iT.Blog

The iT.Blog is the Utopian IT Blog that includes articles, useful tips and general ramblings about various interesting IT related topics.

If you love something set up SSD!

For some people, there's a love-hate relationship with computers. They may get the job done but all too slowly and as laptops and desktops are generally kept for 2-3 years, there gets a point in their life when the slowness can get really frustrating. Computers are made up of various components as we know; at a high level, those being the CPU, memory, hard disk and video display. There are other components that compliment a computer such as connectivity options (USB ports, etc.) but ultimately it’s those four core components; many of which can be upgraded.

With desktops, most components can be upgraded, to a point but it’s the heart of the computer, the CPU, that is most often blamed for the poor performance of a computer. The perception is that you need something faster, so therefore you need a new CPU and often getting a quicker CPU can mean a completely new system; particularly for proprietary brands that can make major upgrades inherently expensive or difficult.

With laptops, upgrade options are even more restricted with the CPU as they're sometimes soldered into the main board, however; with newer operating systems such as Windows 8 that are designed to optimise and use the system resources accordingly, the CPU is often no longer the bottleneck. Unless your usage habits have changed, it’s often the mechanical hard disk that’s slowing down the loading of the operating systems, of applications and delaying the loading and saving of documents and videos to the system. Extra memory can also often be the culprit but the speed of the hard disk is often overlooked.

If you have a good laptop or desktop, what better way to give it new life than a Solid State Disk (SSD).

Time and time again, I see people bin perfectly good laptops that have become too slow, not realising that a relatively simple upgrade to an SSD and maybe a little extra memory can turbo-charge a system to the point it’s unrecognisable from its previous performance.

A Solid State Disk is like a hard disk that uses high-speed memory chips to store information and therefore has no moving parts. This lack of moving parts brings many benefits and with memory being a lot cheaper in recent years, it’s a must for any frustrated computer user out there. As much as we may like to deny it, the speed of a computer effects our emotions and our experience of using it and such an upgrade can make a massive difference and is well worth the investment.

The list on many sales sites summarise the benefits nicely.

SSDs are:

  • More durable
    • The have a much longer mean-time between failures due to their lack of moving parts and generally have extra memory (10-25%) that can be mapped out as bad memory in the event of a write failure and this process is seamless to the consumer.
  • Faster
    • Most laptop hard disks in 2015 can manage about 80-100Mb/s read speed with a slightly slower write speed whereas SSDs can read and write data at a staggering 500Mb/s.
  • Consume less power
    • No moving parts means less power required for motors so we’re looking at a general difference of 4W between hard disks. This equates to about 86p saving in a year which isn’t really worth worrying about but if you’re looking at hundreds or thousands of computers; it’s worth considering.
  • Lighter
    • No motor and moving parts means it’s lighter so losing a few hundred grams in a laptop can make it easier to carry around.
  • Cost Efficient
    • A natural by-product of using less power and giving off less heat and potentially lasting a lot longer than conventional hard disks.
  • Cooler and Quieter
    • No moving parts means…you guessed it.

To see some of the difference between a hard disk and an SSD in booting a laptop and running an intensive application, this great video from Asus illustrates it brilliantly. Ignore the prices as they're US based and they're referencing the laptop as well rather than just the hard disks.

Rob from ASUS compares the boot times for the ASUS U36SD-A1 with 640GB HDD vs. the ASUS U36SD-XA1 with 160GB SSD

When getting frustrated over that slow laptop or desktop, give a thought to a Solid State Disk upgrade, as it really can make a world of difference and given their extended life-span, can often be removed at a later date an put into a new one so it’s a great investment.

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