RAID 0 configuration cache question

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by Gake, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. Gake

    Gake Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hi!

    I decided to upgrade my dad's HP Envy 15 Bang & Olufsen with a SSD "in addition" to his HDD.

    It's easy enough because HP already have the whole thing set up with RAID/Intel RST, just needed to buy the right one and plug it in. Originally I just wanted to put in a 32GB or 64GB M.2 2280 SATA as a RAID 0 acceleration cache. However, I couldn't really find a new one of those sizes as they are all out of stock. It's not surprising because the demand for them is low. The smallest one is 128GB and it cost $30 for a generic China brand.

    Luck would have it, I actually found on Newegg a Mushkin Enhanced Helix-L M.2 2280 250GB PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 3D TLC for $7 more. Yes, it so happened my dad's Envy supports NVMe and I read it is insanely faster in comparison to the M.2 2280 SATA.

    So I have a few simple questions, which again for some reason just couldn't find through google searches. If you could answer them, greatly appreciate it.

    But before asking, please do not suggest that I put the OS on the SSD. My father would not allow me to do that. He's old and barely agreed to let me install this for him because he doesn't like the hassle. I'm just going to plug it in, set up the RST and just let it be. This is also the reason he won't simply let me replace the 5400 rpm HDD with a 2.5" SSD. Thank you.

    1) This is just for my own curiosity. Since the NVMe is so much faster than SATA, does this mean it will also be faster than whatever 2.5" SSD say if I did choose to replace the HDD? I assume because HDD bay uses SATA.

    2) So I got most of the information about this from this page (https://www.wepc.com/tips/ssd-cache/), which did a lot of benchmark and testing. Apparently using RAID 0 configuration SSD cache improves the overall performance of the HDD close to a straight up SSD. If that is true then it makes very little difference if programs are installed on the SSD or the cached HDD?

    The reason is since this is a 250GB and a max of 64GB can be used as cache, the rest are actually allowed to be partitioned as another drive for standard usage. Now, granted again he doesn't want the hassle of uninstalling all the programs such as Chrome, Firefox, etc... and reinstalling them on the SSD, but according to the test done on that page, it wouldn't even mattered if he did. Correct? Then also future programs he install shouldn't need to be installed on the SSD either.

    3) What is the "size" of the cache I should set on the RST? Should I max it at 64GB? I read that is redundant as you don't need more than 30GB, the rest beyond that will yield very small improvements. I read that for each GB you set, it uses a certain amount of RAM also. However, I could not find any information on how much RAM it uses per GB cache. How much RAM is used per GB cache? I mean if it is a few hundred MB, who cares, but if it is going to run up GB of RAM, then I rather not despite my dad has 16GB of RAM. He... opens a lot of programs and never closes them so probably best to leave him a lot of RAM.

    4) So right now I'm kinda leaning towards 50GB of cache through RAID 0 RST, leaving 200GB space. From the above information, my question is, what is the best usage for this extra space? He's not a gamer, so he doesn't need it for gaming. Since programs can stay on the HDD, and honestly he has very few programs. His whole usage on the 750GB HDD is only 150GB including the OS. I had thought of just telling him to put his data etc... on the SSD and use the HDD as a backup.

    Now I read that SSD do not like writing, but new technology has really improved this that typically if you write 50GB per day, it will last 12 years. Most people will not use that much writing per day. Even so, avoid putting things like pagefile, browser temp files, etc... on SSD. However, he also likes making music videos, photoshop works, etc... would it be ok to put those work on the SSD and would it improve the speed? Specifically video rendering? And would it damage the SSD?

    Anyways, sorry about all the questions and details. It is more of a learning thing for me as well, I love learning new things. Thanks if you could contribute.
     
  2. saturnotaku

    saturnotaku Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    You could just clone the data from the hard drive to the SSD. It would be a lot easier than trying to configure the drive as a cache (which is not the same thing as RAID). Everything would be exactly where it was when the hard drive was in place, only it would be a lot faster.
     
