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Old 04-24-2010, 12:00 PM   #1
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Default New to SSDs? Read this first before asking questions! (UPDATED 07/17/2011)

DON'T PANIC
"This really isn't rocket science." -hal2kilo


READ FIRST! If you ask a question that was already answered here, I will just mock you and link to the answer. I will not type it in again.

With the growing popularity of SSDs, seems as if every day brings several new posts asking the same old questions of how, which, why.

Let's try to compile answers to these issues:

I got an SSD, why doesn't Windows boot much faster? updated 01/19/2011

Which SSD should I buy? updated 07/17/2011

How to install and use an SSD (Windows 7 & general info). updated 05/30/2011

How to install and use an SSD (Windows XP/Vista, Linux). updated 01/12/2011

Can my computer support an SSD? updated 01/11/2011

Why buy/use an SSD? updated 10/22/2010

Reviews, links and Glossary. updated 01/19/2011

This will be a "work in progress" and will be edited/updated as new information/time allows.
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SSD turns duds into studs. (JBT)

Last edited by Zap; 07-17-2011 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:00 PM   #2
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Why buy/use an SSD?

------

UPDATE 10/22/10:

There is still a lot of confusion about "should I buy an SSD?" I think this comes from having the wrong approach.

The right question would be "should I pay more for more performance?"

Think about this. Why buy a Radeon 5870 graphics card over a Radeon 5650? Why buy a Core i7 980X over a Core 3 340? One does not allow you to do things that the other can't. There isn't a game that will run with a Radeon 5870 which won't also run with a Radeon 5650 (albeit with different settings). There isn't any encoding software which will run on the 980X CPU which will refuse to run on the Core i3 (albeit taking longer to complete encodes).

Likewise, there isn't anything that an SSD can do which a HDD cannot (albeit taking longer).

Knowing this, why would anyone pay more for an SSD when you can buy a HDD for cheaper (per GB)? Why would anyone buy the $1000 CPU when you can get a $100 CPU? Why would anyone buy a $400 graphics card when you can buy a $70 graphics card?

Silly questions! I buy the more expensive item because it is faster. It is nice that an encode takes a mere 5 minutes instead of 15 minutes. It is nice that I can run at playable framerates with all eye candy enabled. It is nice that I no longer have to wait while my HDD rattles away my limited time on Earth.

This is obviously a question you have to decide for yourself based on what you perceive as your usage patterns and budget. If you had unlimited budget, you probably won't even bother yourself with any of this, and just automatically buy the most expensive of everything. Of course that doesn't apply to most of us, so we have to work within our usage and budget constraints. Hardcore gamer? Spend proportionally more on your graphics card. Hardcore overclocker? Spend proportionally more on your cooling systems. Run a lot of VMs concurrently? Spend proportionally more on CPU and RAM. Have extra budget and want the system to be "snappier" feeling? Spend proportionally more on... an SSD.

------

ORIGINAL VERSION:

Anand himself calls SSDs, "the single most noticeable upgrade you can do to your computer."

A fast CPU and lots of memory helps your system overall.

A fast graphics card helps you get more framerate in games.

An SSD will make your computer have that "snappy" feeling that no amount of graphics cards, CPU or memory will give.

SSDs use less power than hard drives and aren't susceptible to shock as hard drives, and are faster all around than hard drives (if you get a good SSD).

SSDs are also more expensive (per GB) than hard drives, so they aren't for everyone.

If you are barely able to afford a $400 stripped down Dell special, then an SSD is probably not for you.

If you are building a $4000 monster of a machine, an SSD should probably be on your short list.

If you've ever wondered why Windows Vista/7 was hammering your hard drive randomly, you need an SSD. If you've ever wondered why you couldn't do anything even though Windows has booted to the desktop and you can see all your icons, you need an SSD.

There are three reasons why SSDs are faster than hard drives.

Access times - basically near zero. This is the #1 benefit of an SSD over a hard drive and one that they don't advertise because all SSDs are the same in this respect. This is one of two things that help SSDs feel "snappy" over hard drives.

Sequential transfer rates - this is the number that gets advertised. Even the worst of the worthy SSDs (Kingston) is about 50% faster than the new VelociRaptor 600GB in this respect, and close to twice as fast as the common desktop hard drive.

Random transfer rates - this is the other thing that makes SSDs feel "snappy" over hard drives. Intel is actually the best here, even though they are near the bottom (of the "good" SSDs) for sequential transfer rates. In this, SSDs can be several orders of magnitude faster than the fastest hard drives.

