The latest solid state drives (SSDs) are much faster than older models, with some capable of read and write speeds up to 400MB/sec and beyond. That's around four times the speed of most hard disks.
Unfortunately, older motherboards won't necessarily have the SATA 6Gbps ports necessary to move data that quickly. For these drives to run at full speed, you either need an up to date chipset with native third-gen SATA support, or a PCI Express addon card which adds these faster SATA ports to your computer.
The OCZ RevoDrive X2 takes a different approach: its a PCI Express card with embedded NAND flash chips, a card-based assemblage of four SATA SSDs, each sporting Sandforce 1200 controllers, internally configured as a RAID 0 array.
OCZ says the OCZ RevoDrive X2 240GB is able to read data at a staggeringly fast peak of 740MB/sec and write at 720MB/sec, making the most of the circa-1GByte/sec data rate ceiling of the PCI Express x4 bus.
Before Windows 7 would install, the OS needed a driver in order to select the RevoDrive X2 as boot drive. Oddly, the first time we tried, it gave an error until we forced full speed PCI Express in the BIOS. After that, Windows installed incredibly quickly, limited more by the slow USB media we were using.
In tests it proved almost as fast as OCZ's spec, at least some of the time. While the drive coped brilliantly with large files, reading and writing over 600MB/sec, we noticed performance with 512 byte files in HD Tune Pro was down at 6878 IOPS, lower than an older OCZ Vertex SSD, which achieved 11444 IOPS.
In use, the test computer felt incredibly snappy, not just when first loading, but noticeably when playing games and installing patches. Even web browsing felt smoother than a computer using hard disk or even last generation’s SATA 3Gbps SSD.
The OCZ RevoDrive X2’s RAIDed Sandforce controllers don't support the TRIM command for pre-erasing deleted data, but the SSD has its own built-in garbage collection mechanism to help maintain performance.
It’s less flexible than a standalone drive, limited to desktop PCs, although it won’t use up a hard disk bay in your computer. It isn’t usable with every motherboard, so check OCZ's handy compatibility list on its website first.
The OCZ RevoDrive X2 is one of the fastest storage options available and isn't much more expensive than a standard SSD of the same capacity. However a lack of TRIM support, lower IOPS with tiny files and its limitation to desktop PCs means we’d prefer to use a motherboard with native Sata 6Gbps support and a standalone SSD.