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To test the validity of ReadyBoost, and see if the Kingston ReadyFlash would help performance, we first ran PC Mark’s HDD Tests using a notebook running Vista. Since notebooks are generally less powerful, and harder to upgrade, they’re the most likely candidates that might benefit from ReadyBoost making this a real world test.
The notebook in question was the Asus U1F that Riyad recently reviewed, which has an Intel Dual Core U2400 running at 1.06GHz, with 1GB of system memory, 60GB hard disk. Riyad noted in his review that he found it rather sluggish under Vista, and suggested that potential purchasers specify 2GB RAM at point of purchase. Does ReadyBoost have any effect?
First, the PC Mark tests suggest that it certainly does. We re-ran the hard drive tests without ReadyBoost and got a score of 2310, and subsequent tests showed significant improvements when the USB device was inserted and dedicated to caching.
With the full 1GB utilised the score was 3106, that’s 796 higher than the score without any ReadyBoost. Further tests revealed scores of 3017 at 880MB, the memory usage suggested by Windows, and 2680 and 2600 when using 512MB and 256MB respectively.
Although PC Mark tests are more of an indicator of performance, these figures suggest there’s certainly a significant amount of extra performance to be had when using ReadyBoost. Moreover, in general usage the notebook was noticeably snappier when loading programs. This isn’t to say it was a revolutionary improvement, but it was noticeable enough that it appears worthwhile.
As another indicator we decided to do a quick and simple test on our games machine, which boasts a rather meatier AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 Dual Core CPU running at 2.63GHz and 2GB of Corsair Pro Series RAM.
We timed how long it took to load an Oblivion save game file, comparing times when using 1GB of ReadyBoost cache to none whatsoever. After running the test several times we found that on average ReadyBoost reduced the load time by just under 15 seconds, an impressive return on a £13 investment.
Over time you’ll certainly notice that kind of difference and we’d certainly like to see whether ReadyBoost has a similar impact on in-game loading, though this is rather more difficult to test.
It appears that ReadyBoost does indeed work, and the Kingston 1GB DataTraveler ReadyFlash drive is an excellent and dirt cheap way of boosting Vista performance. Ideally we’d like it to be smaller since we already know Kingston can make far smaller USB flash drives, but otherwise it does a fine job.