When Windows 7 or Vista boots up and you get to the desktop and see all your icons and your wallpaper... and your hard drive is rattling away like mad and you click on stuff and nothing happens... lower access times and faster random transfer rates is the solution. When your game is loading and you see the bar creep slowly across the screen (such as in WoW) imagine the load bar SNAPPING across the screen in 1/2 the time or less. Imagine loading into L4D/L4D2 and seeing... nobody else on the server. Want to leave the safe room and hoof it to the finish before any special infected players even finish their load screen (note that I've been tempted, but have never done that... yet). Do you want Windows to load faster? SSDs can do it in 1/2-3/4 the time. Not instantaneous by any means, but real improvements.
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SSD turns duds into studs. (JBT)

Last edited by Zap; 10-22-2010 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:00 PM   #3
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Which SSD should I buy? updated 05/30/2011

Not all SSDs give the same performance so here are some good and bad, listed by controller chip used plus drives that use the controller.

Best SSDs to buy
These are all known good SSDs that give reasonably high performance and are resilient to performance degradation. The most popular ones are listed first.

DISCLAIMER: This is just a list for performance. If you want a problem free drive the best choice would probably be the older generation Intel G2 (purchased new). New Intel 320 has a firmware bug. New SandForce drives ALWAYS have firmware bugs. Heck, older SandForce still have firmware bugs (AFAIK occasional wake from S3 bug was not 100% fixed). And of course OCZ drives should always make the buyer wary, due to the volume of complaints. Also, most (but not necessarily all) problems are discovered and fixed within the first 6 months of the release of a drive model. If you don't want to pay to be a beta tester, don't buy a drive that is brand new on the market.

SandForce SF2200/SF2500 series controller based drives
OCZ Vertex 3, Vertex 3 Pro, Agility 3, Solid 3
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G
Corsair Force Series 3, Force GT

Marvell controller based drives
Micron C400
Crucial m4
Micron C300
Crucial RealSSD
Intel 510
Plextor PX-M2
Corsair Performance 3

Intel controller based drives (oldest G1 doesn't have Trim support)
Intel 320
Intel 311 (Larsen Creek, AKA the 20GB SLC for SSD caching)
Intel 310 (mSATA form factor)
Intel X18-M, X25-V and X25-M (look for "G2" after capacity in part number)
A-Data ASINTS series (Intel G2)
Kingston 40GB V Series (pseudo G2, no Trim firmware from Kingston but may be capable of cross-flashing Intel firmware with Trim)
Intel X18-M, X25-M and X25-E (look for "G1" after capacity in part number)
Kingston SSDNow M series and E series (straight rebrands of Intel G1 drives?)
Dane Elec SSD kits (uses Intel X18-M and X25-M G1 drives)

SandForce SF1200/SF1222/SF1500 controller based drives
(Currently one of the top controllers to get, yes Trim is supported, very good on compressible data)
OCZ Vertex 2, Agility 2, Vertex LE, Vertex 2 Pro, Colossus 2
Corsair Force
OWC Mercury Extreme
Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe
Mushkin Enhanced Callisto DX2 (uncapped IOPS version?)
G.Skill Phoenix, Phoenix Evo, Phoenix Pro, Sniper Gaming
Patriot Inferno
A-DATA S599
Micro Center G2 Series (A-DATA S599 rebrand)

Indilinx Martini controller
OCZ Vertex Plus

Samsung 2nd gen controller based drives
Samsung 470 series
Corsair P256

Toshiba T6UG1XBG controller
(Trim is supported, very aggressive garbage collection so works well with OS or controllers that don't support Trim)
Kingston SSDNow V+100 series (note the + in name, different controller than V 100, newer firmware than older V+)
Kingston SSDNow V+180 (1.8" version)
Kingston SSDNow V+100E (full disk encryption)

Best SSDs to buy for operating systems that do not have Trim support -
This means YOU with the WinXP/OSX/etc

(Trim currently requires Windows 7 and a SATA controller that supports AHCI mode)
Kingston SSDNow V+100 (Toshiba T6UG1XBG, same as Macbook Air)
Intel SSDs
Sandforce controller SSDs

Not as good SSDs to buy
Not as good as the best, but still better than spindle drives and decent choices if price is right. Translation: If it is significantly cheaper than the "good" SSDs.