  3. Gake

    Gake Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hi,

    Thanks for replying. Can you explain this a little more? I'm not familiar with the term clone, sorry I'm a little new to all this. Does this involve moving the OS?

    There reason moving the OS is a hassle on these HP laptops is that it is not configured to boot from the SSD port so it requires a lot of unorthodoxed method such as removing the HDD, changing RAID setting in BIOS, etc... Again, all theoretically possible but when I tried it in my own HP Pavilion, the BIOS didn't even have any RAID/SATA option, everything was permanently set in with very little option. So people suggested using boot discs and try a much of weird things.

    But if this just copy the data such as the My Document folder, that would be great. Honestly I don't think moving the data on the SSD would change the performance at all, but it helps in sense he can just backup on the HDD. Right now he's backing everything through an external HDD via USB. It is a hassle so he doesn't do it regularly and once his laptop crashed and he lost a lot of data.
     
  4. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    @Gake some thoughts for you to consider.
    • The bigger the capacity the more performant and reliable the SSD will tend to be. Today's 250GB models will give you approximately 238GB of usable capacity.
    • OP'ing an SSD by 25% or more will give you the most sustained performance that the drive is capable of. This will also negate any concerns about write amplification that will shorten the nand's lifespan. If you do OP the drive as recommended (Over Provision), then that usable capacity drops down to ~179GB.
    • Using an SSD to cache an HDD is not the way to a consistently fast and responsive (not to mention a reliable and dependable) set up. This may have changed, but you will not be able to use the extra capacity that is not set for the cache (it will still be used in OP'ing mode, internally though).
    • While NVMe x4 SSD's are faster than SATA III models on benchmark 'scores', they are not necessarily faster in real-world usage.
    • An extra 'gotcha' with NVMe drives is how hot they can get, how much more power they require, and how badly they can throttle too (to below HDD levels).
    • I would not recommend setting up an HDD powered notebook (especially one with existing DATA on it) with an NVMe cache drive.
    • Rather, use Macrium Reflect free to clone the existing HDD to the new SSD (whether it is an NVMe or a 2.5" SSD).
    How much capacity is the HDD? How much of that is in use? How much demand would your dad have for more DATA capacity going forward?

    Instead of going down a road that everyone has abandoned years ago (because it doesn't work as well as just using an SSD itself), shelf that idea and put your money towards an SSD with the capacity and reliability and at a price point you can handle.

    If you want your dad's computer to have maximum battery life, a 2.5" SSD is a better option. Unless the computer is used to transfer very large files back and forth all day, the NVMe option (unless one of the two models indicated above is used) will be a usability downgrade for your dad if battery run time is also important here.

    (Don't forget, any SSD you put in this computer will be miles faster than the HDD it replaced. Moving from a SATA III SSD to an NVMe SSD isn't quite the same level of an upgrade as simply moving from that original HDD will be).
     
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  5. Gake

    Gake Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hi,

    Thanks for all the helpful information, I wish I knew all that before I posted this because this is all after the fact, I already purchased the NVMe. It seemed this is all a lot more complicated than I originally thought. o_O

    My dad's HDD is 750GB, he uses around only 150GB maybe less. And that's including MP3 and movie files. That's why I originally thought perhaps he should just move all his work to the SSD and use the HDD just as a backup.

    As I've mentioned earlier about the OS, it's not that simple with the HP laptop b/c it is not designed to read the SSD slot as a boot drive, so it is quite tedious to go around it and the BIOS is not really user friendly.

    I guess the only thing I'm quite happy about is that I checked the power usage of this SSD and it is 4.5W on load, so 1.36A which seemed alright for a NVMe. I did see some of them going as high as 2.7A. The one I saw on a review that they did a thermal test which ran up to 80-95*C was the "Samsung PM981 NVMe SSD" which runs at 2.8A or 9.24W.

