Supercharge Your PC with an SSD!

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Gillie

One thing with my experience with an SSD is that is Win7 says you have errors and offers to correct it, DON'T LET IT HAPPEN! It toasted my drive and made it NON UEFI compatible, and trashed my initial install.
Windows 7 does NOT recognize the format that UEFI compatible drives are required to have to be UEFI bootable, and can't low-level format it correctly. I had to re-format the drive and start from scratch, and I discovered in the process that Win 7 insisted on partitioning my 256GB drive to 3 unequal partitions. It appears in the drive window as one 256GB (238GB accessible) but in reality, it is 3-partitions.
No one has ever mentioned this in any article I've read about SSD's, even this very thorough one.

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The Mac

I have 3 machines running SSDs, never seen this.

Sounds like you might have bad sata drivers.

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Baer

Excellent article, most of us who have been using SSD's for a while know most of this but having it all in one place is nice Well done.
I would like to see your numbers using Rapid mode on the Samsung 840 Pro however as I like mlc better than tlc just for the hardware reliability issue (although both are excellent). The Pro can now be run in rapid mode I understand so the chart is not comparing like fruits.
I am running a pair of 840 Pro SSD's in RAID 0 and the performance is excellent but I have not bothered to benchmark them. Also, the disadvantage of using them in RAID 0 is that the present Samsung software utilities will not work with raided drives.
Anyway, thanks again for the great reverence article, this is a keeper.

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The Mac

My 1 TB evo, and my Bosses 840 pro 512gb both break 1000 MB/S with rapid mode on.

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HellzHavoc

I got my Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD a while ago on sale for $380. Best PC upgrade for me by far.

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The Mac

i got mine a while ago for $450 with an employee discount when they were still $600.

I agree, best upgrade ever.

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LatiosXT

In my opinion, the charm of an SSD isn't the uber fast transfer speed, it's the latency. A single request for a large chunk of data is rare compared to requests for smaller amounts of data. Even if you had a hard drive with somehow 500MB/s transfer rates, it's still going to be painful compared to an SSD stuck on 150MB/s.

But it also depends on what else is going on in the computer. If you have a low tier computer and you want to game, I'd rather get a better video card before an SSD. For games, most of the waiting is that large chunk between levels or on startup. After that, most of the time the experience is relatively painless.

And I have this as well, a comparison of load times in games across different media (which should be taken with two grains of salt due to the setup) http://www.maximumpc.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=242575 . In other words, depending on the game, you'll see something like 20%-50% more performance, but most of the time that just translates to like <20 seconds extra.

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vrmlbasic

Texture streaming for all of the 360-era console ports where it hasn't been disabled (sadly not all of them can be disabled, eg: Borderlands 1). That's another benefit of the SSD for gaming.

Also sounds on games where the sounds aren't loaded until needed, like Borderlands (and other UE3 360 ports). There's noticeable lag the first time a new sound is used after a load, especially in Borderlands 1, but it is greatly reduced by the SSD.

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LatiosXT

I haven't noticed any lag. In fact, for example, I have to try really hard to get that texture popup in RAGE to show up and it's on the HDD.

Then again keeping my hard drive effectively at 0% defragmentation and ensuring large chunks of files are contiguous probably has something to do with that.

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Innomasta

Only games I've seen truly benefit from SSD's as far as in-game and not loading screens are MMO's that actively load areas as you enter them, like Planetside 2 for example. That game was much more snappy after an SSD entered the system. Otherwise it's been meh.

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Blues22475

@Innomasta:

But wouldn't your Internet connection have more to do with that than a SSD? Good SSD load times vs crap Internet/Server means...slow (assuming any netcode wouldn't affect anything)?

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vrmlbasic

Do y'all have the Trim screenshot with the 4K aligned passage and the 4K aligned screenshot with the Trim passage?

I just moved my docs onto my SSD as it was on one of those drives that has a "green" mode and it made games and programs take forever to load as they stored their data in my docs :(

...this reminds me, after I cloned my drive way back when I didn't check it for 4K alignment, though I did clone from SSD to SSD.

