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OCZ ATV Turbo 4GB Flash Drive Review

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SKYMTL

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OCZ ATV Turbo 4GB Flash Drive Review




Product Number: OCZUSBATVT4G
Manufacturer Product Page: OCZ Technology | Products | Flash Media | OCZ ATV Turbo USB 2.0 Flash Drive
Price: Approx. $95
Warranty: Lifetime
Availability: Now


While they are not the most prestigious peripherals, many of us would be absolutely lost without our trusty flash drives. I remember paying over $100 for my first 128MB USB 1.0 flash drive just a few short years ago and since then there have been amazing advances in flash technology and the drives which house it. Now we are seeing drives of 32GB which access their data at lightning fast speeds and the size expansion doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.

Due to stiff competition in the USB flash drive arena, companies have been forced to think outside the box and they have come up with some very unique concepts. One of the new trends with flash drive manufactures is to release products which are billed as being able to withstand any type of abuse or are of extremely small stature. This review will be focusing on the former rather than the latter since we will be looking a little closer at OCZ’s beastly ATV Turbo 4GB drive.

OCZ is billing their new ATV Turbo as a rugged go-anywhere drive which can withstand almost any punishment while offering face-distorting speeds. The Turbo (26-30MB/s write speed) only comes in the 4GB capacity for now but the standard ATV (14-15MB/s write speed) comes in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB capacities for a bit more variety. Thw ATV comes with a laundry list of features such as dual channel technology for higher speed, USB 2.0 compatibility, Windows Readyboost compatability and OCZ’s lifetime warranty. The price of nearly $100 without any included encryption software may seem a bit much for many consumers but this seems to be the going price for a high performance 4GB flash drive. If it can perform up to its “Turbo” namesake, it may well be worth the price of admission.
 
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Gav

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Packaging

Packaging and Accessories

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The blister pack of the ATV conveys the toughness of this flash drive by using earthy colors and relatively muted tones. Around the front face we see the main selling points; this drive is shock resistant, water and debris resistant, it has high read and write speeds and it has a cap holder. We will be testing each of these claims to its fullest in this review. The back of the package doesn’t hold much other than tech support numbers and the usual marketing blurb from OCZ.

As for accessories, what you see is see through the front window of the package is what you get. There is no lanyard nor transfer cable or any other frills.
 

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Exterior Impressions

Exterior Impressions

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At first glance the OCZ ATV had me thinking back to my childhood where I used to love playing with Tonka trucks. Clad in a pattern of yellow and black high-impact rubber this flash drive exudes the aura that it is ready to enter a construction site and blend right in. Personally, I think it looks like something from the 1970s when people were pretty sure that nuclear annihilation was right around the corner. Actually, considering the amount of protection this drive has, I wouldn’t be surprised if it could withstand a nuclear holocaust.

There is an orange activity LED located to the left of the “ATV” logo and then comes a small loop for the chain that holds the cap holder.

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Here we see how think the rubber padding is around the drive. It has an almost perfect seal around the USB 2.0 connector so as not to let any water or debris close to the electronics contained inside the casing. Even the cap has a good quarter inch of padding to protect it from drops and other screw ups you might have in store for it.

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Personally, I am sick and tired of losing the caps to my flash drives and OCZ has come up with a simple an effective solution to my problems. They have added a small rubber cap holder to a chain at the end of the drive. I would have much preferred to have seen the back end of the drive itself dub as the cap holder. The chain can be used to attach the ATV to a keychain if you want to haul it around with you. The only problem is that the whole cap holder and chain affair is a bit flimsy and I wouldn’t trust it staying in one piece for long.
 

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Size Comparison

Size Comparison

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All of the protection enshrouding the ATV Turbo does not come without a price. Unfortunately, the ATV is simply massive compared to many other drives on the market. Here I have set it up against OCZ’s own Rally 2 drive and the size difference is quite apparent. With its color and size you should have no trouble finding the ATV if you think it lost but putting it in your pocked poses a bit of a problem since it tends to stick out at the oddest angles. And I mean REALLY odd angles….
 

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Performance Testing

Performance Testing

Testing flash drives is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them into the Flash Drive folder in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account.

For these tests I used a combination of the ATTI Disk Benchmark, HDTach and the SIS Sandra Removable Storage benchmark. I plugged the ATV and its into the same USB 2.0 port directly on the back plate of the DFI Lanparty SLI DR Expert motherboard.


Read Bandwidth

For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed that you are likely to experience with this drive.

