The concept is simple and straightforward. Use flash memory in the form of a USB 2.0 drive, SD card, or Compact Flash as an area for disk cache in order to speed up your computer. Microsoft offers ready boost only with the Vista operating system, not XP, and to be useful the system must contain less than 512 MB of memory. That is the minimum required for Vista, by the way. In addition, the flash device must pass the test requirements to be of use. Are you starting to get the picture? A system, or laptop, with Vista and 256MB of memory? Youâ€™ll go a long way before you find one of those but Iâ€™m sure there are a few out there.
OK, lets see what else is needed to use this simple, straightforward concept:
- USB 2.0 with a minimum of 64 MB free space. Something at least equal to your amount of memory would be best.
- Must be capable of 3.5MB/s uniformly across the entire device for 4KB random reads and 2.5 MB/s for 512KB random writes.
- The device must pass the test after inserting the device in your system and instructing it to use as a ReadyBoost device.
Looking on NewEgg and also in the local BestBuy, the cost for a device that is large enough and fast enough should be between $9.99 and $19.99. In order to get at least a decent amount of storage out of the purchase I figure 4 gigs at 19.99 is the way to go.
So far so simple. I go to BestBuy and purchase the least expensive USB Flash Drive that is ReadyBoost capable. The cost is $19.99 plus 6% tax and $5.00 for gas for a total of â€¦.. Naw, just funnin with ya. Although I did have to pay tax and the gas Iâ€™m not really going to include that. I go home and pull all the memory out of my old system and rummage around until I find an old 256 stick of ram. I install the 256MB of memory into the system, boot, plug in the USB flash drive, and choose the ReadyBoost option. The system tests to be sure itâ€™s good enough and Bingo, Iâ€™m Mr. ReadyBoost.
I do my usual jockeying back and forth between ReadyBoost and no ReadyBoost and feel no difference opening programs or surfing. I check the test results on my ReadyBoost installation and confirm that it did pass and is being used.
Next I download PC Mark and run some tests with and without ReadyBoost. I download SuperPi and run some tests. I download SiSoft Sandra and run some tests. I run the PC Pitstop OverDrive test. Nothing is showing improvement, nothing, zip, nadda.
Because Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™m doing something wrong, I check the internet to see what others are coming up with, and guess what? Their reviews are as mixed and minimal as my results. While some reviews give a long and lengthy run down of what ReadyBoost is and how to go about using it, the reviews that actually quote results are not showing much more than 1% here and 2% there.
The Final Blow
I go to BestBuy and return the USB flash drive. I donâ€™t feel bad over this return because it basically didnâ€™t give me any â€œBoostâ€, Ready or otherwise. I drive around the corner and ask Gary at Florida PC â€œHey Gary, what are you getting on DDR2 laptop memoryâ€. Even though I havenâ€™t been using a laptop for my tests I figure that the laptop memory would be more expensive than standard memory and would at least make the ReadyBoost concept cost effective. Heâ€™s a quoting a price in the $40.00 range. I say, â€œYikes, thatâ€™s highâ€. Gary says, â€œ memory is low right now, what have you seen 2 Gigs going for?â€ I say,â€2 gigs?, Iâ€™m just wanting a measly 512 MB?â€. He laughs and says, â€œfor you 512 MB is going for $11.00.
ReadyBoost is just not a viable alternative.
End of story