    I guess if necessary, I can buy a small heatsink. Actually, does anyone know if this laptop can even support the heatsink? It is "HP ENVY - 15-as133cl" and from what I can tell, I don't think it can even support the 3mm heatsink b/c this laptop is ultra thin.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  6. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    You're welcome, but I think you may have missed the most important point(s). A 2.5" SSD is a better buy/fit for your needs.

    You clone it, remove the old HDD, install the newly cloned SSD and it will just boot up.

    Sell or return the NVMe drive you bought.

    With less than 150GB of capacity used (does that include the O/S too?), even a 500GB SSD will be a huge update.

    Again, tread carefully with adding a cache drive to an HDD with existing DATA on it if you decide to proceed with the NVMe 'cache' method.

    Curious how you checked the power usage of the SSD? What it's nominally rated for isn't an indication of what it does/needs with actual workloads.
     
  7. Gake

    Gake Notebook Enthusiast

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    No, I get it. But grumpy dad is not going to let me do that. o_O This was suppose to be just a simple open the laptop, plug it in, and turn on RST. But thanks for all the info, I have another laptop I'm going to upgrade and this is all very useful. :)

    I think the best option for him right now is use it to cache Win OS, but actually reinstall the programs on the SSD. My own laptop programs (not including games) only runs up to 23GB. The caching should not be that bad for the SSD in terms of wear and tear b/c he's one of those people who never shuts down the laptop anyways so it won't have to be recached often.

    It is also more convenient because it takes less effort for him such as disabling hiberfil.sys, pagefil.sys, etc... and relocating temp folder, browser cache, etc... off a bootable SSD root drive. In that case, I would also have to create a RAMdisk for him to put those temp files. I think right now, using the SSD as a 2nd drive, I just need to disable the auto-defrag if it is on for new drives.

    Well, most of them the amperage is listed on the stickers of the SSD, they're typically 3.3V 2.7A for NVMe. But Mushkin was kind enough to include a comprehensive spec sheet.

    https://www.poweredbymushkin.com/Ho...ix-l/item/1439-helix-l-250gb-mknssdhl250gb-d8

    Power Consumption (Idle): 0.3W
    Power Consumption (Active Max): 4.5W

    The heating right now is my main concern. I originally got a mSATA for my own laptop that was 1.5V and it was pretty hot. But I hesitate in getting a heatsink b/c the Envy 15, this model, is ultra thin, and from the videos I've seen inside, I don't think it has the clearance for a 3mm heatsink. I'll have to see it for myself when I open it up.
     
  8. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    I still think you're making this harder than you need to. 'Grumpy dad' doesn't need to know that (only) an SSD is powering his notebook.

    The specs in that link are far from comprehensive too. :)

    A heatsink won't help even if it fits. When the temperatures are high enough and sustained long enough (heat soak), the drive will throttle. There is nowhere for the heat to go in a notebook unless the fan/design allows for air to be moved from the NVMe location too.
     
  9. Gake

    Gake Notebook Enthusiast

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    Grumpy dad is a retired engineer. He'll know. hahaha. He's been complaining about sluggishness of his laptop, I originally wanted to set up a RAMdisk given he has 16GB of ram which I could filter his cache files, but he's like nah that takes too much effort and he doesn't want to. Then I did suggest upgrading the HDD directly to SSD and he's like that's too much trouble and he doesn't want to spend that money replacing a working HDD.

    I was thinking that too because a heatsink only disappates the heat into the whole laptop, making everything hotter. But I read that it only gets that hot during max usage, so he's not a gamer I don't think that would be an issue. Mostly he runs chrome, audio editing programs, msword, etc...
     
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  10. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    My last suggestion? Tell dad to be less grumpy and let you do this upgrade properly. :D:D:D

    Show him what your system feels like after you do it on that one.

    For the best possible performance, I would recommend a clean install of Win10 x64 from a USB drive.

    See:
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/software-download/windows10


    Doing the above not only gives you some leeway for errors/glitches showing up and giving you a chance to fix them properly (simply put in the old HDD back into the computer as you need to do 'work' on it), but it will get rid of all the crud built up over the lifecycle of the computer too.
     
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