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kevaskous

While i can appreciate the article I take massive issue with saying "Hands down the best upgrade money can buy" which is utter bullshit. That so HIGHLY depends on what you have, and what you do. most games make NO use of the latency speeds of SSD's, there are some -exceptions- so for gaming the GPU is the "best upgrade money can buy" especially now that API's are gonna start shaping up to be less cpu dependent.....so yeah...choose your words more wisely, that makes the article quite misleading to the uninformed...

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wkwilley2

It's not just for gaming. Although you do see some benefits when gaming.

The entire computing experience is enhanced, the biggest boons for me, is R/W Speed compared to a HDD, Boot Times and overall computer response times.

The only reason you would have to choose a HDD over an SSD is if you were on a tight budget and you needed the storage more than the performance, but soon, I think that even that will become a moot point.

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Peanut Fox

For the money I can't think of a better upgrade.

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vrmlbasic

SSD for any and all gaming is a dramatic improvement. IMO MPC is right on the money with their language for how awesome the SSD upgrade is.

I'm using a computer right now that lacks a SSD and it is painful. Even a modern SSD running through SATA I provides a faster and hands-down superior experience to a HDD (Thanks to Intel for that one).

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kevaskous

I have several SSD's and HDD's, Loading a map in 2 seconds vs 7 seconds is whoopde do. Most games do not do enough procedural loading to make use of the low seek times that you get when loading thousands of tiny files, Arma is one such exception.

Most games you load a map, and you play it for an extended period of time. Lets see what will be more enjoyed...loading a map 3 times as fast since it is a bulk file not a small file in most cases, thus HDD's do a fine job with them, or getting 60+ FPS during the 15 minute to an hour you play said map....rose tinted glasses...I swear...Also got a pair of Samsung 4 pro's in RAID on a intel 3930k 4.8ghz watercooled system with crossfire 290x's watercool etc, you get the point....it is not nearly as dramatic for gaming as let on...says my 4 TB worth of steam library ;)

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vrmlbasic

My 360 ports-ie:the majority of AAA PC gaming-are always loading a new area as the levels are postage stamps, always streaming in textures and audio and the SSD does make a difference with those.

If you're turning your PC into a device solely designed to play games, ie: what gaming consoles used to be before M$/Sony decided that they should become PCs, then perhaps you could get away without a SSD. Nah, you can't, not without torturing yourself ;)

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DelroyMonjo

Shogun 2:TW uses a great deal of time just loading maps and you can load maps quite often. I loaded the game to my SSD (Crucial M400-256MB) and there wasn't a bit of difference in loading times between that and a WD 1TB 7,200RPM Black SATA2 that I could discern.

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kevaskous

Because it only REALLY helps when it's tons of small files, most of the time it loads them as a archive and unpacks after pulling from the HDD. So load times and what not isn't much improved, for a game like Arma, it loads thousands of small files from the drive, and a SSD helps immensely with stuttering on that game.....but it's the exception, I would much rather get 60+ fps, first ;P

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Bullwinkle J Moose

What about the SATA 2.0 bottleneck?

Some Older systems with Sata 2.0 still have USB 3 ports

Although standard Sata SSD's will top out around 250MB/sec on a Sata 2.0 port, you may be able to boot a USB thumbdrive at around 350MB/sec or higher with an SSD thumbdrive like this>

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226459
240GB / $142
120GB / $72

Only the newer chipset USB3 controllers may get you up to 450MB/sec boot speeds with this type of thumbdrive but every extra 100MB/sec is worth a look at prices like these

Once these thumbdrives become shorter and even less expensive, plugging 8 - 16 of them into a PCIe backplane should provide decent RAID performance if you save the boot image to a separate drive for security

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IntelFanatek

The primary performance gains are not read/write gains. It's all about access times and that's what you get with an SSD. But who is still using SATA 2.0? lolz

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Jeffredo

Have an ASUS M4A79T Deluxe with SATA 2.0 ports and two 120GB SATA II SSDs (with a Phenom II X4 955 BE @ 3.6 Ghz). Its still a capable enough rig for gaming and I can't tell any difference between the SSD performance on it or on my main rig with SATA 3.0. Maybe if I were transferring silly big files all day long, but not when playing Skyrim or Far Cry 3. Basically, "lolz" back at you.

