Things have been very interesting for OCZ with this round of SandForce based products. Leading this off was the Limited Edition line of custom SandForce controlled drives that I believe sold slower than what OCZ planned on. The LE drives are now on their last wave and prices are very low but they did hang around for quite a long time. Then came the Agility 2 and Vertex 2 in a dual release format. The Vertex 2 had a special feature that should have given it a performance lead over the Agility 2 but when all of the cards were laid on the table the Agility 2 ended up performing damn near identical to the Vertex 2.
Right around the time of the extended capacity launch the Agility 2 started to lose its price advantage when OCZ allowed e-tailers to heavily discount Vertex 2 drives and even contributed with mail in rebate programs. Even now Newegg lists the 120GB Vertex 2 and Agility 2 at the same 319 USD price point. Things are even upside down when it comes to the 240GB model that we looked at today with Agility 2 selling at 649 USD and the Vertex 2 50 Dollar less selling for 599 USD. You can bet that this was not a planned strategy but something that come about from conditions in the market.
With other manufacturers starting to launch their own High IOPS drives things are not looking too good for the Agility 2 with its baseline configuration. Even though the performance increase for the special programming appears to be a paper only improvement most customers will opt for a faster configuration at a lower price than pay more for what was once advertised as the number two product.
To make the Agility 2 a real contender in this fast paced SSD market the pricing is going to need to get back in line with the original design. With the Vertex 2 and Agility 2 sharing the exact same build of materials other than an unspecified cost to SandForce for the special programming how much cheaper can the Agility 2 actually get? As it sits right now the Vertex 2 is one of if not the lowest priced SandForce SSD available outside of the OCZ Limited Edition that is quickly selling out at My Digital Discount. Even once the LE drives are out of the picture that will still leave us with Vertex 2s that are a better value.
If I were to predict how this is going to look in the next month I would say that OCZ will be following the price cuts of Vertex 2 and get the Agility 2 back in line with the pricing roadmap. As long as the price reduced Vertex 2s stay at the level they are then we might see the Agility 2 drives drop in price to the levels in which My Digital Discount is selling the Limited Edition drives at now. It would make sense for OCZ to hold off dropping the price of Agility 2 until the LEs are sold out. If that is the case and my magic 8-ball is correct then we can start to really get excited about OCZ's mainstream SandForce Agility 2 since it performs are nearly the exact same level as the Vertex 2.
When it comes to performance the OCZ Agility 2 is able to run at nearly the same levels as the Vertex 2 despite the Vertex 2's special programming that increases the 4K write performance. What it really comes down to is that the SandForce SF-1200 no matter the configuration is so fast the limit of performance seems to come from the SATA II interface rather than the controller or any limits currently imposed on it. That works out great for consumers since the vast number of SandForce products on the market turn things into a true buyers market where the lowest priced product gets the users money. We have already seen some manufacturers start to make their products more appealing by adding desktop adapters and extended warranty periods that go along with lower prices.
The time to buy a SandForce SSD has never been better but at this point I would have to recommend the Vertex 2 over the Agility 2.
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