Indilinx Barefoot controller (DEMOTED - was good except newer controllers got better)
OCZ Vertex, Agility, Solid 2, Vertex Turbo, Agility EX, Vertex EX, Vertex Mac Edition, Colossus, Z-Drive, Colossus LT
Patriot Torqx
Super Talent UltraDrive ME, GX, LE
Corsair Nova, Extreme
Crucial M225
G.Skill Falcon, Falcon II
Imation M-Class
A-Data Nobility

newer Jmicron controller (JMF618/612)
WD Silicon Blue
A-DATA S596 Turbo
Patriot TorqX TRB (JMF616, 32MB version half channels/writes)
Kingston SSDNow V series (JMF618, except 30GB model)
Kingston SSDNow V 100 series (JMF618, no + in name)

Toshiba T6UG1XBG controller (maybe a rebranded "new" Jmicron)
Kingston SSDNow V+ series
Kingston SSDNow V series 30GB (only this size)

newer Samsung RBB controller
(mediocre performance, hit/miss on Trim support)
Samsung PM800, SS805
OCZ Summit
Super Talent MasterDrive SX
Kingston SSDNow V+ series (older ones)
Corsair P series

Phison
Patriot TorqX 2
Patriot PS-100

Do not buy

Indilinx Amigo controller
(slow/crippled version of Indilinx Barefoot controller, meant to be really inexpensive not really fast, regular Indilinx got demoted so Amigo gets demoted too)
OCZ Onyx

older Jmicron controller (JMF602, JMF602B, JMF602B x2)
(huge performance problems, no Trim, terrible random writes)
OCZ Core, Apex, Solid, Core V2
Super Talent MasterDrive RX, PX, OX
G.Skill Titan
Kingston SSDNow V series (older ones)

older Samsung controller
(just bad performance all-around, no Trim)
many OEM SSDs found in name brand notebook computers in years past
Samsung FlashSSD
Corsair S series
G.Skill FlashSSD

Plextor (except latest PX-M2)

PCIe card SSDs
These get their own section for now. They come with some caveats that they are incompatible with some motherboards, and of course can't be used in a notebook. However, if you are looking for huge capacities with huge performance and have the huge wallet to afford them, these are the ones to get.

OCZ RevoDrive (PCIe x4, twin SandForce 1200 in internal RAID)
OCZ RevoDrive 2 (PCIe x4, quad SandForce 1200 in internal RAID)
OCZ Z-Drive (PCIe x8, quad Indilinx Barefoot in internal RAID)
OCZ Z-Drive R2 (PCIe x8, eight Indilinx? Barefoot? in internal RAID, using removable NAND modules that look like SODIMMs)
OCZ IBIS (PCIe x4-to-HSDL controller, basically HSDL is like a PCIe x4 connector using a cable, the "drive" is a quad SandForce 1200 in internal RAID that looks like a normal 3.5" HDD with an HSDL connector)
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The best way to future-proof is to save money and spend it on future products. (Ken g6)

SSD turns duds into studs. (JBT)

Last edited by Zap; 07-16-2011 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:00 PM   #4
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How to install and use an SSD (Windows 7 & general info). updated 05/30/2011

Step 1: Enable AHCI in BIOS. (alternately RAID)

Step 2: Install Windows 7.

That's it!

With Windows 7, you use an SSD just like you would use a hard drive, with two differences. You want to enable AHCI in BIOS, and you don't want to run Defrag. I repeat, THAT'S IT!

Since apparently everyone thinks that using an SSD with Windows 7 MUST BE A LOT HARDER THAN THIS, be advised that Windows 7 understands the basics of what SSDs need, and thus will automatically create a properly aligned partition, and automatically disable Defrag. If you absolutely need something extra to do, how about getting the latest chipset drivers? Sometimes older drivers don't allow the Trim commands to be passed through. Your best bet is the chipset manufacturer, as the included driver disc and sometimes even the motherboard manufacturer's site isn't the most up to date.

STOP and take a deep breath.

Solid State Drives are not rocket science. Too many people try too hard and over-think these things.

"But don't I have to..."

No.

"How about..."

No.

"Should I do..."

No.

"How does it compare..."

No.

Just read the rest of this post. It tells you EVERYTHING you NEED to know/do with an SSD (for Win7 at least). There is NOTHING else that is needed. NOTHING!

Got that, tiny grasshopper?

THINGS TO NOT DO ON AN SSD

Do NOT defrag an SSD.

First, it is completely unnecessary. The purpose of defrag is because of hard drive access times. SSDs are so near-instantaneous for access times that defrag makes no sense to do.

