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Recommendations on SSD hardware and installation

RojiinRojiin Starkville, MSPosts: 51Member

So I have been on a post Christmas upgrade spree.  I have come to this as my current system:

Motherboard   GA-970A-UD3 (Gigabyte)

Processor  FX-6300 (AMD)

Graphics    AMD 7950 (MSI)

Harddrive  WD 640Gig Black

Power supply   Seasonic M1-211 620W

Memory    8gig  Mushkin Blackline

Windows 7 64 bit  Home Premium

The SSD will be my final upgrade.  What brands are showing to be the most reliable as of late?  Consumer reviews seem to be a mixed bag.  

 

I have read a few guides on the installation, but I wonder if you have to reformat and reinstall.  Can  I set up the OS for SSD operation and then image it over to the SSD ?

Comments

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 4,174Member Uncommon

    Your best bet is a re-install.

    You can image the drive, but it gets dicey, and in the long run it's just easier to do a re-install unless you have a lot of software you absolutely just can't transfer or re-install.

    That being said, the Crucial M4 has been pretty stable lately (although it will soon be replaced by the M500), and the Samsung 840's are getting high marks. I've not really heard of any real stinkers in the latest generation of SSDs

  • syntax42syntax42 Columbus, OHPosts: 1,305Member Uncommon

    I think you can image it over without setting up SSD configurations first.  The OS (assuming Win7 or 8, maybe Vista) will detect the drive and enable SSD minimum settings.  These should include support for TRIM and disabling defragmentation services.  None of these will hurt your drive right away, as far as I'm aware.  If something doesn't seem right, you have plenty of time to troubleshoot and fix issues which could otherwise lead to premature degredation of available write cycles.

     

    There are a few more tweaks to SSDs which may or may not provide more benefits.  You can find plenty of lists by searching the internet.  I don't think most of them are useful except in artifical benchmarks.

  • RojiinRojiin Starkville, MSPosts: 51Member

    Yes I am using Win 7.  My concern is that if I image the drive perhaps Windows won't  see the SSD replaced the regular HD.  I found some very good articles on setting up for the SSD (reducing pagefile size, reducing restorepoint space ect.), and of course I would need to turn of defrag software.

     

    How about the Crucial V4?  Is that an older generation of drives?

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Rojiin

    Yes I am using Win 7.  My concern is that if I image the drive perhaps Windows won't  see the SSD replaced the regular HD.  I found some very good articles on setting up for the SSD (reducing pagefile size, reducing restorepoint space ect.), and of course I would need to turn of defrag software.

     

    How about the Crucial V4?  Is that an older generation of drives?

    The Crucial V4 uses a Phison controller that is rather bad--and was rather bad the day it launched, not just a nice product from another era.  I was surprised to see Crucial release those at all, as most SSD vendors stopped messing with the bad controllers after they had some good ones available.  My guess is that Phison had a bunch of controllers that they couldn't get rid of and agreed to sell them to Crucial for next to nothing.  They're not "worse than a hard drive" junk like some of the old JMicron ones, but I wouldn't consider a Crucial V4 unless you find it incredibly cheaply.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6325/crucial-v4-256gb-review/3

    That's a 256 GB version, too; the 128 GB version is probably considerably slower.  I often say that between the good SSDs, the performance differences really don't matter.  But a Crucial V4 is an order of magnitude slower than the good SSDs in a number of tests--including both pure reads and pure writes--and that's enough of a difference to matter.

  • RojiinRojiin Starkville, MSPosts: 51Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Rojiin

    Yes I am using Win 7.  My concern is that if I image the drive perhaps Windows won't  see the SSD replaced the regular HD.  I found some very good articles on setting up for the SSD (reducing pagefile size, reducing restorepoint space ect.), and of course I would need to turn of defrag software.

     

    How about the Crucial V4?  Is that an older generation of drives?

    The Crucial V4 uses a Phison controller that is rather bad--and was rather bad the day it launched, not just a nice product from another era.  I was surprised to see Crucial release those at all, as most SSD vendors stopped messing with the bad controllers after they had some good ones available.  My guess is that Phison had a bunch of controllers that they couldn't get rid of and agreed to sell them to Crucial for next to nothing.  They're not "worse than a hard drive" junk like some of the old JMicron ones, but I wouldn't consider a Crucial V4 unless you find it incredibly cheaply.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6325/crucial-v4-256gb-review/3

    That's a 256 GB version, too; the 128 GB version is probably considerably slower.  I often say that between the good SSDs, the performance differences really don't matter.  But a Crucial V4 is an order of magnitude slower than the good SSDs in a number of tests--including both pure reads and pure writes--and that's enough of a difference to matter.

    Sigh.....time to learn the ins and outs of SSD naming conventions.  Kind of like the AGP days of video cards (oops you bought the GS version instead of the GT its no better than onboard graphics...). 

