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Seagate Backup Plus Slim External USB 3.0 2TB Hard Drive Review

Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD Intel Z68 Motherboard & Intel 20GB SSD Review

Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD Intel Z68 Motherboard & Intel 20GB SSD Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: There are four key features that make the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD a real killer among Intel Z68 motherboards - a bundled 20GB Intel mSATA SSD, Virtu, SLI/Crossfire and onboard HDMI video output.
 95% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Dec 25 2011   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD

Configuring Intel Smart Response Technology

Intel Smart Response Technology was configured on the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard with the included Intel 20GB SLC-flash memory mSATA SSD.

A fresh installation of Microsoft Windows 7 was installed to a standard Western Digital WD740 Raptor SATA hard drive while the PCH SATA Control Mode was set to RAID(XDH) mode.

[For a detailed look at Intel SRT thoroughly please read this PCSTATS Beginners Guide: Intel Smart Response Technology and Intel 311 Larson Creek SSD ]

Setting up SSD Caching via Intel Smart Response Technology

Setting up Intel Smart Response Technology is pretty straightforward since the SSD is already installed to a mSATA port. In the BIOS of the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard all you need to do is configure the 'PCH SATA Control Mode' to 'RAID(XDH)' and make sure the system boot off the hard drive.

Reboot the PC and start the Windows 7 installation procedure as normal. When it comes time to specify the installation hard drive choose the mechanical HDD for the OS. Leave the cache SSD as unformatted and unallocated space.

After Windows 7 is installed and you've applied all the necessary hardware drivers and OS updates, install Intel Rapid Storage Technology and Intel Management Engine Software. Launch the 'Intel Rapid Storage Technology' program and click on the 'Accelerate' button at the top (see below). Next, click on 'Enable acceleration > choose the 'disk volume to accelerate' on which you've installed Windows 7 (in this example, Port 3 69GB - a Western Digital WD740 Raptor) > choose 'Enhanced Mode' and click 'ok'.

Enhanced Mode is the safest choice (Maximized Mode offers an edge but there is risk of data loss), with it there is no possibility of data loss in the event of a power failure as all cached data is written to both the HDD and caching SSD.

In Maximized mode data is stored to the SSD before being written to the HDD, so in the event of power outage Intel says data loss would be about the same as if running RAID 0 with disk write cache enabled.

Intel SRT Failure Recovery

After a forced hard power reset in an attempt to see just how robust this Intel technology is, PCSTATS managed to trigger the Intel SRT Option ROM which automatically began a self-repair action. The system was configured to Intel SRT Enhanced Mode and took a few minutes to successfully 'rebuild' the Cache Metadata before it booted back into Windows 7 without issue.

Below is an example of what may happen if there is a power failure to an Intel SRT enabled computer system. Unlike Microsoft, when Intel develops a technology it tends to make it very fault tolerant and self-repairing. :)


Intel SRT Failure Recovery Screen

Disabling Intel Smart Response Technology

If you ever wish to reclaim the cache SSD for storage space and disable Intel SRT altogether, it's as easy as clicking the "Disable Acceleration" link in Intel's Rapid Storage Technology Manager. This will revert the 20GB Intel mSATA SSD back to standard storage device and delete all cache data that was previously stored on the SSD.

Benchmarking Intel SRT

PCMark Vantage clearly demonstrate the improvement Intel SRT can bring to a computer system installed to a traditional hard drive, those results are coming up right after the jump....

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD Intel Z68 Motherboard & Intel 20GB SSD Review
 Pg 2.  Bundled-in 20GB SSD - Intel Smart Response Technology
 Pg 3.  360-Degree Motherboard Gallery: Board Layout
 Pg 4.  360-Degree Motherboard Gallery: Continued
 Pg 5.  BIOS and Hybrid-EFI Touch BIOS
 Pg 6.  Overclocking Test Report and Test System Details
 Pg 7.  — Configuring Intel Smart Response Technology
 Pg 8.  Testing Intel SRT: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 9.  Sysmark 2007 Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 10.  SiSoft Sandra: CPU Motherboard Benchmarks:
 Pg 11.  Sandra: Memory Motherboard Benchmarks:
 Pg 12.  PCMark Vantage Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 13.  3DMark 11 Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 14.  3DMark Vantage Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 15.  3DMark 06 Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 16.  FEAR Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 17.  IGP Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark06, FEAR
 Pg 18.  IGP Motherboard Benchmarks: Call of Juarez, Crysis, Video Transcoding
 Pg 19.  System Power Draw and Final Conclusions

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