Crucial Adrenaline SSD Cache Drive

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Product(s): Crucial Adrenaline SSD Cache Drive
Provided By: Crucial

Price: Find Lowest Price Online


Introduction: 

So here’s the scenario: Your computer needs an upgrade. You start thinking that an SSD will give you the best bang for your buck performance-wise but you don’t want to shell out a bunch of money to get one big enough to hold all of your data.

Most of the time this scenario results in you buying a 60GB SSD (or something in that price range) and putting your OS and important program on it and then having the rest of the data on a SATA/IDE HDD. This scenario usually works really great right up until the time that you realize that your 60GB SSD is full and you now have to decide what programs you can uninstall in order to make room for a new program to be installed.

The idea behind the Crucial Adrenaline drive is to basically automate this process and let the Adrenaline caching SSD automatically decide what programs and files you are using most frequently and automatically move them onto the caching SSD for a nice performance increase. The concept behind the Adrenaline drive is to give you SSD performance without having to reinstall windows, all you have to do is plug in the drive, install the software, and let the Crucial Adrenaline drive work its magic in the background.

In our review we will take the Adrenaline drive from Crucial for a test run and see if it really works like they claim.

 

First Impressions:

So before we start, I will point out the obvious, there is no size listed on the packaging of this drive. Internally the Adrenaline is actually a 64GB SSD, however, in order to work its magic the system reserves some space and in the end you actually end up with 50GB of space that your system will be able to use for caching.

When we were first shown this drive before it was released, we asked if there were plans to release a bigger version. The folks at Crucial claim that this is the "most efficient" size choice and anything bigger would basically be a waste of space because your system wouldn't be able to fully utilize it anyways.

 

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Crucial Adrenaline - Box (Front)
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Crucial Adrenaline - Box (Inside)

 

So as you can see in the pictures above and below, there really isn't much in the box when it comes to this drive. You basically get the drive, a cable and a tray to mount it in, that's all. 

 

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Crucial Adrenaline - Top View
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Crucial Adrenaline - Accessories


There we go, that's the Adrenaline drive. In the next section we'll look at the features a bit more then move onto testing.

 


 

 

Crucial Adrenaline Solid State Cache Drive Specifications:

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All specifications taken from Crucial.com

   

Give your system an Adrenaline rush!

Upgrade your Windows® 7-based PC with Crucial Adrenaline to start up twice as fast and boost data access speeds by up to 8 times.*

 

SSD-like performance. Hard drive capacity.

While traditional hard drives offer high capacities to store a lot of content, solid state drives provide enhanced performance to access that content much more quickly. By using solid state technology as a cache for your existing hard drive, Crucial Adrenaline offers the best of both worlds: SSD-like performance without compromising the capacity of your hard drive.

 

How Crucial Adrenaline works.

A simple upgrade that allows you to keep your existing hard drive, Crucial Adrenaline comprises a 50GB Crucial m4 SSD, 3.5" adapter bracket, SATA cable, and Dataplex™ caching software**. The solution intelligently places, or "caches", the most frequently needed files (active data) on the SSD and leaves less frequently used files (inactive data) on the hard drive. The result? Faster application load times and increased boot speed.

 

An easy upgrade.

Because Crucial Adrenaline works with your existing hard drive, there’s no need to transfer files or programs. Simply connect the SSD to your motherboard with a standard SATA cable, start the computer, and then install the Dataplex caching software. Once the software is installed and the system has been rebooted, the software seamlessly integrates your existing hard drive and Crucial Adrenaline into a single storage system. Fully automated, the software then runs in the background and requires no user management.

 

Quality you can depend on.

Crucial is a trusted name when it comes to SSDs, and that’s no coincidence. As a brand of Micron, a leading innovator and manufacturer of SSDs, we work with our engineers to refine them, test them, and back them with terrific service, support, and a limited three year warranty.


 


Crucial Adrenaline Solid State Cache - Software:

The software the drives the Crucial Adrenaline drive is called Dataplex. The Dataplex software is the brains behind the operation and monitors your system and decides which files and programs it will move onto the Adrenaline caching SSD in order to give you the best performance.

The installation of the Dataplex software is pretty simple. After going to Crucial’s website and entering your product code (that is on the inside of the box) you can download the Dataplex software and be on your way.

 

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The Dataplex software itself is pretty simple interface-wise. Literally all you get is a window that tells you if the software is enabled or not. There are no other options you can change, literally, it's either on or off. The lack of tweaking options might be a minus for some people, however, this product isn’t designed for the person who wants to tweak options, it's designed for the person who want the software to do all the work for them, and that’s exactly what the Adrenaline caching SSD does.

