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SSD recommendations for older system

Last response: in Storage
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December 16, 2012 3:51:21 AM

I'm expecting some gift money/gift cards for Christmas and was thinking of adding a 240-256GB SSD to my rig and setting it up as a boot/application disk. My current HDD will be relegated to data storage. I want to limit it to what Fry's is selling, as that's where I expect gift cards to be from, and keep it under $200. A 840 Pro would be nice, but that's simply out of the budget.

The drives that fall into my category are Sandisk Extreme, PNY XLR8, Crucial M4, Samsung 840 series (not Pro), Corsair ForceGS, and MonsterDigital. Based on the reviews I've read, I'm leaning towards the Sandisk Extreme.

Anybody have any opinions on this or other suggestions?

My motherboard is an Asus P5Q Deluxe, which only supports SATA II. I could add a SATA III PCIe card, but I've heard that performance of the native SATA II on the MB will actually be better than the add on card. I'm also going to be adding memory (coming up to 8GB) and upgrading to Windows 7.

Thanks,
Andy
December 16, 2012 4:26:24 AM

Sandisk Extreme is good, as it uses toggle mode NAND. Personally, I care more about longevity than the minor performance difference between SSDs, and being based on a Sandforce controller the Sandisk will at least be in the category of low write-amplification, however it uses smaller lithography process NANDs. You're not really likely to find older 32-35nm NAND chips around anymore anyways though.

The Sandisk uses a lot higher density NAND dies than many other SSDs, so lower capacity models like the 120GB have less parallel channels compared to competing toggle-mode NAND such as the Mushkin Chronos Deluxe or the OCZ Vertex 3 MAX IOPS, but the 240GB model shouldn't bottleneck you there.

Therefore, if you too prefer low-write amplification vs better performance on uncompressable data, the Sandisk Extreme 240GB is a fine choice.

Pretty much every motherboard that doesn't have native SATA III ports, also only has PCI Express 1.0 x1 ports. However, Most add in cards will support PCI-E 2.0 and if you put it in a spare x16 slot, you'll likely get 500MB/s vs 250MB/s from the x1 slots, or 300MB/s from a native SATA port. Additionally, there are many PCI-E x4 cards (actually x2 electrically) that you can get that will have a peak theoretical bandwith of 1000MB/s in a 2.0 slot, and should therefore not bottleneck you compared to a native SATA III port.

Most people however, do not have multiple PCI-E x16 slots on their motherboard, and are limited to only x1 slots that operate at PCI-E 1.0 speeds, and therefore will almost always get faster speeds on their SATA II 3.0Gbps ports than an addon board with 6.0Gbps, but you have more flexability with that P5Q Deluxe
December 16, 2012 4:56:04 AM

After a couple hours of research earlier I chose two Sandisk Extreme 240GBs for myself (2 separate PCs). Seemed like a fair choice, and the 160 price tag (on sale) made it an easy decision.
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December 16, 2012 3:29:59 PM

Thanks for the input. The Sandisk drive does look good.

Since I do have extra PCI-E x16 slots on my MB, maybe I'll go with an add on card after all. Looking around at what Fry's has, I see SATA III cards that say they are compliant with PCI-E 2.0, but is that all it needs? They say "compliant with 2.0 but backward compatible with 1.x", but they also say they are PCI-Express x1 cards. Such as the Syba SY-PEX40030. That's not going to do it, is it?

Thanks.
December 22, 2012 11:36:24 AM

A PCI Express x1 2.0 card running at 2.0 speeds should give you 500MB/s bus bandwidth, which should outperform a native SATA 3gbps link in throughput.
December 22, 2012 2:05:45 PM

The PCI Express x1 2.0 cards I've seen use a Marvell controller. I've read using the SATA 3gbps on the MB with the Intel controller will be better performance than the SATA 6gbps on a card with a Marvell controller. Any idea if this is true?
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