Tuesday, February 2, 2016

SSD upgrades. Why upgrade and my "best in value-class" pick

After my last post, I got to thinking about other simple computer upgrades that help provide additional performance and dependability to the computers we use in our hobby and daily lives. Solid-State-Drives (SSDs) definitely fall into that category.

SSDs provide various advantages over conventional Hard-Disk-Drives (HDD), with their mechanical spinning platters. For one, they have no moving parts so they are more durable, dependable, use less power, and run cooler. This is especially helpful for portable devices like we use daily in the shop or at the flying field.

The other main advantage is speed. They are often at least 200%-400% faster. A HDD-based computer upgraded to a SSD will be much faster than ever before (even when it was new). Not only is data-transfer speed faster, but the number of Input-Output Operations-Per-Second (IOPS) are off-the-scale better. Even an older computer (maybe with SATA-II/3-Gb interface) will boot much faster and seem notably snappier.

I tend to stick with the more popular SSDs brands/models with proven dependably, compatibility, and performance. If I had an unlimited budget (who does these days), I'm not sure what my suggested "best SSD" would be. However, my current, affordable, and best-bang-for-your-buck "value-class" pick is the Kingston SSD-Now v300 SSD. I have several of these installed in various computers, and they are all working fine.

Favorable Specs:
SATA-III/6-Gb Interface (also backwards compatible with SATA-II)
SandForce SF-2281 Controller
MLC memory-type
Bench-marked at around 450MB/s (read and write in ATTO)

To hold your bootable Windows and main programs, most computers can get-by with a 120gb drive (you can store large data/video files on a separate drive or in the cloud). If you are a power-user and want a bit more "breathing room", a 240gb drive is better (but not required).

And for you Apple users out there, this same SSD ends up being very similar to OWC's drive, so it works nice for Mac upgrades also (seems to side-step OSx trim-support compatibility issues).

You can install Windows operating-system, drivers, and programs fresh (aka "clean-install). You sometimes have the option to move your existing bootable C: drive by "cloning it" using Partition Backup & Imaging Tools. Windows-10 has free bundled Imaging tools now. I previously successfully used the third-party utility-program Acronis-2010  (before UEFI & SecureBoot) but lately I've been liking Macrium Reflect (free) .

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