We'll immediately tackle some benchmarks. The PCMark Vantage is the best trace test we can fire off at this setup to measure real world desktop usage of the PC in a highly stressed environment. The series of tests will look at items you normally do with your PC and will try to measure what kind of an effect that has on your user experience by testing eight different segments stressing the storage unit.
Test 1 - Spyware is very common on systems without protection against it, letting Windows Defender scan & protect your system is recommended that is what test 1 does.
Test 2 - Streaming data from an HDD in games allows for massive worlds and riveting non-stop action.
Test 3 - Importing digital photos to Windows Photo Gallery is where a high performance HDD shines.
Test 4 - Starting Windows Vista is a rather demanding task for the storage device, but a fast HDD will notably decrease the loading time.
We ran seven series of the tests:
HDD default performance
HDD 1st Run with SSD caching
HDD 2nd RUN with SSD caching
HDD 3rd RUN with SSD caching
HDD 4th RUN with SSD caching
HDD 5th RUN with SSD caching
SSD default performance
The HDD used is a Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB, the SSD is a Corsair (Sandforce 1200) F100 SSD. The tests include a series of reads, writes and copies under a set of specific conditions and applications. Now first off have a very good look at the default HDD drive performance, it's a load of crap really compared to any SSD. Now at the first run with caching enabled, the cache needs to learn behavior and starts caching the static most used files. Performance that first time is roughly similar to the HDD default performance.
However once we run the cached setup for the second time, we immediately notice the HDD making much less noise; yep, performance jumps up significantly, in fact nearly 6x improved performance over the previous initial run. Now we run the cached setup a total of 5 times, and in the last run we see the best performance, though all quite similar.
Let's fire up the second round of real-world performance tests:
Test 5 - Home video editing with Windows Movie Maker can be very time-consuming unless you have high performance storage.
Test 6 - Windows Media Center with a high performance HDD can handle simultaneous video recording, time-shifting, and streaming to an Extender for Windows Media Center, such as Xbox 360.
Test 7 - Cataloguing your music library is a breeze for fast and powerful HDDs.
Test 8 - Starting various applications can take a long time unless you have a high performance HDD.
We see massively increased performance once cached. The downside of course with caches is always... the first time we run the application performance remains normal. So if you are browsing the web, get a lot of IM activity and so on, the HDD will remain a bottleneck. But standard applications that are used the most often like IE, Photoshop, core Windows files etc. will get a tremendous boost as they are loaded from the SSD cache...
PCMark Storage Score
Above, you can see the overall HDD/SSD/CACHE score as derived from PCMark Vantage. Again, if there is one test series we feel is a great example of real-world usage, it's this test. Of course if you check the SSD default performance, well... the cached setup cannot beat single SSD performance, as the SSD on its own is a third faster. But still. Performance wise this technology might be a really nice compromise if combined with a small low priced SSD.
MSI Z68A GD80 G3 PCIe Gen 3.0 motherboard review A little while ago we tested the MSI Z68A-GD80 (B3) motherboard, a product with an absolutely gorgeous design. Merely weeks later another SKU based of this model has been released, the MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3). The G3 hints to something we have been hearing about for a while now, yes this is the debut of a PCI Express 3.0 compatible motherboard. A sincerely cool looking motherboard that is equipped with the latest gadgets, features and obviously that Z68 chipset.
MSI Z68A-GD80 motherboard review So, today a closer look at Z68 technology and of course we'll review a unit, the Z68 motherboard tested, reviewed and spanked comes from MSI. We'll test their Z68A-GD80 motherboard. A sincerely cool looking motherboard that is equipped with the latest gadgets, features and obviously that Z68 chipset. Have a peek at the motherboard, and then let's head onwards into the review.