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Solid State Drives – How to Install and Performance Comparison

By DominicD
The technology of computer hard drives have greatly improved over time in terms of physical size and memory capacity. While the basic form factor (size and shape) of hard drives have remained the same since ~10years ago, the technology inside these spinning magnetic drives has evolved to faster, larger capacity, quieter, and more reliable storage. The next milestone in computer hard drives is the advent of Solid State Drives (SSD).

Solid State Drives were inspired from the use of computer RAM. Since RAM is able to temporarily store and quickly manage data, using a “save-able” type of RAM would dramatically increase computing performance. We can think of SSD’s to be a much faster and much larger capacity usb flash drive – only that this time it is installed inside your computer, thus completely replacing the old spinning hard drive.

SSD Advantages
  • Faster system boot time, overall system performance and response time,
  • Better gaming performance
  • Less power consumption
  • Less system noise and vibration
  • Less prone to data loss due to shock or drop damage

Inside the SSD

When compared to the internal parts of a traditional spinning HDD, the SSD contains nothing but memory chips. Depending on the brand , model and manufacturer, the internal parts of an SSD drive can be composed of many small capacity memory chips, or just a few chips or large GB capacity. Also depending on the model and performance range of an SSD, a controller memory chip, and a high-speed buffer memory chip is optionally present. The controller memory chip plays the important role of managing each separate memory chip. The buffer memory chip provides a cache storage for the next data that is fetched between the computer and the drive.

SSD drives are interfaced with standard HDD SATA ports. Most SSD’s are currently made at a commonsize of 2.5”. The SATA port and size factor SSD’s make them ideal for swapping an old laptop HDD with a new SSD.

SSD for Desktops

Depending on the brand and model, SSD packages may come with CD’s that contain hard disk cloning software. This will be useful if you would like to clone your old HDD contents to the new SSD. Remember to keep this CD – as the cloning software is sometimes restricted to copy only to the SSD.

While most SSD’s are made at 2.5” size, newer SSD devices include case mounting brackets.


SSD Performance Tests
Below are some good SSD performance and comparison tests taken from blogs and online customer videos.

Windows 7 Boot Time

On two identical and newly formatted Windows 7 computers, it’s been show that an SSD boots 15 seconds faster than the HDD. In an amazing split second that the Windows 7 desktop appears, the start-up program MSN messenger instantly loads. This takes some more seconds to launch in the HDD
Source: SSD vs Hard Drive Performance (NCIX Tech Tips #62)

Games Loading Time
SSD and HDD seems to have varying results in performance depending on the games played.

Testing on Left4Dead2 loading times show about the same performance – while still the SSD being 2-3 seconds faster at loading and displaying everything

Source: SSD vs Hard Drive Performance (NCIX Tech Tips #62)

World Of Warcraft

WOW is known for its vast maps, player and character effects. Based on the online Youtube video, the SSD beats the booting WOW and all initial character models and effects by a huge 40 second gap!
Source: SSD vs Hard Drive Performance (NCIX Tech Tips #62)

Multi-tasking / ALT + TAB between Windows and Games

Pressing ALT+TAB while playing a game like Left4Dead is usually expected to cause some delay as the computer switches from the game and back to the desktop.. However, in an amazing display or speed, pressing ALT+TAB on an SSD drive instantly switches the running game to the Windows Desktop! You could ALT+TAB switch for 2-3 times between the game and Windows while waiting for the first ALT+TAB to run on the HDD. The amazing speed and performance gains of using an SSD is evident here.
Source: SSD vs Hard Drive Performance (NCIX Tech Tips #62)

Windows 7 Search
The SSD instantly beats the HDD when it comes to file searching in Windows 7. The SSD is able to maximize its reading speeds on operating systems that are specially made to adjust and optimize for SSD drives.

SSD beats HDD in terms of speed and performance. SSD is the near future of hard drives! However, the current expensive price and lower capacity of SSD drives is a huge cost-storage-performance drawback.

The ideal setup for now is to have your main boot drive on the SSD. Save all files and documents to an HDD. Take notice and advantage of the SSD’s strength of very very fast file reading. If you have any programs or documents that will need to be read or searched many times while it is in use, consider temporarily copying the file/program from the HDD to the SSD. This allows for faster reading and seeking activities in your file while it is on the SSD.

Free data recovery software and services are few and not all are fully guaranteed to work. Paid data recovery solutions are priced higher while promising less commitment for data recovery.

I hope this has been informative and helpful for your possible future computer upgrade or purchase

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