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vrmlbasic

I have an old Intel based computer that hails from the SATA II era but, because Intel did what Intel has always done, it was gimped to SATA I. I have a SSD in there now and it is worlds better than any mechanical drive so +1 to access speed increase > r/w sequential gain

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Bullwinkle J Moose

I recon about 70% of all Internet users, why?

Is it important to buy something newer and get stuck with Windows which cannot boot to a standard thumbdrive?

Maybe to You!
Lolz

1st try calculating what the access times would be with 16 of these bad boys in Raid 0 with several Gigabytes of Stupid Fast Cache on the Backplane and your argument will hold more weight with me

The majority of computers online may only be SATA 2, but most of them have PCIe slots

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vrmlbasic

Would attempting to access 16 USB devices simultaneously be anything but a performance killer? As I understand it, RAID 0 gets its speed by pulling different fragments of a whole from multiple sources simultaneously and USB can only access one device at a time.

I'm waiting for SSDs to be freed from software setups that are designed for mechanical drives. AHCI is holding us back.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

I would think that accessing multiple USB devices would depend on the cards Raid controller connected to the hardware USB ports and since the "SSD" controller's are inside the thumbdrive's, I would think this would be much less expensive than putting custom SSD controllers on the raid card itself

I may be wrong but if it was feasable, You would also have the benefit of installing as many thumbdrives as you can afford to get whatever speeds you require

It will probable never happen but I like the idea that these thumbdrives are so inexpensive for the performance you can get

I don't see why 16 separate USB ports in hardware need to be accessed at 1 time unless all the ports are running through a hub to 1 actual hardware port

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vrmlbasic

Unless each USB port has its own host controller I do believe that it cannot grant full-speed simultaneous access to multiple devices as implied by the name of the port. A perfunctory Googling shows that USB 3 hosts are standardized with 2 controllers so perhaps this scheme would only require 8 instead of 16.

Though I wonder if this is possible considering that I've yet to see a PCI add in card or a motherboard that had 16 USB 3 slots, regardless of whether they were all on the same "universal" serial bus.

Why 16 USB drives instead of a single PCIe SSD?

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Bullwinkle J Moose

A single PCIe SSD with one SSD controller would limit you to the speed of 1 SSD based on the speed of it's Flash among other things

But 16 channels with 16 controllers in a RAID setup would get you a major speed boost

How about 128 USB ports on a server motherboard, all connected in a RAID setup?

Hmmmm

Or how about 4 of these PCIe Raid cards in all 4 PCIe Slots (or more)
16 drives in RAID per card + 4 cards in RAID

Yeah, it may have potential if it's doable
A dual funtion LED next to each USB port could instantly tell you if the drive is good (green) or bad (red) or if one of the USB pins has lost contact (no light)

Both the USB drive and the USB port pins should probably be gold plated and have a very snug fit for reliability though

and replacing a bad thumbdrive would be vastly less expensive than replacing an entire PCIe SSD as they currently exist today

Call me crazy but I would rather replace a $50 Thumbdrive than a $500 to $5000 PCIe SSD if something goes wrong

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vrmlbasic

So if it does work as you hope, won't the performance of the machine then be limited by the dated SATA-II era tech that you're running it on?

I don't know about multiple of these hypothetical USB RAID cards in a single system, since PCIe, especially on SATA-II era tech, has limited bandwidth and the addition of new cards is almost a dark art: with this motherboard, 2 cards can each be 16x if they're in specific slots, but add another card and suddenly you're down to 8x on those slots...

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Bullwinkle J Moose

Whatever,

If someday it does work, just use the card on a brand new motherboard and spend as much as you like

But even a single card on ancient tech should give you a nice boost that could be tailored to the exact amount of speed increase you require for whatever you are doing