SSD : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary

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SSD
Introduction Installation Tips
Advantages Corsair
Disadvantages Shopping for an SSD
What to put on your SSD Software
Choosing an SSD Links

Introduction

SSD (Solid State Disk). A disc drive without moving parts, implemented with flash RAM (Random Access Memory) with a DDR-2 or DDR-3 RAM cache. For high performance, you would attach them via SATA (Serial ATA) or USB-3. Oddly most SSD drives are only SATA-II.

Advantages

SSDs (Solid State Disks) have the following advantages:

Disadvantages

SSDs have the following disadvantages:

What to put on your SSD

You can Google SSD to find various people’s ideas of what you should put on your SSD. SSDs are getting cheap enough, you can put the entire OS, all your programs and all your active data on it. You want the files used most often. Windows does not track that statistic, but it does track time last accessed if you temporarily use:

rem turn on last-access maintenance
fsutil behavior set disablelastaccess 0

For more details see fsutil.

I set up my SSD machine without paging files. I put all my active files on the SSD. The hard disk contains only backups and downloads and room for Ubuntu. I have write cache turned on, wrirte cache flushing on, 8.3 legacy names off and lastaccess tracking turned off for speed. You might experiment with page files, third party write cache and putting page files on SSD or hard disk.

Let us say your SSD drive is S: You can simply move files to S: and change the bat files and configuration files to point to them. This is tricky if the files are part of Windows. Windows does not like you moving its files off C: especially while it is running. Techniques you might use include:

If you boot from your SSD, it will be the C: system drive. If you don’t, you probably want to move a number of the crucial system files to your SSD.

Choosing an SSD

Very small SSDs are called USB Flash drives.

You could use one in addition to your main drive and put your most commonly used files on it and put your scratch files and pagefiles there for a relatively inexpensive huge boost is disk speed.

OCZ drives come in SATA-II and SATA-3 (6 Gb/sec) lines. The SATA-3 lines range from the bottom of the line Solid-3 (500/450), Agility-3 (525/475), Vertex-3 (535/480) up to the Vertex-3 Max IOPS (550/500). The prices are all over the map. Often a higher end model will be cheaper than a slower one. Prices can vary by over a hundred dollars at different stores.

Installation Tips

Windows gets terribly confused when you add a drive. It may cause renumbering of the physical drives. Windows can usually repair the damage, however if you have multiple OSes, the multi boot will also get confused. You have to use bcdedit to sort it out. You will at the very least have to manually reassign drive numbers to the various partitions. It helps if you give your partitions unique names with the drive letter embedded. In the worst case, you may have to reinstall Windows on one or more partititions. Console yourself with the knowledge that Microsoft employees do this monthly as a matter, of course, to repair miscellaneous damage and deterioration. Copying bootable partitions seems to cause subtle damage even when the drive number is constant. Windows has three ways of repairing damage:

  1. Boot from CD and select repair.
  2. Run from CD and select upgrade.
  3. Boot from CD and select install. This effectively uninstalls everything. It leaves you data partitions alone.

You must engage AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) in the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) or your drive will be dog slow. Leave some ports with out it, since your hard disk and DVD (Digital Video Disc) might not be compatible with it.

Corsair

Corsair make a several model series. They differ in speed and whether they use 3 or 6 Gb/s SATA. In order of ascending price and performance they are:

Corsair Drive Lines
Line Colour Notes
Nova grey with green writing discontinued
Force black with black writing discontinued
Force 3 grey with baby blue writing discontinued
Force GT red with white writing
Force GS red with white writing
Performance 3 silver discontinued
Neutron grey with blue writing
Neutron GTX grey with red writing newest. highest performance. Prices are now much lower, so you might as well get the fastest drive.

