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cchoiz
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Best option to use SSD mSATA Drive - HP Envy 15 Sleekbook: Cache or Primary Storage?

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Product: HP Envy 15t Sleekbook (15t-j100)

Tech Specs:

  • Intel Core i7-4700MQ @ 2.40GHz
  • Chipset Intel HM87
  • 12.0 GB RAM DD3 (Two slots 8 GB + 4 GB)
  • Nvidia GeForce GT740M (2GB) + Intel HD Graphics 4600
  • 1 TB 5400 rpm SATA HDD
  • Windows 8.1 Pro x64

Hello to everyone,

 

I'm planning to purchase a SSD mSATA drive to my Envy, because I want to improve response time when opening some programs, improve general performance of the Operating System and accessing faster to big files (read and write).

I have looked for several SSD mSATA drives in the Web and I've chosen a Samsung P830 Series128GB SSD mSATA miniPCI-E drive (SATA III 6Gbps, Read 500 MB/s, Write 400 MB/s). 

 

But I'm questioning myself about what could be the best option for using the SSD mSATA drive, if fits better as a primary drive (installing OS and leaving 1 TB HDD for apps and storage) or using it as a cache memory for improving general performance.

 

I don't use the Envy for i.e gaming or editing video but I work with VMWare Workstation and most of the times I need to use about 2 or 3 VM at the same time (sometimes when resuming a VM from Suspension it take some time, Virtual Disks sizes about 40 GB). Another use for my Envy is to play HD/3D0 series/films and mirroring them to my Smart TV (using Miracast)

 

I've read something about Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT) and I have heard some benefits for using it with SSD drives as cache memory but I'm still confused about the best option.

 

Any suggestions you may have? It might be helpful for me!!

 

Regards,

 

Alejandro

 

 

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Great-Deku-Tree
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Hello @cchoiz ,

 

Welcome to the HP Forums!

 

I understand you have some questions about installing your mSATA SSD.

 

The mSATA slot is intended to be used as a cache drive only. You may experience issues booting to the mSATA SSD as the primary drive. For this reason I recommend using it in its intended configuration; as a cache drive.

 

The decision is entirely up to you in the end. If you're able to configure the BIOS to use the mSATA as the primary drive this will help improve the performance of your system more than using it as a cache drive, especially if there is enough room to install your VMWare on the mSATA SSD after the operating system has been installed. Using it as a primary drive will also increase the lifespan of the SSD.

 

I can only offer you my personal suggestions and no "official HP response" regarding this. As mentioned previously it's entirely up to you.

 

Hopfully this helps at least a little. 🙂

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Great-Deku-Tree
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Hello @cchoiz ,

 

Welcome to the HP Forums!

 

I understand you have some questions about installing your mSATA SSD.

 

The mSATA slot is intended to be used as a cache drive only. You may experience issues booting to the mSATA SSD as the primary drive. For this reason I recommend using it in its intended configuration; as a cache drive.

 

The decision is entirely up to you in the end. If you're able to configure the BIOS to use the mSATA as the primary drive this will help improve the performance of your system more than using it as a cache drive, especially if there is enough room to install your VMWare on the mSATA SSD after the operating system has been installed. Using it as a primary drive will also increase the lifespan of the SSD.

 

I can only offer you my personal suggestions and no "official HP response" regarding this. As mentioned previously it's entirely up to you.

 

Hopfully this helps at least a little. 🙂

Great-Deku-Tree
I work on behalf of HP

If you found this post helpful, you can let others know by clicking the Accept as Solution button. You can also show your appreciation, with a kudos, by clicking the thumbs up" button!

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pepe999
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Hi,

In my opinion it's better to use the mSATA as a pure SSD boot drive than cache. The main reason is that you have data on a different drive than the operating system. In case of a hardware failure your files are safe and all you have to do is to replace the old drive and reinstall or just simple reinstall or restore the old drive as it was. I think this cache works similar to the hybrid hard drives as these drives have the SSD cache built in.

According to the manual the mSATA cache doesn't work on models with 12 or 16GB of RAM. That means you have to downgrade to 8GB if you want to use it as cache. However, you need as much memory as you can have for the VMs so the best option for you could be something like a 500GB mSATA Samsung Evo.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-500GB-mSATA-Solid-State/dp/B00HFD9BAK

Samsung provide a migration utility which will let you transfer the OS to the SSD but it's a bit more complicated to make it work after because the mSATA hasn't been designed as a boot drive.

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cchoiz
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Hi @Great-Deku-Tree, finally what I did was using mSATA as cache drive. It was a little tricky to enable RAID controller into my Envy (BIOS locked!) but I could overcome it and I have destined 64GB (maximum allowed) to cache and the rest as unallocated space through RST tool.

I will be testing those configuration for a couple of weeks in order to compare performance gained against normal operation (without mSATA cache).