    Rather I should educate myself on the better controlers I guess.  I assume that the actual flash chips are realativly equal in quality?

  • VorthanionVorthanion Laguna Vista, TXPosts: 2,117Member Uncommon
    You might want to look into the new Corsair Neutron SSDs.  According to their data, they perform better because they no longer have to deal with data compression and decompression.

    image
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Rojiin
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Rojiin

    Yes I am using Win 7.  My concern is that if I image the drive perhaps Windows won't  see the SSD replaced the regular HD.  I found some very good articles on setting up for the SSD (reducing pagefile size, reducing restorepoint space ect.), and of course I would need to turn of defrag software.

     

    How about the Crucial V4?  Is that an older generation of drives?

    The Crucial V4 uses a Phison controller that is rather bad--and was rather bad the day it launched, not just a nice product from another era.  I was surprised to see Crucial release those at all, as most SSD vendors stopped messing with the bad controllers after they had some good ones available.  My guess is that Phison had a bunch of controllers that they couldn't get rid of and agreed to sell them to Crucial for next to nothing.  They're not "worse than a hard drive" junk like some of the old JMicron ones, but I wouldn't consider a Crucial V4 unless you find it incredibly cheaply.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6325/crucial-v4-256gb-review/3

    That's a 256 GB version, too; the 128 GB version is probably considerably slower.  I often say that between the good SSDs, the performance differences really don't matter.  But a Crucial V4 is an order of magnitude slower than the good SSDs in a number of tests--including both pure reads and pure writes--and that's enough of a difference to matter.

    Sigh.....time to learn the ins and outs of SSD naming conventions.  Kind of like the AGP days of video cards (oops you bought the GS version instead of the GT its no better than onboard graphics...). 

    Rather I should educate myself on the better controlers I guess.  I assume that the actual flash chips are realativly equal in quality?

    The short version is that the good controllers are those from Marvell, SandForce, Samsung, LAMD, Intel, and Indilinx.  Marvell and SandForce controllers appear in a bunch of SSDs from a bunch of different companies.  Samsung controllers are used in Samsung SSDs.  The LAMD controller is currently used only by the Corsair Neutron drives, but will probably soon be used in a bunch of other SSDs.  The Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller is only used in the OCZ Vector; there are some older Indilinx controllers that aren't terrible, but just dated and not what you want today.  I think the consumer SSDs with Intel controllers are off the market by now.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Vorthanion
    You might want to look into the new Corsair Neutron SSDs.  According to their data, they perform better because they no longer have to deal with data compression and decompression.

    SandForce SSDs are the only ones that compress data.  Corsair Neutron SSDs are nice, but tend to be overpriced.  I usually recommend a Crucial M4, Samsung 840, or whichever second generation (loosely, SATA 3) SandForce drive happens to be cheapest that day.

  • VorthanionVorthanion Laguna Vista, TXPosts: 2,117Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Vorthanion
    You might want to look into the new Corsair Neutron SSDs.  According to their data, they perform better because they no longer have to deal with data compression and decompression.

    SandForce SSDs are the only ones that compress data.  Corsair Neutron SSDs are nice, but tend to be overpriced.  I usually recommend a Crucial M4, Samsung 840, or whichever second generation (loosely, SATA 3) SandForce drive happens to be cheapest that day.

    I'm pricing out a custom laptop from OriginPC and Alienware.  On the Origin website, I can add in the Neutron SSD at 240GB for approximately 225 bucks, which is about 15 bucks more than their Force GT, Intel 520 and Samsung 840 options.  The tech specs alone make it a worthwhile investment.  Personally, I've never had issues with either Corsair or Intel SSD drives to date and an extra 20 bill or less is more than worth it in my book.  My rule of thumb is to pick drives that cost $1 or less per GB and then pick the one from that list that gets the best reviews from places like tomshardware as well as thumbs up from purchasers.

    image
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Vorthanion
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Vorthanion
    You might want to look into the new Corsair Neutron SSDs.  According to their data, they perform better because they no longer have to deal with data compression and decompression.

    SandForce SSDs are the only ones that compress data.  Corsair Neutron SSDs are nice, but tend to be overpriced.  I usually recommend a Crucial M4, Samsung 840, or whichever second generation (loosely, SATA 3) SandForce drive happens to be cheapest that day.

    I'm pricing out a custom laptop from OriginPC and Alienware.  On the Origin website, I can add in the Neutron SSD at 240GB for approximately 225 bucks, which is about 15 bucks more than their Force GT, Intel 520 and Samsung 840 options.  The tech specs alone make it a worthwhile investment.  Personally, I've never had issues with either Corsair or Intel SSD drives to date and an extra 20 bill or less is more than worth it in my book.  My rule of thumb is to pick drives that cost $1 or less per GB and then pick the one from that list that gets the best reviews from places like tomshardware as well as thumbs up from purchasers.