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In our last tests, the Corsair Voyager GT reigned supreme and now the OCZ ATV Turbo has displaced it from the top spot by narrowly edging it out in this benchmark. It looks like OCZ’s claims of speed are well founded with this drive.


Random Access Time

Once again, HDTach was used for the benchmark. This benchmark tests how quickly different areas of the drive’s memory can be accessed. A low number means that the drive space can be accessed quickly while a high number means that more time is taken trying to access different parts of the drive.

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While the ATV’s performance was good, it could not match the numbers we saw with its small sibling: the OCZ Rally 2. This may be due to the fact that the ATV is double the size of any other drive we have reviewed in the past and thus the seek times may be increased.


ATTO Disk Benchmark

The Atto disk benchmark tests the drives’ read and write speeds using gradually larger size files. For these tests, the ATTO program was kept at its default values and each test was run 4 times. The test program then spits out an extrapolated performance figure in megabytes per second.

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It looks once like once again OCZ’s new 4GB drive is hanging tough against one of the faster drives we have tested in the past. It actually handily beat out the Corsair across the board in the write category while finishing only slightly behind in the read tests.


Sandra Removable Storage Benchmark

This test was run with the removable storage benchmark in Sandra IX Standard. All of the scores are calculated in operations per second and have been averaged out from the scores of 4 test runs.

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The ATV comes out of this test playing second fiddle to the Voyager GT but just barely. Without a doubt, OCZ’s new flash drive can hang with the big boys in the industry which is good news considering the nearly $100 price tag on this drive.
 

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And now….lets beat this thing up!!

And now….lets beat this thing up!!

OCZ says this drive can take some punishment so I decided to dish some out to see how much it could take. I tried to keep these tests as extreme as possible…far above and beyond anything this drive could experience on an everyday basis.

Sub-zero conditions anyone?

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So imagine you are one of us Canadians in the depths of one of our insane winters and you drop your ATV somewhere in the snow. If your eyes can’t find its livid yellow coloring, you can feel rest assured it will still function come spring. In this test I stuck the drive in a glass with water and then popped it into my freezer for a good 48 hour freeze. Once it was thoroughly encased in a few inches of ice…it was time to let it slowly melt in a sink.

Lo and behold after this torture test, the ATV Turbo performed like it was brand new. It looks like if you wanted to keep your information through the next Ice Age, this is the drive for you.

Onto the next test…the pressure test

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After running it over a few times with my extremely dirty car (it’s been raining for the last 4 days!!) I was sure it would be lights out for the flashy little drive. Once again it disappointed me by refusing to die. Time for some extreme measures…

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I took a short drive to my parents’ place and Shanghaied a corner of my mother’s precious garden where I buried the ATV for 10 days. Over the course of those 10 days it rained 6 days, and we had frost over the course of at least 2 nights. In other words it was wet, dirty and damn cold. Bringing along my laptop, I washed the drive off with some cold water, plugged it in and….it worked once again.

Feeling utterly defeated by the ATV’s durability, I drove home….after driving over it a few more times for good measure. This is one tough flash drive.
 

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Conclusion

Conclusion

The ATV Turbo is everything OCZ has promised and then some; it has blazingly fast speeds, rugged looks and is virtually indestructible. Like you saw earlier in this review, I buried this drive in the ground for more than a week, drove over it numerous times with my car and froze it into a block of ice for the better part of two days and it still worked like a charm. What is even more impressive is that the ATV is backed up by a lifetime warranty which is something we see far too little of these days. While the overall size of the drive is on the large (and inconvenient) side this goes hand in hand with protecting the sensitive electronics inside of all of the rubber protection.

Putting a value on this kind of drive is a bit tough but I do find it a bit on the expensive side at almost $94. You may also find the blazingly bright color of the ATV a bit of a turn-off but you can feel rest assured that you will never lose it. Finally, there is the small issue of the flimsy cap holder; while it is a great concept it is held by a small ball chain winding its way through a thin rubber loop. The chain also has the annoying tendency to come unclipped.

While this is not the perfect flash drive, there are plenty of great selling points to the OCZ ATV Turbo. Working with it was a pure joy and it surprised me time and again by surviving some of the more extreme tests it was subjected to. Thus, this drive gets a 4.5 / 5 rating.


Pros:
- Fast read / write times
- Nearly bulletproof
- Lifetime warranty


Cons:
- Price
- Size
- Flimsy cap holder & chain
- No included encryption software


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Thanks to OCZ for providing us with this drive

 
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