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OCZ Synapse 64GB SSD Cache Drive Review

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AkG

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SATA 2 Performance

SATA 2 Performance


In a perfect world everyone investing in a new solid state drive would have access to a SATA 6Gb/s controller which could pass on the TRIM command. In reality not everyone has this and for many the decision comes down either giving up TRIM – never a good idea with most controllers – and running it off a secondary controller; or taking a performance hit and running in SATA 2.0 mode.

These tests will consist of some of our real world and synthetic benchmarks run on our standard 1155 test-bed; but the drive will be attached to an SATA 2 port.

For synthetic we have opted for the newcomer to our charts: Anvil Storage Utilities Pro. For real world we have opted for our Adobe test. These two tests should give you a very good idea of the level of performance impact you can expect from running a modern SATA 6 drive in compatibility mode.








Since this driver relies on ONFi 1 NAND and a software based solution it comes as no surprise to see it perform very well in SATA 2 mode. It simply doesn't saturate the bandwidth limits of SATA 2. This increased tolerance to lack of SATA 6gb/s interface coupled with reasonable CPU load requirements, makes the Synapse a good choice for older computer systems – something that we couldn't say about the RevoDrive Hybrid.
 
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AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Conclusion

Conclusion


The OCZ Synapse is one of those “outside the box” ideas that actually works surprisingly well in the real world. It may not be perfect and certainly isn’t the right fit for everyone but in return for using mainly wasted idle CPU cycles, you get a lot more performance than what any hard drive by itself can offer.

Since the end user is providing the hard drive they also have complete control over the capacity of the resulting hybrid setup. This does help potentially reduce costs while providing a lot of flexibility for different markets. More importantly a high performance hard drive isn’t needed to get near-SSD performance from this setup. Any old hard drive will do nicely as most of the heavy lifting will be done by the Synapse software and the included Agility 3. Yes, we call the Synapse an Agility 3 since that’s exactly what it is but due to a healthy dose of over-provisioning to guard against possible long term performance degradation, you’ll never be using this drive as a stand-alone solution. While relying on a custom Agility 3 instead of a higher end solution does cost the Synapse some performance, at the end of the day it still is budget solution that offers a good blend of speed and capacity.

The only time the hard drive’s performance will come into play is when it gets into time sensitive data loads of over 30GB. Since the Synapse’s software learns exactly what needs to be prioritized, this shouldn’t be an issue for most consumers. Seagate with their 4GB to 8GB of NAND inside their Momentous XT line has proven that quite nicely, but if you do need more caching space, the 128GB version (aka 60GB of cache size) will certainly be something to look at.

This isn’t to say the OCZ Synapse is a solution perfect though. It does have some quirks that you will need to live with and it isn’t quite a plug and play solution. You’ll need to install the Dataplex software but once set up; it runs happily in the background without any user involvement. The software will also demand more CPU cycles than a typical Solid State Drive, the HDD + SSD setup will require two free SATA ports instead of one and it will “only” provide quicker throughput for 30GB worth of data at a time.

The OCZ Synapse 60GB really is a good option for consumers on a tight budget who want to extend the lifespan of their system and get a nice performance boost along the way. For its ability to do what it says it will do, and do so with a very reasonable asking price we award the OCZ Synapse our Dam Good Value award.


Pros:
- Reasonable price
- Massive over-provisioning guards against durability concerns
- Will work with your existing hard drive
- Only moderate CPU requirements
- Near-SSD performance sure to make first time users extremely happy
- Can Help extend the life an older rig


Cons:
- Does require CPU cycles to work
- Relies on less than optimal ONFi 1 NAND
- Massive over-provisioning is needed to reduce the performance degradation
- Only 30GB of room for caching
- Not precisely a plug and play setup


 
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