Second, defrag only works if the software knows where the data is stored in relation to other data. Data location on an SSD is not known to software defrag, so defrag will be unable to actually do anything useful.

Third, defrag on an SSD causes extra wear and anecdotally can damage the SSD.

Do NOT endlessly run benchmarks on an SSD.

Chances are you will NOT get the advertised performance or even match benchmark numbers that reviewers get, due to a lot of reasons (different chipsets, chipset driver revisions, stuff running in the background, etc.). Don't worry, because it will still run circles around the HDD you used to have.

Do NOT endlessly run anything that writes huge amounts of useless data to your SSD.

Amazed at how fast Windows installs on your SSD? Great! Don't do it 10 times in a row just to watch it fly along. Amazed at how high your SSD benchmarks, especially in random writes versus your HDD? Great! Just don't do it every time your buddies drop by just to brag. Amazed at how fast files copy from your RAIDed VelociRaptors to your new SSD? Great! Just don't copy files you don't need over and over again just to watch the progress bar zip across.

The thing is that an SSD has a finite life. Each NAND cell can only be written to a certain number of times. Now, SSD controllers have BlackMagic™ that allows you to be able to use an SSD for many, many, many years before the NAND gives up the ghost, but useless writes to the drive only serves to reduce the life span. (True that some SSDs die pretty quickly but usually for other reasons - why does ANY computer part die prematurely?)

Regarding Trim

If you are running RAID, any SSD in the actual RAID array will not get Trim commands, so they will be at the mercy of the drive's built-in garbage collection. Some drives are better than others at doing this. If you are running a RAID array on an Intel chipset (ICH10R for example) and you are using the latest Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers (RST version 9.6.x) then any SSD on the controller but NOT part of the actual RAID array will get Trim commands. If you aren't actually running a RAID array, then there's probably no need to install Intel RST.

If you are using an SSD that does not natively support Trim, then you may want to see if the manufacturer has a utility for the drive that can manually restore performance.

To check if Trim is enabled in Windows 7 (it should be by default) run the following command from an elevated command prompt (right-click, run as admin):

fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify

You will get back one of the two responses (parenthesis explains):
DisableDeleteNotify = 1 (Windows TRIM commands are disabled)
DisableDeleteNotify = 0 (Windows TRIM commands are enabled)


According to this post Windows 7 will always send Trim commands. There's nothing to see here folks. Just move along.

To check if your SSD supports Trim (some that do needs firmware update) use Crystal Disk Info.

Small SSD in a dual drive system updated 11/17
Note: I've only tried this once about two months ago so I'm going off memory. LMK if anything is wrong with this info.

So, you bought a small "boot SSD" and are now trying to figure out how to conserve space? If you are running a HDD for data and are using Windows 7 (and maybe Vista, can someone verify?), there's an easy way to move your documents and media.

Windows 7 (maybe Vista)
1) Create a new data folder on your HDD and name it something obvious. This folder is important because it is what you want to keep backed up.
2) Find your "My" folders. By this I mean My Documents, My Music, My Pictures and My Videos. Many Windows software saves to these folders by default, and they can get pretty huge. While you're at this you can also find your Downloads folder. All these folders are located in CUsers\---- where ---- is your username. Some of these folders may have the shortcut arrow on the icon. Ignore the shortcuts, you want the actual folder.
3) Move these folders to the new folder you created on your HDD. I drag/drop while holding SHIFT, but you can cut/paste or whatever.
4) ...
5) Profit.
That's it. Windows 7 seems to adjust the pointers for you. Not positive it works for Vista, can someone verify?

Windows XP
1) Create a new data folder on your HDD and name it something obvious, such as My Documents. This folder is important because it is what you want to keep backed up.
2) Point your current "My Documents" to the new folder. Do this by finding it in Explorer and viewing Properties. Then, change the path to point to the new folder.
3) Find your "My Documents" folder. It should be in CDocuments and Settings\---- where ---- is your username. Move everything in the folder to the new location.
4) ...
5) Profit.
I'm writing this from memory, so YMMV.

Other useful tips

These are not required but some people just like to tinker, so...

Page File
Leave it enabled (proven that some software needs it) but if you have lots of RAM then reduce the size and make min/max the same.

Indexing
I personally would leave it enabled since SSDs are so fast there really isn't much to be gained from disabling it, like there was with hard drives.

