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Author Topic: Upgrading laptop to SSD?  (Read 928 times)
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Bullwinkle
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« on: July 25, 2011, 10:57:36 PM »

I'm of course interested in a solid state drive for my Asus G50V laptop, but I thought it would be a hassle.  However, Costco listed a Kingston SDD that upgrades your laptop.  It's smaller than I need (I have to have at least 300GB, preferably more - which may make this too costly, I guess), but I didn't know about the upgrade ability.

Do they all do this? How does it work?  Does it just create a mirror image and you pop in the new drive and you're ready to go?  Or is it something where I'd have to reinstall everything again?
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 02:22:05 AM »

You _can_ clone the drive image to the ssd, but it's something you actually don't want to do.

Assuming you have an SSD-aware OS (windows 7 covers this, naturally), when you install the OS, it detects that you're installing to the ssd, and sets up the sector alignments, etc, to the optimal configuration for the hardware. If you just clone the drive image over from a hard drive installation, you wont get any of this. It will still be quicker, but not nearly as 'good' as it could be. (without going into technical details)

If you up to the SSD, do yourself a favor, and do a clean install from go.

Also, check around for the reviews. Their are some serious quality 'bins' for ssd's. Intel drives, anything with a sandforce controller in it, any of the 'Crucial' brand drives, all good.

Piece of crap old indilinx (controller) based drives, and the ilk, are in some cases, no better than putting stuff on a hard drive.

As far as your 300 gigs. Assuming that it's not all incompressible/pre-compressed data (think audio/video, heavily compressed .zip, etc), then the sandforce based drives do some seriously heavy compression on the fly... better than nearly anything else available. (they use multiple techniques to minimize the amount of data written to the drive, in order to extend the lifespan... it also means you get more out of your drive in terms of size)

If your data is already pre-compressed, you won't get much shrink out of it, though.

For the record... 240 GB ssd's (pretty common size... 256 GB's on chip, with 16 GB of reserve area which is used to reduce fragmentation, etc), tend to run around the 500$ mark. You can get them cheaper, but see above about 'cheap' ssd's.

What ever you do, read around _thoroughly_ before spending money. Check the reviews, even if it's your best buddy trying to slide you one under the bench for a Franklin.

Atomic

http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=636&name=SSD&Order=RATING
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 02:40:15 AM »

Oh and no, they don't all do this. It would be a seperate piece of software doing the drive cloning, etc.

Again, you really don't want to go that route.

Atomic
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 02:56:56 AM »

Thanks, AK.  I'll probably just wait until I have to ugrade the laptop anyway, then.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 08:11:03 PM »

Which is putting you off? The process, the cost, or both? After re-checking the list, some of the 240's are down to 359ish on the greenbacks scale. You don't _have_ to get a world record setting drive to reap the benefits, it's just that after a certain point, you might as well skip the process.

Atomic
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2011, 01:19:32 PM »

The cost is a smaller factor, but really it's the process.
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Vidiot
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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 05:10:49 PM »

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on July 26, 2011, 02:22:05 AM

Assuming you have an SSD-aware OS (windows 7 covers this, naturally), when you install the OS, it detects that you're installing to the ssd, and sets up the sector alignments, etc, to the optimal configuration for the hardware. If you just clone the drive image over from a hard drive installation, you wont get any of this. It will still be quicker, but not nearly as 'good' as it could be. (without going into technical details)

Somewhat true.  Alignment isn't an issue, everything on Win 7 will be 4KB aligned from the start, and that only impact some drives.  There are a couple of features that turns on and off in windows for an SSD but nothing that should impact performance too much.  Just make sure defrag is turned off, it is a waste of time on an SSD.  I think, but haven't verified, that it will turn off as soon as windows sees the non-rotational bit on the boot drive(first boot with the ssd).

Honestly unless you feel it is time for a rebuild (or really like rebuilding systems) I wouldn't worry about it.  We are almost getting into religion here though. 

I know Intel also has a clone kit for free download (or at least they did at one point) but I don't know if the drives come with a USB cable, you may need to buy one (~10-15$ on newegg).  Like you said I have also seen Kingston drives with a cable and software.

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on July 26, 2011, 02:22:05 AM

As far as your 300 gigs. Assuming that it's not all incompressible/pre-compressed data (think audio/video, heavily compressed .zip, etc), then the sandforce based drives do some seriously heavy compression on the fly... better than nearly anything else available. (they use multiple techniques to minimize the amount of data written to the drive, in order to extend the lifespan... it also means you get more out of your drive in terms of size)

If your data is already pre-compressed, you won't get much shrink out of it, though.

For the record... 240 GB ssd's (pretty common size... 256 GB's on chip, with 16 GB of reserve area which is used to reduce fragmentation, etc), tend to run around the 500$ mark. You can get them cheaper, but see above about 'cheap' ssd's.

What ever you do, read around _thoroughly_ before spending money. Check the reviews, even if it's your best buddy trying to slide you one under the bench for a Franklin.

Atomic

http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=636&name=SSD&Order=RATING

The density of the drive doesn't change with on controller compression.  I also wouldn't worry about endurance for a laptop, people just don't write that much. 

Big +1, definitely read up on it, there are a lot of SSDs out there and they are not all created equal.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2011, 05:51:18 AM »

Quote from: Vidiot on August 04, 2011, 05:10:49 PM

The density of the drive doesn't change with on controller compression.  I also wouldn't worry about endurance for a laptop, people just don't write that much. 

