Run on an ASUS P8Z68-V PRO motherboard, we have four different storage subsystems in the following graphs. They show two-run performance in PCMark Vantage with a single 1TB Seagate HDD, HDD and 20GB SSD in both Enhanced and Maximised modes, and, as an SSD comparison, a secure-erased Corsair F80 SSD run as the sole drive in the system.
Run PCMark Vantage the first time and the results show that a single premium SSD blitzes the others. Intel's SSD caching actually comes out slower than having just a solitary 1TB hard-drive in the system, most likely to due storage overheads.
Run it again, once the relevant files have been cached, and the SSD-caching technology is over 3x the speed of the 1TB drive. Enhanced mode does well here, and it would be our choice of the two.
Certain benchmarks don't need to be cached to run at high speeds. Note how the HDD-and-SSD combo outdoes the F80 here?
And one area where SSDs are intrinsically strong is with speedy access to small files.
Though cache coherency for fast small-file writes is lacking in enhanced mode.
There's little doubt that running an SSD in concert with a large-capacity SSD makes sense once you repeatedly access programs. Whether it will see widespread adoption will rest with the cost of the caching drive. A 30GB SSD costs at least £50, and it's the kind of capacity we'd look for when pairing it up with a larger HDD. However, a 64GB SSD, which is large enough to hold an operating system and a few key programs, is now available for £75. We'd rather have an SSD as a boot drive than a large cache - there are no maximised or enhanced modes to worry about - and use a 1TB as simply a storage device.
SSD caching is currently limited to the Z68 chipset. Its appeal will be strengthened if manufacturers release Z68-specific SSDs for, say, £30 SSD for a 20GB model. Any higher and the Smart Response Technology falls foul of simply using an SSD as a boot drive.