Crucial Adrenaline Review: SSD Cache for your Traditional Disk Drive

By on March 26, 2012, 12:28 AM

Last year we reviewed OCZ's RevoDrive Hybrid, which saw the marriage of a 1TB hard drive and a pair of 50GB SandForce SSDs on a PCI Express card. Potentially achieving performance close to that of a SandForce SF-2281 SSD with a 1TB storage capacity was very appealing, however there were some notable drawbacks that prevented us from recommending that solution.

Then on January, Crucial announced the Adrenaline SSD series. Not meant to replace their existing and well regarded m4 drives, the Adrenaline is a cache solution meant to work along your existing disk drive, using a 50GB SSD to act as solid state flash-based cache for your larger primary hard drive.

The Adrenaline doesn't require any special drivers as it uses the SATA interface, it can be installed at any point and can therefore be fitted to any computer without the need to reinstall Windows.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 28

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ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Thanks for the review. I've been thinking of getting an SSD, and I've always considered caching to be the solution I want. Unfortunately it always comes at a price premium, so I was never sure whether I want an SSD or a cache. FancyCache offers a partial solution, but it's not yet mature enough.

Crucial's product looks like it could be a decent solution, since the price premium isn't that big (it costs only $100 at Newegg). I only browsed the review until now but I will read it more fully to see if it's really what I'm after.

Guest said:

This looks quite similar with Silverstone HDD Boost - except they sell the solution, not the SSD:

http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=245&area=en

Row1 said:

I don't understand one aspect of the test. What hard drive was this paired with? A real-world test would be whether you could have a system with this plus a huge, slow, inexpensive hard drive and get decent performance, versus hard drive alone, or a larger-capacity SSD as a boot c: drive for OS and programs, paired with a huge hard drive for storage. A raptor is fast, but expensive.

Lionvibez said:

If you are on a small budget I can see this product being a good option. However will all the restrictions if you can afford to spend alittle abit more you are better off with a SSD and not this hybrid stuff.

Guest said:

Great review. Confirming here...from a connectivity standpoint, this is a device on a different SATA channel. The software handles data movement between primary/standard HD and secondary/SSD. At first when I saw the title I was thinking this was daisy chained in with the standard HD, but I can't see that as possible.

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@Row1, (Updated) Steve paired the Adrenaline to a standard 7200rpm hard drive (Western Digital RE4 1TB HDD), you can also compare baseline performance vs. SSD cache performance since we tested the HDD alone and then with the Adrenaline installed in 1 and 3 passes.

As for other comments, on the review we are accounting for the possibility that going straight with SSD is definitely the speedier and more costly solution, that's why we test along the current SSD leaders.

For the same kind of money, you can get a 64GB SSD (basically the same as this drive) but to function as a primary drive vs. a cache drive that let's you use your larger disk drive as primary. Ultimately the choice is in your hands, but we like to show you the different alternatives

Guest said:

Hmm, doesn't seem to be worth the cost, as you're basically paying for a regular SSD, but not using it as a regular SSD, so you don't get all the benefits. If I had the choice, I'd just get a regular SSD and using it as the OS drive, like Albert mentioned above. They're still too pricey for me though, and I don't fancy going through all the trouble of cloning my Windows 7 installation to an SSD, especially as it's currently on a 1TB HDD that's full up, so I'd probably have to shell out for a new HDD to put all the non-Windows stuff on, plus I bet I'd have to reinstall everything again.

Probably better to just do a new build and start off with an SSD, but when the time comes for me to want to actually build a new PC, SSDs will probably be as cheap and as big as HDDs (read, many years from now)!

Guest said:

This is nothing new though. The OCZ Synapse caching SSD has been out for months, and it uses the same software (Dataplex). From my experience, it works REALLY well -- you just got to see it to believe it. It's only useful if you're going to pair it with a really large HDD though, and you have a definite need for frequently accessed data that cannot fit into one large SSD.

Also, as far as Dataplex is concerned, you can easily deactivate it within the program. If you have issues, at least for OCZ, they'd be happy to help you out if you forgot to deactivate it the previous time. Never had experience with Crucial though.

Guest said:

Example: Starting from your existing 2TB HDD as your C:\ drive, containing your OS, Apps, etc.

1) Buy a Crucial Adrenaline Solid State Cache (50GB SSD + Dataplex cache software)

2) Attached the SSD , then install the Dataplex software

3) Dataplex hides the SSD, and uses it as a "cache" for your existing 2TB HDD

a) you keep the full capacity of your HDD

b) you don't have to do any "imaging" or "data migration"

c) dataplex sw handles all I/O traffic; keeps all your "hot" data on the SSD for max performance.

4) You get SSD-level performance + HDD capacity, for ~$99.

a) far more efficient than a boot drive

Okay?

mados123 said:

I just set up the Corsair Accelerator SSD cache solution on my older computer paired with a VelociRaptor and I have to say it is awesome. I didn't want to rebuild my computer to accommodate a lower sized SSD drive and the setup was simple. My motherboard only works up to SATAII which is what the Corair is. $100 for a 60GB SSD cache and minimal work needed. Well worth the price for a simple but incredible effective upgrade.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm still on the fence between this and buying a $130 120GB SSD and using it for boot and FancyCache. I will have to reinstall the OS either way, because this is Windows 7 only and I'm running Vista.

