Did you know that after optimizing the amount of memory in your computer (PC or Mac) a relatively simple SSD upgrade can breathe new life into your slowing computer? You paid good money for that machine that you rely on every day but it’s starting to run a bit slow.
Often the cause of this is the sheer amount of data that you have loaded, the applications that you are concurrently running and the operating system needing a bit of a refresh.
The slowest component in your computer is the hard drive. It’s an electro-mechanical device with motors that spin and arms that have to move back and forth to keep up with what you are currently working on.
A number of years ago solid state drives (SSD) started dropping in price. Think of them as a really large thumb drive/USB stick.
There are SSD’s from various manufacturers at different price points. Currently a 500GB SSD costs about $150.
What size drive should I get for my SSD upgrade?
That depends on how much space you are currently using on your existing HDD (hard disk drive).
To save money on the SSD upgrade you could get one closer in size to the amount of space you are currently using plus say 25% extra or you could just get one the same size as is currently installed assuming it’s not already quite full. Before I upgraded mine, I took the opportunity to do some housekeeping by removing backups of backups and by moving a lot of the space hogs like photos and videos to cloud storage. I then based my size decision on what the usage was after the cleanup exercise.
If you are a doing an SSD upgrade on a desktop computer then you can keep your current drive as a mass storage device and then install a smaller SSD as your boot drive containing the operating system and all of your applications.
In a laptop there is only one drive so sizing is more important.
Is it difficult to do an SSD upgrade?
As always that depends on your level of ability. The basic steps are as follows.
- Attach your new SSD to a USB port on your computer via a USB to SATA cable.
- Clone your current HDD using software supplied with the SSD.
- Remove your old HDD and replace it with the SSD.
The most technical part is the last step. In a laptop this means opening it up and removing as much hardware as required to gain access to the HDD and to then reverse the process one the SSD is installed.
In a desktop, you would need a housing in which to screw the SDD so that the complete outfit can be mounted in a vacant HDD location. You would also need to decide at this point if you want to run both drives or only the new SSD.
Is it worth doing an SSD upgrade?
The price of an SSD can run between about $70 for a 128GB and $280 for a 1 terabyte SSD depending on how much space you require.
On the one hand you look at your 3-5 year old computer and think I really don’t feel inclined to buy another one but an increase in performance would be great.
On the other hand you wonder if spending any money on an older machine is worth while and if the money you would need to spend on the SSD upgrade could be put towards a new SSD based machine instead.
From a performance point of view there is no doubt that it’s worth doing. The disk access speed of my 5 year old Asus Zenbook went up by a factor of 5. Waking up from sleep and boot times went from go and have a cup of coffee speeds to almost instantaneous. New applications that used to take forever to open up now seem to just snap up onto the screen with no bother at all.
Power consumption of the SSD is quite a bit lower than an HDD so you can expect some improvement in battery life as well.
What kind of performance improvements can I expect?
See the before and after benchmarks below. Notice that while the before graphs are larger than the after, the speed scale of the old HDD was 0 to 100 MB/Sec and on the SSD was 0 to 1000 MB/Sec. Read/write speeds on the HDD were between 60 and 100 for the larger files and on the SSD were between 480 and 550 all figures in MB/second. Of course the bigger the number the better the performance. So there is at leat a 5x increase in the speed of disk access, both reading and writing to the disk.
(Please excuse the quality of the before image, for technical reasons I had to use my camera for that shot.)
Before – using the old HDD After – using a Samsung EVO 850 SSD
As the prices of SSD’s continue to fall, the cost of doing an SSD upgrade becomes more and more attractive.
Do the math and see if the price performance equation makes it worth it to you.
Replacement value of my laptop would be about $1000. There being nothing else wrong with it besides slow disk access speeds, spending $130 on this upgrade made total sense to me.