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Need some advice on upgrading to an SSD drive

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January 25, 2010 8:04:55 PM

I want to upgrade my PC to an SSD drive for my OS. However the price of SSD's is still pretty steep for a lrge drive so I would probably be in the 120 to 160 GB range. My question is this;

In the past I had partitioned large drives in order to keep the OS on one partition (As large as 120GB) and everything else on the others. Eventually though I would run out of room on the OS partition. Even though you install programs to a separate partition there are still files that do end up on the C: drive. One of the reasons is that I test and review software and install a lot of different stuff, not to mention the programs that I use, plus all of my games (I'm an avid gamer) of which I have quite a few.

So, am I better off waiting until the drives drop in price or will a 160 or maybe a bit smaller work for me?
Also, if I install my games to my current drive 1TB Black Western Digital, and the OS on the SSD will I see a boost in loading times of the games? Or load times of programs since they would be on the 1TB drive?
January 26, 2010 10:08:03 PM

That's absolutely right, the Ssd will accelerate only the software it carries.

Better Ssd are announced for February, that is in 4 days. Like the C300 at several brands, or Seagate's Pulsar (Slc, no idea of the price).

If you look for cheaper and smaller disks, used 30GB Vertex sell for about 80 euro on eBay.de and eBay.com.
January 27, 2010 2:17:04 AM

Pointertovoid said:
That's absolutely right, the Ssd will accelerate only the software it carries.

Better Ssd are announced for February, that is in 4 days. Like the C300 at several brands, or Seagate's Pulsar (Slc, no idea of the price).

If you look for cheaper and smaller disks, used 30GB Vertex sell for about 80 euro on eBay.de and eBay.com.


So if I only install my OS then the only benefit I'll see is faster boots, OS related functionality etc..

But my programs and games would basically function at the same speeds as they are now.
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a c 154 G Storage
January 27, 2010 2:33:10 AM

A SSD will make things feel snappier, particularly if you get a good one with trim support like the Intel X25-M G2.

Keep your OS and current games on it and use a 1tb drive for storage.

The SSD's are getting bigger, faster and cheaper so watch the market carefully.
a c 126 G Storage
January 27, 2010 8:41:00 PM

If you are going to install/uninstall/reinstall you should pay attention to get a good SSD:
- you need TRIM; if you cant use TRIM leave 20% of the drive unused by not partitioning it and never writing to it; this will stop degradation of writes over time.
- you need a good controller with write remapping, the Intel or Sandforce controllers (OCZ Vertex 2 Pro) are suitable candidates; but come at a price

A cheap SSD with less advanced controller will soon degrade rapidly with your usage pattern. If you only install OS + software once and then only read from it, you could use cheap SSDs instead.

By the way, never defragment your SSD. Especially those with advanced controllers; you would be doing the exact opposite so while windows thinks everything is tidily packed with eachother; on the actual SSD flash memory its heavily fragmented impacting performance.
February 2, 2010 11:10:51 PM

sub mesa said:
If you are going to install/uninstall/reinstall you should pay attention to get a good SSD:
- you need TRIM; if you cant use TRIM leave 20% of the drive unused by not partitioning it and never writing to it; this will stop degradation of writes over time.
- you need a good controller with write remapping, the Intel or Sandforce controllers (OCZ Vertex 2 Pro) are suitable candidates; but come at a price

A cheap SSD with less advanced controller will soon degrade rapidly with your usage pattern. If you only install OS + software once and then only read from it, you could use cheap SSDs instead.

By the way, never defragment your SSD. Especially those with advanced controllers; you would be doing the exact opposite so while windows thinks everything is tidily packed with eachother; on the actual SSD flash memory its heavily fragmented impacting performance.


Thank you, this is excellent information that I did not know. So is it better to install programs like MS Office, Photoshop, Firefox/Chrome, some other constant applications, to the SSD drive and install games to one of my WD Black drives? The way I understand it the only real gain in performance for games would be load times between levels/episodes, would this be correct?

The controllers you speak of, are they on board the drives or physical add on cards?

Thanks for your expert advice,

Bob
a c 126 G Storage
February 5, 2010 1:13:32 AM

Correct, the games' performance after loading (the "fps") should not be affected by the speed of the HDD/SSD; only the loading times. So if you play a game every day, you may want to include that game on your SSD for fast loading times, but otherwise it'll fit great on your larger HDD - especially if you don't play the game that often.

The controller i was talking about, is indeed part of the SSD itself; for example checkout this screenshot of an SSD:



This is the Intel X25-M inside; as you can see the NAND flash chips are on the right and the controller on the left; the controller is part of the SSD and you cannot swap/change that. Below the controller is a small DRAM cache chip; usually 32MB-64MB. This will act as buffer for the controller; and cheap SSDs do not have such a DRAM chip, meaning they will be much much much slower.

So, when buying an SSD, the most important thing to look for is what controller its powered by. Just like a car's most important spec is its engine. It will mean the difference between a crappy SSD with bugs, and a near-flawless SSD with extreme performance. Even though the actual NAND flash memory is the same - the controller is paramount when considering I/O performance.
February 5, 2010 2:51:20 AM

sub mesa said:
Correct, the games' performance after loading (the "fps") should not be affected by the speed of the HDD/SSD; only the loading times. So if you play a game every day, you may want to include that game on your SSD for fast loading times, but otherwise it'll fit great on your larger HDD - especially if you don't play the game that often.

The controller i was talking about, is indeed part of the SSD itself; for example checkout this screenshot of an SSD:

http://www.legitreviews.com/images/reviews/1022/intel_ssd_inside2.jpg

This is the Intel X25-M inside; as you can see the NAND flash chips are on the right and the controller on the left; the controller is part of the SSD and you cannot swap/change that. Below the controller is a small DRAM cache chip; usually 32MB-64MB. This will act as buffer for the controller; and cheap SSDs do not have such a DRAM chip, meaning they will be much much much slower.

So, when buying an SSD, the most important thing to look for is what controller its powered by. Just like a car's most important spec is its engine. It will mean the difference between a crappy SSD with bugs, and a near-flawless SSD with extreme performance. Even though the actual NAND flash memory is the same - the controller is paramount when considering I/O performance.

Great information and very informative. Thanks for taking the time to be so thorough.
a c 154 G Storage
February 5, 2010 2:58:42 AM

You can even eliminate the game loading time.
If you have sufficient ram, the game will stay loaded when you put the PC to sleep.
I have 6gb and w-7. Restarting CIV-4 from sleep is very quick. New level loads may be a different matter.
a c 126 G Storage
February 5, 2010 5:52:04 AM

Yes RAM filecache is very useful, but there are catches:
- you need a decent amount of "unused" RAM (unused by apps; so it gets used as filecache)
- the first time it will still be slow; it only accelerates subsequent loading of the same (cached) files
- not very practical if you use a lot of different applications/games (overwrites the RAM filecache) or you restart your PC very often (like every day).
!