still hit what appears to be the peak performance of the platform and results against OCZs Vector are very close indeed, sometimes peaking higher on other occasions just beneath. So all things considered, a drive worthy of our performance award.

Lexar Card Reader

OCZ Storage Solutions ARC 100 240GB
Samsung 840Evo 250GB
OCZ Storage Solutions Vector 150 240GB
Crucial MX100 240GB

*All drives using their latest firmware at the time of writing.

Intel Core i7-4790K
Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 5
4x4GB Corsair DDR3-2666
Samsung 850Pro SSD
Corsair AX1500i PSU

Installed on a DimasTech Easy XL Test Bench

Roccat Kone Mouse
Razer Black Widow Keyboard
Audio-Technica ATH-AG1 Headset
ASUS HD/3D 120Hz Screen

Windows 8.1
Catalyst 14.7
NVIDA Driver 340.52

Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
Crystal DiskMark
Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
ATTO Benchmark
Battlefield 4/Origin
PCMark 8

The test system was built from scratch, a format of the hard drives was performed (NTFS) and then Windows 8 was installed. Following the completion of the installation, the chipset and video drivers were installed. All windows updates were then installed as were the latest builds of the benchmarking tools. Finally, where appropriate, the hard drives were de-fragmented. For each test, the video drivers were set to default quality/optimizations (unless otherwise stated) and each drive was Sanitary/secure Erased between tests.

Good Benchmarking Practice

Where possible, each benchmark was performed three times and the median result for each resolution/setting is shown in the tables that will follow. All applications had their latest patches applied and all hardware features the latest BIOS/Firmware.

Atto:

radeon-ssd-atto

CrystalDiskMark:

radeon-ssd-crystal

BlackMagic HD Video Benchmark:

radeon-ssd-blackmagic1 radeon-ssd-blackmagic2

File Copy Tests:

radeon-ssd-file-copy

Windows Load Time:

radeon-ssd-windows-load

Battlefield 4 Map Load:

radeon-ssd-bf4-load

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