Guest said:

Have checked reviews of the OCZ Synapse solution and also read some in OCZ forums.

There seems to be some problems with the DATAPLEX software if you run Windows update, install new drivers etc and it could depend on how HDD and SSD Cache works together...

So at the moment this SSD Cache solution seems not quite finished yet....

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The review spent some time discussing the OCZ RevoDrive problems with this software and how they don't appear in this solution. So first of all, read the review, and secondly don't just the current state of a piece of software based on old reviews.

Guest said:

Can someone please tell if we need to instal Intel's Smart Response Technology software? and if this software called Dataplex offer either Enhanced and Maximized for the SSD cache drive?

mados123 said:

Don't think so on the Intel Smart Response software - at least not on my setup with Dataplex and Corsair.

Guest said:

What I'm wondering is if this solution reduces the HDD access. Meaning; if there is a cache hit (dataplex knows it is on the SSD), does that mean my harddisk can stay in standby?

But once there is a cache miss, that means the HDD in standby needs to spin up again. That takes several seconds.

Has this aspect been tested? i.e.:

(1) does using the adrenaline reduce total powerdraw over the length of the trace, meaning the boosted HDD is accessed less?

(2) what behaviour is noticed when there is a cache miss?

Guest said:

OK ET3D, so we don't judge a new product by old reviews - but what is the answer now? Do you have to turn off Windows auto-updates or not? The review doesn't say they ran it long enough for that to be tested.

Guest said:

whats it like compared to intel's smart response thingy?

i've used that on a z68 board with an i3, compared to the same chip used in a different board after several restarts I couldn't tell the difference between and a cruical m4 256gb drive.

also when the drive failed (ocz driverequred firmware update, I know, Surpsising!) no data was lost on the harddrive, totally transparent, it was as if it never against, after firmware update worked flawlessly

Guest said:

The cache drive and a 500gb spinner = under 200 bucks

A single 500gb Seagate Momentus Hybrid=under 200 bucks

A single 512gb SSD=550 to 800 bucks

This Adrenaline SSD cache and the Seagate hybrid drives are the best thing going price wise. I prefer cached spinners over ssd's atm until the price drops a year or 2 from now.

Guest said:

Hi,

I am just wondering will there be a big impact to performance if I use this on my current WD Caviar Black 500GB HDD that has 32MB Cache? The WD RE4 used in this review has 64MB Cache.

Sorry for my noob question. :P

Thanks.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Hi,

I am just wondering will there be a big impact to performance if I use this on my current WD Caviar Black 500GB HDD that has 32MB Cache? The WD RE4 used in this review has 64MB Cache.

Sorry for my noob question. :p

Thanks.

No, no difference.

Guest said:

Ok thanks, I think I may get one soon.

Guest said:

It is possible to use this crucial adrenaline ssd with Intel SRT on Z68 mainboard (without using dataplex software) ?

Guest said:

RE4 has better performance in server (not desktop) RAID configuration ( not alone), and use 3Gb/s (not 6Gb/s)

Guest said:

I have a computer running a dual boot of Windows 7 and XP with two 500 gig drives running in raid 0 via the on board raid. From what I have read after setting up my raid drive It does not gain me much performance. I was wondering two things though. A: Can you use this system in a dual boot like this where it would only affect the windows 7 performance? B: Does this system function in tandem with any raid setups? I know I do not have a typical set up but I do have a lot of older games that I do play now and again on the XP platform just for the fun of it. My setup consists of a asus m3n ht deluxe MB, Amd quad phenom 2, 8 gigs of ddr2 800, Gtx 660 Ti video card. and the before mentioned 500 gig drives.

Guest said:

Never mind I got answers A: and B: from crucials website. Nope and Nope.

mados123 said:

Have checked reviews of the OCZ Synapse solution and also read some in OCZ forums.

There seems to be some problems with the DATAPLEX software if you run Windows update, install new drivers etc and it could depend on how HDD and SSD Cache works together...

So at the moment this SSD Cache solution seems not quite finished yet....

I was having problems with the Dataplex software and Windows Updates (where it would crash and I would need to restore to an earlier image) but that seemed to have been worked out with the latest release. I'm sure happy about that as I had the drive disconnected for a while and wasn't using it due to this issue but now it seems resolved!

mados123 said:

I was having problems with the Dataplex software and Windows Updates (where it would crash and I would need to restore to an earlier image) but that seemed to have been worked out with the latest release. I'm sure happy about that as I had the drive disconnected for a while and wasn't using it due to this issue but now it seems resolved!

Well, it still seems like it is still an issue with Dataplex version 1.2.0.4. As such, I have disabled Windows Updates altogether for now and will uninstall/reinstall around the manual updates in the future. I have been creating system images every night so it was a big deal but definitely a nuisance.

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