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Will Windows 7 Kill SSD-based Netbooks?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 37 comments

Intel’s Josh Bancroft made an interesting comment in a blog post the other day, claiming that Windows 7–which might very well require more hard space than Windows Vista—is going to make for cramped working conditions on your average Netbook.

Why’s that? According to a report from Pricegrabber.com, only eight of the current ten best-selling netbooks even run on SSDs, and of those, both run 8GB solid-state drives. Bancroft estimates that a full Windows 7 installation, even of Microsoft’s barebones Windows 7 Starter package, could eat up to 6GB of working space. That doesn’t leave much room for other programs and files, even given the limited amount of use a Netbook offers. What’s to stop consumers from picking up a similarly priced Netbook with greater-than 100GB hard drive?

While Windows 7 could theoretically become the final nail in the coffin for solid-state drives on Netbooks—at least until the market sees larger capacity drives at similar price points—other signs point to a blasé consumer attitude toward flash-based Netbooks. According to Pricegrabber, only 11 percent of consumers would absolutely purchase an SSD-based Netbook compared to 14 percent that would shy away at all costs. The largest voting block, 43 percent, would require “considerable” price drops before they would consider purchasing an SSD-based Netbook. The cost-per-gigabyte ratio of solid-state drives is just too large to justify the purchase, suggest 54 percent of surveyed online users.

Right now, conventional hard drives average around an eight-cent-per-gigabyte ratio, whereas solid-state drives are approximately 75 percent times that figure at $6.12 per gigabyte. At those prices—even given an SSD’s reported speed benefits of twice as fast boot times and eight times the data writing capability of a magnetic hard drive—it’s easy to see why DRAMexchange doesn’t see many SSDs jumping into Netbooks during 2009.  According to the research firm, short-term demand for solid-state drives will be brought on by the enterprise market.  Expect to see less than ten percent of all low-cost PCs using solid-state drives in 2009.

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  • 3 Hide
    Richeemxx , February 6, 2009 4:57 PM
    I don't see W& killing SSD based notebooks, if anything we might see price cuts on larger drives from manufactures wanting to stay in the market. Bancroft also suggested that Windows 7 isn't a viable option for netbooks in general due to the possible increase in pricing, a view I share.

    Personally I don't see anyone being willing to pay the premium for the new OS. Part of what draws people to netbooks is the lower price. To add W7 you are likely looking at an additional $75-100 in cost.
  • 3 Hide
    Humans think , February 6, 2009 5:00 PM
    7.5 times or 750% that figure (just a typo). The thing that concerns me about the SSDs is the lifespan of the disks and how good they are being utilized by the OS.

    I guess that if for a netbook of the same price I could get 28GBs I would get a SSD based netbook but 8GBs could not even carry my favorite songs. Prices should fall to expect more sales
  • 0 Hide
    Humans think , February 6, 2009 5:03 PM
    nice link Richeemxx, and a very good point.

    I am noticing that companies are trying also to squeeze more profits by releasing "premium" netbooks. If they don't understand that netbooks sell for their prices they will lose a lot of money in the end. Plz just stay to the original niche guys...
  • 4 Hide
    Economister , February 6, 2009 5:24 PM
    Let's get the math straight. 8 cents vs 6 bucks is 75 times or 7500%, not 75% nor 750%.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , February 6, 2009 5:33 PM
    "only eight of the current ten best-selling netbooks"

    Umm ... "only" eight of ten? Isn't that the most? Why say only? Saying "Only two out of ten were hard drive based."

    Maybe I'm reading it wrong...
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , February 6, 2009 5:53 PM
    "Umm ... "only" eight of ten? Isn't that the most? Why say only? Saying "Only two out of ten were hard drive based."

    Maybe I'm reading it wrong..."

    I would have to agree with SirAnonymousnesser there. What Tom needs to do is hire writers that aren't high school dropouts.
  • 0 Hide
    wiseadam , February 6, 2009 6:04 PM
    After reading that, with all the figures and back asswards 8 out 10 75%, I think Tom's is trying to sell me something...I'm going to go out, buy one of the top 10 netbooks, then put windows 7 and my music collections and see what happens.
  • -5 Hide
    crockdaddy , February 6, 2009 6:19 PM
    I am confused. I thought netbooks are the cheap piece of crap laptops which are meant for the masses .... why would you get an SSD if it is supposed to be cheap and for the masses???????? Clearly I am missing something or I am just plain wrong. If so just vote my dumba ss down.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 6, 2009 6:28 PM
    $.08 per gigabyte? I can't find any cheaper than $.15/gigabyte.
  • 1 Hide
    Themurph , February 6, 2009 6:29 PM
    Hey all! Author here. Those are indeed two typos: two out of 10 Netbooks run SSDs, according to Pricegrabber's list. Also, the cost-per-gigabyte ratio for SSDs is 75 times that of hard drives.

