Are you considering buying a SSD (Solid State Drive) for your new Windows 8 PC? If so, here are some SSD optimization and buying tips + tweaks. This post is a prequel to a bunch of SSD-related articles and tutorials.
Many people often buy this SSD on Amazon, which is decent, but there are some things to keep in mind, read on below after giving it a look:
Check Out Most Popular SSD On Amazon
The first question you should ask yourself, do I want a fast operating system only or do I also want to put my Steam games library on the SSD to speed up my games? Your gaming experience could become a lot better when your games are stored on a fast SSD. However, games nowadays require a lot of disk space. SWTOR for examples requires like 20GB or more, because of all the sound files that are included. So, what’s it gonna be? A small SSD with space for your operating system or a SSD with a bit more space for your games or something in between? I’d say “something in between”.
Buying Tips (Before You Buy A SSD)
- Buy SSD with trim support
- Buy a SSD with a long warranty, they can die quickly especially if they run 24/7
- Buy SSD with enough space for 1. Step OS 2. Step Most important applications 3. Step20% empty space (reserve required)
- Buy SSD from established manufacturer (OCZ)
- Your mainboard requires a free SATA connector (if you don’t have a free one, buy a SATA adapter together with your SSD)
- Buy a 2.5″ SSD for your laptop or a 3.5″ SSD for your desktop PC. You can also buy brackets to use a 2.5″ SSD in your desktop PC, which is quite handy, because you can then use the SSD in your laptop and your desktop PC.
- SSD should have 64MB Cache, 128MB Cache is better but a lot more expensive
- Some SSD’s have locked disk space, keep that in mind when calculating your needs
- SSD’s have a spare area – this can be small on some drives and larger on others. Read the fine prints! Learn more about the impact of spare area
I recommend to get a SSD with about 64GB. If you have some very large applications, you may need more, but in most cases 64GB will be sufficient. The TRIM command is basically needed to reclaim unused data blocks on your SSD that are currently not in use.
OCZ is the market leader and has the best prices. Try to do some research on OCZ SSD’s first.
What SSD To Buy? Budget SSD’s: OCZ Vertex 2, OCZ Agility 2 & OCZ Colossus
OCZ Vertex 2 is a very decent SSD, but as soon as you put some files on it the performance will decrease significantly. A SSD with a a larger cache can help to deal with this issue, for example the OCZ Colossus series. However, they are also SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive. Another good and cheap SSD is the OCZ Agility 2, but it has 40,000 less IOPS than the Vertex 2, which affects the 4KB writes (this will be barely noticeable on your desktop home PC, so if you want to save some money you can also go for the Agility.
- OCZ Agility 2 @ Amazon.com (cheapest)
- OCZ Vertex 2 @ Amazon.com (slightly more expensive)
- OCZ Colossus @ Amazon.com (expensive – very expensive)
What SSD would I buy? The OCZ Vertex2 E 2,5″ SSD 60 GB is cheap and lasted for over 2 years without problems in one of my systems and can be used in a desktop PC if you also buy the OCZ Solid State Drive 3.5″ Adapter (about $10). 60GB is more than enough for Windows 7 and a few important programs.
I recently bought myself a Corsair Neutron SSD which I am very happy with. I picked the smallest size available:
The OCZ Vertex 2 combines a great price with a great size. Your system will start twice as fast as before. You will be able to extract zip files 4 times faster than before (benchmarks will follow). Programs will require a lot less time to start when they are on the SSD. The only problem I see is the longevity of SSD’s. That’s why I compiled a list of SSD longevity tips below.
SSD Optimization Tips + Tweaks (Extensive Reading Material)
SSD’s can die relatively quickly if you don’t take really good care. Prepare your computer before installing the SSD. Also, keep in mind Prefetch is not the same as Superfetch. There are many advantages and disadvantages of Prefetch, which I will explain in a separate article.
- Turn of swap files (buy more RAM instead)
- Turn off Superfetch (controversial, I wouldn’t touch it)
- Turn off Windows Indexing
- Disable Write Cache on your SSD
- Firefox + SSD: Use memory cache
- Turn off Prefetch (controversial, I wouldn’t touch it, Link will follow)
- SSD Alignment on Windows XP (Windows 7 aligns partitions correctly, so does Vista)
I will post a SSD alignment tool soon, but it’s only required on Windows XP anyway.
