Category Archives: hardware

How to use a SSD as cache volume with Intel Rapid Storage Technology

In most situations after you (re)install Windows and the Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) Driver the SSD cache volume will be found and used automatically as an Cache volume in a RAID 0 configuration.

What to do if you deleted the RAID volume or you bought a SSD card for a RAID 0 configuration?

First things first make BACKUPS of all your files. You may have to delete your volumes.

If you deleted the RAID volume IRST will not find the RAID config automatically. IRST can create them for you, so don’t try to create RAID volumes yourself in the Intel Rapid Storage Technology Option ROM settings. That doesn’t work!

Start with your BIOS settings. The SATA mode must be in RAID, make sure AHCI is not selected. In IRST Option ROM you should now see this:

Don’t create RAID Volumes here, continue installing Windows on the Non-RAID disk. After installing Windows install the IRST Driver. Restart and open IRST. You can now create the cache volume.

What if you can’t create the volume to select the SSD as cache disk?

You have to shrink the Volume where you installed Windows on in Disk Management with 200MB. After this the create cache volume becomes available and you create a RAID0 config with IRST. The end result should look like this:

Other resources: Up & Running has an good video on this

Do I have to replace my laptop SSD

My laptop (Asus Zenbook UX31) of 2 years old is now almost as slow as my old PC from 2008. I suspect it’s my SSD (SanDisk SSD U100 128GB).

Apparently Asus ships it’s laptops with different SSD’s and if you are unlucky you end up with a SanDisk. I went to Best Buy with it, but they will not replace it, because it’s still working  but only very slow.

So how bad is it? I try to figure that one out, but it’s difficult to measure. Sometimes I get good results, sometimes bad. The only tools I have found for this is CrystalDiskInfo and CrystalDiskMark.

Here is the CrystalDiskInfo:

Crystaldiskinfo Sandisk SSD U100As you can see I’ve used a lot of Reads (17TB) and Writes (7,61TB), but the health is still good (88%). The scores for the attribute names are all 100.

And this is the CrystalDiskMark run:

Crystaldiskmark Sandisk SSD U100Especially the writing can be very slow. Copying a lot of files can slow things down compared to one big file.

I’ve also used the SanDisk SSD Toolkit, but that gives the same info as the CrystalDiskInfo. I’ve read that you can reset the SSD, but then you loose all your data on the drive. Since I don’t have a copy of Windows, that’s not an option. The only options I have is to wait till the SSD dies or replace the SSD.

Update (2014-02-26):
Today another slow day for my SSD, maybe it’s the weather:

asus_zenbook_sandisk_crystaldiskmarkFor comparison I’ve added a normal hard drive (Hitachi HDS721050CLA362) which is a year older and has been running for 24417 hours (almost 3 years non stop).

hitachi_crystaldiskmarkThe writing is a lot faster on this one.

Update (2014-10-10):
This summer I finally decided to upgrade the SSD. First I bought a SSD (Samsung Electronics 840 EVO-Series), but that didn’t fit in my laptop.  I found out you need a special mSATA connection for my Asus laptop, which isn’t universal.

I than asked Asus if the slow SSD falls under warranty. They said it would, but they didn’t give me any guaranties on replacing the SSD until they see it themselves. So you need to send the laptop to them for $50 and hope they replace it. I didn’t send the laptop, because they would probably say it still works.

So in the end I still have the same SSD. In the process I formatted and reinstalled Windows 7 professional and it looks the performance of the disk improved with it:   CrystalDiskMark SanDisk SSD U100

Update (2015-08-20):
The slow SSD was an indication that the laptop was slowly falling apart, first the keyboard stopped working and than worse: the screen turned blank. In then end I had to buy a new laptop with a lot better Samsung SSD:

CrystalDiskMark Samsung SSD PM851