Could An SSD Be The Best Upgrade For Your Old PC?

Getting Replaced: Several Generations Of Hard Drives

We looked into our storage room and found several different hard drive generations from Samsung. We used a 300 GB drive for the 2005 PC, a 400 GB model for the 2006 build, a 1 TB disk for the 2008 machine, and an updated 1 TB drives in the 2010 system. The two-year increments are good for more than just capacity; they also see performance increase. And we’re quite curious to see what happens when older and slower drives are replaced by an SSD able to serve up 3 Gb/s data rates.

Up to 56 MB/s: Samsung Spinpoint T133

2005: HD300LJ, 7200 RPM, 300 GB capacity, 8 MB Cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s. On the 2005 test system, this drive maxes out at 53.9 MB/s.

Up to 75 MB/s: Samsung Spinpoint T133

2006: HD400LJ with TMR heads (Tunneling Magneto Resistance), 7200 RPM, 400 GB capacity, 8 MB cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s. We reached up to 68.4 MB/s on our 2006 test system.

Up to 119 MB/s: Samsung Spinpoint F1

2008: Spinpoint F1, 7200 RPM, 1000 GB capacity, 32 MB cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s. This drive maxed out at 106.8 MB/s on this test system.

Up to 142 MB/s: Samsung Spinpoint F3R

2010: Spinpoint F3R, 7200 RPM, 1000 GB capacity, 32 MB cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s. 131.9 MB/s was the peak throughput on this test system.

Achim Roos
    SSD is just too exaggerated, yes it is faster than HDD and may be more reliable but that doesn't justify its price.

    Waiting until it is price gets reasonable.
  • mayankleoboy1
    The conclusions we're drawing relate to the mainstream folks trying to get more life from an already-aging box

    since its for mainstream, i would have liked a subjective test where some 'average' folks, doing 'average' tasks, would use the machines with/without SSD's, and rate the perceived speed on a scale of 1=10.
    those should have been included as well. most people "feel" the speed, rather than benchmark it.
  • Can you run gaming/photoshop/actual applications instead of benchmarks?
  • Please do a test with a Pentium 3 + KingSpec PATA SSD.
    I'm very curious about the results. My Dell Lat C400 is chugging along just fine on Windows 7 but I believe a SSD would greatly improve performance.
  • I recently bought a Transcend 32GB SSD to be my Boot Drive in my 5+yr old system- Athlon64 3200+ (Venice) S939 , Gigabyte GA-K8N51PVMT-9 ( Geforce 6150), 2 Gb DDR400, WIN7 SP1.
    I do not see that the SATA controller mentions AHCI in the device manager tab, however when I run the TRIM check commnand through CMD, it returns a "enabled" reply. Also,have made the necessary registry changes to ensure that AHCI is enabled. There is however no option in the MB bios to set AHCI.

    So is my drive configured with TRIM enabled or not?
  • buxx I wish I knew the answer to your question too. I have a Dell Dimension XPS600 which I would love to put an SSD into, just as this article suggests. However I can't find any mention of AHCI in the BIOS, manuals or anywhere on the web. Hard to say if it's present, but you would guess not, if they don't mention it... right?
  • compton
    I think that if you're trying to get more legs out of an older system, a SSD is definitely a great way to do that. Especially with laptops from the past four years -- a Core 2 Duo processor in a laptop still isn't fast, but a decent SSD will make it feel like a new system (at least in my experience) and then some. I think trying to make your Pentium 4 system better with some solid state storage is a lost cause however.

    MAGPCSSD is just too exaggerated, yes it is faster than HDD and may be more reliable but that doesn't justify its price.Waiting until it is price gets reasonable.
    How much is reasonable? A 64GB Crucial M4 is $105... that's pretty damn reasonable to me. For that kind of money you could get a low-end mobo, an Athlon X4, or 16GB of DDR3. Upgrades don't get much more reasonable than that. But if you already have a decent, if older system, installing an SSD will make it feel like a brand new system should for the least amount of money.
  • jsrudd
    I installed an SSD in my netbook with an 1.6ghz atom processor and it really sped things up. The computer went from unusable to fine for casual usage.
  • SpadeM
    Predictable outcome but informative article non the less. My only concern is that since you talked about mainstream pc, i didn't see any amd equipped system. This is not about AMD vs. Intel it's about storage controller performance. Thinking back, most builds I did back in the 2004 - 2006 time frame where based off nvidia + amd. This article would have painted a more complete picture if it had taken into consideration the other half of the pc landscape. In theory i guess you can argue that yes, if it is AHCI enabled then it "should" be the same outcome as the ICH scenario ... but is it for a fact?
  • echdskech
    Maybe Tom's can do double blind subjective tests like they do in Mythbusters.

    Spend 10 mins doing office/internet stuff on each config without knowing which is which and rank them by speed subjectively.