At Bangkok Images we've become a big believer in Solid State Drives (SSD).  Every application where we add an SSD the total character of the machine changes, in every case a dramatic change that makes your 3-4 year old laptop feel like the latest speediest model out there.

 

Introduction

At Bangkok Images we've become a big believer in Solid State Drives (SSD)Every application where we add an SSD the total character of the machine changes, in every case a dramatic change that makes your 3-4 year old laptop feel like the latest speediest model out there.

Intel recently came out with their value line of SSD's and their X25-V is a 2.5" 40gb SSD running roughly $90 USD's through Amazom.com was calling out to us to be tested.  My son is visiting and he brought his 3-4 year old Dell Inspiron 1720 notebook.  This is a somewhat lower end consumer model with a big bright 17" 1920x1200 screen and a bright white exterior finish that he's stuck stickers all over from his various hobbies and sports.  It has a Core 2 Duo 2.16g CPU with a recent 4gig RAM update and a less recent 320gb 5400rpm HDD upgrade we did a few years ago.  He's been mostly happy with the machine, his biggest complaint being the amount of time necessary to boot and of course he'd like his programs to load faster.  His 1720 has the added feature of dual HDD stalls so it could hold two 2.5" HDD devices.  Currently one was empty.

 

Choices

The X25-V isn't Intel's speediest SSD nor does it have the most capacity.  This SSD was aimed at the part of the market where the user wanted the performance of a SSD and was willing to work around the capacity issues either by using it as a system only drive in a desktop workstation, or as the main system drive in a notebook making the use of an external USB powered HDD for data, music, and videos' necessary.. something many of us do anyway.  In my sons case his Dell Inspiron just happened to be one of the few laptops capable of holding 2 hard drives so it was a perfect fit.

What if your laptop doesn't hold a second drive and you don't want to lug around an external just to have an SSD?  Take a look at this site , they make "caddies" that transform your optical drive bay into a hard drive bay allowing you to put your old hard drive in your optical space, and a new SSD into your old HDD bay.. or the other way around.  The caddies run from $20-$40.

 

The X25-V isn't Intel's speediest SSD nor does it have the most capacity.  This SSD was aimed at the part of the market where the user wanted the performance of a SSD and was willing to work around the capacity issues either by using it as a system only drive in a desktop workstation, or as the main system drive in a notebook making the use of an external USB powered HDD for data, music, and videos' necessary.. something many of us do anyway.  In my sons case his Dell Inspiron just happened to be one of the few laptops capable of holding 2 hard drives so it was a perfect fit.

 

Cost is obviously a factor.  When I bought the (2) Crucial Technologies 256gb C300 SSD's for my main workstation and my primary laptop, and reviewed them here and here, these drives were running an expensive $800 USD's.  Since the price has come down to a more reasonable but still expensive $610 and Crucial has credited my account for the difference.  Good companies concerned about good customer service do things like this.  So spending $90 (I've seen it for as low as $90 and as much as $129) for the Intel X25-V 40gb SSD was an easy choice in this case.

Keep in mind that when it comes to reliability Intel is the company to beat making, for my sons needs, the Intel X-25V a perfect fit.

 

Performance

In my previous SSD reviews I mentioned there is a lot more to a SSD's real life performance than the sequential read and write figures commonly touted to sell SSD's.  The numbers that really matter are your 4k access times.  Intel designed the X25-V 40gb SSD to be of primary use to someone using it to load and reload the operating system and system programs and it's tweaked its controller to provide some of the best 4k access times on the market.  Both my new Lenovo x201s ThinkPad with its expensive $610 256gb Crucial C300 SSD  and my sons 3 year old Dell Inspiron with the $90 Intel X25-V 40g SSD are both using Windows 7 x64 Ultimate, they both have 4gigs of RAM, and we have the same program sets installed on both.  Both FEEL the same speed for 90% of our uses.  Sure, the C300 is faster, no doubt, and the benchmarks show it.  But in real life use the Intel X25-V 40g SSD is so much faster than a regular HDD that you reach a point where you don't really notice faster.

Where you do notice it, is when you pull data from the older 320gb HDD in his second bay slot and where this same data is on my larger capacity SSD.  However, most of the time you're working off the system drive and the difference is negligible if noticeable at all.

 

Installation

Installation couldn't be easier.  The first thing you'll notice is the Intel SSE comes in a sturdy all aluminum case.  The case on the much more expensive Crucial C300 is a cheaper feeling plastic.  The brushed aluminum feels 'all business' and very tough.  It's also sealed well.  The SATA II power and data connectors are of a very high quality and snaps into the laptop connector solidly.

After copying his data to an external HDD we removed his old 320g HHD and set it aside, and screwed in the new SSD.  Booting to a Windows 7 disk we followed the install route until we got to the point where we could partition the drive.  At this point we initiated the drive and assigned all 40g's to a simple volume we named C.  Windows 7 x64 Ultimate finished installing less than 7 minutes later.

 

Installation couldn't be easier.  The first thing you'll notice is the Intel SSE comes in a sturdy all aluminum case.  The case on the much more expensive Crucial C300 is a cheaper feeling plastic.  The brushed aluminum feels 'all business' and very tough.  It's also sealed well.  The SATA II power and data connectors are of a very high quality and snaps into the laptop connector solidly.

 

Building a SSD system drive, that is installing and configuring all your programs goes very quickly on a SSD.  It took him about 2 hours to install Office Professional, Lightroom, Adobe CS5, and a bunch of misc programs such as browsers, social networking clients, and the such.. and he was done.

We then put his original 320g HDD into the second HHD bay and booted to the windows disk and used its partition manager to wipe out the old bootable partition, make a new simple volume, and format it for use.  30 minutes later we'd copied his 200g's of (data) music and videos back over.

 

I would be lying to you if I told you there was anything less than a dramatic difference.  For a week now he's been telling me in awe "it feels like the fastest computer I've ever used, I can't believe the difference."  Yes, that's what a SSD will do for you.

 

 

Summary

I would be lying to you if I told you there was anything less than a dramatic difference.  For a week now he's been telling me in awe "it feels like the fastest computer I've ever used, I can't believe the difference."  Yes, that's what a SSD will do for you.

With Intel's great support, 3 year warranty, and low initial price of $90 this was one of the lowest priced performance upgrades possible.. and one that makes sense.  If he replaced his old Dell tomorrow he could pull this SSD and it's program build and easily install it in the new replacement.  Of all the upgrades you can make to your laptop, THIS one, installing a SSD, THIS IS THE ONE you want to spend the money for.  He now boots from power off in under 8 seconds, shutdown in 2-3 seconds, and any program loads instantly.  It's shock proof, heat proof, draws very low power, and was only $90.. what's not to love?