Hibernation
Those with notebook computers should use Hibernation, but it really isn't needed on a desktop system. If it isn't being used, of course you can disable it. Also, it leaves a big file that can be removed. If you don't do this, performance will not be affected. However, you may want to look into this if you are running out of disk space.

System Restore
Ahhh, what enthusiasts and techies love to hate! Contrary to public opinion, System Restore is not a useless steaming pile of something-or-other. Well, at least not the recent versions in Windows Vista and 7. Windows XP version was meh, and the Windows ME version was so awful that it made a whole generation of techs hate Windows Restore for ever and ever. With Windows 7 it actually works reasonably well for what it was intended. However, it does eat up a bit of performance and of course it does take up disk space. You can limit the disk space it takes, or disable it altogether if you are merely running a small capacity SSD boot drive. Otherwise you can leave it enabled if you don't need the disk space and don't feel that it is impacting performance. To put it into perspective it does not impact the performance nearly as much as not being aligned or not having Trim/garbage collection. Not even close.

NOTE: All of these "useful tips" apply to hard drives as well, and thus are not SSD specific. If you weren't doing these things with your hard drive and you have a big enough SSD, then they aren't necessary. Will they hurt? No. Will they help? Maybe, or maybe not. Will they save disk space? Some of them definitely will, so worth checking out for those that need more disk space.

Upgrading firmware

Know that upgrading the SSD firmware might lose all your data. Always make sure you have current backups.

There has been two main reasons why a company will release firmware updates.

#1 A major feature is added
This happened with Trim. Intel's G2 and Indilinx Barefoot were originally released without Trim. Current drives on the market have Trim, but if you had an original, you had to update the firmware to get Trim support. This is unlikely to happen again in the near future, so it isn't something to worry about at this time.

#2 Major bugfix
Some drives were released with, shall we say, problems. For instance the Crucial RealSSD C300 was originally on my "do not buy" list because it liked to brick itself. They released a firmware which fixed the problem, and new ones on the market have that firmware already installed. Also, OCZ in particular likes to shove new SSDs into the market with essentially beta firmware. If you like to pay money to be a beta tester for OCZ, by all means do so (many happily do). If you would rather your SSD just plain work like it should, then do not be an early adopter of any new SSD that comes out. Wait for it to be in the market for a couple months before making the jump, so that most firmware issues are ironed out by then. This will avoid being a paying beta tester.
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SSD turns duds into studs. (JBT)

Last edited by Zap; 05-30-2011 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:00 PM   #5
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How to install and use an SSD (Windows XP/Vista, Linux). updated 01/12/2011

In case anyone can't read the rest of the sticky, any OS other than Windows 7 (and maybe some latest Linux) does not have Trim, so these are the best SSD choices:
Kingston SSDNow V+100 (Toshiba T6UG1XBG, same as Macbook Air)
Intel SSDs
Sandforce controller SSDs

Windows Vista
Treat Vista like Windows 7 except for:
No Trim. Look for SSD manufacturer utilities to manually Trim drive.
Make sure defrag isn't automatically set for SSD.

Windows XP
Improperly aligned partition. Need to manually align partition.
No Trim. Look for SSD manufacturer utilities to manually Trim drive.
Make sure defrag isn't automatically set for SSD.

magreen posts info here for XP

Linux
Quote:
Originally Posted by blckgrffn View Post
Ubuntu 10.04 Critcal SSD Actions:

Reduce "swapiness" to 0

Code:
vm.swappiness=0

Edit /etc/sysctl.conf by using your favorite editor :
$sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf

If the line doesn't exist, you will need to create it.

After reboot vm.swappiness is 0

Enable TRIM (if applicable)

Update to a newer kernel. 2.6.33+ And please, remember to uninstall proprietary (ie, video card) drivers first. The 10.6 cats included didn't like the newer kernel and it really garbled up the video driver install process.

Edit your /etc/fstab file.

Replace errors=remount-ro with errors=remount-ro,noatime,discard

After reboot TRIM should function.

Links I found useful:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php...1&postcount=43 (swapiness syntax)
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=9740235 (fstab discussion)
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RadeonHD (link to Kernel versions and an explanation of how to update)

Enjoy!

Nat
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Last edited by Zap; 01-19-2011 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:00 PM   #6
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I got an SSD, why doesn't Windows boot much faster? updated 01/19/2011

THE SHORT ANSWER

It does boot faster. You're just measuring it wrong.

Most people think of boot time as the time from when you press the power button to when you see your Windows desktop icons and Start menu button come up.

