DV Nation RAMRod PC Review - A Storage Powerhouse
SuperCache, General Performance and Final Thoughts
DV Nation does employ yet another use for the 64GB of memory on the RAMRod other than the RAMDisk - by using a piece of software called SuperCache the system came configured with 8GB of memory as a cache for the two non-RAM based storage drives.
Sitting as a layer between the operating system and the storage device, the 8GB of cache acts much like an SSD cache for a hard drive though obviously faster with it residing in system memory. DV Nation had a cache setup for the RAIDed hybrid Seagate drives as well as for the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 480GB PCIe SSD. The RAMDisk obviously doesn't need another RAM-based cache on it...
As you might guess this changes performance quite a bit and all of our results on the previous page were run with the cache disabled. Here is a pair of ATTO runs on the Seagate hard drives with and without the cache enabled:
Though the standard run is consistent with expectations and hits read/write speeds around 220 MB/s, the run with the cache enabled sees spikes in the 3.0 GB/s range but not regularly. The cache will likely help a lot more with standard usage models rather than with our benchmark suite so DV Nation's inclusion of the feature should be seen a strong positive.
I do realize that some readers might be concerned that this only leaves 6GB of system memory for Windows (64GB - 42GB RAMDisk - 8GB cache - 8 GB cache = 6GB) and I would consider dropping each SuperCache configuration to 4GB to get a bit more of that back for Windows usage.
Of course, just because we were focused on the storage performance doesn't mean we forgot about general system performance and gaming. I have included results from 3DMark11 and PCMark7 though I did install and play some games on the Radeon HD 6990 included in the build.
Obviously with a storage system like the RAMRod has, in addition to a Sandy Bridge-E processor and high end graphics card, this PC is going to be able to tackle anything you put before it including games, database storage, rendering and more.
DV Nation did want us to make sure we knew that they offered more up to date graphics cards as well including the GTX 680 and the GTX 690 dual-GPU offering should you wish to make sure you have the BEST of just about everything your next rig.
There is quite a bit to digest about the DV Nation RAMRod PC but I'll start with the things I was a bit let down with. First, the case needs to be replaced - building a $5000+ computer and putting components and configurations like this in a $50 case is just silly and it really brings down the feel of quality in the build. Moving up to a high-end Corsair design with some properly routed cables would make the RAMRod improve the immediate, first-glance impact that the computer will make to consumers.
Another small gripe is the noise the system made - the Intel branded water cooler had two fans on it (one inside, one outside) and while I am not one to complain about added cooling, but again, with a $5000+ computer, upgrading to the top quality of fans that can improve airflow while keeping sound levels down would be a worth upgrade for sure.
The most obvious positive is the storage system - DV Nation takes all the questions out of the construction of the ultimate storage system for a buyer and ships the RAMRod ready to rock right out of the box. If you have a workload that can utilize intense and amazing storage speeds, then by all means you need to take a look at this PC. Gamers may fall in love with it, but truly, you don't need this kind of storage config to get the most out of your experience.
In the end I really enjoyed my time with the DV Nation RAMRod and it's great to see a custom system build that focuses on something other than overclocking performance and gaming, yet includes it in the mix at the same time. Check out http://www.dvnation.com/ to see if they have a configuration that is right for you!