Does Smart Response Work?
We've detailed how we tested Smart Response on the Intel Z68 Test Setup page, but we essentially gauged the performance of the hard disk alone, and compared this to the performance of the same hard disk with a 20GB Intel Solid-State Drive SSD acting as its cache. As the cache is built intelligently over time, we've graphed the first, second and third run of the Smart response testing. The first run is indicative of an unoptimised cache, while the third run shows how well you can expect a perfectly optimised cache to operate.

Results Analysis

As the graphs clearly show, Smart Response works really well once (or possibly 'if') the cache is optimised. The other benefit is that if you typically only use the same 20GB of data, you never have to hear the hard disk rattling away as it finds or writes data.

It's interesting to note that the first (and sometimes second) time that you use data, Smart Response can be slower than just using a hard disk. This is because we used the safer Enhanced mode of Smart Response (the Maximised option has an increased risk of data loss, as we detail in the previous page).

The Enhanced mode forces greater integrity between the cache and the hard disk, so writes are simultaneously performed to the cache and the hard disk. There's also the question of algorithm overhead - Smart Response has to analyse the data flowing through the cache and decide whether it needs to be cached or not - we'd hazard a guess that the algorithm works hardest when presented with a completely empty cache and brand new data.

Smart Response is fussy to set up, as hard disks need to be configured in RAID mode (rather than the more usual AHCI or IDE) when installing Windows, even if you plan to add the SSD cache at a later date and you're only using one hard disk. However, if you bear this in mind when installing Windows for your new Z68 board, there's a handy and relatively inexpensive speed boost to be had, either from the get go or as an upgrade after a while.

Burst Speed

HD Tach 3.0.4.0 (Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode)

  • Smart Response Run 3
  • Smart Response Run 2
  • Smart Response Run 1
  • 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black
  • 20GB Intel Solid-State Drive 331
  • 213
  • 216
  • 118
  • 205
  • 221
0
50
100
150
200
250
MB/sec

Random Access Time

HD Tach 3.0.4.0 (Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode)

  • Smart Response Run 3
  • Smart Response Run 2
  • Smart Response Run 1
  • 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black
  • 20GB Intel Solid-State Drive 331
  • 0.1
  • 0.1
  • 12.4
  • 12.5
  • 0.1
0
3
5.5
8
10.5
13
ms

Average Read Speed

HD Tach 3.0.4.0 (Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode)

  • Smart Response Run 3
  • Smart Response Run 2
  • Smart Response Run 1
  • 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black
  • 20GB Intel Solid-State Drive 331
  • 179
  • 178
  • 97
  • 113
  • 190
0
50
100
150
200
MB/sec

Arma II Load Time

Manual timer, from launch until main menu appears

  • Smart Response Run 3
  • Smart Response Run 2
  • Smart Response Run 1
  • 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black
  • 25.5
  • 25.5
  • 29.0
  • 34.0
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
Seconds, lower is better

Discuss this in the forums
Making a Leather PSU Shroud: Toreador Bloodlines 2 Mod Pt. 3

November 22 2019 | 13:00

TOP STORIES

SUGGESTED FOR YOU