Saturday, December 06, 2014

PC Update 3: SSD Caching Software: PrimoCache or VeloSSD?

This is third in a series of updates about the steps I am taking to extend the life of my gaming PC. You can read the original post http://mindbendingpuzzles.blogspot.ie/2014/11/extending-life-of-my-gaming-pc.html

My error in buying a 64Gb standard SSD rather than a dedicated cache drive means I have to look for separate caching software. Owners of newer Intel motherboards may be able to avail of Intel's Smart Response caching service but I have to look for a third party solution and the two leading contenders seem to be Romex Software's PrimoCache and EliteBytes VeloSSD.

There is only one desktop version of Primocache and the cheapest single computer personal license is $29.99. This doesn't appear to have restrictions in terms of number of disks or disk size and it supports two level caching (ram and SSD). The base version of Velossd does not support ram caching but they offer a new product MaxVeloSSD which offers two level caching and is directly comparable to Primocache.  Elite bytes offer a confusing range of licensing options as outlined on their rather amateurish looking website: http://www.elitebytes.com/Buy.aspx with different limitations in terms of number of disks and size of cache. The closest direct competitor to Primocache is probably MaxVeloSSD professional which costs an identical $29.99 but you can get a personal edition of Velossd for only $9.99 that doesn't have a ram cache, can only cache one disk and is limited to 64Gb ssd cache. VeloSSD's free trial is a disappointing 7 days and the trial version is limited to caching only one disk. If the trial period is so short why on earth limit the functionality as well?

I downloaded and tried trial versions of Primocache and MaxVeloSSD. Both worked marvellously at speeding up my machine. After a couple of days of general use including web browsing, some office programmes and game playing hard disk access has become much less frequenct and disk thrashing is a thing of the past.

Performance wise I cannot tell them apart (other than the fact that the trial version of VeloSSD only caches my c: drive). Boot up times are within one second of each other (and about a third of the uncached bootup time). The machine takes longer to shut down with  Velossd though for some reason.

In terms of general presentation PrimoCache is the clear winner for me. Just look at the two websites for one example. PrimoCache's setup tool is also far more useful allowing you to vary many of the cache parameters. It can even be used to monitor the cache performance with details on reads, writes, cache storage and a handy graph of cache hit rate. The trial version of MaxVelossd offers no such tools  - it is pretty much press the button and go. I am fairly sure the paid version doesn't offer much more but I cannot tell because of their stupid decision to limit the features of the trial version.

Result: I strongly recommend an ssd cache for ssd like responsiveness from traditional HDDs. I will be buying a license for Primocache.

Aside: I need to decide how much of my ram and ssd to use for caching. I have seen people advocate very large caches of 100Gb or more but my experience of caching is that performance increases with cache size until it hits a point of diminishing returns. My 1Gb ram cache is constantly full but I have only 8Gb ram in total so I am reluctant to allot more than 1Gb to this. Over two days of general use including some large games (Shadow of Mordor and AC Unity) the ssd cache has not filled more than 12Gb  and I am consistently getting 80%+ cache hit rate. I have therefore decided to go with 1Gb ram and 32Gb ssd. I will use the remaining 32Gb partition on my ssd as a regular disk to store files that I frequently use.

4 comments:

Thomas Anderson said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi,

I used PrimoCache for my 1TB Seagate 7.2k SATA RAID1.
- I have 16 GB RAM and I used 4 GB for PrimoCache. The Level 2 Tier is an 256 GB SanDisk SSD. I configured 210 GB as cache and they are 98-99% in use after few days.

The Performance is awesome (Cache Hit 65%) :)

mbp said...

Good to hear. I recently upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and Primocache carried over with me. It took a few hours of use before the cache settled down after the changeover. Initially there was constant disk activity as Windows 10 re-indexed all my disks and Primocache did not appear to be able to keep up. After a few hours though everything settled down and the cache hit rate started to climb. Everything is working very speedily now I am happy to report. I am currently at a 77% cache hit rate on my C: drive.

Side note: One inconvenience is that I had to re-enter the serial number for primocache after the upgrade so make sure you keep that registration email handy.

Anonymous said...

I liked primocache, but got weird errors that would freeze the system. I'm running a RAID setup with a year-old (still SATA 3.0)SSD. HDs are also 3.0.