A better measurement for "Windows finished booting" would be from the time your computer finishes POST and starts to boot Windows, to when you actually get into your application and start using it.

The reason is that an SSD by itself does not change the POST* time of the boot process, plus with an SSD your computer is ready to use once your icons and start menu comes up. With a HDD, your icons and Start menu can be showing, but trying to run anything immediately will usually result in a lot of hourglass cursors and HDD rattling.

*POST = Power On Self Test. X58 chipset Core i7 systems are probably the worst offenders - some spend 20 seconds or more before it even starts to boot Windows. Any extra SATA or RAID controller (even built into the motherboard) will each take several seconds of time to initialize. That's even before Windows starts to boot.

THE LONG ANSWER

It does not boot much faster.

Read Microsoft TechNet Chapter 19 - What Happens When You Start Your Computer if you want every last detail. Otherwise, they have summarized the general boot up process with these major steps:
Quote:
Power On Self Test (POST) processing
Initial startup process
Boot loader process
Selecting the operating system
Detecting hardware
Selecting a configuration
Loading the Kernel
Initializing the Kernel
Logging on
Basically even though Windows may be booting faster, that "faster" is only the times Windows is reading off the disk, so you're shaving off mere seconds. Most of the time you are still waiting for Windows to go through all the steps in the boot process.

Why the discrepancy between the short answer of "it boots faster" and the long answer of "it does not boot much faster?"

It is a matter of perspective and expectations.

Regarding expectations, people expect an SSD to make Windows boot in a fraction of the time it takes a HDD. After all, there are many SSD converts running amok in forums trumpeting their opinion that "an SSD was the single biggest upgrade I've ever made." Add that to the fact that an SSD is very expensive compared to HDD in cost versus capacity.

This ties in to perspective. I've explained the perspective part a bit in the short answer, with my assertion of what I think a better way of measuring Windows boot time is. Also, the focus needs to be backed off a bit to look at the concept of computer upgrades as a whole. Why? Because... The performance you experience on a computer is the sum of the whole. Is a $400 CPU faster than a $200 CPU? Of course. Will a $400 CPU make everything on your computer run 2x better/faster than a $200 CPU? No. Same thing with an SSD. Is an SSD faster than a HDD? Of course. Will an SSD make everything on your computer run much better/faster than a HDD? No.
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Last edited by Zap; 01-19-2011 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:35 PM   #7
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Can my computer support an SSD? updated 01/11/2011

How do you know if your computer will support an SSD? Read on for the answers.

SSD requirements:
SATA port
Power connector
Physical space for installation

SSD recommended:
BIOS/controller AHCI support
SATA 3GB/s or 6GB/s
Drive bay adapters
Windows 7

The majority of current consumer SSDs have SATA connectors. All SATA connectors are compatible with each other, the difference being connection speed (similar to Ethernet). The original SATA will work but will hamper performance to a certain degree. SATA 3GB/s is ideal for most. A handful of drives support SATA 6GB/s and may benefit from such a controller. Basically a SATA SSD will have the same data and power connectors as a SATA HDD.

The majority of current consumer SSDs are in a 2.5" form factor, which is to say that they are notebook drive size. This makes them very universal in that the same drive can work in a notebook or a desktop. Some desktop cases can handle 2.5" drives directly. If not, adapters can be purchased and indeed sometimes comes with the drive, which will allow them to be mounted in a 3.5" HDD bay. There are a few SSDs which are made in a 3.5" size for normal desktop use, but those preclude use in a notebook so read the specs carefully when purchasing. Also, a few SSDs are made that plug directly in to a desktop PCI Express slot, or a notebook mini-PCI or mini-PCIe slot. Those are a bit more specialized and most will not be using them.

An SSD will work better with a 4k aligned partition and an operating system and BIOS that supports Trim. What does this all mean? 4k aligned partition is just some mumbo jumbo that means your system can support big hard drives (like the new 3TB drives). Windows Vista and Windows 7 support it, but Windows XP does not. All SSDs and more and more HDDs are coming out that need 4k aligned partitions, so this isn't unique to SSDs. Drives will usually work without it, but at a loss in efficiency and (in the case of SSDs) maybe decreased life span. Trim is basically Windows 7 telling the SSD to clean up after itself. Without it, the write speed of an SSD will decrease over time due to some arcane reasons that only the initiated can understand. Note that for Windows 7 to be able to communicate this to the SSD, your motherboard needs to support something called AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface). If your notebook or motherboard was manufactured in the past 2-3 years, you probably have it as a setting you can enable in BIOS. Note that even if the setting is present, some motherboards don't implement it properly. One final thing is that some drivers can interfere with AHCI. Usually the latest versions should be fine, however.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:35 PM   #8
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updated 01/19/2011

Reviews and Links

The SSD Anthology: Understanding SSDs and New Drives from OCZ
This is a really long article that has some great information about SSDs, including some history and reasoning behind why you would want one, plus more in-depth information on what makes SSDs tick (not literally, SSDs make no noise).

