Acard ANS-9010 RAMdisk vs OCZ Vertex 30Gb SSD: Shootout

Storage/SSD by jmke @ 2009-05-11

We take a comparative look at the ACARD ANS-9010 ramdisk drive versus the OCZ Vertex 30Gb Drive in this video enhanced head to head shoot-out!

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Crysis Loading & Conclusive Thoughts

A Crysis crisis

With Windows 7 installed on the ACARD ANS-9010 we were left with approximately ~6gb of free space. We had already disabled the hibernation file and reduced the page file to minimum size.

Next up we started the installation of Crysis… just a reminder here are the minimal system requirements:

Minimum System Requirements:
OS - Windows XP or Windows Vista
Processor - 2.8GHz or faster (XP); 3.2GHz or faster * (Vista)
Memory - 1GB RAM or 1.5GB RAM (Vista)
Video Card - 256MB **
Hard Drive - 12GB
Sound Card - DirectX 9.0c compatible

Our systems had 4gb of RAM, plenty fast CPUs and VGA cards. But hard drive space we had not. Minimum requirement is 12gb… we started the setup of Crysis, hopeful but a bit doubtful.

On the OCZ 30Gb SSD installation finished without incident, the smallest Vertex drive can easily host your OS and a few games. The ACARD powered system halted at 99% of the installation. We then remember the 100Mb temporary file created by the Windows 7 NVIDIA drivers, we deleted the folder and continued the installation which finished successfully! We were left with ~80Mb of free space left. Next up we launched the Crysis 1.2 patch, this updater finished ok on the Vertex system, but it wouldn’t even launch on the ACARD one. So what we did was copy the patched game folder from the system 1 to system 2. We had now only 2.16Mb free on the ANS-9010 

Level loading times could be tested now, we used the build-in GPU benchmark which loads up the first level of the game and does a fly-through. Since it’s the loading times which interest us the most, the difference in GPUs in the systems can be dismissed.

Crysis Load Times

We repeated this test several times, both systems loaded the game pretty much equally fast. So loading larger game files doesn’t really get a boost from swapping to high-end ram based SSD.

Uninstall of applications and games can be considered an occasional task of any PC user; so let’s free up some space and remove Crysis:

Uninstall Speed

You gain 2~3 seconds here. Not that earth-shattering.

Conclusive Thoughts

The most impressive aspect of the ACARD ANS-9010 is when you throw multiple operations at it at the same time, scenarios where a normal HDD would struggle so hard the system would become unresponsive, the ANS-9010 doesn’t break a sweat. We used Passmark’s excellent HDD benchmark tool which allows you to launch an I/O heavy task with different file chunk sizes, read/write, sequential/random operations. We launched a random 100% 4kb write over 1Gb, combined with a 8192kb 60/40% random job and another 100% sequential read 8192kb job.

The outcome was quite gruesome to see, this heavy preset reduced the Vertex’ speed to 2~3mb/s at best, the ANS-9010 was running at 100~120mb/s throughput with no signs of slowing down.

The question is now, how often will you encounter a situation where you’ll be putting so much strain on a system to mimic this heavy workload? A full disk virus scan, DVD burning, file copying, video playing and launching game… that might put some strain on the system, but nowhere near the IO mentioned above.

This brings on to the single major drawback of these retail RAM disk devices available today: storage space. In order to benefit from all what the ANS-9010 has to offer you need to be able to place your OS on there, your programs, your work files, your games… a lot. We were able to install the OS without trouble, nearly failed installing a game on there.

Granted that we kept things on the cheaper side, 8x2Gb DDR2 is affordable nowadays.

If we were to equip the ANS-9010 with 4gb DDR2 sticks we would have twice the space, at 4 times the price. Or we can buy these 8Gb modules at $250/piece and end up at $2000 for 64Gb of blistering fast storage. For $2000 we can build a 480Gb SSD RAID setup with dedicated RAID card which will put quite a fight performance wise.

As it stands it’s extremely hard to recommend the ACARD ANS-9010 for everybody but the most over-the-top workstations or record-breaking systems. The OCZ Vertex series deserves a renewed praise for excellent price/performance.

I like to thank Massman for dropping by with his fancy ram-based SSD, but I think for the price I’ll be sticking with the Vertex SSD for the time being.
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