Big +1, definitely read up on it, there are a lot of SSDs out there and they are not all created equal.


True, but if your controller only has to write 15 gigs to the drive, to represent 25 gigs of data... you've saved 10 gigs. Or am I missing something somewhere? I remember this feature being commented on in earlier sandforce articles. Does it not work like this? A link to an example would be much appreciated.

Atomic
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2011, 06:31:56 AM »

I may have answered my own question. Reading an article now on sandforce compression, that claims that, indeed, as I've stated, the controllers write less info than you actually send them, to the drive, in order to reduce write amplication... to as low as .5x, which means that they end up writing half the data to the drive, on average, as you actually send them.

However... and this is the first time I've come across this claim... apparently the controller still reports the full size of the file as written to the drive, in order to not confuse the OS.

Which I personally think is gimp, since they could easily allow the end user to reap the benefits of the compression in terms of volume capacity... but I guess they didn't want to go that route.

So you write half the data to the drive (sometimes more, sometimes less, it will depend entirely on the data)... but alas, you don't realize any increase in capacity from it. You just write less data to the drive over time.

I retract my previous statement about getting more out of the drive in terms of size. It appears indeed to be untrue. My mistake.

I'm still pondering the sector alignment vs hdd vs ssd stance though.

Atomic
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2011, 07:10:30 AM »

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on August 05, 2011, 06:31:56 AM

I may have answered my own question. Reading an article now on sandforce compression, that claims that, indeed, as I've stated, the controllers write less info than you actually send them, to the drive, in order to reduce write amplication... to as low as .5x, which means that they end up writing half the data to the drive, on average, as you actually send them.

However... and this is the first time I've come across this claim... apparently the controller still reports the full size of the file as written to the drive, in order to not confuse the OS.

Which I personally think is gimp, since they could easily allow the end user to reap the benefits of the compression in terms of volume capacity... but I guess they didn't want to go that route.

So you write half the data to the drive (sometimes more, sometimes less, it will depend entirely on the data)... but alas, you don't realize any increase in capacity from it. You just write less data to the drive over time.

I retract my previous statement about getting more out of the drive in terms of size. It appears indeed to be untrue. My mistake.

I'm still pondering the sector alignment vs hdd vs ssd stance though.

Atomic


Two reasons I could think of, first SATA just doesn't do that.  The drive only reports density when you ID it, and windows really only will ID the drive on attach.  Second there would be no way to to tell how much room something would take until it was written.  I could go into a bunch of weird corner cases from there, just think about re-writing over a space with a less compressible pattern after filling the drive.

From what I recall on Win7 as long as you don't upgrade from XP it starts on LBA 64 or something (a multiple of 4KB in any case) rather than an odd number it did in XP.  So if an SSD is sensitive to 4KB alignment they should be fine.

I believe you will get the vast majority (maybe 99.9% even) of the perceivable performance just cloning to the SSD.  That said it will always feel faster if you rebuild because it will just get faster from the rebuild.  The clean experiment would be to rebuild and then clone. I just don't know how you would measure it since most benchmarks wouldn't show a difference in either case.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2011, 09:06:51 AM »

Previous implementations of compressed drive volumes spring to mind in terms of how it could have worked. However, it's irrelevant.

It does however, look like Bullwinkle would be clear for takeoff, if he decided to continue with his plan.

Beware those prices, might want to post any potential drive selections here for comment before purchasing. My previous comments about ssd manufacturers, controllers, etc, vs real world performance are still extremely relevant. All ssd's are NOT created equal.

Atomic
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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2011, 02:03:07 AM »

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on August 05, 2011, 09:06:51 AM

Previous implementations of compressed drive volumes spring to mind in terms of how it could have worked. However, it's irrelevant.

It does however, look like Bullwinkle would be clear for takeoff, if he decided to continue with his plan.

Beware those prices, might want to post any potential drive selections here for comment before purchasing. My previous comments about ssd manufacturers, controllers, etc, vs real world performance are still extremely relevant. All ssd's are NOT created equal.

Atomic

They were all done from software in the OS rather than on the drive itself.

Yep! Definitely read up.  AnandTech has a lot of good info.  I'm partial to Intel drives myself.
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ibdoomed
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« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2011, 05:38:39 PM »

Quote from: Vidiot on August 06, 2011, 02:03:07 AM

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on August 05, 2011, 09:06:51 AM

Previous implementations of compressed drive volumes spring to mind in terms of how it could have worked. However, it's irrelevant.

It does however, look like Bullwinkle would be clear for takeoff, if he decided to continue with his plan.

Beware those prices, might want to post any potential drive selections here for comment before purchasing. My previous comments about ssd manufacturers, controllers, etc, vs real world performance are still extremely relevant. All ssd's are NOT created equal.

Atomic

They were all done from software in the OS rather than on the drive itself.

Yep! Definitely read up.  AnandTech has a lot of good info.  I'm partial to Intel drives myself.

I have hundreds of intel drives deployed and a couple dozen crucials, no failures yet and some of those intels were the very first releases.
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Biyobi
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2011, 12:08:35 AM »

My inner nerd keeps reading the thread title as "Upgrading a laptop to Super Star Destroyer" and my outer nerd keeps thinking "hell yes".
 IN!!
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