Would a solid state drive help an older computer run faster?

Joe Videtto May 15, 2012

In my school, we have a bunch of machines between 7 and 10 years old.

Is it possible that buying some SSD’s would help them run a lot faster, and if so, would you recommend internal or external ? Can you anticipate any installation issues and give a ‘heads up’ ?


  1. Dalsan
    May 30, 2012 at 4:04 am

    If you could tell us the processor, memory, hdd, operating system these computers have would tell us better if sad's would benefit you potter dollar than other upgrades and tweaking. Win XP would not benefit much from ssd's as much without a lot of extra work. Higher RAM amounts in dual channel mode would help a lot, but XP only can see 3.5GB. Even getting cheap pc's from geeks.com might be a cheaper way, but finding pc recyclers I think would be much more beneficial and around the same amount of money.

    • DalSan Mack
      May 30, 2012 at 4:21 am

      Stupid autocorrect, lol! SSD's, not sad's, better per dollar, not potter dollar.

  2. Sachin Kanchan
    May 19, 2012 at 11:31 am

    i would say NO...

    buying some SSD’s would NOT help them run a lot faster...because if they are a decade old, then only replacing HDD with SSDs is not gonna help...
    you will also need to upgrade your ram.....further adding to the already high priced solid states..

    also as some of them already told...if your systems motherboard is not compatible , you might need other hardwares too to add them up....all a complex process and burning good big hole in your pocket, so better you give them away at some second hand price...though you may not gain much.....

    and buy new ones......but you must do this only if you think they are too slow and must be replaced...cause new PCs for home use like in your school might cost around $450-$500 with a dual core processor...and that means fast...not much but should do

  3. Dave
    May 16, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Aibek. I think you would get better return on your $$ by buying second hand PCs from a corporate recycler. I'm not sure where you live. But most cities will have a company that takes old PCs from corporates and wipe the hdd then resell them. In NZ a 64G SSD costs about $100. For that you can get a dell GX620 (p4 3.4ghz, 1G RAM, 80G HDD) For bang for your buck you will get a lot more from a newer PC than a SSD in overall productivity gains.

  4. Kannon Y
    May 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Hey Joe! This is a great question - the answer depends on your needs. I would weigh five factors before considering whether or not to upgrade to SSDs:

    1. Do you have SATA or PATA ports? If PATA/IDE, there's very little reason to upgrade as you would also need to buy an adapter and it's just added complexity.

    2. Do you need large amounts of storage space? If you need large amounts of storage, greater than 32GB, an SSD won't work (unless you have a network drive). The price per GB of an SSD is much higher than a regular HD, and because of the Thailand flooding, and the subsequent damage to hard drive production, SSDs are now cheaper in absolute terms than spin up drives. For example, the cheapest SSDs cost around $45 (Patriot 32GB Torqx), whereas the cheapest platter based drives cost around $60.

    3. Can you install Windows 7 or Linux? Either option supports TRIM commands (which will maintain drive performance). If not, and you're forced to use XP, modern SSDs do support garbage collection, which is a self optimization that requires correct configuration of the OS to run properly. It's kind of a pain to setup on XP.

    4. Do you have the time to update and reimage multiple hard drives?

    5. What are the alternatives to an SSD? Four of the cheapest Torqx drives can buy you a refurb computer with dual core Athlon X64s and Windows 7.


    Other questions:

    An external SSD would likely connect over USB. I don't know if you want that, since it's unclear if TRIM passthrough functions over USB. Also, your BIOS may not be compatible with booting from USB.

  5. Oron
    May 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I agree with Mike. The improvement in performance would be minimal considering the cost of the SSDs (and possibly of Windows upgrade as XP doesn't play nice with SSDs).

  6. Mike
    May 15, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Not so much...

    The major benefit of an SSD are the fast access time and high transfer rate.

    The faster access time might speed up the start-up process of both the operating system and applications but without the benefit of the high transfer rate it is barely noticeable.

    When you say 7-10 year old computer it is a good assumption is that the motherboards feature SATA1 at best. The speed offered by the SATA1 interface is barely able to fully utilize the speed of a platter hard drive.

    Unless those machines have a free PCI-Express slot adding a faster SATA controller (which again costs money) probably won't pay off either.

    Basically you pay a lot of money for little improvement.

    I don't see any apparent issue in a school network.
    Usually pupils are limited both in space they can use and since the usage (downloading, surfing, installing stuff) is usually restricted the SSD will probably have a longer life than in a regular home users computer.

    All in all I would say get a 128GB SSD (e.g. the Crucial m4 are quite affordable) put it into one of the machines and get a real world comparison how much things would improve. Worst case you spent 100€ (or ~ $130 USD) on a SSD which you can use somewhere else.

  7. John Smith
    May 15, 2012 at 3:22 am

    You may want to consider using a SSD/HDD hybrid as they are mush cheeper and more space. As most SSDs now are only about 256gb for 300 dollars, that is quite expensive. But, yes. It would run faster.

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