    As soon as I can modify the article, I'll append these changes. Apologies for the fark-up!
  • 1 Hide
    Themurph , February 6, 2009 6:35 PM
    crockdaddyI am confused. I thought netbooks are the cheap piece of crap laptops which are meant for the masses ....


    Correct. But at those small capacity sizes (6-8GB), it's actually cheaper to produce Flash-based storage than a larger magnetic hard drive. Since Netbooks' strength partially comes from their low price points, an argument can be made for using inexpensive, solid-state storage even at the expense of capacity.
  • 4 Hide
    crockdaddy , February 6, 2009 6:37 PM
    ThemurphCorrect. But at those small capacity sizes (6-8GB), it's actually cheaper to produce Flash-based storage than a larger magnetic hard drive. Since Netbooks' strength partially comes from their low price points, an argument can be made for using inexpensive, solid-state storage even at the expense of capacity.



    I suppose. In which case I would not bother loading a Windows based O/S. Keep it small and efficient .. go linux.
  • 0 Hide
    stuckintexas , February 6, 2009 6:41 PM
    blowuptheking$.08 per gigabyte? I can't find any cheaper than $.15/gigabyte.


    There are 30 HDDs (500-2000GB) on NewEgg that are all under $.15/GB. With the cheapest being ~$.086/GB.
  • 1 Hide
    Richeemxx , February 6, 2009 7:27 PM
    crockdaddyI am confused. I thought netbooks are the cheap piece of crap laptops which are meant for the masses .... why would you get an SSD if it is supposed to be cheap and for the masses???????? Clearly I am missing something or I am just plain wrong. If so just vote my dumba ss down.


    The reasons behind getting SSDs are because they are faster, more efficient, no working parts also means a little more rugged and AFIK slightly cooler. If prices on larger drives move down as they have been and will continue to it would make more sense to buy portables with SSDs. Right now with the sizes and prices we are seeing it wouldn't be cost effective.

    Interesting enough Tom's just posted some rumored W7 prices. OEM pricing will be cheaper however looking at that you are looking at relatively the same cost as Vista and still a pretty heavy premium to add any of those versions to a netbook.
  • 4 Hide
    Tekkamanraiden , February 6, 2009 7:54 PM
    Why bother with Windows 7 when Linux is small, efficient and free?
  • 3 Hide
    tenor77 , February 6, 2009 8:08 PM
    Doh, beat me to it. I see no reason to have Windows on a Netbook. The main reason I run Windows is because I can't run certain programs on Linux. Since most people just use these for blogging, surfing, and networking and other light applications, why pay for the OS?

    And yes I'm aware you can do more than that with Linux so don't bother.
  • -1 Hide
    cadder , February 6, 2009 10:05 PM
    Most small netbooks seem to run XP anyway. Will XP become unavailable when W7 comes out?

    I thought the best projection was for W7 to be out 8-12 months from now. We might have low priced 32GB SSD's by then, although I don't see a problem with a small hard drive either.
  • 1 Hide
    akandy , February 6, 2009 10:22 PM
    This is not even a question. Looks like an excuse to write an article to me. SSD prices are just going to go down and will be even cheaper by the time 7 is on the market. The current extra install is less than the extra amount you will be getting for the same price by the time its available for sale. DUUU
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 6, 2009 11:52 PM
    I've installed the beta version successfully on a 6GB HD, and have 945MB of freespace (despite Windows advised a 10GB disk.

    I'm sure some pruning can be done,like nlite did on XP.

    plus, hibernation can be turned off, and swapfile can be lowered to 256MB.
    That'd free up at least an additional 1-1,5GB I think.
    XP was able to install it on 4GB, like Win7 will be on 8GB.
    Netbooks never where made to install a lot of stuff on.
    Though if I'd want to install a lot of programs on it like office, compression and anti virus, I'd probably be better off with a 12-16GB SSD.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 7, 2009 12:15 AM
    Well,if we look at Asus,which tries to create true small notebooks, (S101) which aren't that cheap; there seems to be an audience for even that!
    It wouldn't surprise me if one of these days an 11" netbook with an Intel 80GB SSD, and Windows 7 would appear, for something like $1.200 .
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