You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. It’s time for a crash course in solid-state drive technology
Solid-state drives are taking the PC world by storm with their silent operation, blazing speeds, and ever-sinking prices, and yet you're hesitant to buy one. Maybe you're afraid of SSDs, or you don't think you know enough to make an educated purchase, or maybe a bad SSD controller took all your data down to Chinatown. Regardless of the reason for your trepidation, every horsepower junkie should be getting in on the SSD action, and to do that you need a little bit of cash and a whole lot of knowledge. Over the next several pages we will attempt to answer all of your SSD-related questions. We'll walk you through all the reasons why you need an SSD first, then break down the terminology so you can talk like an SSD badass at the next LAN party, then show you the parts of an SSD so you know how it all fits together, and we'll wrap it up with a discussion of the software you'll need to monitor and optimize your drive. Though SSDs might seem complicated with their 24nm synchronous MLC Toggle NAND flash and their AHCI-enabled SATA 6Gb/s IOPS gobbledygook, you're about to find out they are not as scary as you thought they were.
Note: This feature was originally featured in the June 2013 issue of the magazine.
You've probably never come across a bumper sticker that reads, "You can have my hard disk drive when you pry it from my cold, dead hands," but rest assured, mechanical storage is far from being on the verge of extinction. Storage makers with a vested interest in HDDs have even gone and created a the Storage Products Association (SPA), the world's first trade association promoting hard drives to end users.
The Samsung 840 Pro was our top SSD until the OCZ Vector came along several months later and was able to run neck-and-neck with the Sammy through our benchmark gauntlet. As it currently stands, the 256GB versions of these drives both wear a 9/Kick Ass bandolier around their midsections, but there’s still another contest that has yet to be decided. So this month, we gathered the 512GB versions of both drives and set them loose in the blood-splattered arena known as the Lab.
Note: This review was originally featured in the May 2013 issue of the magazine.
Several months ago, the supreme high-end SSDs from Corsair and Samsung faced off in the Octagon known as the top of our desk area that holds drives being tested. In that blood-curdling battle (in which neither drive moved nor made a sound), the Samsung 840 Pro was victorious, vanquishing its opponent by a slim margin in a contest where zero trash talk was delivered by either storage device. This month, Round Two commences as the companies’ value-conscious SSDs clash like cars in a demolition derby by sitting quietly on a test bench while we perform benchmarks upon them. Neither of these drives is as fast as their top-tier brethren, but they are priced accordingly, and both are a damned-good value.
Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of the magazine.
PC users have been in a bit of a quandary about the new Thunderbolt interface from Intel. On the one hand, we’re all about maximum performance, so given its sizable speed advantage over USB 3.0, at least on paper, we’re eager to adopt it. On the other hand, there are three issues that have prevented us from jumping on the Thunderbolt bandwagon with both feet. The first is the fact that it debuted on the Apple platform. Granted, we’re a bit sensitive, but this just rubbed us the wrong way. Second, Thunderbolt doesn’t exist on LGA2011 due to a requirement for integrated graphics. And finally, we already have USB 3.0, so do we really need Thunderbolt? Sure, it’s twice as fast on paper (10Gb/s versus 5Gb/s), but will we see that benefit in the real world, and is it worth the cost? To help us answer all these nagging questions we snagged a very special hard drive, the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt, which has both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports, allowing us to test both interfaces back-to-back and make an apples-to-apples comparison.
Bulky hard drives, be gone! Western Digital today announced it's begun shipping what it claims is the world's thinnest 1TB-class hard drive, the new 2.5-inch WD Blue 7mm. The WD Blue hard drive family is available in smaller capacities too, down to 320GB, all of which measure 7mm in height. They're designed to usher in increasingly slimmer and lighter notebooks, though they're also compatible with industry standard 9.5mm drive slots, WD says.
The doctor tackles Post-Upgrade Blues, Drive Order, Upgrading an XPS 700 , and more
Question: I upgraded to Windows 8 on my laptop. Can you tell me how to reinstall Windows 7? I tried restoring the system from Windows 8 but did not have any luck. Is there a way to use my recovery discs or will I need to purchase a copy of Windows 7?
HGST, a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Digital, announced on Tuesday what it claims is the highest storage density of any hard drive and highest capacity HDD for the mainstream mobile market, the Travelstar 5K1500. The new Travelstar 5K1500 is purportedly the industry's first 9.5mm to offer 1.5TB of storage capacity, though that's not all it brings to the table. High shock protection and low power performance are also traits of HGST's newest HDD.
The Adata drive is one of the sexiest USB drives we have ever tested, and is certainly the thinnest USB drive too, at just 8.9mm thick. It might not sound like much in today’s world of super-thin everything, but this puppy is thin. In fact, our research indicates it is the thinnest USB drive currently available.
If this roundup were a beauty contest, the DashDrive would easily win.
At 2TB, WD’s My Passport is the largest-capacity USB hard drive we’ve ever tested, and its four chunky 500GB platters rotate at 5,400rpm. In the palm it feels about as thick as a huge English muffin with a piece of ham in the middle, or a water-logged deck of cards; it’s the thickest drive in this roundup, but only by a tiny margin over the 1.5TB Toshiba. Though this drive is pudgier than the rest at 0.8-inch thick, it’s noticeably shorter than the other two drives at just 4.2 inches long. It comes in a variety of pleasingly subtle, matte color finishes (red, blue, black, gray, white) and is available in sizes ranging from 500GB to 2TB.