Corsair Accelerator 30GB SSD Cache Drive Review

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Final Thoughts & Conclusions

Looking at the Corsair Accelerator 30GB cache drive by itself,
Windows shows 27.9GB (actually GiB) available to the user. With 32GB of
NAND on board, there’s ~7% overprovisioning to assist with drive
maintenance activities which the SandForce controller handles without
intervention from the user.

Corsair Accelerator 30GB Free Space

Final Thoughts and Conclusions:

The Corsair Accelerator Series was designed to significantly boost your systems read and write performance by the least intrusive method possible. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to upgrade your existing system this is most certainly one of the best ways to do it. Sure you don’t have to do any drive mapping or need to reinstall the operating system, but it isn’t as ‘no hassle’ as we first thought.  

For starters everything you need to use the Corsair Accelerator is not included. You do not get the SATA data cable or the screws that are needed to mount it. Including these would ensure a painless installation procedure as the customer would have everything needed to get going.  The next thing we noticed is that the software isn’t included and is due to Corsair wanting the consumer to have the latest software version. This is usually a red flag and our fears were justified as a quick look at the NVELO Dataplex software release notes show that the software has been updated 11 times in the past 9 months. These aren’t minor updates either as they include bug fixes and addition of new features.  We also noticed that Corsair has also released two new firmware versions for this SSD since being released just three months ago. The problem is that they aren’t linked to from the product page or mentioned anywhere. We found out about it by looking on the Corsair forums and finding a thread that had a link to new firmware. How the average consumer would find this is beyond us and updating an SSD firmware is far from hassle free.

Corsair Accelerator 30GB SSD Cache Drive

When we were working on this review we always do research on the product we are looking at and ran across a number of users that were having data corruption when using SSD Cache Drives. This got our attention and after doing a little digging around we discovered that the NVELO Dataplex caching software was having issues when being used on NVIDIA Storage controllers. We asked NVELO customer support and got this response:

Regarding NVIDIA storage controllers, after much effort and discussion with
our partners, we decided in May that we cannot claim support for NVIDIA
controllers. This is detailed on our SSD partner pages and in our
software. There were several reasons for this –

  • NVIDIA is known to have spotty support for SSDs, especially
    newer ones w/ SATA-3 and TRIM;
  • Their storage drivers behave very differently (and
    inconsistently) from popular controllers like Intel and AMD;
  • NVIDIA is no longer shipping chipsets and appears to have
    stopped updating their drivers in May 2011;
  • A future release of Dataplex will proactively check for NVIDIA
    controllers during the installation process to prevent accidental
    installation.

This was a little disappointing as NVELO is no longer supporting NVIDIA chipsets and yet another Dataplex version is going to be released soon, which reaffirms our point about the frequent software updates. One thing that we also realized is that Corsair gives no mention of having to update this drive or how to perform an update on their website or in the supplied the instructions. What is the proper update procedure? We again contacted NVELO and they told us:

Dataplex uses the normal program uninstall via Control Panel –

Control Panel > Uninstall a Program > Dataplex

Software and firmware concerns aside, the Corsair Accelerator 30GB SSD Cache Drive ran great on our test system and we could feel the difference in operations like boot times and frequently used file/application load times. That is what we were trying to speed up and the Cache Drive did just that. There aren’t too many things you can do to get such a dramatic performance improvement from a system.

When it comes to pricing the Corsair Accelerator is available in 30GB, 45GB and 60GB versions at $54.99, $65.97 and $67.97, respectively. Right now Corsair is having a $10 rebate on them all, so they are rather affordable. If we had to recommend one to buy we would have to suggest the 45GB or 60GB version as they use the SandForce SF-2181 processor with 8 channels and has 4KB random write performance of up
to 20,000 IOPS. For an extra $10 we figure that the extra 15GB of cache and having twice the 4KB random write performance due to twice the channels is going to be worth it.  Also, if you ever stop using the SSD Cache Drive you would have more useable storage space if you set it up as a secondary storage drive. 

Having used the Corsair Accelerator for some time we do like it, but still recommend using a true SSD for your primary drive. SSD prices continue to drop and we have seen mainstream SATA III SSDs selling for under $0.60 per GB after promotional rebates. If you get an SSD you will need to re-install your OS, but some SSD kits come with cloning software to get around that. SSD Cache Drives should only be used by consumers that don’t want to mess with switching drives or tinkering with a Windows OS installation. We found the Corsair Accelerator to be greatly improve performance on our test system and we love the new boot times, but we dislike all the software/firmware updates and that everything you need to run this drive is not included in the retail box.

Legit Bottom Line: The Corsair Accelerator Cache Drive Series works well, but we found it works best on Intel storage controllers and that you need to understand that the Dataplex caching software gets updated often. Be sure to always back up your data as you never know when a data loss might happen!

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