Onboard mSata with SSD: advantages and disadvantages?

Scraniel

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I'm building a computer and have almost made my final decision to buy the Gigabyte Z77-D3H (paired with i5 2500k) which has an onboard mSata port. I like this feature because I know that sometime in the next year, I would like to get an SSD.

What are benefits of having a motherboard with an mSata SSD in contrast to a motherboard without and a separate SSD connected via SATA3.

1. Can the mSata SSD be used for anything other than cache used by the Intel Smart Response technology?
1a. Mainly, can I install the OS (Win7) on the mSata SSD?
1b. As well as my primary applications?

2. Will I notice the same performance if I use a SSD in the mSata slot than any other method?

3. Are there any mSata SSDs which are as cost effective as other internal SSDs? Apparently a 64GB mSata SSD is ~$90 while 128GB SATA3 SSD is $125 at the lowest. If the answer to question 1b. is YES, then I would like a large mSata SSD to hold all my heavy software development tools.

Thoughts and concerns?
 


mSATA drives are used primarily in netbooks and other devices that require smaller SSDs.

Your motherboard uses its mSATA port so that an mSATA drive can be used as a cache drive to a HDD with an operating system installed on it to give it a performance boost.

Cache drives are used primarily by people who can't afford a large SSD to install their O/S and most frequently used programs on.



You need to read your motherboard’s manual but I’m pretty sure that the mSATA port is used strictly to cache a HDD with an O/S installed on it.



Doubtful. Regular SSDs have faster Read/Write speeds than mSATA SSDs.



If you can only afford a 64GB SSD then get a mSATA drive and use it with a large capacity HDD and Intel SRT.

If you can afford a large capacity SSD then forget about mSATA and Intel SRT.
 


mSATA drives are used primarily in netbooks and other devices that require smaller SSDs.

Your motherboard uses its mSATA port so that an mSATA drive can be used as a cache drive to a HDD with an operating system installed on it to give it a performance boost.

Cache drives are used primarily by people who can't afford a large SSD to install their O/S and most frequently used programs on.



You need to read your motherboard’s manual but I’m pretty sure that the mSATA port is used strictly to cache a HDD with an O/S installed on it.



Doubtful. Regular SSDs have faster Read/Write speeds than mSATA SSDs.



If you can only afford a 64GB SSD then get a mSATA drive and use it with a large capacity HDD and Intel SRT.

If you can afford a large capacity SSD then forget about mSATA and Intel SRT.
 

Misacek

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May 2, 2012
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It probably is (unless the driver crashes), but I'm not sure it'd do a whole lotta good. If the SSD primary is faster than the mSATA (which it well can be if it's a good SandForce model), then the mSATA will just hold it back. It still works the weakest-link-in-the-chain way...
 

Stefano Caiazza

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Assuming I have a 128 GB SSD and a larger 3TB mechanical HD I would install the OS and the programs that would benefit the most from quick load times (some productivity suites and some games) on the SSD but most of the other stuff will go on the standard HDD. I was wondering: if I also add an mSATA caching device wouldn't that speed up the loading of that stuff that is loaded on the HDD? Or maybe the system is not smart enough to understand that caching stuff that is already on SSD is actually uselss?
 

Stefano Caiazza

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Assuming I have a 128 GB SSD and a larger 3TB mechanical HD I would install the OS and the programs that would benefit the most from quick load times (some productivity suites and some games) on the SSD but most of the other stuff will go on the standard HDD. I was wondering: if I also add an mSATA caching device wouldn't that speed up the loading of that stuff that is loaded on the HDD? Or maybe the system is not smart enough to understand that caching stuff that is already on SSD is actually uselss?
 

Stefano Caiazza

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Assuming I have a 128 GB SSD and a larger 3TB mechanical HD I would install the OS and the programs that would benefit the most from quick load times (some productivity suites and some games) on the SSD but most of the other stuff will go on the standard HDD. I was wondering: if I also add an mSATA caching device wouldn't that speed up the loading of that stuff that is loaded on the HDD? Or maybe the system is not smart enough to understand that caching stuff that is already on SSD is actually uselss?
 

sayhitojosh

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I disagree with the people on this thread who say that an onboard mSATA drive is not fast enough to install an OS on. My current computer has an ASUS Maximus V Formula motherboard with an Intel i7-3770, and the OS installed on a onboard 256 GB ADATA XPG SX300 mSATA drive. Before putting the OS on the mSATA drive I had been using a 120GB Intel 330 SSD. There was a small drop in speed after putting the OS on the mSATA drive, but certainly nothing to complain about. My windows experience rating dropped from 7.8 to 7.6 with the mSATA drive, which is certainly good enough for most people's purposes.
 

cleevondeath

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mSATA blows away any drive I've ever seen, the this just flies. I recently purchased an Intel NUC mini system with an i3, which requires an mSATA drive. So I bought a 220GB mSATA and added 8GB of ram. After installing Windows 7 Ultimate with all updates, I'm now able to boot up windows from bios to fully loaded and WiFi connected in just 22 seconds. It's just like booting up Dos, no more of this waiting crap. From what I've seen, the things just fly. Almost worth the price they're charging for the things.
 

