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Help A Noob Pick An SSD For Old Mobo

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January 22, 2013 10:35:08 AM

Hi people,

I have an old old PC which I plan to use for a couple more years. It has an Asus P4P 800 SE Mobo (it's a SATA 1 Mobo, doesn't have SATA 2 or 3) with an Intel P4 3.4 ghz EE CPU and 2x ddr 400 512 mb of ram. It wouldn't give me much headache if the HDD wasn't ailing. I need a new HDD, and can't do a complete upgrade (Mobo+CPU+Ram) since I have a tight budget.

So here it goes: I opened a topic here looking for some advice. SATA 3 and SATA2 drives are backwards compatible with SATA1 so theoretically I can go buy a SATA 3 HDD and be done with it. The problem is, my mobo (P4P 800 SE) won't work with a 1TB HDD, the highest amount of storage it supports is 500 GB. And they're a fair bit harder to find than 1 or 2 TB drives. In the other topic I mentioned above, I've been tipped that a PCI EXPRESS SATA 3 expansion card can solve this, but again the limiting factor is the Mobo itself since it doesn't have a PCI EXPRESS slot :beurk: 

So I figured... What the hell. Why don't I go ahead and buy an SSD ? ~120 GB ones found here , here and here kinda fit my budget, especially the last one since it's a bit cheaper. But I've read in some places that SSDs can be far from straightforward. I just need something to plug and play and not have to fumble with firmwares and stuff.

I've been encouraged by this guy's story but his config and mine couldn't be any further apart I guess. I need to know if an SSD will work with my current Mobo (Asus P4P 800 SE) without problems, hence the topic.

Thanks to all who take the time to read !

More about : noob pick ssd mobo

a c 523 G Storage
January 22, 2013 2:57:31 PM

Since you're going to be restricted to SATA 1 speeds (1MB/s to 150MB/s), you need to look at SSDs that have high 4K Random Read & Write speeds.

Windows files average in the 4K range so you will get the best performance with a SSD with high 4K speeds.

The 256GB Samsung 840 Pro has 4K Random Read speeds of up to 100,000 IOPS, and 4K Random Write up to 90,000 IOPS.

The 256GB OCZ Vector has 4K Random Read speeds of up to 100,000 IOPS, and 4K Random Write up to 95,000 IOPS.

Either one of these are a good pick.
January 22, 2013 3:34:38 PM

Thanks a lot ! The drives you mention exceed my budget, but if I understand it correctly I need to look for 4KB Random Read/Write Speed instead of Sequential Read/Write since I'm going to use it on a Sata 1 system, no ? That's invaluable info for me right there.

Found out that my P4P 800 SE Mobo does not have AHCI. Do I need AHCI to run a SSD ?
Related resources
a c 523 G Storage
January 22, 2013 5:22:33 PM

aveatquevale said:
Found out that my P4P 800 SE Mobo does not have AHCI. Do I need AHCI to run a SSD ?


SSDs are designed to work best in AHCI mode. They will work in IDE mode but most SSDs lose TRIM functionality.
Modern SSDs use idle Garbage Collection in addition to TRIM to maintain drive performance so just Log off (not Shut down) overnight occasionally to allow GC to do its thing.
January 22, 2013 5:37:47 PM

Oh ok. Again many thanks for your time. The info is most welcome, sad on my part though that it further complicates the decision process lol.
January 22, 2013 6:06:29 PM

I'd say to just pick up whatever SSD is in your budget- the benchmarks just don't make a noticable difference in my opinion, especially when used with older equipment. The noticable difference is going from HDD to SSD.

All SSD's are backwards compatible to SATA 1.
a b G Storage
January 22, 2013 6:39:47 PM

Or as suggested by Dereck47, just buy a cheap HDD you can get one for 50$. Then in a couple of years if you have more money just upgrade everything (mobo, CPU, RAM, SSD, etc...).

Personally I wouldn't want to put an SSD in such an old system, it would be like buying a brand new Corvette with the hand-break on permanently.
January 22, 2013 9:24:22 PM

Ok I've given up on SSD. If I build a new pc a year or so later, what's the point in having a 1y/o used SSD - maybe even with degraded performance. The prices might come down a bit too in the meantime. I agree the most logical choice for now is getting a 500GB HDD.

