- Packaging and Specifications
- Internal Impressions
- Installation and End-User Experience
- Test Setup and Benchmark
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Corsair launched the Accelerator Series with the following promise as put up on their product page:
“An Accelerator Series SSD cache drive doesn’t replace your hard drive- it just makes it faster. Installation takes just minutes. There are no configuration hassles and you’ll start to experience the improvement immediately.”
Keeping that in mind, I will be evaluating 60gig Cache Drive and see how much life can it give to a mechanical drive.
Cache drives are used to serve as additional caching for your existing hard drive. Paired with any drive- mechanical drives and in theory, you will have much quicker boot and program load times. Maybe not as fast as an SSD drive, but good enough, in theory, to give you a noticeable difference. The best part is that such drives are made keeping in mind that a user will not need to do an OS+ software reinstallation or install the image from his older drive to another faster drive.
Using Flash NAND as caching is not something new, but no1 except Corsair Accelerator and OCZ Synapse uses SSD Cache drives. If you look at it, Seagate had mechanical drives with read-only flash NAND- the first gen Momentus XT with 500GB of storage space and second gen Momentus XT 750GB.
Usual packaging from Corsair that is being followed for a long time, with all the explanations on the back with a small cut-out to know the part number. Do note that this is a SATAII Drive.
You get the bare basic necessity require to set up the SSD, however, the cache drives require you to install the software from Dataplex that is required to use this as a cache drive.
Accelerator Series does not use Phillips head or Torx security screws to secure the SSD case. Rather it uses those clips on the casing itself that you need tools to pry it out.
You’re 3 screws away from removing the PCB. Do note that the Cache drive occupies roughly Half the space of the SSD casing.
Do note that there are 2x LED lights on the top view (left) of the PCB, between the second and 3rd FLASH NAND. I noticed a red light while the power on the SSD was on and an orange LED when caching software is installed. You can barely see the red LED light between the SATA ports and the casing of the SSD.
The PCB has a total of 8x Micron Micron 29F64G08CBAA (8GB per Flash NAND) and Sandforce SF-2181TB1 controller. What I don’t understand is why did Corsair limit this to SATAII interface.
The Installation of the drive is pretty straight-forward, but do note that you will HAVE to note the product key of the SSD. After doing so you need to go Corsair Accelerator’s page, select the drive, scroll down and type the information they need from you:
While Dataplex software is available in Corsair Accelerator’s product page, it is disappointing that no disc is provided with the Cache Drive. Maybe its because Dataplex/Corsair requires you to register your product key number (on the other side of the SSD drive) every time you download from Corsair’s Accelerator’s page? It’s a speculation but I don’t any other reason.
There are some restrictions in Dataplex. It is not compatible with 2TB drives. It doesn’t matter if your boot partition is with 2TB, it still won’t work. There were also more limitations:
These limitations are not even mentioned in the quick start guide, let alone on the packaging. Imagine the frustration of buying this and then knowing that your RAID setup/2TB drives are not working.
Do note that the above screenshot was taken when Dataplex software crashed and you’ll know why as you read further.
The SSD Cache drive needs to be connected to the motherboard and it works only with a single hard drive with an OS under 2TB. After installing and restarting the system, the Caching is installed, but you won’t be able to detect the SSD on CrystalDiskInfo or on Disk Management. Even if the Cache is disabled, you won’t be able to see the SSD space.
The drive worked the way it worked for couple days but then for some reason I was always on Windows Error Recovery screen and/or check disk run every time I booted after every restart since I’ve powered off the system while it was running windows. I’ve done a restart and proper shutdown. Nothing made the error recovery screen and check disk screen to go away during boot. I did run a system defragmenter and shut the system down. When I started the test bench after a good night’s sleep I was greeted by Windows Startup repair screen.
After trying a lot of times, Startup repair failed. I had to do OS+ software installation all over again. I tried to bring the same issue to see if this issue comes again in a specific sequence but it didn’t work. So I tried to do something else.
After doing an OS install and reinstalled all the software+ drivers (Netgear WG111 Wi-Fi dongle, NEC drivers for USB 3.0 ports, AMD AHCI drivers and AMD Radeon Catalyst controls, CrystalDiskInfo, CrystalDiskMark, UTorrent, Avira Security Suite, PCMark 7 and boot racer, with up to 4 JPEG saved on the desktop). I was also testing the possibility of data that was deleted and not removed from Recycle Bin before cutting off power to the system and then booting up normally. I did 50 reboots in total and after 15th reboot, I deleted 3 JPEG images, 2 of which have been removed from the recycle bin. 1 is in the recycle bin and 1 was on the desktop. After the 16th restart, I cut power to the system. When I booted the system back on and after passing normal boot through After turning it on I received Dataplex’s Improper shutdown notice before the operating system’s loading screen came up.
