The solid state hard drive comes of age
I spend a lot of time at my PC, and I use quite a number of programs in my tasks at keeping WUWT updated. I use browsers, word editors, PDF viewers, paint programs, graphing programs, Google Earth, and an MP3 recorder/editor for my daily radio forecasts. My PC gets a real workout daily.
With so much to do, I’ve noted that I get impatient just waiting on things to load these days. And so after some trepidation and research, I took the plunge and bought myself a solid state hard disk replacement for my Windows 7 HP slimline desktop in hopes it would speed my tasks. I’m happy to report the results significantly exceeded my expectations and I thought WUWT readers could benefit from my experience. Every one of my readers has a computer, so what better post could I make than something that shows them how to be happier using it?
My experience with flash memory has been so-so so far. Some USB flash drives I’ve tried stop working after a while. An SSD I tried a year ago didn’t give very good performance on small file sizes, and the MTBF wasn’t that great, so I sent it back. I’m glad I waited until now.
My research led me to choose the Kingston SSD Now V 100 128GB SSD drive. I only had about 60GB in use out of my 500GB drive, so I could choose a smaller SSD that didn’t cost a fortune. Prices have been plummeting. I looked at drives from Intel, OCZ, Supertalent, and Crucial, and decided the Kingston drive offered the best bang for the buck – plus it comes with a nearly idiot proof program I’m familiar with -Acronis, which re-images your mechanical hard drive to the SSD.
Kingston advertises this as “the ultimate upgrade” on the box, a pretty bold statement.
Here’s the desktop upgrade kit I bought from Amazon (image from the manufacturer):
- Powered down, opened up the case, gave it a good cleaning for dust bunnies.
- Plugged in the SSD drive SATA cable to a spare SATA port on the motherboard.
- Plugged in the power cable for the SSD to a spare Molex power connector from the power supply.
- Left the system open on the table with the SSD sitting to the side on the tabletop, powered it all up.
- I put in the CD ROM provided by Kingston, which the system booted the Acronis OS loader from automatically.
- Followed the dirt simple on-screen instructions. Decided to be brave and choose the “automatic” setting for the Acronis software. Crossed my fingers.
- Waited about 15 minutes, it was done. It offered to make a backup recovery CD for me, which I accepted, that was done in about 5 minutes.
- I powered down, and pulled out my old hard drive. Dang it was warm. No wonder I had to add the second fan to my case.
- I attached the 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter rails to the new Kingston SSD, put it in the drive bay in place of the old hard disk.
- Closed up the case, powered up, kept my fingers crossed.
- To my complete surprise and satisfaction, the Windows 7 desktop booted in 15 seconds! And even better, there was no driver angst, no reboots asked for, nothing. It just worked.
- What was really wild was that the Windows startup sound didn’t have time to finish before the “logged in and ready” sound played. It got truncated. That was a first.
- I opened up Firefox, no wait, zero, none, nada; it was just there.
All of my apps now load nearly instantly. I could not be more pleased. My Dual core Athlon X2 processor is now the weakest link in my Windows experience index:
I ran HD Tune benchmarks on it…as father Frank used to say on “Everybody Loves Raymond” TV show, HOLY CRAP!
The drive I replaced, a Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 had this HD Tune result for performance:
I gotta tell you, the results of this upgrade are spectacular.
- Power up boot time ~18 seconds
- Restart soft boot time ~15 seconds
- Time from Desktop to Sleep Mode ~ 5 seconds
- Time from Sleep mode to running Desktop ~5 seconds
I no longer need the extra case fan, which I’ve unplugged (my wife says it was loud but I can’t hear it, but then again I’m nearly deaf ) since the case runs way cooler now. My CPU core temp also reduced since it no longer has ambient heat from the mechanical drive to deal with in the case.
Minus the mechanical HD and the case fan, total PC power consumption according to my 120VAC “Kill-a-Watt” power meter dropped about 29 watts from where it used to be, because the SSD uses about 6 watts power in operation, and 1 watt standby. That’s 29 watts less heat to dissipate. In a small PC case like I have, it’s significantly cooler.
If you are looking to upgrade your computer, whether it be Windows, Mac, or Linux based, I’m convinced this Kingston SSD is the best investment you can make. Here’s the specs (PDF).
Available in 64GB, 96GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB sizes, these high-performance SSDs are equipped with MLC NAND flash memory chips, a SATA 3.0 Gbps interface, a MTBF of 1 million hours and an improved controller offering up to 25 percent better performance that the original SSDNow V series. Not to mention, they’ve also adopted the ‘Always On’ Garbage Collection technology, which Kingston says will cleanse redundant data from the drive to prevent performance degradation and maintains the drive over its life cycle.
If you have a laptop, that Kingston upgrade kit is even more useful, because they give you an external USB case to continue to use your old hard drive in, just costing slightly more than the desktop kit:
I got mine from Amazon.com which has the best deals going that I found. I had it 2 days after ordering. If you have the cash, this upgrade is (IMHO) well worth the time and investment. With a 3 year warranty and a million hour (11.4 years!) Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF), lightning speed, and ultra low power, how could you go wrong? The Acronis disk cloning software will clone your disk no matter if it is Windows, Mac OSX, Or Linux, it just works.
Here’s a video review on the product:
I predict that in about 2 years or less, SSD’s will begin to dominate the market. For now, it’s a great way to double or triple the operational performance of your existing PC. I realize many WUWT readers might not be early technology adoption fans like I am, but this product is really ready for prime-time.
If you are interested in getting one, here’s links to the two upgrade kits at discounted prices:
Some people might need more storage, and in that case you could get one of these to boot the OS from to get the performance, and use the older hard disk for media or offline storage.
Either way, I can’t ever see myself going back to a mechanical hard drive now, I’m spoiled.