Thanks to everyone. You have my gratitudes.
February 3, 2013 12:47:56 AM

I will use this thread to ask the same question about upgrading my really old PC with SSD.

I don’t want to buy a new PC yet, because I’m able to perform all the tasks I need with my old one. Anyway, I feel that for many tasks the bottleneck is my HDD. I’ve read other users experiences with SSDs on their old systems and I was impressed by the results, therefore I’m considering upgrading with SSD too. I’m thinking of buying SATA3 SSD that I would be able to use with my new machine, which I will buy in the future. However, I would like to use SATA3 SSD on my old machine like for a year or so before buying a new computer.

Here is the specifications of my current old PC:

CPU: P4 3.8 GHz (x64 capable)
RAM: 4 GB DDR1
GPU: 256 MB
MB: Intel D915PGN. SATA1. 2 x PCI Express x1 connectors. 1 x PCI Express x16 connector.

As far as I know, in order for a SSD to work properly (not to slow down and accumulate garbage) TRIM command (windows 7 and newer supports TRIM) and AHCI are needed. My motherboard doesn’t have AHCI. Would it be possible to add a controller that supports AHCI and SATA3 to my motherboard PCI-e slot? By reading Wikipedia about TRIM I’ve found this information:
Quote:
Windows 7 only supports TRIM for ordinary (AHCI) drives and does not support this command for PCI-Express SSDs that are different type of device, even if the device itself would accept the command.
Does that mean that I will not be able to use a controller in order to upgrade my motherboard for using SSD?

To sum up, I would like to buy a SSD and use it on my current old PC for a year or more (it depends how well it will perform) before buying a completely new PC. Could you please tell me if it’s possible to upgrade my old PC with SATA3 SSD? What controller would be needed? What to do in order not to get my SSD slowed down?

I appreciate your input and help. Thank you.
a c 523 G Storage
February 3, 2013 1:43:43 AM

OddRamos said:
To sum up, I would like to buy a SSD and use it on my current old PC for a year or more (it depends how well it will perform) before buying a completely new PC. Could you please tell me if it’s possible to upgrade my old PC with SATA3 SSD? What controller would be needed? What to do in order not to get my SSD slowed down?


Buy a PCIe x1 SATA 3 (6Gb/s) controller card and attach your SATA 3 SSD to one of the internal ports.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Since your motherboard is so old and it's an Intel board it's probably best if you bought an Intel SATA 3 SSD to ensure compatibility.

Make sure your motherboard is on its latest BIOS version and your SSD is on its latest firmware version before you install your O/S on the SSD.

Also note that SATA 3 speeds are from 301MB/s to 600MB/s.
Since your motherboard only has PCIe x1 slots available you will not get your SATA 3 SSD's maximum advertised speeds from any controller card you buy.

You might also want to go to Intel's Support Forums to see if your motherboard can boot from a PCIe x1 slot; if not then forget about buying the controller card and just connect the SSD to one of the SATA 1 (1.5Gb/s) ports on the board.
You will only get SATA 1 Read/Write speeds but the performance should still be better than a HDD.
February 3, 2013 5:15:57 PM

Thank you for your input! I really appreciate the information you gave.

I’ve heard of people using their SSD straight on their SATA 1 connection without bothering with expansion cards (PCI-e to SATA 2 or 3 controllers ), but wouldn’t an SSD start to slow down and accumulate garbage without AHCI and NCQ support?

Slowing down and premature aging of an SSD is what I’m trying to avoid. Therefore, I’m thinking about using a controller. Theoretically it should help to get more speed from an SSD too, because maximum transfer rate of SATA 1 is 150 MB/s while PCI Express 1.0 offers maximum per-lane data rate of 250 MB/s. Is it really so? Would I get that maximum speed of 250 MB/s when using PCI-Express x1 to SATA 3 controller? My GPU is on AGP port, therefore PCI-e would be used by the SATA controller only.

By the way, in my case does it matter which controller PCI-e to SATA 2 or SATA 3 I would use? I think it doesn’t, because in case of SATA 2 or SATA 3 the bottleneck would be the PCI-e port itself which limits the maximum speed to 250 MB/s.

I’ve looked at the controller you’ve pointed and also found a cheaper one:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Both of them support NCQ, but how do I know that these controllers support AHCI?