While it was restoring Cache, I had an option to disable Dataplex. I did not. While I wasn’t able to get back the windows error screen and check disk option again after every restart from this point, windows and software had multiple issues. Even pressing the start button during this point crashed explorer.exe and then there was the drive taken more than what it should (with the Cache drive) to boot the system. After the 50th reboot, I have shut down the system and switched off the mains. Restarted it and it worked fine the way it did. But just to be sure I am testing in its full potential, I uninstalled the drivers, did a secure erase using partition magic on the Cache drive and then re-installed Windows+ software+ benchmarks.
So it does work as long as the system is shut down properly, yes?
Well- that was my conclusion until I encountered an issue during benchmarking with 8MB ATTO test.
Usually, when I run benchmarks, I run them 5 times with an interval of about a minute and use the benchmark scores of the 5th pass.
The 6th screenshot was done after Dataplex crashed. For some reason, ATTO kept crashing on 5th attempt.
It gives me great pleasure and a relief to mention this every time I put up a review because it is a hard fact. In a country where you get minimum hardware support from the manufacturers to review their own products and others on behalf of the readers, its some companies such as Asus, Gigabyte, Kingston, Western Digital and now Coolermaster who give me hardware support by updating my test rig no strings attached.
I would like to thank
- Gigabyte India for providing Gigabyte 890GPA UD3H Rev 1.0 motherboard
- Asus India for providing Asus 990FX Sabertooth motherboard
- Kingston Taiwan for providing hardware support with memory kits and SSD drive.
- WD India for providing WD 300GB HLFS Velociraptor Hard Drive.
- Coolermaster India for providing Coolermaster GX450 RS-450-ACAA-D3 Power Supply
|Test Setup for:||Corsair Accelerator 60GB SSD Cache Drive SATA II|
|Motherboard+ Processor||Gigabyte 890GPAUD3H Rev 1.0+ AMD 965BE (Cooled with Thermaltake Big Typhoon)|
|Memory||Kingston KHX1600C9D3P1K28G HyperX Genesis 8GB 1600MHz DDRIII|
|Primary OS drive||Western Digital 3000HLFS Velociraptor 300GB + Corsair Accelerator 60GB SSD Cache|
|Power Supply||Coolermaster GX450|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64Bit|
Since this is a Cache drive, there was no point in comparing it with all drives. So what I’ve done is I’ve run the fresh benchmark using Western Digital’s 3000HLFS Velociraptor 10K RPM SATAII Hardware and then ran a benchmark with Dataplex and the Cache drive installed. Also, do note that for both the drives, SATAII cables were used throughout the test on the Native SATA III Ports. Tested with Dataplex Version 126.96.36.199 drivers.
There’s a very noticeable difference with and without the Cache SSD.
There’s a significant boot in 512K, 4K and 4k Queue Depths of 32bit in Crystal Disk Benchmark.
Seeing the blue lines ripping way more than half Read and Write test over 300GB Velociraptor, it is obvious that this gives a great to your existing mechanical hard drive as long as it works. For some reason, it has issues between transfer file size of 1 and 16MB.
It’s a shame that the drive has serious issues when it crashes when you’re using them in real life. PC Mark 7 secondary storage made a score of 2108 without the SSD Cache and made a score of 2211 with SSD Caching.
The only AND biggest issue is crashing: a crash that could lead you the screen of check disks and worse case scenario- startup repair. If your startup repair was done successfully, you’re lucky. If not- I hope you have a backup.
To be honest, if you can spend a bit more for a Solid State Drive, you should. If you can not- at least I am confident that this is not what anyone wouldn’t buy with full confidence after noting the series of issues I faced. You should be looking at either Kingston HyperX, HyperX 3K, Force GT or if all goes well- Corsair Force GS if you need a dedicated drive. You’re getting a 90gig version in HyperX 3K and 64gig version in Samsung 830 series via a store in Mumbai- but do note that Samsung India is not officially distributing/selling SSDs in India- yet.
If you can’t and want something to boost your existing OS Drive’s speed? Get a 64-90gig drive or else don’t buy- unless this issue resolved. Nvelo, the maker of the software Dataplex and Corsair need to figure it out. I fear that maybe some drives that were backed up by certain software might not work. All the more reason the software is buggy and to be honest I will have some skepticism in using this for my primary OS, especially if I don’t have a backup and worse if that’s the drive with all the saved data. That will lead a lot of frustration.
I didn’t really expect a half-baked solution like this from Corsair without mentioning the limitations on the packaging- or on the Quick-Start guide to be honest. I would have really appreciated that. They didn’t even mention the warranty period on the package, although they mentioned 3 years guarantee.