Skip to main content

Can Bargain SSDs Give Windows A Quantum Performance Leap?

Really Loaded

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 12Two .doc files (66KB and 2.5MB) in Word 2007Two .pdf files (17.8MB and 6.6MB) in Adobe Reader 9One 1KB .txt file in NotepadOne 202KB .xls file in Excel 2007Outlook 2007 with a 7.7GB .pst fileAdobe 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.

  • timbo
    Dual drive ftw. It especially gives me an important advantage in loading mp maps faster: every second counts in getting to advantageous spots first; it can & does change the outcome of who wins.
    Reply
  • I love how they neglect to include Linux, Unix and Mac. I guess that makes us just less important. By the way I'm pretty sure a SSD would make Ubuntu pretty snappy as well.
    Reply
  • zebow2002
    Linux, Unix and Mac have a combined market share of 30%, wich makes them less important. Great article, can't wait for my Intel G2.
    Reply
  • johnbilicki
    Two 64GB SSD's in RAID0 is more then enough for most users when a second RAID or bare drive is presumed. The main issue is still the cost per GB at $2-2.5 a GB I'm not knocking any one over even if it halves my boot and application time.

    Also in general please stop making socket 1156 like it's the best thing in town because Intel has made it clear that it's a mainstream socket and they will not be getting more then four cores ever; I am only saying this since as an upgrader I hate to see other people presume socket 1156 has a good upgrade path which it doesn't unless Intel changes it's mind and the last time I checked the upgrader's best friend is AMD (good motherboards/chipsets for under $400, unlocked multipliers for under a grand, unlocked cores, etc).
    Reply
  • xrodney
    I am using now 128GB patriot torx SSD as boot drive (only OS and few apps there leaving half drive not used) and rest apps and media having on 1.5TB 7200rpm drive.
    I was really thinking for 3-4 months before jumping on SSD but glad I did. Just 13 min to fully install W7, 15-18 seconds to desktop, 5-8 seconds to shutdown (5 no app running, 8 with loads of them started) and apps starting 3-8 times faster then with regular hdd.
    Same as author 1st time booting to OS on SSD almost fell of chair as I was expecting to be it faster but not that much (3.5min boot time before)
    Reply
  • haplo602
    wow ... I ma living on an ancient 40GB PATA drive at home. windows and linux and data. I really do not get how your boot drive can be 200GB of application only.

    a nice 64GB SSD drive would be just fine for all my needs.

    one remark, can you include fakeraid (mobo implemented raid) raid1 configuration tests ?
    Reply
  • xrodney
    haplo602wow ... I ma living on an ancient 40GB PATA drive at home. windows and linux and data. I really do not get how your boot drive can be 200GB of application only.a nice 64GB SSD drive would be just fine for all my needs.one remark, can you include fakeraid (mobo implemented raid) raid1 configuration tests ?Its not that hard windows 7 64bit alone take like 15GB add hybernation file few apps and you are way over 40GB, some apps or games can have even more then 10GB (AoC have 30GB+).
    Reply
  • I get the boot drive on desktop angle... but what about laptop installations?
    Reply
  • Otus
    Looks like I might need to get a small SSD soon. Since my Ubuntu root (OS+apps) partition has just 4GB of data, I should be more than OK with a 64GB drive. Unfortunately stuffing Windows in there would be almost impossible.
    Reply
  • xrodney
    SnarkI get the boot drive on desktop angle... but what about laptop installations?On laptop you should even see more performance boost as 2.5" drives they use are usually considerably slower then on desktop. Also you would get rid of possibility damaging disk when dropping your notebook as SSDs have no moving parts.
    Reply