Jun 052012
 

Samsung 840 SSDSSD’s aka “Solid State Drives” are becoming increasingly more popular as prices for these devices fall, while traditional hard drives still haven’t even come close to their pre-2011 flood levels. Many have taken advantage of the ridiculous deals in the past few months, including myself, to add a little more oomph to their rig. So what do you gain by investing your hard earned cash in this technology?

 

Read on fellow TechNutz and we will investigate further.

Spinning Disks….The status quo…wait for it…ahh here it is!

In past years there has not been much improvement in traditional hard disk speed, although some amazing strides have been made in storage capacity. This increase in density does provide a slight speed bump as data is packed more tightly together, just not enough to write home about.  The limitations are physical in nature, with spinning disks, moving arms, a lot of latency is added just moving things around.

Mainstream hard drives typically spin at 7,200 RPM, with enthusiast drives such as Western Digital’s Velociraptor hitting the 10,000 RPM mark. This extra speed does help, although not as much as one would hope for the premium paid. The bottom line is that a hard disk cannot compete with the speed of an electron when it comes to reading and writing data. The average price per gigabyte in comparison is still super low compared to an SSD. So how does an SSD stack up to their spinning elders?

SSD aka “Solid State Drive”…”Instant Gratification”..er well sorta

An SSD really shines in the performance area, with no moving parts, the latency added by a typical hard drive are overcome.  That doesn’t mean there is no wait at all, some time is still taken by the controller and software to process requests to find and write data. Are you going to notice this slight delay? Probably not. What you will notice however, is the blistering speed that can potentially saturate the current Sata III standard.

With transfer speeds that can push up to 600 MB/s read and 500 MB/s write there is not a hard disk configuration out there that can compare. If you put two SSD’s into a raid configuration you can look at doubling the already insane speeds previously mentioned.

There is a downside to all this speed. An SSD is more volatile than a traditional hard disk, when they go you can end up with total data loss without warning. Performance also is certain to degrade with time, though current SSDs makes use of techniques such as wear leveling that can extend the useful life of the drive.

So what is the best use of an SSD?

My current recommendation is to mix a traditional spinning disk with a speedy SSD. Buy an SSD that is large enough to store your operating system, programs, and games. Typically 120 GB to 256 GB seems to be the sweet spot for most. Use a traditional hard drive for storing data such as pictures, videos, and music. This will allow you to take full advantage of SSD technology while using a more reliable and less pricey hard disk for your data.

Conclusion

So if you have an older computer the addition of an SSD will puff a breath of new life into your rig, and $150 is a lot cheaper than replacing all the other components. If you have a new rig, or are planning to build one, by all means include one in your budget. You will thank me later and your welcome.

Some manufacturers and models I can recommend from personal experience are:

  • Samsung 840 series – these drives are known for performance and reliability. I have owned an 840 since they went to market and have never had a problem yet.
  • Intel 520 series - This is Intel’s first offering using the Sandforce controller with custom driver software, which is a surprising departure from their old strategy of using proprietary controllers. Intel’s drives are known for their reliability and this is one of the first to cater to the enthusiast market.

So what are your thoughts?

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 Posted by on June 5, 2012  Add comments