If I understand correctly, those controllers should have their own chipsets and BIOS that would upgrade my old system with capabilities of SATA 3 and AHCI. But is it possible? My motherboard’s southbridge is ICH6 which has an integrated SATA 1 controller that supports data transfer rates up to 150 MB / s. Am I able to increase this rate by using an expansion card controller? Won’t the southbridge limit it? I understand that otherwise the bottleneck would be my PCI-e 1.0 interface at theoretical speed of 250 MB/ s.
a c 523 G Storage
February 3, 2013 6:08:57 PM

OddRamos said:
I’ve heard of people using their SSD straight on their SATA 1 connection without bothering with expansion cards (PCI-e to SATA 2 or 3 controllers ), but wouldn’t an SSD start to slow down and accumulate garbage without AHCI and NCQ support?


Modern SSDs use idle Garbage Collection in addition to TRIM to maintain drive performance.
Just Log off (not Shut down) overnight while you sleep once or twice a week to allow GC to do its thing. In Control Panel go to Power Options and set your drive to Never shut down so that it won't go to sleep while your system is idle.

Slowing down and premature aging of an SSD is what I’m trying to avoid. Therefore, I’m thinking about using a controller. Theoretically it should help to get more speed from an SSD too, because maximum transfer rate of SATA 1 is 150 MB/s while PCI Express 1.0 offers maximum per-lane data rate of 250 MB/s. Is it really so? Would I get that maximum speed of 250 MB/s when using PCI-Express x1 to SATA 3 controller? My GPU is on AGP port, therefore PCI-e would be used by the SATA controller only. said:
Slowing down and premature aging of an SSD is what I’m trying to avoid. Therefore, I’m thinking about using a controller. Theoretically it should help to get more speed from an SSD too, because maximum transfer rate of SATA 1 is 150 MB/s while PCI Express 1.0 offers maximum per-lane data rate of 250 MB/s. Is it really so? Would I get that maximum speed of 250 MB/s when using PCI-Express x1 to SATA 3 controller? My GPU is on AGP port, therefore PCI-e would be used by the SATA controller only.


SSDs do not prematurely age if they are connected to slower ports; they just read and write at lower speeds.

Do to overhead don't expect to get the maximum of 250MB/s Read/Write speeds; hopefully it will be close.

By the way, in my case does it matter which controller PCI-e to SATA 2 or SATA 3 I would use? I think it doesn’t, because in case of SATA 2 or SATA 3 the bottleneck would be the PCI-e port itself which limits the maximum speed to 250 MB/s. said:
By the way, in my case does it matter which controller PCI-e to SATA 2 or SATA 3 I would use? I think it doesn’t, because in case of SATA 2 or SATA 3 the bottleneck would be the PCI-e port itself which limits the maximum speed to 250 MB/s.


Correct.

I’ve looked at the controller you’ve pointed and also found a cheaper one:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
Both of them support NCQ, but how do I know that these controllers support AHCI? said:
I’ve looked at the controller you’ve pointed and also found a cheaper one:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
Both of them support NCQ, but how do I know that these controllers support AHCI?


NCQ is a function of AHCI so you should be ok.

If I understand correctly, those controllers should have their own chipsets and BIOS that would upgrade my old system with capabilities of SATA 3 and AHCI. But is it possible? My motherboard’s southbridge is ICH6 which has an integrated SATA 1 controller that supports data transfer rates up to 150 MB / s. Am I able to increase this rate by using an expansion card controller? Won’t the southbridge limit it? I understand that otherwise the bottleneck would be my PCI-e 1.0 interface at theoretical speed of 250 MB/ s. said:
If I understand correctly, those controllers should have their own chipsets and BIOS that would upgrade my old system with capabilities of SATA 3 and AHCI. But is it possible? My motherboard’s southbridge is ICH6 which has an integrated SATA 1 controller that supports data transfer rates up to 150 MB / s. Am I able to increase this rate by using an expansion card controller? Won’t the southbridge limit it? I understand that otherwise the bottleneck would be my PCI-e 1.0 interface at theoretical speed of 250 MB/ s.


Correct. With the motherboard you have you probably won't notice any real-world performance difference between having a controller card and just connecting your drive to a SATA port on your board.
February 12, 2013 3:32:11 PM

I’ve found mixed opinions about TRIM working without AHCI support. Some say it’s possible, some say that AHCI is needed for TRIM. Where is the truth?