Shopping for an SSD

These links take you to various Amazon online stores that take credit card payments. No PayPal or payments by mail. Amazon prohibits me from posting prices, (because they so rapidly go out of date) but I have ordered them cheapest to most expensive. I refresh the ordering once a week. SSD prices are quite volatile.
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒SilverStone Adapter Mounting Bracketto electronic home
asin B002BH3Z8E
Lets you mount a 2.5” form factor drive in a 3.5” bay. Some SSD drives include such an adapter bracket; some do not.
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electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Corsair Force LS Series 240 GB 2.5-Inch SSD CSSD-F240GBLSBto electronic home
asin B00V5LZ1NY
Low power version. 3 year warranty. Max Sequential Read: 560MB/s. Max Sequential Write: 320MB/s. specs. SATA3.
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Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Intel 510 Series, 120 GB, SATA-3, 6 Gb/s, SSDto electronic home
asin B004OR0GRC
Full speed SATA-3 6 Gb/s 3 version. 2.5-Inch - SSDSC2MH120A2K5. It needs special mounting screws which oddly do not come with it.
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electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Intel 730 series, 2.5-Inch, 240Gb, SSDto electronic home
asin B00IF4NGEU
Model SSDSC2BP240G4R5. The is the newest Intel line. Comes in both 240Gb and 480Gb versions. Has a skull etched on the drive. This out of character for Intel. The drive has a capacitor to give it a little power to deal with a sudden power loss without corruption. Sequential Read 550 MB/s. Sequential Write 270 MB/s. Power 3.8Watts. Endurance Rating (Lifetime Writes) 50GB Writes/Day. Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) 2,000,000 Hours. Warranty Period 5 yrs. They seem to have licked the problem with writes prematurely wearing out the drives. Spec.
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electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Corsair Neutron GTX 120 GB SSDto electronic home
asin B00B9BDWXG
dim 7 × 10 × 0.70 cm
2.76 × 3.94 × 0.28 in
Model CSSD-N120GBGTXB-BK, Top of the line Corsair SSD, 120 GB. 555 MB/sec max read, 511 MB/sec max write. SATA 3, 6 GB/s. 128 MD DRAM cache. Claim 2 million hours MTBF. 4.6 watts. In comparison a green hard drive is about 3.60 watts. The drive is tiny. The specs say it weighs 100 grams (3.53 oz), but the drive itself weighs in at 49 grams (1.7 oz). The slightly older CSSD-N120GBGTX-BK model is what I decided to buy for myself. It is fast. It supports TRIM. It advertises it is LAMD. This means it uses a Link_A_Media brand controller, not that it is geographical-location aware. Specs.
It requires 8 mounting screws, 4 to mount the drive on the bracket and 4 to mount the bracket in the case. It comes with 4 screws that fit neither purpose. There are no instructions.
Make sure you mount the drive on the bracket the right way up so it does not hang over the edge. You need to provide your own SATA power and data cables. You must configure the SSD’s SATA port in BIOS so that it uses AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface). They don’t tell you that. Without AHCI, it rivals a floppy in speed.
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electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Samsung Electronics 840 EVO-Series 250GB SSDto electronic home
asin B00E3W1726
MZ-7TE250BW, 2.5-Inch, SATA III, Sequential Read Speed 540 MB/s / Sequential Write Speed 520 MB/s / Random Read Speed 97K/s / Random Write Speed 66K/s. Amazon Best seller. Includes caching software. Also comes in sizes from 120GB to 1 TB. AES 256-bit full-disk encryption. Specs.
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Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Intel 320 Series, 80 GB, SATA-2, 3 Gb/s, SSDto electronic home
asin B004T0DNJC
They have a reputed 1.2 million hours MTBF. This means you can also use them in write-intensive applications, such as paging disks, or holding the entire system drive. 80 Gigabytes. Maximum sequential read speed up to 270 MB/second and maximum sequential write speed up to 90 MB/s. 2.5” form factor. Specs. The downside is it is only 3.0 Gb/s SATA not 6.0.
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electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Intel 320 Series 120 GB SATA-2 3.0 Gb/s SSDto electronic home
asin B004T0DNQ0
This is Intel’s newest line of durable SSDs. They have a reputed 1.2 million hours MTBF. This means you can also use them in write-intensive applications, such as paging disks, or holding the entire system drive or entire databases. 120 Gigabytes. Maximum sequential read speed up to 270 MB/second and maximum sequential write speed up to 220 MB/s. Specs. The downside is it is only 3.0 Gb/s SATA not 6.0.
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electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Corsair Force GT 240 GB Force SSDto electronic home
asin B005IZ4IRS
240 Gigabytes. Maximum sequential read speed up to 555 MB/second and maximum sequential write speed up to 525 MB/second. Includes 2.5” to 3.5” adapter bracket. SATA III/6Gb/s.
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electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Corsair Neutron GTX 240 GB SSDto electronic home
asin B008YUVA34
Top of the line Corsair SSD, 240 GB. 555 MB/sec max read, 511 MB/sec max write. SATA 3, 6 GB/s. 128 MD DRAM cache. Claim 2 million hours MTBF. Specs.
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electronic product image recommend electronic⇒OCZ Storage Solutions Vertex 450 Series 256 GB 7mmmto electronic home
asin B00CXKRWJ2
VTX450-25SAT3. Sata 3. Includes drive-cloning software. Thin, for use in notebooks. Sequential Read Speed 540 MB/s. Sequential Write Speed 525 MB/s. Random Read Speed (4K, QD32) 85,000 IOPS. Random Write Speed (4K, QD32) 90,000 IOPS. 7mm Height. For compatibility with the latest thinner form factor notebooks. Bundled with a 3.5-inch desktop adapter bracket. OCZ is a Toshiba company. details.
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electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Intel 320 Series 600 GB SATA-2 3 Gb/s SSDto electronic home
asin B004T0DNII
This is Intel’s newest line of durable SSDs. They have a reputed 1.2 million hours MTBF. This means you can also use them in write-intensive applications, such as paging disks, or holding the entire system drive or entire databases. 600 Gigabytes. Maximum sequential read speed up to 270 MB/second and maximum sequential write speed up to 220 MB/s. Specs. Surprisingly all this RAM still fits in a 2.5” form factor. The downside is it is only 3.0 Gb/s SATA not 6.0.
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One thing I don’t like about Corsair is their violent product names — Vengeance, Force, Dominator, Neutron… I just want my computer to go faster. I don’t want to assassinate or rape anyone.

