What are my options for SSD Caching?

Disclaimer, Specs, and Background

I had trouble categorizing this, especially since there are hardware, firmware, and software implementations but I think it's ultimately a software issue here. Let me know if I'm wrong.

I'm working a project - I had some extra hardware laying around that I couldn't get rid of so I bought some other parts to see if I can get a capable gaming machine out of it.
So far I have it's working, but I'm working on optimizing and benchmarking, then OCing, followed by more benchmarking. So far the configuration is:

  • Core i5 750
  • ASUS P7H55-M motherboard
  • 4x 2GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • MSI GTX 570 (reference/blower) / EVGA GTX 760 ACX SC.
  • 500GB Seagate Barracuda HDD
  • 64GB Crucial M4 SSD
  • Rosewill 750W PSU
  • Win7 Home x64

From personal experience, 64GB SSDs don't cut it as system drives as a modern Win7 x64 will easily chew through 40GB, especially with all the updates. I got fed up with space management. I doubt the person I have in mind for this setup will have the patience or technical know-how to deal with it either. However,

I want to get use out of the SSD, so I'm looking for a caching solution.

I recall Intel having a good solution in the form of the Smart Response Technology, which is supposedly compatible with their 5-series of chipsets, which includes the H55 if I'm not mistaken. I also recall the SSD caching feature debuted on Z68, and if memory serves, the SSD caching is not compatible on older chipsets. If it is somehow compatible, could someone let me know?

I discovered Windows Vista had a ReadyDrive (or NV caching) feature, but I can't seem to find a way to configure it, nor find any mention of it within Windows 7 for that matter. It seems to be what I want - to cache system files to the SSD to speed up boot performance and what not.

I've also seen 3rd party software caching solutions, but none appeal to me, as they all seem to be paid software, which is quite frankly way out of my non-existent budget.

What I've done now is dedicated the M4 SSD as a ReadyBoost drive. However, since the feature seems to be limited to 32GB, I've also moved the pagefile to the SSD as well. I also get the sneaking suspicion that this configuration isn't going to do what I want it to do. Could someone verify that? Does anyone know of a good SSD caching solution?

What are you doing?!?

SSD Caching
Just get a big enough SSD to make it the boot drive. SSD caching is of marginal benefit.

Windows Vista
Dude, it's [THE CURRENT YEAR], Windows 7 or 10 if you must.

Ready drive or Ready Boost
Mary mother of god make it stop! All that does is put a swap file on a different drive for faster (and concurrent) access. Just use a large boot SSD

3rd party caching
No. You're asking for trouble.

M4 SSD as a ReadyBoost
M4 SSD? You wot m8?
Ready boost?!?! ahhhhhhh

Dude... stop. Just stop.

You're dicking around with a bunch of half measures and bad solutions. Don't do it.
Go out and buy a 500GB or larger SSD for your boot drive and applications/games. Leave your page file, hibernation file, everything there, and leave it alone. SSD caching is of so little benefit that it's useless. Just use spinning rust for storage drives for things like your media - things that don't need fast access. All that complexity and stuff you are doing, while not fully understanding, is just going to bite you in the ass.

You've been warned.


@NetBandit If you bothered to read the post, you'd know I had parts laying around, and have a non-existent budget (not to be mistaken of an unlimited budget, but rather a budget of $0). I did purchase some parts, but the cost of a even a 256GB SSD would set me back more than I put into the entire rest of the computer combined. It makes absolutely no god-damn sense to go buy a SSD worth more than the rest of the computer combined for a project of old spare hardware. I already had the SSD laying around, and if some half-baked caching solution grants even a slight benefit over a lone 6 year old mechanical drive without having to micromanage it, then it's worth it. Besides, most of the fun from a project like this is working within the confines of what you have.

So please read the OP before posting, especially if you're going to be condescending. It's not a flattering look when all of your rhetorical questions were already answered.

you buried the details under the carat for some reason. congrats, you wasted my time.

I've used ssd caching before, and it was a total boondoggle.
You need the intel RST driver software to configure it, in addition to the BIOS setup. you will have to set the BIOS to RAID mode (as opposed to AHCI or IDE mode). Also, you'll have to load Windows with the RST driver because of RAID mode. The RAID mode will only apply to the on-chipset SATA ports, usually 1-6 (didnt look up that mobo). If there is an auxilary SATA (marvel or what not) that is unaffected.

a 64GB SSD is good enough for a boot drive. The system would be most responsive to use it as such. wasting even 8GB of that 64GB ssd on caching is going to yield no benefit. I suggest just leaving it in AHCI mode and using the SSD to boot. Disable hibernation to free up additional space on the boot drive

administrator command prompt:
powercfg /hibernate off

Have fun.