    Buying from Alienware or Origin isn't exactly the way to get good value.  Let's look at New Egg, and ignore the bad or mediocre drives:

    240 GB Mushkin Chronos:  $165

    240 GB Samsung 840:  $180

    240 GB Mushkin Chronos Deluxe:  $180

    240 GB PNY XLR8:  $182 before a $10 rebate

    240 GB G.Skill Phoenix III:  $185

    240 GB Kingston HyperX 3K:  $190

    256 GB Adata XPG SX900:  $190

    240 GB Intel SSD 330:  $190

    256 GB Adata Premiere Pro:  $200

    256 GB Crucial M4:  $200

    240 GB Intel SSD 335:  $200

    256 GB Crucial M4 7 mm version:  $200

    240 GB OCZ Vertex 3 MAX IOPS:  $200

    240 GB Monster Digital Daytona:  $203

    256 GB Crucial M4 without packaging:  $205

    240 GB Intel SSD 520:  $206

    256 GB Transcend SSD 320 with desktop upgrade kit: $207

    256 GB OCZ Agility 4: $210

    250 GB Samsung 840 in a box: $210

    256 GB Crucial M4 with transfer kit: $210

    240 GB Kingston HyperX 3K: $210

    240 GB PNY XLR8 Pro: $210

    256 GB Crucial M4 7 mm version with transfer kit: $215

    256 GB OCZ Vertex 4: $220

    240 GB Corsair Force GT: $220

    240 GB SanDisk Extreme: $220

    256 GB OCZ Agility 3: $220

    240 GB Corsair Force GS: $220

    256 GB SanDisk Ultra Plus: $220

    240 GB Monster Digital Daytona with a bunch of packaging: $220

    256 GB Transcend SSD 720 with desktop upgrade kit: $225

    240 GB OCZ Vertex 3: $230

    240 GB Toshiba that doesn't have a reasonable name: $230

    240 GB Intel SSD 520 without a box: $235

    256 GB OCZ Vector: $240

    240 GB PNY Prevail Elite: $240 before a $30 rebate

    240 GB Intel SSD 520: $240 with promo code

    256 GB Samsung 840 Pro: $250

    240 GB Corsair Neutron GTX: $250

    Is the Corsair Neutron GTX better than those other SSDs above it?  Probably most of them, though if it had reliability problems, we might not have found out about it yet.  By enough to justify a $20 price premium?  As compared to most of them, not really.

    And is it better than an OCZ Vector or a Samsung 840 Pro?  No, definitely not.  I could understand paying a premium price to get top end performance in an OCZ Vector or Samsung 840 Pro.  It's not something I'd advocate except on crazy budgets, but I could understand it.  But if you're paying extra as compared to the top end products to get a Corsair Neutron GTX, you're doing it wrong.

  • RojiinRojiin Starkville, MSPosts: 51Member

    It looks like the Samsung 840 is in the sweet spot for speed, reliability, and value.  I was looking at the Mushkin Chronos as well, but its reviews are mixed as far as reliability (roughly 70% positive with alot of 3 and 4 star reviews).  The 840 reviews are skewed more to the 4 and 5 star range with about 80% positive. 

      Is the 840 worth the 15$ extra cost over the the Chronos? 

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Rojiin

    It looks like the Samsung 840 is in the sweet spot for speed, reliability, and value.  I was looking at the Mushkin Chronos as well, but its reviews are mixed as far as reliability (roughly 70% positive with alot of 3 and 4 star reviews).  The 840 reviews are skewed more to the 4 and 5 star range with about 80% positive. 

      Is the 840 worth the 15$ extra cost over the the Chronos? 

    The review difference can easily be attributed to the difference between a product that has been out for about two years versus one that has been out for about two months.  If you buy an SSD and six months or a year later it dies, you're likely to go back and write a nasty review.  If that happens with a Mushkin Chronos, it's likely already happened.  With a Samsung 840, it won't have happened yet.

    The Samsung 840 does have a better controller than the Mushkin Chronos, but worse NAND flash.  The Samsung 840 uses TLC NAND flash, which stores 3 bits of information per cell, while most SSDs use MLC NAND flash, which stores 2 bits per cell.  TLC NAND flash is a huge cost saving measure, as it means 50% more storage capacity in the same cost of production--and most of the cost of building an SSD is in the NAND flash.  The Samsung 840 Pro is basically the same thing except with MLC NAND flash--and you can see how much it costs.  TLC NAND flash only gets you about 1/3 as many writes for a given capacity as MLC before it wears out.

