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Laptop Upgrade: How To Install SSD

Laptop Upgrade: How To Install SSD
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You can upgrade your laptop's hard drive from a bulky disk to a svelte solid state drive--we'll show you how. Performance boost included.

By now, you’ve probably heard that Windows-based PCs—and Windows 7 in particular—perform faster when using solid state drives (SSDs) rather than conventional hard disk drives (HDDs). Up until the last few months, SSDs were prohibitively expensive for the average consumer, but recent price drops have placed even top-performance, consumer-class drives within the $250 and under category. Most likely, 2010 will be the year that mainstream users get a serious performance boost by making their boot drives (usually C:) SSDs and leaving most of their data and secondary applications on larger, slower hard drives.

For hobbyists and enthusiasts, drive upgrading is old hat. But for many Tom’s Guide readers, the upgrade process may still be a mystery. Screwdriver work inside of a PC is something “for gurus.” The thought of changing a notebook’s hardware remains daunting. In this first of two photo walk-throughs, we’re going to show you exactly how easy an SSD upgrade can be. Experts in the audience may roll their eyes, but we’re out to show the rest of you that this is within your reach. You don’t need to pay a professional. There’s no magic at work. The process is so easy, you may be shocked.

In this first article, we’re going to focus on upgrading an Acer AspireOne netbook, which came from the factory with an Intel Z520 (1.33 GHz) Atom processor and only 1GB of memory. With specs like those, you know this little unit could use a lift.


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  • 0 Hide
    cadder , December 29, 2009 7:08 PM
    1. You left out a little step- the netbook doesn't have an optical drive. You should mention how you attached an external drive, what drive you used, did the netbook recognize it, etc.
    2. You mention "acronis" several times. Is it contained within the software provided with the drive upgrade package?
    3. You imply that you will provide a further article with more tests of performance. I'm sure readers would like to see comparison speeds of how long the netbook takes to boot, how long it takes to come out of hibernate, how long it takes to load an average app, and how much the different drive affects battery life.
  • 0 Hide
    vider , December 29, 2009 7:08 PM
    There's only one problem. Who would spend an extra 489.99 on an SSD, when paying 459.87 for a netbook (Don't forget the taxes) is already too much?
  • 0 Hide
    cadder , December 29, 2009 8:14 PM
    Quote:
    Who would spend an extra 489.99 on an SSD


    Maybe not, but I saw a sales ad on the net today for a 64GB SSD for $120!
  • 0 Hide
    pcwlai , December 30, 2009 10:06 AM
    If there's going to be a SSD article on Tom's Hardware, I would like to know different kinds of operation performance. For example, booting Windows, openning applications such as Office apps and loading games as well as watching HD movies while scanning viruses.

    There are many benchmarks concentrating on numbers like MB/s on read and write but, they do not really tell us how daily operations performs. For example, Intel's X-25M is slow in streaming write when compared with other mid to high end SSDs but is this really a matter in daily operations? Or in which kinds of operation this hinder it's performance?

    Also, please help verify whether the idle and sleep states of CPU still impact performance of the latest SSDs.
  • 1 Hide
    jcknouse , December 30, 2009 12:07 PM
    ViDERThere's only one problem. Who would spend an extra 489.99 on an SSD, when paying 459.87 for a netbook (Don't forget the taxes) is already too much?


    Best point you made is: Why spend $460 on a netbook? You can get new and refurb 15.6" notebooks w/4GB and at least 160GB HD all day online for $450 and under. There's a Gateway refurb laptop w/ 4GB RAM, 320GB HD, 802.11b/g/n, DVD, HDMI, etc., for $389 on the internet.

    The only way I'd drop $490 on an SSD is if it was 256GB or up. I already paid $200+ for a 64GB and although I like the performance vs my HD RAID, I think it's sort of pricey.

    Next Christmas, I'll get another SSD or two when the prices are more reasonable. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Yuka , December 30, 2009 1:37 PM
    People who buy Netbooks are not, by any means, "power users" and don't require 2GB+ of RAM or C2D's for setting up a Slideshow presentation with a proyector. They only need a battery efficient device that isn't a heavyweight to handle. Remember the "KISS" acronysm?

    And nice article/guide, but I second cadder on his insights. I would've love to see battery life also.

    Cheers!
  • 0 Hide
    hdcams4u , December 30, 2009 2:43 PM
    One can only wish that all HD's on laptops were as easy to access as that netbook. I have an Intel SSD on order for my Vaio, and I'm dreading all the disassembly I'll have to do to get that drive installed. Why can't all manufacturers make it as easy as this Acer?
  • 0 Hide
    williamvw , December 31, 2009 3:04 AM
    ViDERThere's only one problem. Who would spend an extra 489.99 on an SSD, when paying 459.87 for a netbook (Don't forget the taxes) is already too much?

