OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid: Solid-State Speed With Hard Drive Capacity

If you're tempted to buy a PCI Express-based SSD and add your own conventional storage, OCZ's RevoDrive Hybrid could might suit you. A 120 GB SSD and 1 TB of disk space come together on a four-lane PCIe card to serve up an advanced caching solution.

Enthusiasts shopping for storage face a gut-wrenching decision. Do you buy a hard drive and enjoy gobs of capacity for a very low cost, accepting that it'll be relatively slow. Or do you scoop up an SSD, pay significantly more per gigabyte, and get a lot less capacity? 

When you do the math, it's easy to figure out what the extra performance of an SSD costs you. For £80 you can either purchase a 2 TB hard drive or a low-end 60 GB SSD. That comes out to £0.04 per GB for the hard drive and £1.33 for the SSD (and oh, by the way, the cost per gigabyte on the SSD only goes up from there).

So, do you pick capacity or performance?

How about splitting your budget in half and spending money on a smaller SSD and hard drive, in the interest of enjoying the benefits of both? The challenge there, at least for some folks, is actively managing the applications that live on the SSD and balancing that with conventional storage space.

OCZ is trying to offer a more streamlined option with its RevoDrive Hybrid by matching a 1 TB hard drive up to a 120 GB RevoDrive 3 for caching. This combination is supposed to deliver solid-state-class performance at a fraction of the cost you'd pay for a 1 TB SSD. 

While the £389 asking price certainly feels more SSD-ish than characteristic of a hard drive, the maths indicates £0.40 per GB. That's far less than the £1.41 per GB typical of leading SSDs like the Vertex 3.

Vertex 3
RevoDrive 3
RevoDrive Hybrid
120 GB
120 GB
1 TB w/ 120 GB RevoDrive 3
Max Sequential Read
535 MB/s
975 MB/s
910 MB/s
Max Sequential Write
480 MB/s
875 MB/s
810 MB/s
Max 4 KB Random Write
80 000 IOPs
120 000 IOPs
120 000 IOPs
Market Price
Price Per GB

Our experience with SSD caching solutions has been mixed. The Smart Response Technology component of Intel's Z68 Express chipset is great in that it's built into the core logic and only really requires a £90 SLC-based SSD 311 to enable it. But, practically, the performance improvements are largely situational, and certainly not what you'd hope for from an SSD. Add-in solutions like HighPoint's RocketHybrid aren't much different. To that end, we're still recommending that enthusiasts who want the experience of an SSD go the mixed-device route.

However, that's the conclusion we've reached based on the caching devices made available to us so far. Often, they're either handicapped by a small SSD or a slow drive. OCZ is the first company to come out with something different: a blend of solid-state and magnetic storage in one package. The promise, at least on paper, is that we'll see the speed of a RevoDrive 3 without sacrificing the space typical of a hard drive.

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  • 13thmonkey
    Could you please do a comparative test of boot times to windows, this is typically the most lengthy thing that we do with a PC, and with 900MB/s on tap it'd be interesting to see what happens, I expect that we are nearing the point of diminishing returns but it'd be good to see what happens.
  • may1
    13thmonkeyCould you please do a comparative test of boot times to windows, this is typically the most lengthy thing that we do with a PC, and with 900MB/s on tap it'd be interesting to see what happens, I expect that we are nearing the point of diminishing returns but it'd be good to see what happens.

    All the storage drive comparison tries to show difference by means of benchmarking points, when what really matters is how fast is it in seconds. Boot time is one thing but initiating a batch of programmes is another indicator of this. At the very least, that was how SSDs were marketed in comparison to HDDs - why can't you do the same?
  • bobwya
    Uhmmm. As I've said before a Seagate Momentus XT HDD with a 4Gb SLC cache is a hybrid... This OCZ design is frankly stupid! The MLC SSD will get thrashed and I can't believe it will benefit the longevity... Since it is perfectly easy in Windows 7/ XP (64-bit) to create junction points between a decent desktop drive (10K Raptor, SCSI/SAS or short-stroked 2Tb SATA drive) and a fast 120Gb SSD - this is the 'no brainer' path... Similar price, but better performance... Less wear to the SSD if you park your favourite games on there...
    The PCIe link in this product is just a gimmick. The real benefit of an SSD is smooth - glitch free gaming, etc. You just don't see disk stutters. You won't see that with this 'hybrid' solution. When you fall off the cached data space you'll be down to pedestrian pace. Just a waste of a good SSD...
  • Diablo13
    Having had experience of the Seagate Momentus XT HDD's, which constantly crashed, or locked up a high end Sandy Bridge core I7 laptop, I wouldn't touch these with a bargepole!
    I read here somewhere about it being a controller problem and the good controllers are too expensive to make these hybrid drives worthwhile!
    Once bitten twice shy as they say and just by removing the hybrid drives in favour of WD Black magnetic drives, the problem went away completely.
    This actually gave much better performance because they actually worked.
  • carlhil2
    How come you guys don't switch it up and use a faster SSD as cache drives for SRT? i use a 60GB Mushkin Chronos Deluxe to push a WD 500GB drive and the benches are twice as good as the ones guys get letting the intel 311 push SRT! [actually, it beat the M4 in several benches] if i had no sense and went by the benches on the net, i would have not been too impressed, thinking that the 311 was the best option to get the best results, when, actually, the FASTEST SSD seems to work the best, soon to buy the 120GB deluxe to push my 2TB drive!