    As I said above, the Samsung 840 is a much newer product than the Mushkin Chronos.  For some things like video cards, all else equal, newer is better, as it likely means more gains from future drivers and more features.  For SSDs, newer is actually worse, as it means that firmware bugs haven't necessarily been worked out yet.  They do a lot of testing of SSDs before they release them, but when you're trying to find bugs, there's ultimately no substitute for selling a million of them, letting people use them in an enormous variety of hardware configurations, and then fielding their complaints when things go wrong.

    Samsung and Mushkin have very different business models with their SSDs.  Samsung makes everything themselves, from the NAND flash to the controller.  And then they put a huge markup on things, to get a hefty profit margin.  You can only do that and get away with it if you have a premium product, but they do have the best consumer SSD controller on the market.  The Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller in the OCZ Vector is the only other controller anywhere near being as good.  The Samsung 840 uses much cheaper NAND flash than any other SSD on the market that I'm aware of (because it's TLC), but the SSD is hardly the cheapest.

    Mushkin, meanwhile, treats SSDs about the same as they do system memory.  They buy all of the components elsewhere for whatever they think is the best mix of high quality and low prices.  They stay away from the bleeding edge, but let others work out the glitches in new products (new SSD controllers, new NAND flash, etc.), then come in later and make the same thing once they're satisfied that the problems are fixed.  They try to keep their own costs down and pass on savings to the consumer, with what I'd assume is a relatively low profit margin for themselves.

    Some hardware manufacturers send review samples to a bunch of sites and then run ads on a bunch of them.  Mushkin basically never does that, but just hopes that people can figure out that if they use the same parts as some other SSD that has been reviewed a lot, they'll perform the same.  Their hope is that providing a pretty good product at a pretty good price will be enough to sell a lot of them, without needing to spend a fortune on marketing.

    That said, Samsung does have a better reputation for SSD reliability than Mushkin, though Mushkin is hardly bad.  You could reasonably choose either of the SSDs.

  • syntax42syntax42 Columbus, OHPosts: 1,305Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Rojiin

    Yes I am using Win 7.  My concern is that if I image the drive perhaps Windows won't  see the SSD replaced the regular HD.  

    The majority of computer hardware (everything from drives to expansion cards) contains a device ID which is read by the OS (really the BIOS, then the OS) on boot.  When compared to the last boot configuration, the OS will recognize that a new device was installed and load the appropriate drivers and settings at the appropriate time.  The IDs are supposed to be unique enough that each ID requires one specific driver or set of drivers.  However, many devices are also capable of operating (frequently at less than full functionality) by using a "generic" driver.  This tends to provide enough functionality to install the manufacturer's specific drivers after booting.  Could you imagine the disaster you could have if your mouse didn't work until you loaded the right drivers?  I remember those days... way back in the 90's.

     

    In short, you don't have to worry about the OS not recognizing the new drive.

  • RojiinRojiin Starkville, MSPosts: 51Member
    Originally posted by syntax42
    Originally posted by Rojiin

    Yes I am using Win 7.  My concern is that if I image the drive perhaps Windows won't  see the SSD replaced the regular HD.  

    The majority of computer hardware (everything from drives to expansion cards) contains a device ID which is read by the OS (really the BIOS, then the OS) on boot.  When compared to the last boot configuration, the OS will recognize that a new device was installed and load the appropriate drivers and settings at the appropriate time.  The IDs are supposed to be unique enough that each ID requires one specific driver or set of drivers.  However, many devices are also capable of operating (frequently at less than full functionality) by using a "generic" driver.  This tends to provide enough functionality to install the manufacturer's specific drivers after booting.  Could you imagine the disaster you could have if your mouse didn't work until you loaded the right drivers?  I remember those days... way back in the 90's.

     

    In short, you don't have to worry about the OS not recognizing the new drive.

    I was thinking more alonf the lines of enabling TRIM and disabling defragging.  I have found that running the WEI  will set Windows on the path for setting those things up.  Looks like the only problem to worry about is aligning the drive after the swap, and I beleive I can handle that after reading a few guides.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    When I was setting up my SSD, I read that Vista and Windows 7 both know how to align sectors properly, but it was only XP and older that couldn't.  I don't know if that varies from one SSD to the next, but my guess is that it doesn't.

    You should make sure that defragmentation is off.

  • syntax42syntax42 Columbus, OHPosts: 1,305Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Rojiin
    I was thinking more alonf the lines of enabling TRIM and disabling defragging.  I have found that running the WEI  will set Windows on the path for setting those things up.  Looks like the only problem to worry about is aligning the drive after the swap, and I beleive I can handle that after reading a few guides.

    There are guides for enabling TRIM and disabling defragging manually.  Booting with the wrong settings on either of those won't hurt your drive's performance or life expectancy, as long as you don't try to leave it like that permanently.  My guess is WIndows 7 will change the settings for you on the first boot with the SSD.

  • RojiinRojiin Starkville, MSPosts: 51Member
    Thank you for all the good information guys.   I feel more confident in what choices to make.
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