Since their emergence SSDs have been an attractive item to those who are looking to maximise the performance of a system. Offering faster boot times and a more responsive operating system experience than mechanical drives they are hugely desirable however there has always been a down side, price to capacity. On a traditional "mechanical" drive the space available is huge for a reasonably low cost, on SSDs prices are much higher for a lower level of space.
Last year though we saw the emergence of a new SSD category, cache drives. Through use of a software solution we were able to combine a low capacity SSD with a mechanical drive and in no more than a few turns of a screwdriver and clicks of a mouse have enhanced performance.
Corsair are now offering their take on the solid state cache drive technology with the release of the Accelerator. With capacities of 30-60GB they aim to offer a solution for those even on a minimal budget. Today we put it head to head with the competition, Crucials Adrenaline, to see who comes out on top.
Corsair use a packaging design for the Accelerator which is very similar to their other drives. It gives us a clear image of the drive on the front along with some key specification information and inside the drive is protected by a plastic cover. Bundled with the drive we find product documentation and a bracket which allows those using a case that doesn’t support 2.5" drives to install the product in a 3.5" bay. Also included is a code to download the Dataplex software.
There are two ways to approach the Accelerator install but both give the same result. In scenario one we can look to perform a brand new install, for example if we have just built a new system. As normal we install Windows on the mechanical drive, leaving the Accelerator connected in the system but unused, for now. In scenario 2 we are already setup with an existing install and drop the Corsair drive into the system, just screwing it in and connecting the power and data cables.
From here the two installation methods are the same, we run the Dataplex installer, select the Target Drive (our mechanical model containing Windows) and the Cache Drive (the Accelerator) and continue through the wizard which takes less than a minute to complete. After a reboot our cache is up and running, Dataplex monitoring our file use and using the Corsair to speed up read and write operations on the fly. Essentially the data/files we use most often are stored on the SSD, the other contents on our mechanical drive and so to give one example if we regularly boot our system the files used in that process will be on the SSD, speeding up our time from off to a usable desktop.
Should we wish to check everything is working a handy tool is available in the start menu which lets us check our Dataplex/Cache status.