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Corsair Accelerator Series 30GB Cache SSD Review – A Second Wind For Your System

A little over a month ago, we here at The SSD Review took Corsairs new Accelerator line of SSDs to the test, focusing specifically on the 60GB model and how drive-caching technology affected system performance. Astounded by the results, we were curious as to how the Accelerator performed at opposite ends of the capacity spectrum.

Hence, those of you looking for a more affordable caching drive are in luck as we take a fresh look at the 30Gb flavoured Corsair Accelerator SSD.

INTRODUCTION

Drive-caching is not a relatively new concept, but one that has seldom been explored. Seagate did it with their Momentus drives, offering the speed of an SSD and size of a hard-drive in one, and now Corsair have jumped in by splitting the hard-drive from the equation and presenting only the SSD portion. The end result is the same: providing the performance of an SSD and storage of a hard-drive by reserving, learning, and adapting to user patterns and programs for rapid access.

As SSDs drop in price, and hard-drives show no signs of returning to their former price-point, consumers are rapidly creating dual-storage setups. A small, fast SSD for booting and capacious hard-drive for storage are a tantalizing mix, and Corsair realized this.

As such, you may be wondering what makes the notion of what the Accelerator is illustrating any different than simply buying an SSD and HDD. The main difference, and one that will assuredly draw many consumers, is that you do not need to reformat/reinstall anything for the SSD and its performance to take effect. What this also means is that users need no prior knowledge to optimize their drives. Consider Corsairs drive-caching technology as a one-step, no-stress process.

PACKAGING AND CLOSER LOOK

The 2.5 Corsair Accelerator SSD comes in a nice, sleek package that outlines everything you would possibly want to know about the drive. As stated earlier, the drive is 30Gb, utilizing only SATA 2.0 (3.0Gbps) as noted on the box. Keep in mind of the product code listed on the back of the package and SSD, which you will need later on:

The contents include the 30GB Accelerator SSD in a protective plastic clamshell, a quick-installation guide, but not the 2.5 to 3.5 adapter found in the 60GB version:

Finally, the Accelerator drive itself. It looks essentially the same as the 45GB and 60GB models, with the same smooth matte-black finish:

ACCELERATOR COMPONENTS

With the enclosure removed, right off the bat we see that the Corsair Accelerator 30GB model uses the SandForce SF-2141 processor versus the SandForce SF-2181 controller located in the 45GB and 60GB versions:

This is because the latter two are housing eight Micron 25nm 8GB asynchronous MLC (multi-level cell) NAND flash memory (29F664G08CBAAA) modules, four on each side of the small PCB. The 30GB, however, is restricted to only four chips (two on each side). For lower capacity drives, quad-channel is a more ideal solution than octo-channel.

As observed with the other two, the 30GB Accelerator has 6.25% of its total memory count reserved for the firmware. Hence, while it has 32GB total, 2GB is conserved  with 3Gb for the 45GB version; 4GB for the 60GB version). All three of the models use the SATA 6Gbps (3.0) interface, resulting in sequential read speeds of 270-280MB/s and write speeds of 240-260MB/s.

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