HD Overdrive: Corsair's Accelerator SSD Cache
System Setup, Boot Times
My current system is a Core i7-920 on a Gigabyte X58A-UD3R motherboard with 16GB of RAM and a GTX 480 installed. My system drive is a Samsung HD103SI, a 5400 RPM (yes, 5400) 1TB affair with an onboard 32MB cache. I ran PCMark 7's storage benchmark to examine storage-related performance in a variety of metrics, but a number of synthetic HDD tests behave oddly -- at least, on my own system -- when the cache accelerator is installed. Since the odd peaks and troughs such tests return don't reflect at all on real-world usage, I've elected not to include them.
Without further ado:
Boot time is an easy place for an SSD to improve a system's responsiveness. I've subdivided boot time into two categories. The first -- boot-to-login -- is the amount of time it takes for the Windows Logon screen to display after the POST beep. The second, boot-to-desktop, is measured from POST beep to lag-free desktop and includes the boot-to-login measurement. There's a certain degree of subjectiveness to the latter, but not enough to impact the end result.
Knocking the boot-to-logon time in half was impressive on its own, but the Corsair cache drive knocks 80 percent off the hard drive's login-to-desktop processing time. Even if you only reboot once a week, these first few minutes are irritating out of all proportion to the amount of time they actually represent, there are few things more frustrating than watching a normally nimble system struggle to open a web browser while an army of squirrels has a knock-down dragout inside your case.
The boot time improvement is great, but I almost never reboot. Let's examine a few more scenarios.