It really doesn’t matter which SSD you’ll end up buying. By any means, they will all be better than the hard disk drive you are using today. Apart from quick boot times, the other most notable point is Windows responsiveness. Basically, everything is instant, it is a cheer joy to double click the Outlook icon, and it pops up instantly in your face.
Having said that, you shall find endless articles discussing which SSD model or brand to buy, and you will get lost easily. If you trust Amazon’s Bestseller list, then go for Intel X25 line of SSDs. A good entry point is the Intel 80 GB X25M Mainstream SATA II Solid-State Drive Retail Package one. If you can afford it, then by all means grab the 160GB or above.
Our choice: the Intel X25 160GB SSD
We’ve chosen an Intel X25 160GB SSD for our PCs at work, and it has since made a big improvement to the load times and responsiveness of every single application we’ve used. Boot up time was pretty much halved (Windows 7 cold-boots in about 30 seconds), Windows 7 installed in less than 13 minutes, anti virus scan took half the time it used to on the traditional HDD. We’ve pretty much maxed the performance of our systems.
Price-wise, the Intel X25 is a good place to start your foray into the world of SSDs. The 80GB is roughly below the $200 mark, making it a real price-competitive option. The 160 GB Retail version comes with a metal 2.5″ to 3.5″ drive bay adapter for use in a desktop setup.
The Technical Jargon
The Intel X25-M 160GB SSD has a formatted capacity of 149GB, comes in a 2.5″ form factor hard drive, with a 9.5mm height. (it can fit into any notebook). It weighs roughly 72 grams (2.5 ounces) and supports SATA I-II connectivity with a throughput of 1.5GB/sec or 3.0GB/sec. Now that the new SATA 3 is making the rounds, it goes without saying that any user should always go the latest SATA standard, which translates to more speed.
How FAST Is It?
A buyer has reported that after installing the Intel 160 GB SSD in a new desktop system, along with an iCore7 and 12 GB of RAM. Windows 7 scores the drive at a 7.8. Editing his podcasts went down from taking an hour (mostly waiting on audio plugins to finish processing) to 10 minutes!
SSD TRIM Support
Generally, SSDs are notorious for performance degradation over time, due to the way many file systems handle delete operations. This was fixed by the introduction of TRIM support in modern operating systems such as Windows 7. Utilities which perform similar functions to TRIM are available for older operating systems but typically need to be run manually. Suffice to say, when buying a new SSD, just make sure it supports the TRIM function.
Before you make your purchase, make sure your current PC setup supports SATA II (or higher) drives, and that you have an empty bay to hook the new SSD. Intel has a nice detailed installation guide here, check it out!