Anyway, it seems that modern SSD can be used even without AHCI and TRIM support since modern SSD have garbage collection technologies. So in my case, the first option is simply to connect an SSD to my motherboard’s SATA 1 port and use it. I know that the bottleneck here would be SATA 1 bandwidth of 150 MB/s , but I would still get zero seek time and definitive improvement of speed in general.

Another option would be using PCI-e to SATA controller. The biggest pro of controller would be the fact that I would get AHCI support which is a really positive thing for an SSD.

As far as I know, both the motherboard and the controller must have a specific feature in order to boot from a device attached to controller. Is there a way to know that it will be possible to boot from SSD attached to PCI-e to SATA controller other than using trial and error method?

And in the end, which way would you choose: simply attaching an SSD to motherboard’s SATA 1 or trying to upgrade the motherboard with PCI-e to SATA controller?
a c 523 G Storage
February 12, 2013 4:10:11 PM


OddRamos said:
I’ve found mixed opinions about TRIM working without AHCI support. Some say it’s possible, some say that AHCI is needed for TRIM. Where is the truth?


Yes, it is confusing. I used to think that as long as your SSD supported TRIM and that you used Windows 7 and above that the TRIM command would be passed regardless of what mode the SATA port your SSD is connected to is in. But then I started reading on different Forums that the TRIM command is not passed in IDE mode.

SSD manufacturers don't confirm or deny whether their drives support TRIM in IDE mode so I don't know what's the truth.

Anyway, it seems that modern SSD can be used even without AHCI and TRIM support since modern SSD have garbage collection technologies. said:
Anyway, it seems that modern SSD can be used even without AHCI and TRIM support since modern SSD have garbage collection technologies.


Correct; idle GC works very well maintaining drive performance.

So in my case, the first option is simply to connect an SSD to my motherboard’s SATA 1 port and use it. I know that the bottleneck here would be SATA 1 bandwidth of 150 MB/s , but I would still get zero seek time and definitive improvement of speed in general. said:
So in my case, the first option is simply to connect an SSD to my motherboard’s SATA 1 port and use it. I know that the bottleneck here would be SATA 1 bandwidth of 150 MB/s , but I would still get zero seek time and definitive improvement of speed in general.


Correct.

Another option would be using PCI-e to SATA controller. The biggest pro of controller would be the fact that I would get AHCI support which is a really positive thing for an SSD.

As far as I know, both the motherboard and the controller must have a specific feature in order to boot from a device attached to controller. Is there a way to know that it will be possible to boot from SSD attached to PCI-e to SATA controller other than using trial and error method? said:
Another option would be using PCI-e to SATA controller. The biggest pro of controller would be the fact that I would get AHCI support which is a really positive thing for an SSD.

As far as I know, both the motherboard and the controller must have a specific feature in order to boot from a device attached to controller. Is there a way to know that it will be possible to boot from SSD attached to PCI-e to SATA controller other than using trial and error method?


Look in your motherboard's BIOS and see if there are any options for 1st boot device or boot priority.
For example in my BIOS' boot priority I have an option that says "Bootable Add-In Cards".
If you don't see an option for a PCI slot or add-in card it might just be trial and error to see if you can boot from a card.
If your motherboard manufacturer has a Support Forum go there and see if you can boot from a card.

And in the end, which way would you choose: simply attaching an SSD to motherboard’s SATA 1 or trying to upgrade the motherboard with PCI-e to SATA controller? said:
And in the end, which way would you choose: simply attaching an SSD to motherboard’s SATA 1 or trying to upgrade the motherboard with PCI-e to SATA controller?


I would save my money for a motherboard upgrade and just attach the SSD to the SATA 1 port.
April 4, 2013 11:06:46 AM

Thank you all for your input and opinions.

I’ve decided not to use PCIe to SATA3 controller card and plug an SSD directly to my motherboard’s SATA1 connector without the support of AHCI, NCQ and TRIM.

I’ll be running windows XP, so probably an SSD with capacity around 60 GB would be enough.

Since there will be no AHCI support, I think, an SSD should have a good garbage collection system and ability to run TRIM command manually using included software like toolbox etc.

Do you know some SSD models that operate well on really old machines based on users experience?

What particular SSD model that would run well using SATA1 without AHCI support on windows XP would you recommend?
!