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PATA SSD for older laptop, worth it?

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December 3, 2012 1:17:58 AM

I was wondering if there would be any benefit in installing an ssd with a PATA interface in an older notebook pc I own. For instance:
1. Would boot up time be shorter?
2. Would programs load faster?

Right now the unit has only 512 meg of ddr ram (which I am increasing to the max 1gig the unit allows). I'm running Kubuntu 12.10 and although linux generally doesn't swap as much as windows as long as it has sufficient ram I really don't think 512 meg is enough to avoid swapping during program loading (which is why performance suffers in that regard). I'm hoping increasing ram will help avoid swapping somewhat and that perhaps an ssd would further improve the overall responsiveness of the machine. Any thoughts?

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a c 159 G Storage
December 3, 2012 2:41:14 PM

No, the IDE SSD costs a lot more than the SATA SSD.

For notebook you need at least 120/128GB that costs >$180.
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December 3, 2012 3:50:00 PM

I was considering a 64gb ssd for around $75 as I'm currently running on a 60gb ide drive and the use of this notebook will not be for storage as such. 64 gb would be plenty for my intended use and since the notebook was given to me for $0 I didn't think $75-$80 would be too big an investment. My real question is not the cost of the ssd as much as if it would yield a significant improvement in the performance of the notebook. Thanks for your reply.
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a b G Storage
December 3, 2012 3:59:02 PM

It'll be faster from a benchmark standpoint, but from a usability standpoint I don't think you'll feel much difference. Even with ATA133 and the bus fully saturated (depending on the speed of the HDD you have in there), it maybe 1.5 to 2 times faster, but I don't think that will translate to a noticeable difference in speed.
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December 3, 2012 4:08:14 PM

I do have two very quick performing notebooks in addition to the one I was considering updating so I really don't need to buy a new one to have the kind of performance I prefer. Just putzing around with the old one which suprisingly is not a total dog as long as I don't try to use all the bells and whistles available in linux (compiz or unity for instance).
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December 3, 2012 4:51:54 PM

That's a great article. It clearly addresses some of the questions I've had about the performance increases I'm interested in, namely faster bootup and application loading. The unit I'm toying with is admittedly no powerhouse (2.1 ghz Athlon XP, 1gig of ram and OpenGL graphics) but I don't plan on gaming, transcoding or photoshopping with it. Although the article does not cover PATA ssds, I'm not averse to blowing $80 on a drive to find out just what performance CAN be extracted from a dinosaur such as this one (BTW the machine name IS "Dinosaur" so you know I'm not kidding myself). Thanks for the info.
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December 5, 2012 2:33:36 AM

BTW, I just added the I gig of ram and the performance increase is dramatic. Running "top" shows absolutely no swap usage at all now (which previously was slowing program loading to unacceptable levels). For those who run Windows and may not know, Linux does not use swap as long as there is sufficient real RAM. You can have 12 gig of ram in a Windows pc and it will still use swap (fortunately not to the detriment of performance most of the time) plus it is not advisable to disable swap even WITH copious amounts of memory. I don't know that that's a bad thing though as the two OSs are completely different and MS probably has their reasons for using swap even when there's plenty of physical ram. Thanks to all who replied to my question!
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a b G Storage
December 6, 2012 1:04:53 PM

Yes RAM is almost always the biggest bang for the buck. Especially since you said it started out with 512MB.

Being a linux user myself, I initially questioned the choice to use virtual memory in lieu of RAM. However I discovered later the reason why Windows insists on using the swapfile (pagefile.sys). It only keeps actively used programs and data in memory thus freeing up memory for any newly loaded applications and data. This should decrease load times for applications and opening of files.

Linux on the otherhand keeps as much of the presently running software and it's associated data in RAM to make them as responsive as possible. The downside is if you are RAM constrained, it can increase load times for new apps and data because it will force a swap at the moment you call for the new app and data.

Windows choice doesn't make sense in an environment where applications and data are loaded used and closed right away. However this isn't a typical user environment, most people have multiple things running (even stuff they don't think about like printer applications, sound card apps, etc in the System Tray) and very rarely are more than a couple of them active at any one time.

I have run linux since Red Hat 5.0 (back when Windows still had DOS, kind of) and RAM was expensive so I didn't have a lot of it. I can tell you from personal experience it neither booted quickly nor was it very responsive when I launched a new application. The same still holds true, but today's computers usually have 4Gigs or better so this is well hidden.

Now the flipside to this is that an application that you have been running in Windows for awhile, but hasn't been touched will initially seem sluggish when you first start re-using it.

I can't say with any objectivity which is better, but my personal preference leans more towards the Windows approach. I like my applications to spring to life the moment I start them. I can deal with a few seconds of sluggishness from an application I already have running when I switch back to it.
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December 6, 2012 1:27:27 PM

I agree with all you've said. I too have been running linux since slackware floppy disk images were the way you loaded it. It's come a long way since then. As you know the pc I've been playing with is pretty old and so I limit the number of apps I use at one time so performance is quite acceptable for an emergency use unit. My main notebooks are core2 duos with 4 gig of ram and fast hard drives and, yes, they leave the toy in the dust. Thanks for your input.
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December 7, 2012 11:37:28 PM

Ninjawithagun said:
Fbeondo, just buy a new laptop that has SATA interface and get whatever new SSD you want thereafter Stop mucking around with old crappy laptops and just upgrade already. The new laptops are cheaper than ever.


I don't think you get it. I have a Fujitsu 17" screen, 512 Ram, XP, 80gig HD and I love it. I am going to put $145 into a 128Gig SSD to double my disk space but more importantly cut the sound and the heat. The PC has had a whine and hum all its life. I am dropping $50 into 2Gig of RAM. For under $200 I will have the machine and OPERATING SYSTEM I want. I won't have to take days to reload all my software, updates, WOW, favorites, office, etc. To "just get a new laptop" it will take $700 for the cheapest 17" plus tax and then I have to buy over $350 in new software. I don't have $1,100 to "just get a new laptop".

When people have serious questions about tech concerns, your "rich guy" attitude is not helpful in the least.
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February 26, 2013 9:49:25 PM

I upgraded my Acer 5104wlmi 2.3ghz 2GB ram laptop with a PATA SSD 64GB early last year. I'll list the pros and cons that I experienced:

Pros:
* Boots up <13 seconds for Win XP & <15 seconds for Win Vista.
* Laptop has been very responsive.
* Battery life last longer by ~25% more, or 30 minutes more.
* Less computer heat & fan noise.
* Reliable; has been running for 10-months.

Cons:
* No SSD trim for XP & Vista.
* Poor SSD controller. Need to allow more time for Windows Vista to fully initialized due to services/logging activities.
* Random write speed is very slow.
* Size of 59.6GB for a dual-boot Win OS has been a problem.
* Cost was $1.56/GB when it was purchased early 2012.
* Win Vista 32-bit is a SSD/resource bloated program. Will constantly use its log services, even with SSD Tweaker optimized.

Additional tips:
* Add a ramdrive such as Dataram RAMDisk [free]. Depending on your RAM size. Adding a 320mb, or 512mb, or 1GB of RAM drive to store temp & browser cache helps in reducing SSD wear level.
* Disable Windows virtual memory. Not needed if you have ~2GB of RAM.
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