Tag Archives: replace notebook HDs with SSDs

A Tale of Three Notebook SSD Upgrades

OK, so I finally got my three production notebooks upgraded from conventional spinning hard disks to SSDs. All three of the source drives were 7,200 RPM SATA II drives: two from Seagate (one a Momentus plain-vanilla, the other a Momentus XT), along with a Hitachi 7K500 model. Of the three, the Momentus XT was far and away the fastest, but it couldn’t begin to match the OCZ Agility 3 SATA III 120GB drive that replaced it. I took advantage of a special sale to pick mine up for about $150 each on Newegg. Right now they’re priced at $155 with a $30 rebate to bring the price down to $125.

It took me a while to whittle these machines’ drives down to an acceptable level of disk space for the transfer. I recount this exercise in a couple of upcoming articles (one for InformIT.com, the other for InputCreatesOutput.com; no links yet but I’ll plug them in as they become available). Here’s a quick before-and-after snapshot:

Table 1: Notebook System Disk Holdings (Before & After)
Laptop Before Clean-up After Clean-up
HP dv6t 72.9 GB 52.8 GB
Dell M11X 48.2 GB 33.1 GB
Dell D620 35.4 GB 27.7 GB

I used the “Clone Disk” tool in Acronis True Image Home 2012 to transfer the contents of each conventional HD to its SSD replacement. Although the HP dv6t has the faster processor, the Dell M11X supports SATA 3 and outperforms the HP on I/O. All in all, the real proof for the value of the exercise comes from some before and after system timings, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Notebook System Timings (Before & After)
Timing Point Dell D620
Dell M11X
HP dv6t
BIOS alert 00:03 / 00:03 00:03 / 00:03 00:08 / 00:07
Windows 7 Starting 00:11 / 00:07 00:32 / 00:19 00:12 / 00:09
Login Prompt 00:53 / 00:23 01:07 / 00:32 00:40 / 00:12
Desktop appears 01:20 / 00:35 01:44 / 00:42 01:13 / 00:19
Soluto value 01:49 / 00:42 02:26 / 00:42 02:22 / 01:02
Shutdown 00:20 / 00:07 00:18 / 00:06 00:22 / 00:10

Here’s what I take away from this recent adventure. First and foremost, you get the biggest win in performance after Windows starts loading and the systems start banging their drives for all they’re worth. Second, there’s a clear correlation between the I/O interface hardware and overall disk subsystem performance: the Dell D620 which has the oldest SATA controller, saw a jump from 5.9 to 6.9 in the Windows Experience value for the disk data transfer rate. The HP dv6t has a faster SATA II controller and leaped from 5.9 to 7.4, but the MX11 with its SATA III support surged from 5.9 to 7.9 (which is as high as Windows Experience values currently go). Third, some of the best benefits from SSD use come after the OS has booted: applications open and close much more quickly, and shutdown takes no more than half as long as it once did. I like it!