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Before we weigh in with our final verdict, we'll bust out a few of our famous value scatter plots. These plots use an overall performance score compared against a common baseline. This score is based on a subset of the performance data from our full suite, with CrystalDiskMark's sequential transfer rates substituted for older HD Tune scores. (More details about how we calculate overall performance are available here.)

We've mashed up the overall scores with per-gigabyte prices from Newegg. (OCZ's suggested retail price was used for the Arc 100, since it's not selling online as I write this.) The best solutions will gravitate toward the upper left corner of the plot, which signifies high performance and low prices.

Solid-state and mechanical storage have vastly different performance and prices, and those disparities make the main plot a little busy. Click the buttons below the plot to switch between all the drives and a cropped look at just the SSDs—and keep in mind that we've trimmed the axes for the SSD-only plot. Unfortunately, the plot with all the SSDs is just too crowded to have individual labels for each one.

Despite its status as an entry-level product, the Arc 100 240GB keeps up with plenty of mid-range and high-end SSDs. It scores much higher than the Crucial MX100 256GB, and it barely costs more. The Arc 100 also looks more appealing than the Samsung 840 EVO 250GB, which has lower all-around performance but a higher price.

What the scatter doesn't show is that the Arc 100 performs particularly well under heavier and sustained loads, including our long-term simulation of real-world desktop work. Other budget SSDs tend to struggle in those tests, but the Arc is well-equipped to handle them, perhaps in part because its 240GB capacity sacrifices some user-accessible storage to provide more overprovisioned area to the controller.

Even though it's very fast overall, the Arc 100 is definitely a bare-bones product. The encryption support is limited, there are no mounting accessories in the box, and you don't get any cloning or data migration software. At least OCZ provides an SSD utility that reads SMART data, downloads firmware updates, and executes TRIM and secure-erase commands. The ShieldPlus warranty's advance replacement policy is also a nice touch, even if the three-year term is otherwise pedestrian.

Whether the Arc 100 is as reliable as other SSDs remains to be seen. The anecdotal evidence and OCZ's own internal numbers suggest there's room for optimism, so I'm hesitant to penalize the drive based on the flaws of its predecessors. That's why I'm giving the Arc 100 240GB a provisional TR Recommended award. The Arc 100 seems like a great budget SSD for a range of different applications. We'll be watching those user reviews closely.TR

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