BobRoberts363

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This is a bit off topic , but why aren't more devices that only come with 16 -64 gig storage , like say Iphone or Ipad or tablets using these drives or at least allowing the buyer to upgrade to a larger capacity m drive? I mean to pay such astronomical prices for something that has only 32 gig with no sd slot Why would people even consider it? For music alone I mean my god 32 gig is like basicly going back to the old days when a 500meg drive was a lot using dos. heh boy were those something.
 

cleevondeath

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cleevondeath

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The mSATA drives can be used just like a regular hard drive. I bought a Lenovo laptop just because it came with a 32gb cash drive, so I could swap it out and run the laptp on a 500gb mSATA drive. The mSATA drives are nuch faster than the normal SATA HD's I have no idea why they aren't more popular and being used to their advantage. I use the mSATA just like most people use their ssd's and thats to run the operating system. All data, movies, musuc I keep an a normal drive inside my computer. Most things don't require the hard drive speed, so I use the storage drive. But when the speed is an asset, its always on the mSATA drive. Tha's also the beauty of ultrabooks that come with a cache drive, it allows the owner to use that drive to run their operating system and that leaves the originl hard drive bay to be used just for storage.
 

BobRoberts363

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I agree totally ! I messed up I grabbed what I thought would be a great drive. I should have just went with an SSD. I bought a WD dual 128/1tb SSD HD . What a difference it made in my note book but the only problem is the HD is run through a driver. Took em awhile to finally fix it too. It was choppy playin video but wow for storage and speed does a pretty good job. I would go the other route tho next time. God I love Technology!! Ya it would seem that using mSata would allow for multiple drives as well with the size. I'm sure the future holds all kinds of nice new features. Just wish they would quit with the cherry picken tho. Just look how far SSD's have come now in size as well as price. Still waitin for the Pro to come down sure looks like a nice drive. I just had to do that performance firmware upgrade to my EVO , really made a difference. I had no idea either , just figured it was too much on the drive. Just hope the chips are not damaged now tho. Thanks for the input there deevondeath.
 

alvinenns

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I built a new pc with the Z77-DS3H motherboard about 2 years ago and I picked it mainly for onboard SSD. I used the mSATA drive as my C drive with the OS and applications and it works great. Originally I could boot in 22 sec.s but I've added more applications and now it takes 28 sec.s.
 

Tony_63

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hi , any updates / tips re using your set up as I am buying a 256gb msata to complement the hdd in my Dell 23 2350 aio.........


 

alvinenns

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alvinenns

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The way that I look at it the mSATA is just another drive along with mechanical and SS drives. The difference is that it fits on the motherboard and uses an interface protocol that appears different from SATA 3 or 6 and hence can offer faster speeds depending on the mSATA capabilities. I do not understand how you could use mSATA as a cache. You can also purchase an adapter that will hold the mSATA and have conventional SATA connectors and use it as a conventional SATA drive - I use that to look at what's on the mSATA or to format it, etc.

I'm using my mSATA for Windows 7 64 bit and applications and I'm using 61GB.
 

docBrian

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Been there, done that.

Benefits: mSATA requires no mounting space in the case. Big benefit for small HTPC cases. It's a SATA interface, so check if it's SATA II or SATA III.

Drawbacks: generates heat right next to the motherboard. Make sure you have good airflow around the mSATA drive.

Other comments suggesting that the mSATA acts ONLY as a cache are not necessarily correct. On my laptop, I disabled Intel's RAID function in BIOS -- the Intel RAID function is what allows the mSATA to act as a cache for the internal HDD. Disabling the Intel RAID allows the motherboard to treat the mSATA card as an SSD drive.

Here's my setup: 17" HP Envy DV7 laptop, Samsung 1TB EVO mSATA on the motherboard, 2 (two) Samsung 1TB Pro SSDs in each of the two 2.5" drive bays.

I have now have an i7 laptop with 3TB of SSD storage and 16GB of RAM (max allowed by HP).
 

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