Saturday , 20 December 2014
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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.

About Deepak Sharma

I am a big PC enthusiast, and avid gamer. If I'm not tinkering with parts, or reviewing products, you can be 100% certain I'll be on Steam playing something. I love learning about new tech, and teach myself as much as I can, so I can present it to every techie out there!
  • GoldenGuy

    I got this SSD and I think that with time there is a degradation in term or performance (probably from NVELO). I bought it more than 2 months ago and this week I uninstalled NVELO and reinstalled it.

    I did run ATTO Disk Benchmark, before that I change anything, after while I was on my HDD only and after the reinstall.

    Before the reinstall: 94MB/s read and 144MB/s write (50MB/s more in write? Seems strange to me)
    On HDD only, I got : 76MB/s read and 75MB/s write
    After the reinstall: 205MB/s read and 208MB/s write. (I also have a lot more reactivity, and game are loading faster)

    I would like to know, if you have ever got a loss of performance with NVELO (Corsair, Crucial or OCZ)!

    • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

      Hi Golden,

      Sorry for the late reply. I have been running Dataplex/Accelerator for about a month now. I took a quick test and here are the results: http://bit.ly/MypDRZ

      Not a big loss of performance, and everything seems to be running well for me. As I’ve said in the review, I’m not a big fan of Dataplex and it still needs some work, because there are bugs like the one you have. I noticed that after waking-up from sleep/hibernation, and after a system restore, the cache gets messed up and starts under-performing and bogging down until you’re forced to reboot.

      I do neither of those on a regular basis. I always shut-down my computers, and I tried system restore to mimic your performance. I can say that there is a bit of a performance loss (again possibly due to the way Dataplex handles the cache), but not as extreme as yours.

      Like you, I also found that reinstalling Dataplex after a system restore, or anything directly affecting the system for that matter, will give you the performance back.

      I believe it’s a good idea to reinstall Dataplex every month or so. Takes about a minute total, and it’ll ensure it runs properly. It’s a hassle, and keep in mind Dataplex is somewhat new, but hopefully the beta/newer versions take this into consideration.

      I’ll keep you updated if I find anything new.

      • GoldenGuy

        Hi Deepak,

        My computer is regularly in sleep mode so maybe that’s why it got so slow. But when I did the test it had reboot before so it’s just strange. It looks like when a computer got in sleep mode even if rebooted it still got a little loss and with time it becomes a big loss. For me, my loss are not from a system restore since I have not use that for more than a year.

        Thanks for the information.

      • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

        No problem, and yes that is very unusual.

        The only answer I can think of is, perhaps the system considers the hybrid set-up as a hard-drive set-up (since the SSD isn’t present in disk management), and still uses the normal healthy functions meant for a hard-drive (defragmentation, for example), which could be leading to drive/cache degradation.

        I can’t really say as I don’t know how Dataplex is built from the ground up, but just theorizing.

        The good thing is that the new version is released (1.1.3.7):

        http://www.corsair.com/accelerator-software/

        http://www.nvelo.com/dataplex-download/corsair/ReleaseNotes_v1.1.3.7.txt

        My favourite updates:
        – Dataplex Collect Logs – System information collection utility
        – DR – Dataplex Recovery utility (bootable USB)
        – Resolved: Incompatibility issue with Acronis.

        Give it a shot. Hopefully it fixes your issue. I will update as well. Remember to uninstall the previous version first.

        Good luck!

  • Mugglewig

    I bought a 30Gb Corsair Accelerator a few weeks ago and changed the SATA to ACHI as recommended and installed Dataplex etc. At first all was ok untill one day the PC would not boot. I treid all ways to fix it but in the end rebuilt it from an image I created before installing Dataplex. The problem now is that the Dataplex software will not allow me to use the SSD. It says ‘not recognised’ but it is recognised by the PC. There is obvious a block on using it twice and that is unfair to anyone who has to rebuild their system. Therefore I would not recommend using it at this time.

  • anon

    I’ve got a stupid question about this test and Dataplex. When you mention “primary drive” or “single drive”, you’re speaking about logical and/or physical drives (hard drives and/or partitions). If I have 1 single HDD but 2 partitions on it (C: and D:), I can only cache one of these. Not both. And it must be the boot one. Is that correct?
    What if I have my system on C: and my games dir on D:? (I think I can guess the answer to this one).
    Thanks in advance to anybody who takes the time to answer to this one.

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      At present, this caching software ONLY caches the boot drive of the system.

    • RR²

      I would like to mention also that partitioning a hard drive while it may prevent fragmentation it also will slow down the overall performance by increasing the average seek rate. Using the right software you can place your files that you use the least often to the inner tracks. It is estimated that people use 20% of their files 80% of the time. Partitions are great for storing back up images or similar files but overall are going to be unwanted if you access that partition on a daily basis.

      It’s a similar concept to windows “superprefetch” and the caching that occurs with these accelerators.

      It is also worth mentioning that you can create a ramdisk from installed memory that will be faster than any other possible option. It is recommended to have 6+GB but if you want to run a game and have the fastest possible speeds I recommend looking into the software that creates a virtual disk out of extra ram and loading it within that. Of course data loss can be expected if any sudden power outages occur.

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