 

@pepe999 Thanks a lot for your suggestion. I was also concerned that using mSATA cache may lead to use 8 GB RAM as maximum allowed but I can use 12 GB RAM (factory installed) and mSATA cache without any problem or restriction. Maybe at normal operation with mSATA cache the system will be addressing up to 8 GB and if needs more it will be freeing memory and using cache, but I need to test that behavior. Until now I have installed 12 GB and it appears with that amount in Task Manager,  System Properties and BIOS.

I've read some posts in HP Forum about setting mSATA drive as primary SSD and it's not easy to do, anyway I will do that experiment.

 

Regards,

 

Alejandro 

 

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Huffer
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Please post the steps you followed to set the BIOS storage to RAID and get your mSSD cache working. A lot of people have been trying to add an aftermarket mSSD cache drive and we would appreciate a step by step if you can favor us with it. Thanks. 

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cchoiz
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Hi @Huffer, this is the list of steps I've done (and it worked for me) in order to set mSATA drive as cache

 

1. In BIOS, disable Secure Boot (if enabled). Then power off.

2. Insert mSATA drive and power on the device.

3. Go to BIOS, Configuration tab and enable "Intel Rapid Storage Technology" (this option only will be shown if a mSATA drive is installed and detected)

4. Save your changes and reboot

5. When booting, you can see Intel RST version number and disks detected for a few seconds. There you can press Ctrl+I and go to RST configuration (but for me it wasn't required, RAID array is created through RST tool)

6. You will see OS is not booting, then reboot OS in Safe Boot mode

7. Once logged into Windows (Safe Boot mode), go to Intel RST tool. Now you can see mSATA drive installed and able to set cache acceleration configuration, defining amount of cache (64 GB max) and setting other available parameters.

8. Finally and just for double-checking, go to Device Manager and verify that Intel(R) Mobile Express Chipset SATA RAID Controller (RAID, not AHCI) is present under "Storage Controllers".

9. Restart in normal mode.

 

If you have done all steps, you can see now RST main window with the HDD disk labeled as "Accelerated" and the mSATA drive as a RAID Array (composed of two volumes: one for cache (64 GB max) and the other one with the remaining space available in mSATA drive).

 

Please note that remaining available space in mSATA drive is showed as "Unallocated Space" in Disk Management console. Then you can use that space as you wish (i.e creating a new partition). In my case I didn't do anything with it.

 

Here I'm posting an image about how should look RST main windows after applying the steps (Spanish localization). Hope it works for all of you too!!!

 

RST.PNG

 

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Huffer
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Very nice. So you did not need to reset storage mode to RAID in the BIOS? The IRST set it for you?

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cchoiz
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That's correct. When setting cache acceleration mode through RST tool you are "setting RAID mode".

RST settings also can be accessed through BIOS (after enabling RST through BIOS) under "System Configuration" there is an option "UEFI Firmware Device Settings", if you select it there is another menu "Intel RST" and there you can see all volumes, enabling/disabling acceleration mode.

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TexasGrillchef
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By the sound of this... it sounds like to me that you could do the following as an example.

 

Install a M.2 512gb SSD drive.

 

Then follow the parameters you spoke of.... 64gb for accelerated cache.

 

Which would leave fora 512gb SSD drive leaving 448gb as unallocated. You said one could partition that unallocated space as a drive.

 

Wouldn't it be possible then to Have that unallocated space boot Windows, and move the windows installation "Via Cloning, and partition reduction" Several cloning programs will clone a drive to a smaller drive as long as the total data space used is not greater than the target drive. Thus the Windows boot drive would be 448gb, and then the other drive would be a spare drive (D:\)

 

Would that be possible?

 

TGC

 

P.S. Even if that isn't possible, if we create a 448gb partition as Drive 😧 Windows does have the capability to change the Temp folder, as well as many other system folders such as Internet Explorer Caching, Cookies as well as a few other folder to this SSD drive, improving performance. I did that on another computer that I had a spare 128gb ssd drive with. I use it for windows Temp, IE caching, Cookies and a few other of Windows System folders. As well I set up a "READYBOOST" partition on it as well.

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TexasGrillchef
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One other question....

 

Would their be any advantage to installing two 512gb SSD drives?

One M.2 in it's slot.

 

And a regualr normal 2.5" SATA SSD drive in the main 2.5" Sata bay?

 

Maybe possibly by setting Cache acceleration for the M.2 SSD to 0, or even just 1gb, whatever the smallest setting posible. Thus leaving the rest of the M.2 drive unallocated? In this situation then, it wouldn't matter if the M.2 was the boot drive and the other drive was a data drive or vice versa. Since neither drive is designed to be "removeable" as far as the definition of removeable drives go.  In this scenario. The Primary Sata Drive would still be a Boot drive (C:\), but still be SSD. And the M.2 Drive could be drive (D:\). Giving total storage of hopefully 1024gb (1tb).

 

TGC

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