 

 

The nice part about the software is that it does it’s work in the background quietly, you won’t be getting pop-up windows every time you boot telling you that its working, the only way you will know if it’s actually working or not is to run the program in your start menu and it will say if it’s on or off.

 

Crucial Adrenaline Solid State Cache - Testing:

So this would normally be the section where I would put up a bunch of charts putting this drive up against other SSD drives. Unfortunately, due to the nature of this drive comparing it head-to-head against other SSD drives isn't possible because it's not a typical SSD drive, so head-to-head comparisons are out of the question.

I was hoping to get some standard benchmark results showing how the performance increased, however, once again, due to the nature of this drive those didn't work out either.

So instead of comparison testing this section will be more of a "Personal Observations" section.

Now the theory behind the Crucial Adrenaline drive is to move the most used files onto the SSD in order to speed up performance. One of the most noticeable improvements that I saw was the increase in Windows 7 startup times. Before installation of the Adrenaline drive we were seeing startup times of around 1:20 which isn't anything impressive at all. After a couple reboots, the Adrenaline drive saw that those files were being used a lot and after 3 reboots we saw the startup time drop to around 0:50 which is a pretty substantial improvement.

    

I was trying to time other programs such as Microsoft Office and Photoshop, however, it's pretty tough to get any sort of accurate results that I could put down into chart form. What I will say though is that after a couple times using a program it became very evident that there was a speed increase. Obviously since our system is pretty dated none of the results were groundbreaking, but there were sure a whole lot faster than before.

After a few days of testing I will say that I am adequately happy with the results that we encountered as any speed improvement is a nice treat. 

Was the performance so super fast that I could barely hold on? No, it was not. Crucial isn't claiming "Install your entire computer on an SSD" performance, it claims performance somewhere between "traditional hard drive" and "SSD" speeds and I'll completely agree with that figure.

That wraps up our testing section, next we'll move onto our final thoughts and award a final score for this product.


Crucial Adrenaline Solid State Cache Final Thoughts:

The concept behind the Crucial Adrenaline drive is great, install the drive and the software, then sit back and watch the performance increase as the Crucial Adrenaline monitors which files and programs you use most and moves then onto the Adrenaline SSD Caching drive automatically to help increase you overall system performance.

For our testing we used a pretty old system we had kicking around the lab, a first generation Intel Core i7 CPU and a 250GB SATA Hard Drive. This is definitely not the fastest system out there, but typical of what a 2-3 year old gaming/enthusiast system might look like and a prime candidate for a bit of an upgrade.

Installation of the Crucial Adrenaline drive and software is simple. After plugging in the drive and then installing the software we were up and running with zero problems. The software is pretty simple and isn’t going to be popping up on you constantly telling what a great job it’s doing, in fact, I actually had to open up the window a few times to make sure it was actually running.


Performance-wise I’d say it was right around where I was expecting. Crucial isn’t claiming that it will beat a system that is running only on a SSD, they claim performance is going to be somewhere between where a regular hard drive system and an SSD only system would be and in our testing that’s what we found. One of the biggest increases we saw was in our boot time for Windows, when we started out our system was taking 80 seconds to boot up to Windows, after a couple reboots we saw this number drop down to around 55 seconds. While the performance didn’t make our 2-3 year old system a powerhouse again, it did provide us with a noticeable increase in performance with pretty much zero effort on our part.

Obviously the Crucial Adrenaline drive isn’t going to be for everyone. For the same price you can go out and buy an SSD and install your OS and important applications on the SSD and use a bigger traditional HDD for your data and see a performance increase over what the Crucial Adrenaline drive offers. However, for someone who doesn’t want to have to worry about what programs to install on the SSD, and which ones are better to go onto the bigger HDD the Crucial Adrenaline is a great solution. Even nicer that the fact that it automatically decides which data to put on which drive (depending on how often you use it), is the fact that this can be installed very easily without having to reinstall Windows. Installation literally takes 5 minutes.   

At the end of the day the Crucial Adrenaline drive did exactly what it said it would do, we saw a noticeable performance increase on an older system and we were able to achieve those results with very little effort. The ease of installation and the ease of use of the Crucial Adrenaline drive is probably the biggest selling features. After installation of this product you can literally sit back and forget about it and let it do its magic in the background. While this product isn’t for everyone, for the person who wants a cheap and easy upgrade to an aging computer, the Crucial Adrenaline caching SSD is a great choice. Thanks to these facts we’ve awarded the Crucial Adrenaline our “Editor’s Choice – Silver” award.

 


Pros:

  • Easy Setup
  • Noticeably Faster
  • Performs as Advertised

 

Cons:

  • Nothing Major

  Silver

I'd like to thank Crucial for sending us their Adrenaline drive. If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback, please leave it at the "Comments" link below.