The SSD Relapse: Understanding and Choosing the Best SSD
A lot of repeat information from the SSD Anthology but also some great new information towards the latter half.

Western Digital's New VelociRaptor VR200M: 10K RPM at 450GB and 600GB
What is a hard drive article have to do with SSDs? Well, this gives some perspective on how the fastest consumer (SATA) hard drive money can buy compares to the performance of an SSD.

Secure Erase With bootable CD/USB Linux.. Point and Click Method
Don't want to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, so here's a link to secure erasing an SSD. Besides using it when you sell an SSD, secure erasing can also "refresh" SSD performance.

Glossary of SSD related terms

SSD = Solid State Drive, a mass storage device that has no moving parts

Trim = A way for the operating system to command an SSD to perform garbage collection

garbage collection = A way for an SSD to "clean up" unused space to retain performance

NAND = Flash memory that is most often used in SSDs, USB sticks, memory cards

Intel = AKA Chipzilla, known for their CPUs, motherboard chipsets and now for SSDs both with the NAND chips used as well as the controller chip

Jmicron = Company that produced controller chips used in most of the early consumer SSDs that were much maligned for being susceptible to extremely severe performance degredation over time

Samsung = Korean memory manufacturer behemoth which makes NAND chips as well as controller chips, very popular with OEMs (Dell, Apple, Lenovo, etc.) for inclusion in systems

Indilinx = Company that produced the Barefoot which was the first good alternative controller chip to the Intel, based on ARM technology

Sandforce = Company responsible for the latest high performance controller chip for SSDs
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:02 PM   #9
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Here is another great SSD site http://www.thessdreview.blogspot.com/
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Old 04-24-2010, 02:07 PM   #10
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Lock and sticky this! Nice!
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Old 04-24-2010, 02:23 PM   #11
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Indeed, sticky!
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:31 PM   #12
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wow. that must have taken awhile. thanks.
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:32 PM   #13
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Pretty cool sticky bro

thanks.
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Old 04-25-2010, 06:51 AM   #14
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Great job Zap!
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Old 04-25-2010, 10:10 AM   #15
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Nice thread and congrats to the OP for the work...

Joined the site to loom around, learn and help out a bit too if I may.

A consideration for the site might be a SSD section all in its own....
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Old 04-27-2010, 12:46 AM   #16
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I'm waiting for price to go down.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:19 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flamenko View Post
A consideration for the site might be a SSD section all in its own....
Memory and Storage is enough for now. If all SSD traffic split off, then this forum might get pretty empty.

This is obviously a work in progress. I'll be adding information as I have time. Feel free to correct or criticize me. I'm not an expert in SSDs. I just felt that we needed this information all in one place.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:39 PM   #18
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Another way to look might be that a section in its own will get those wanting an ssd here and its Anantech; it will never be empty eheh.

I'll hang around a bit thanks to my friend Cape inviting me. Likewise, feel free to correct or criticize as well. God knows I will stick my own foot in my mouth enough eheh.

Please to meet ya Zap!
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:11 PM   #19
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I am a Swedish anesthesiologist with 2 kids, a research program and far too many hobbies. I am interested in computers but I just don´t have the time to be any good at it. I have just ordered a new laptop (see below) and want to equip this with a SSD. The upcoming Vertex 2 is the one I am thinking about. I have been surfing around during the limited free time I have and Anand and this forum seems to be about as good as things get. I therefore would like to ask a few questions and would be very happy if I could also get some decent answers:

I have ordered a 15" Macbook pro, core i7, 8Gb RAM, crappy 500Gb harddisk. I chose this because i needed a computer which would last a few years and with very good battery life. It also looks pretty cool.

