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Really Loaded

Can Bargain SSDs Give Windows A Quantum Performance Leap?

After the first few minutes, nobody boots into a pristine Windows installation. We all have our pet collection of apps: some small, several large, and all of the background baggage that goes with them. Here’s the list of goodies I threw into the Windows Startup folder for this next and most important test:

One 5.8MB .mp3 in Windows Media Player 12
Two .doc files (66KB and 2.5MB) in Word 2007
Two .pdf files (17.8MB and 6.6MB) in Adobe Reader 9
One 1KB .txt file in Notepad
One 202KB .xls file in Excel 2007
Outlook 2007 with a 7.7GB .pst file
Adobe Premier CS2 with an 804MB .avi project

That’s a decent load for a general use system, no matter what the specs. To load all of this plus Windows 7 on my main system (described in the introduction) from a cold boot would probably take five to seven minutes. And now, for the grand reveal...

The first time I saw Intel turn in a 20-second full load boot, I about fell out of my office chair. The apps came up so quickly that I could barely follow them. And a shut-down in only six seconds? Shut up!

As expected, Transcend pulls in right behind Intel here, but the shocker is Kingston and it’s 27-second result. This blew me away. To load all these gigabytes of material in only 27 seconds while the VelociRaptor takes almost three times longer is simply awesome for a $100 drive. Mind you, 65 seconds is practically an order of magnitude better than what I’m used to in everyday life, so let’s put matters in their place. If you’re ready to throw your system through the window every time you reboot, consider what a truly high-speed boot drive might do for your time and stress level. The VelociRaptor is great. The SSDNow is greater. Transcend’s and Intel’s drives are simply epic. That said, I have to point out that WD does smoke Kingston—on a relative basis—on shutdown and hibernation operations. I’m less worried about this than I am with loading.

Finally, consider resuming from hibernation. If you frequently have to step away from your desk and return to shake your PC from its coma, you’ll care about this.

Compared to an actual cold boot, these resume times are remarkably unremarkable. All seem to hover around a 14- to 15-second average. I could call Kingston the slowest, but that’s sort of mean when we’re only talking about three or four seconds difference.

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