    Check Tom's Hardware tomorrow morning (12/31/09) for a story that will answer your question. You may be pleasantly surprised. :-)
  • 0 Hide
    williamvw , December 31, 2009 3:11 AM
    cadder1. You left out a little step- the netbook doesn't have an optical drive. You should mention how you attached an external drive, what drive you used, did the netbook recognize it, etc.2. You mention "acronis" several times. Is it contained within the software provided with the drive upgrade package?3. You imply that you will provide a further article with more tests of performance. I'm sure readers would like to see comparison speeds of how long the netbook takes to boot, how long it takes to come out of hibernate, how long it takes to load an average app, and how much the different drive affects battery life.

    I believe Acronis makes the EZ Gig II application for Apricorn. It's a rebranding of their True Image product. I may have slipped and used the Aproicorn/Acronis names interchangeably. Sorry for any typos. As for the further article, the story going up shortly on Tom's Hardware addresses several of your questions.
  • 1 Hide
    prakalejas , December 31, 2009 1:11 PM
    Tested Intel SSD G2 on HP 8510W got maximum 200MB/s read speed. My point is - with SSD you should look not for best SSD at hte first place (and Intel SSD is good), but look for laptop with a good SATA chipset, because it makes a huge difference on final results.
    By the way, IO tests are also not to the limit of this drive (compared to benchmarks on good SATA controllers).

    SSD works fast enough, but does not make a huge difference compared to standart HDD, so consider the price tag also.
  • 0 Hide
    cadder , December 31, 2009 2:32 PM
    The new article is great but I still want to know the boot times for this netbook- original hard drive vs. SSD.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 6, 2010 9:13 AM
    With all my respect, prakalejas, this is not true. It makes a huge difference, especially when you have a lot of application installed, all with different start modules, auto-run services and related dll's. For example, on a Vaio VGN-Z11WN (Core2 Duo, 4GB RAM) replacing the original 250GB Toshiba HDD with the Intel 160GB new SSD, the start-up time has dropped from nearly 5 minutes to 40 secundes. Moreover, all apps start faster (I'm talking about having the app up and running, not about seeing its front-end interface).
    I have also to add some more details:
    1. It is mandatory to use Windows 7 or Vista with the SSD. XP is not using a different policy with the SSD, having imact in SSD reliability. W7 is supposed to be better than Vista, however I could not find any difference between W7 and Vista SP1.
    2. The big advantage using the SSD comes from the almost 0 acces time, not from the sustained datarate. The peak datarate is limited by the SATA chip speed. Considering this, the biggest impact will be seen when the applcation or process has to work with more than one file simoultaneously. Windows is a process loading lot of files (dll's, drivers, livraries etc) and if you use multitasking SSD will be a very good investment. How much costs you time, when you wait in front of an unresponsive computer?
  • 0 Hide
    Adam03 , January 7, 2010 7:11 PM
    Come on - you say this article is for noobs and then you proceed to just quote meg/second benchmarks - what the heck will that mean to a noob. If you are going to write these articles remember consistency is the key throughout in keeping with the article's intended audience. As others have said where are the XP startup and file copy times "before and afters". That's what the average Joe understands.
  • 0 Hide
    douglasmeier , January 12, 2010 11:21 PM
    I probably qualify as a "noob" which is why I was interested in this article. I have a HP dv7-1273cl (entertainment series pavilion), updated recently to Windows 7 x64. It already has 4gig of RAM and putting the OS and programs on a SSD would be a lot cheaper than going to 8gig of RAM if I want to have an increase in performance. I call hp for support and the guy in India was of little help. My laptop has 2 internal harddrive bays so I would think it would be easy to just slip in a SSD into the 2nd (open) bay and clone the OS onto the new SSD (or reinstall Windows 7, I'm not sure which is better.) I'm puzzled by three things.
    1) What is the best SSD for the dollar. Kingstons SSD are cheap but slow. I don't think I could use the forthcoming Crucial RealSSD C300
    unless the motherboard supports the new 6G SATA standard (or am I wrong about that?)
    2) The guy from hp said I would have to install the SSD into the hard drive bay marked as one in order to put the OS on it. Does anyone know if this is true? This would make the upgrade harder because that is where the curent hard drive resides
    3)Would i need a special enclosure for the SSD to install it or would it just pop in?
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