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SSD Optimization Guide

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.

SSD Optimization and Buying Guide

SSD’s are expensive. That’s why you don’t want to buy the next best SSD in your local electronic store only because it’s a bit cheaper than the others – unless you have money to burn. You can get a decent SSD for about $120.

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:

Samsung Electronics 840 Pro Series 2 Ssd Cheap 256Gb.png

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)

These are just general buying tips that you can follow, you should do some additional research on where to buy and how to get a longer warranty for cheap
  • 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.

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.

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:

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:

A-DATA

  • S592
  • S596

Corsair (Performance series)

  • P64
  • P128
  • P256

Crucial

  • M225 Series

Intel

  • X25-M G2

G.SKILL

  • Falcon
  • Falcon II

OCZ

  • Agility EX
  • Agility
  • Summit
  • Vertex
  • Vertex EX
  • Vertex Turbo

Patriot

  • Torqx
  • Torqx M28 (with firmware upgrade)
  • KOI

SuperTalent

  • UltraDrive

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

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Published: Friday, January 16th, 2015 Last Modified: January 17, 2015

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