Corsair Accelerator 30GB SSD Cache Drive Review
A short time ago we took a long hard look at the Corsair Accelerator 60GB drive and walked away craving even more. Its ability to increase the overall responsiveness of an entire system was impressive, performance was improved without sacrificing capacity and it didn’t cost a veritable fortune. However, there was one major issue: the overall value was lacking when compared to similar solutions offered by the competition. Today we will be looking at the smaller and even more frugally priced sibling – the Corsair Accelerator 30GB – to see if this drive can alleviate our concerns.
Much like OCZ and their Synapse line, the Corsair Accelerator series relies on Nvelo’s Dataplex software to meld a moderately fast solid state drive to the user’s existing hard drive in order to create one “hybrid” storage solution. As with the larger version, the 30GB unit relies upon a standard SATA 3Gb/s Nova Series 2 drive. As mentioned extensively in the previous review, this drive uses a less capable SandForce controller but in this instance it is the SF2141 instead of the SF2181.
Unfortunately, the 7% over-provisioning found with the standard Nova Series 2 drive has also been carried over from the 60GB model. Based on previous experience, this does raise serious concerns over short and long term performance loss. Luckily, the Accelerator 30GB has an ace up its sleeve which may help mitigate these concerns. Namely, with an asking price of only $59, this model may so frugally priced that nothing in the same price range will be able to match it.
To keep things as fair as possible, we will be pairing the Accelerator with the same 1TB hard drive we tested the OCZ Synapse with. This will allow us to find out how much performance is possible from a truly budget setup and judge the Accelerator’s overall efficiency and effectiveness.
As with the 60GB version, the Corsair Accelerator 30GB’s exterior is very robust and reassuring. While some SSD makers use a metal-and-plastic solution, the Accelerator’s outer shell is a full metal affair that seems like it could shrug off damage that would leave a Synapse in pieces.
Opening up the Accelerator 30GB reveals an interesting layout. Not only is the PCB half the size of what is normally found in most SandForce-based devices, but the number of NAND ICs has been greatly reduced as well. While most solid state drives make use of 16 dual-layer NAND modules –and the Accelerator 60GB uses eight – this model has only four ONFI 1 NAND ICs. These chips’ density is higher than that of most contemporary 32GB SSDs, but the Accelerator does rely on a slower and less capable SF-2141 controller so there may be some performance loss.
It is also unfortunate that Corsair—much like OCZ—opted for ONFi 1 NAND rather than ONFi 2 or Toggle-Mode NAND. Either of these superior NAND technologies should have allowed the Accelerator 30GB to hide a degraded state better than ONFi 1 NAND. However, this is a budget-oriented drive so we can’t expect miracles.
The software needed to actually run the Accelerator as intended is included neither in the box nor on the drive itself. Rather than bundle a CD with a potentially outdated version, Corsair simply supplies a serial number that can be used to download the Dataplex caching software.
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