Software

I have been looking around for software to manage SSDs properly. I would like three things:

  1. Something to let me put some of the Windows files on SSD and some of my crucial data files there too without having to modify any of my applications or patch Windows to notify it of the new locations. Everything should look to the software just as it was before with everything on hard disk. A virtual disk driver should insert itself and sometimes redirect requests to the SSD.
  2. RAM caching software to keep the most active parts of the SSD in RAM. The OS already does this to some extent. The caching should be delayed write. I have seen a number of utility that claim to do this, implying Windows 7 screws up somehow.
  3. SDD caching software that keeps the most active files from hard disk on SSD, managing this transparently. It might also work at a cluster level.
Atto SSD benchmark software
CrystalDiskMark: SSD benchmarking software
Extending the life of an SSD
hard disk
hiberfil.sys
HighPoint RocketCache SSD/HDD caching controller
hybrid drive
hybrid hard disk drive
installing and tweaking SSDs
Intel Smart Response Technology LBA SSD caching
Newegg.ca: online Canadian retailer selling SSDs
Newegg.com: online US retailer selling SSDs
pruning Windows to fit on your SSD
ReadyBoost
reducing writes
SATA
SSD Fresh: free utility to extend life of an SSD
SSD Fresh: reduces unecessary lifespan-reducing writes to your SSD
SSD Revview Forum: a place to ask questions
Tiger Direct: Canadian retailer selling SSDs
TigerDirect: online US retailer selling SSDs
TRIM
USB
USB flash drive

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