Difference Between OCZ Vertex and OCZ Vertex 2 E
The difference is that the 2E OCZ series has more overall space. SSD’s dedicate a certain % of the total capacity to spare area (see explanation above). However, this spare area is smaller on the 2E. That is the only difference.
More Disk Space For Your SSD:
- Turn Off System Restore (Link will follow)
- Turn Off Hibernation
- Turn Off Swap File
SSD Usage Tips
- Only put your most important applications on your SSD
- Don’t use more than 80% of space drive on your SSD for best performance
- Use symlinks to split large programs between SSD and HDD if possible, e.g. Steam
- Solid State Drives DO NOT require defragmentation. You can damage your hard drive and shorten the life span
Install Windows 7 in AHCI Mode & Use Trim
When Windows 7 is installed in AHCI mode you can use the TRIM feature of your SSD. However, not all SSD’s support Trim, so you need to be extra careful when you buy a SSD.
You can also switch to AHCI after installing Windows 7, but it is complicated. Because this topic is quite extensive, there will be a new article dedicated to AHCI online shortly. Link will be posted here.
Buy SSD’s With TRIM Support!
TRIM is very essential for the overall performance of your SSD. Here is a incomplete list of SSD’S with TRIM support:
Corsair (Performance series)
- M225 Series
- X25-M G2
- Falcon II
- Agility EX
- Vertex EX
- Vertex Turbo
- Torqx M28 (with firmware upgrade)
SSD: Windows 7 Scores
Last, but not least I want to start a collection of Windows 7 scores here. I will post my own Windows Experience Index Score for the SSD here shortly. Do you have a low Windows 7 WEI score despite a new SSD? Let us know!
Please post your WEI score below for comparison – if possible along with your system specs
Just upgraded to a Kingston 128GB SSDNow V100 2.5″ hard drive.
WEI scores are as follows:
Hard disk: 6.1
If I’m honest, I was hoping for a better improvement as I was getting a score of 5.6 with a 7200rpm HDD.
Saying that, the SSD I have bought is basically the bottom of the range model. I really needed at least 100GB, and it was the only one in my price range.
Thanks for the info, Oliver. I have implicated some of the life-extending measures you advised.
Barney, thanks for posting your scores. I will hopefully post my own scores this weekend too.
I saw others who received a 7.3 HDD WEI score with a similar or cheaper SSD. A lot of manufacturers jumped on the SSD bandwagon. Kingston normally stands for high-quality products (RAM), but since SSD is a relatively young technology, I’d go with the market leader and that is OCZ.
Anyway, since you have a Kingston now I’d read some of the popular SSD forums, maybe you can find a few more tweaks to increase your SSD performance. I will be on the lookout myself and will post any useful performance tweaks here. Also make sure to keep a lot of free disk space, it’s really important to only put the most essential things on a SSD.
before i saw this tut my base score was 6.1 on my intel ssd
i had aquick look at my bios to see if i had enabled AHCI (i had not)
did a quick reg edite an changed bios setting to AHCI rebooted an my ssd base score jumped up to 7.5
just goes to show what a difference this setting makes :)
MY WEI scores are as follows:
Hard disk: 7.5
AMD PhenomeIIx6 1090T/4GB DDR3 1600 XMS3/ATI 6950 /iNTEL 40GB SDD.
im very happy with my results now
I just built myself a brand new computer, it’s got some pretty high scores too
WEI scores are as follows
Processor: 7.4 (AMD Phenom II x4 965)
RAM: 7.5 (12GB of OCZ DDR3 1333 MHz)
Graphics: 7.9 (ATI 6950 flashed to 6970)
Gaming graphics: 7.9
Hard disk: 7.7 today, 7.9 on day 1 about 2 months ago (64 GB Crucial Real SSD C300)
I also have a 64 GB Corsair Performance 3 series SSD that I install most of my games on.
My Processor and RAM scores should improve after I install my water cooling and overclock everything. I might replace my 12 GB of 1333 MHz RAM with 8 GB of 2000 MHz RAM, not sure yet, that or I’ll sell my processor to a friend to replace his Phenom IIx2 and I’ll go get me that nice Phenom IIx6 1090T I’ve been eyeballing.
Once everything is all finished, I’ll repost my results.
Hey, I tried disable disk caching a few times and windows kept crashing (even in Rescue Mode). I’ve turned off Virtual Memory. Does disk Cashing have anything to do with it?