Just so you know I'm not bullshitting you, here's a screenshot from my last rig where I had intel RST ssd caching running for about 3 years. I had it setup for 50GB of cache for dual 2TB mirrored drives. Top right corner - it says accelerated. It did squat didly.

It's called organizing - not everyone needs to see every detail from the get-go. No one forced you to answer, and it's not obscurely hidden - it's denoted by the carrot and it's titled. Time wasting is a two-way street, especially when I have to provide details that were already provided.

Unless you know otherwise, I don't believe Intel's implementation is compatible on an H55 chipset - it debuted with Z68 and is incompatible with older chipsets. While Intel says it's compatible with 5 series chipsets, I think that's the RAID driver and not specific to the SSD caching. That detail I answered without hiding details:

I also already mentioned this as well, but it isn't good enough, especially for the intended application and user. Again, if you read the post:

I appreciate your experience with Intel's caching solution, and if you have other constructive feedback, I'd welcome it. However, if you're going to keep up the attitude, and continue to feel this is a waste of your time, I'd request that no longer post on this thread. Thanks.

If this were a computer I was going to use on a regular basis, I would invest in a larger SSD, and I have done so on my personal rig - a 240GB SSD boot drive, 1TB SSD for my games, and a 4TB HDD for my media and storage. However, this isn't computer I will be using regularly - this a side project and will likely go to someone who uses a MacBook (without Bootcamp) as his gaming PC - that should tell you everything you need to know about his technical skills and patience. I'm trying to effectively get a hybrid drive - a boost from SSD but the appearance of 1 large drive. If you know of any tips besides moving the pagefile to the SSD, please share.

I don't have any experience in caching, but if it would benefit you to move the pagefile to the SSD in a configuration where windows is installed on the HDD, I'd just like to chime in that I moved my page file on windows 7 and after the upgrade, also on windows 10 (from an SSD to an HDD, but that's besides the point), and I didn't need any program to do it, it's built in. However, as I remember there are two ways of doing it, and the easy way didn't work after a reboot, but the more complicated way did. If you do decide to do it, maybe I can search a bit and rediscover what I did, it's been a while.

Thank you for the suggestion. I've already done that. Was hoping for a way to speed up hard drive access with the SSD, but I haven't had any luck so far. I may stretch out my parts for yet another gaming rig. I have enough GPU's and Mobos.

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Best thing you can do is just use the SSD as a boot drive. That way you've separated the OS IO from your IO on the hard drive. Also, Windows does some disk caching. I know you're going to dismiss this, but it's the best advice you're going to get for this scenario.

I've been using primocache to cache an iSCSI disk for my game library and it works well, does everything you would want it to do. It costs like $30 and it won't do anything for boot time but I've had a good experience with it. It also has a free trial so you can see if it's worthwhile or not.

Plus it doesn't do anything to the volumes you use it with, so you can turn it on and off without having to format or anything like that.

If you have more than 16GB of ram just do ram cache 2000+ MB/s reads. $30 bucks for the price of a 64/128GB SSD you can get two lisences for Primocache ramdisk and they also work as keys for fancycache software too. If you have a UPS thingy you could turn on write deffer and get write bonus too.

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check out a program called fancycache
or primocache
(assuming youve got some spair ram)

they give you a long free demo

just port zfs to windows nbd

For users of Windows 10 you can now create a storage-pool that will use an SSD for caching. This had been available in Server 2012 R2 for quite sometime but the PowerShell commands to set it up only started working in one of the bigger updates for Win 10.

You will need to use the New-StorageTier PowerShell command;

Here is a Server 2012 R2 guide, it might need a few tweaks to be used with Windows 10;

Storage Spaces: How to configure Storage Tiers with Windows Server 2012 R2

The last time I played around with this I wasn't massively impressed. Far more benefit to just use the entire SSD to hold my game files or use it to hold the boot disks for my Virtual Machines.

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There's also Diskache: https://diskache.io

I spoke with the recipient of the computer, and his biggest priority is WoW. He also seems to not want to manage multiple drives. I’ve decided the best solution is use the HDD has the primary system drive, and use a symbolic link to put the WoW installation on the SSD.

Just replying for the record at this point, I tried this with a Sandisk Readycache in the past and it was terrible. 32GB of slow ssd flash, a dumb cache which would fill and flush with no transparency or consistency, you couldn’t tell if a game would be cached and wipe out everything else because of just how much game data loads, and levels are aways different anyways. It didn’t feel faster, loading the same level of a game over and over again to have a benefit is pointless. The difference between an SSD cache and just buying the smaller SSD and just making do at the time made a huge difference.
Now I have quite a few SSD’s, never going back.
Even just cramming windows onto a 32GB SSD is better than using a cache, win10 using o/s compression uses remarkably little space, I upgraded an old netbook grade laptop for an older relative for web browsing that way, still had half of the drive left free.