Have you switched to using solid state drives yet? Over the last few months, the prices of SSDs have generally taken a fall. Nowadays, you’ll easily find an affordable one on Amazon to replace the hard drive in your laptop and give it a new breath of life.
What are the benefits of utilising SSDs? Well, that’s what we’re going to discover today. Using the Kingston SSDNow V+ series solid state drive review as a case study, you’ll find out if SSDs are suited for you. Not to mention, we have a 256GB unit to give away. All of this and more after the jump.
What do you know about the contributions of SSDs to your system? I’m guessing that you’ll immediately think about better performance — and you’d be right. I’ve personally dabbled with excuses to purchase an SSD for my MacBook and finally came up with a list of 5 good reasons why I should.
The majority of non-tech savvy folks will probably think that the processor is responsible for a computer running faster or slower, and that the hard drive is only used for storage. That’s not entirely true — they both work together intimately to determine your system’s performance. In a nutshell, the faster the hard drive, the better the seek times (reading speeds) and hence, better performance. That’s why hard drives are available in several speeds i.e. 5400, 7200 and 10,000 rpm — this refers to the rate at which the disk rotates. In general, the faster the better.
On the other hand, SSDs have no moving parts. Data is stored on flash memory and this vastly improves seek time since the drive doesn’t need to spin up and reposition its head on the platter to read the information. I’m generalising here, and there are typically two different types flash memory used in SSDs but you get the drift — SSDs are faster than the conventional spinning (hard) disk drives.
Jumping into our review, the Kingston SSDNow V+ series solid state drive is a pretty good bargain, especially since Kingston provides an optional upgrade kit bundle for their SSDs. Kingston knows that most of us will already have existing data on our HDDs and require a simple method of transferring the data over to the new drive.
This V+ series drive is in its second-generation now and uses the MLC NAND flash memory. It comes in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB capacities; uses a Toshiba controller and supports TRIM. It comes with 128MB onboard cache and a 3-year Kingston warranty along with 24/7 tech support. It also boasts a life expectancy of 1 million operating hours (or 114 years) and 10,000 write cycles.
The kit consists of everything you’d need to install this in a desktop or laptop and includes mounting brackets for 3.5″ bays, a USB external enclosure, 3 different types of cables and an OEM copy of Acronis True Image on a CD.
Before switching to the new SSD, I decided to “benchmark” my existing HDD to give you an idea of the performance you would expect from an old 5400 rpm hard drive. This isn’t going to be very stringent or scientific — instead, all I wanted to do is simply compare the before and after speeds. I used DiskTester for this task (which isn’t free, unfortunately).
As you can see from the results, my (spinning) hard drive’s performance was abysmal. It only managed to read at a maximum speed of 46.8 MB/s and write at 41.5 MB/s. Now, this is a very basic test performed on a filled 2 year old drive so I didn’t expect blazing performance.
Setting up the SSD was fairly painless. The main idea is to use the upgrade kit and software provided to clone the existing drive over to the SSD. Since I was on a Mac, all I had to do was connect the SSD via USB, initiate the drive and use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my existing hard drive over. It took about 4 hours for the process to complete.
Once that was done, I replaced my old HDD with the SSD and booted up while holding the Option key to select the boot drive. Instant gratification! The SSD booted up the operating system in a matter of seconds — a process that used to take about a minute to complete. I was able to feel the speed of the drive immediately.
Just to add some numbers to the review, I performed the “benchmark” test again and this time, the drive returned an average read speed of 209 MB/s and write speed of 173 MB/s. Kingston actually claims a sequential read throughput of 230 MB/s and 180 MB/s for writing.
If you were expecting more numbers, I’m sorry to disappoint but I’m just like everyone else. I use my computer on a daily basis and will review the SSD under normal everyday conditions. For a comprehensive benchmark of this drive, head over to StorageReview.
The first thing I noticed was better application loading times. Heavy-duty apps like Photoshop which took years to load with my old HDD now only takes a matter of seconds to boot up. 4 seconds max. Other applications that I use everyday like including browsers (Safari and Firefox) and text editors loaded as soon as I clicked on them.
The next thing I noticed was better virtual memory (VM) performance. Since the read/write speeds were drastically increased and the drive no longer has to spin up, disk caching was more efficient. As a result, I get almost no spinning beachballs when using memory intensive applications like Safari or Photoshop even though my MacBook is still only running on 2GB of memory.
Switching to an SSD is probably one of the more rewarding upgrades you will probably perform on an ageing laptop. The increased performance will cut down on the wait times from your daily workflow, allowing you to operate more efficiently. The Kingston SSDNow V+ series SSD with the optional upgrade kit bundle is by far, the most painless route to take at $2.56 per GB. Granted, you won’t get the performance of the Intel X25-M but the average Joe probably won’t notice the difference anyway.
The good: upgrade kit incredibly useful, large capacity drive is accommodating, TRIM support, reasonable price.
The bad: average performance.
We’re giving this Kingston SSDNow V+ Drive 256GB review unit away to a lucky MakeUseOf reader!
How do I win it?
It’s simple, just follow the instructions.
Here’s our giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner.
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This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, November 26th at 2100hrs PST. The winner will be selected at random and announced via email.
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[update] And the winner is …
- Taylor Rapids