Background

I’m a bit of a tinkerer when it comes to technology, especially with my PC.  Rather than building a PC and leaving it till it’s time to buy a new one, its hardware and specification is constantly on the move.  Testing out new components and different operating systems etc.

Historically I’ve used traditional mechanical drives for the storage on my PC (rather a fan of the WD Caviar Black drives) but I did have a fling with a WD Raptor a few years back but that fell out of favour due to the noise factor!  When SSD came along I was very late to the party, I waited till prices dropped and made them more of cheap upgrade.  The SSD I chose at the time was a Samsung 470 64GB drive, and this has been my weapon of choice for many years and it’s still my primary drive on my current build.

Now SSDs are increasing in capacity and getting even cheaper, you can now pick up models from as little as £25 or choose a capacity as large as 1TB

So I want to find out if upgrading to one of these newer SSDs is worth it.  I achieved a massive performance boost when I first fitted my Samsung 470 will these offer another much needed boost to my PC.  To help me find out OCZ have kindly provided me with one of their new AMD branded drives the Radeon R7 240GB.

First Impressions

 

On first glance you would assume that the Radeon R7 is build and made by AMD the packaging design is black and red and uses their geometric patterning found in many of their logos and on their website.  Turning the box over there are the features and specifications of the drives in the range and then in the bottom left the OCZ logo, letting you know that this is in fact an OCZ SSD.  The box itself is a rather nice design, the majority of the box is coloured with a matt finish but the SSD product image and the logo are almost embossed on with a glossy finish making them stand out from the background, the box has 3 stickers on it, the capacity indicator on the front and then the serial and barcode on the back.

Opening up the box you are first presented with a little quotation

“There is a faster, more responsive computing experience inside this box”

 

Inside we have collection of installation manuals and warranty information and an activation key for Acronis True Image 2013, this will be extremely handy if you are transferring your install over from anther hard drive or SSD.

The SSD is closed in a thin plastic case along with some mounting screws and also a handy little adapter plate to convert a 3.5” drive bay to the required 2.5” Many SSD brands no longer include these with their drives so it’s nice to see they have included one.

The Drive

It’s solid and heavier than expected, oozes quality and durability
The label matches the design of the box and is heavily AMD orientated, the drive is designed to run on any type of PC, it’s worth pointing out that you don’t need an AMD powered PC to use this drive.  The colours and designs make it nice match to many of the other red and black components on the market, including the ASUS ROG range and the MSI Gaming Graphics Cards

 

As for connections, the drive has exactly the same type of connections as my old SSD and many modern HDDs, you have the larger SATA Power connection and then the smaller SATA Data connection.  The Radeon SSD uses SATA III 6Gbps natively but is full backwards compatible with old types.

Fitting the drive is easy, it’s just a straight swap out from the Samsung to the Radeon. If your PC doesn’t have a 2.5” bay simply screws the SSD to the Adapter and the increased size will fit perfectly into a standard hard drive bay.  If you using a laptop PC height is important as space can be limited inside the PC.  The Radeon is only 7mm tall ( I double checked this and the sample measured at 6.8mm) so should fit into the majority of laptops and portable computers on the market.

 

Testing

As with my previous reviews and features, I’m not going to be testing these on £2000+ hardware setups, this kind of testing has its place however the majority of readers will not have these kings of setups at home and personally I’m more interested in how these drives perform or more real world hardware.
To give some kind of idea on how the drives compare with older drives I’m putting it to the test with several other technologies and SSDs. 

  • WD Black
  • Samsung 470
  • OCZ Radeon R7

The test PC is running a moderate Intel Core i5, on a Motherboard with 8GB of Kingston HyperX 2400MHz and a MSI Radeon R9 270X Graphics Card.

Each drive has been installed identically using Windows 8.1 and has all available Windows Update as of 20/3/2015.

As I’m comparing the OCZ Radeon drive with some older technologies I’m expecting some massive performance increases.  As mentioned previously I’ve used my Samsung 470 for a while now and when it first went in I saw a huge performance boost on the PC.

Testing software used is ATTO Bench that will give me a max read and write speed, and I’ve used CrystalDiskMark for giving me the IOPS data for each of the drives.

 

On the same hardware you can really see the difference between the two SSDs, the Radeon drive hits 555MB/s which turns out that 5MB/s faster than OCZ rate the drive at, Write speeds touch 533MB/s both of which are huge performance increases over the old Samsung 470.

The read speeds and write speeds are calculated with the transfer of big files, however when using a PC its usually much smaller operations that are being carried out. To measure the performance of these random read and writes we need to look at the IOPS of the drive.

 

The IOPS are more directly related to the feeling of speed on the PC and you can see that again the Radeon absolutely batters the old technology drive with the Radeon drive connected the whole PC operates faster, the PC boots quicker apps, programs and games launch and run faster.

Warranty

The OCZ Radeon R7 SSD comes with a 4 year ShieldPlus Warranty, now what’s shield plus I here you all say! ShieldPlus is OCZ way of eliminating all the usual hassle and problems surrounding manufacturer warranties, returns and replacements.

With ShieldPlus should the customer have a SSD failure within the 4 year period all they need to do contact OCZ with the serial number of the failed SSD and they will send out an advanced replacement drive direct to the customer.  Along with the replacement OCZ will also send out a paid return envelope for sending back the failed one.  No messing around paying delivery and return postage and no need for a proof of purchase or receipt. – Nice and Simple

Conclusion

Overall this is a super drive, if you are (like I was) running an older SATA II SSD it’s well worth the upgrade to a current SATA III model (check if your motherboard supports SATA III first, especially if it’s an old one) Prices are nice and affordable and storage capacities are nice an high so you don’t need to worry about where you are going install that game or your software suite. The Radeon SSD is quite competitively priced with the SSD Market, you can however buy cheaper models from other manufacturers but The OCZ ShieldPlus warranty is the deal breaker for me, having the peace of mind that should anything go wrong OCZ have got your back and an advanced replacement drive will be sent out quickly and for FREE is a great feature and one I would be happy to the extra in order to get the Radeon drive.

Closing thoughts

The OCZ Radeon R7 drive is their mid to high-range SSD aimed primary at gamers, they have the higher performance and higher endurance rated  Vector 150 for the enthusiast, and for the power user (workstations) they have the PCI Express Revo 350 Model. Interesting they have also launched an entry level drive the ARC-100 specifications are slightly lower that the tested R7 SSD but then the price is also slightly cheaper to reflect this.  It would certainly be interesting to see how the ARC compares with this fantastic SSD.

Personally I’m sold on the Radeon R7 SSD it’s been an affordable and simple upgrade to my PC and one is highly recommend to anyone.

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