I almost ordered the Apple 256Gb SSD upgrade until I read on the net that they are rubbish. Intel seem to make good stuff but OCZ Vertex are "compatible with Mac". The upcoming Vertex 2 seems to be a nice piece of hardware: My questions:

1. Mac does not have TRIM support. What is TRIM?
2. Since there is no TRIM, Garbage Collection seems to do the job. Is this correct?
3. Does the Vertex 2 have Garbage collection? If so, does it work?
4. The whole "limited lifetime due to limited read/write episodes" is confusing to me. Is this really an issue with new SSD´s? The Vertex 2? Doesn´t garbage collection sort this out?
5. Is the Vertex 2 "compatible with Mac"? Is this even necessary?

Will be REALLY happy if Anand or anyone else could help me out here. I know I sound like a loser, but I just don´t have the time to check these things out myself (and I lack alot of the basic computer know-how that I think is needed).

Cheers/ Johan
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:23 PM   #20
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Although not yet thoroughly proved as fail-proof, I think you could add the SandForce controller based SSDs in the "Good SSDs to buy" section considering they're popping like mushrooms lately.
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:53 PM   #21
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1. An SSD can only write to an area (block) if it's erased. Three types of areas are: 1) data 2) free, erased 3) free, not erased. Garbage collection is erasing all free, not erased areas at one time, usually when the SSD is idle or when it's absolutely necessary. TRIM is a command telling the SSD controller what areas have just become free. By keeping track of free, erased and free, not erased (TRIMmed), it'll write to free, erased areas 1st instead of just finding any free area. This results in reducing wear and improve write performance where if it just found any free area and it is not erased since it must erase it before finally writing.

Without TRIM, it'd have to figure out itself in different ways how to do all that leading to different performance between SSDs when writing.

2. yes
3. I don't keep up with OCZ products, but if it's current, it does.
4. I wouldn't consider wear an issue. All things are limited. USB flash drives are far more durable to temparature and physical shock than HDD. The obvious always applies, the better you treat either, the longer it'll last. -- I think that involves everything
5. yes.

Last edited by razel; 04-30-2010 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:42 PM   #22
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1. Mac does not have TRIM support. What is TRIM?

Simply, when you delete files, the OS normally only deletes the index so it appears the info is gone when it really isnt. HDs can write over deleted info very easily but the process is different with ssds and slows them down. TRIM wipes the deleted information so the cells/blocks are completely clean and can be written to.

2. Since there is no TRIM, Garbage Collection seems to do the job. Is this correct?

Yes this what you would require for a Mac. Myself, i would stay away from a Mac for that reason except.....see next...

3. Does the Vertex 2 have Garbage collection? If so, does it work?

Your best bet for the Mac is a little known drive called the OWC SSD from Other World Computing. It uses the same controller and has advanced built in garbage collection and other abilities specifically tailored to the Mac. OWC is a Mac site and these drives are getting great reviews.

http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/inter..._SSD_Sandforce


4. The whole "limited lifetime due to limited read/write episodes" is confusing to me. Is this really an issue with new SSD´s? The Vertex 2? Doesn´t garbage collection sort this out?

A typical user will never experience the wearing out of a ssd. I cant even do it and I have been through alot in the past 3 years. To the best of my knowledge each of the ones I tested is still in service.

5. Is the Vertex 2 "compatible with Mac"? Is this even necessary?

Yes but I would still go to the OWC SSD...for the Mac...from a Mac company

Will be REALLY happy if Anand or anyone else could help me out here. I know I sound like a loser, but I just don´t have the time to check these things out myself (and I lack alot of the basic computer know-how that I think is needed).

Cheers/ Johan[/QUOTE]

Hope this helps my friend.....you can find lots of info below as well.
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Old 05-01-2010, 01:09 AM   #23
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Great! Thanks for the great advice! I will check out these OWC things. My computer guy keeps saying the Vertex 2 is the hottest thing out, especially for Mac. He explains this with the new Sandforce thing and he told me gargage collection is really good with these.

Hhhmmmm.... OWC or Vertex 2......

Mabey both are good! I want something that wont be outdated in a year. Is 256gb enough? I also heard you can only use 200gb of this. Whats that about?seems abit of a scam....

Any other valuable advice? Thanks again guys!

Regards, Johan
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Old 05-01-2010, 05:56 AM   #24
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If you are on The SSD Review below and click NewEgg, simply type Vertex 2 into their search and the drives pop up.
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Old 05-01-2010, 12:38 PM   #25
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Thanks!

Ordered the Vertex 2 200GB today. Will be cool to use it in a few days in the new macbook pro....

Thanks for your help!

Best wishes,

Johan
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