Solid State Drives are increasing in popularity. ¬†The prices have been steadily dropping, while the capacities get larger and larger. ¬†SSDs are much more expensive than a traditional hard drive per gigabyte, but the performance is well worth the cost. ¬†Even a fairly new computer can benefit from this upgrade if it’s currently using a traditional hard disk.
How does it work?
A traditional disk is a rotating platter with a set of heads that read and write the data to the platters – think of an old record player. The needle starts at one point and the record rotates. ¬†If you want to hear another song you pick up the needle and move it to a different part of the record. ¬†Same thing with the hard drive. ¬†When you open files, they’re almost never in the right order on the hard drive, so the head has to jump to another part of the platter.
An SSD has no moving parts, it’s basically a bunch of memory chips soldered to a circuit board. ¬†Data can be read and written to many parts of the chip simultaneously – no waiting for the needle to move to a different part of the drive.
That’s obviously a way oversimplified version of how this stuff actually works, but the point is efficiency. ¬†The traditional hard drive is limited by things like how quickly the needle can move, and how fast the platters can spin. The SSD is limited by how quickly the electrons can flow through the circuit. ¬†Long story short: night and day difference between the two.
I replaced the 320GB in my Early 2011 Macbook Pro. The installation is very straight forward. You can find tons of good, illustrated guides on how to install drives in whatever computer you’ve got. ¬†My installation took about 10 minutes.
- Remove the screws on the bottom of the case and remove the bottom panel.
- Disconnect the battery by prying up the connector.
- Remove the two screws holding down the drive.
- Pull the plastic connector up and disconnect the power and data connections.
- Install the SSD and put everything back in the same order.
If you’re upgrading a macbook, and you had 10.7 or 10.8 (Lion or Mountain Lion) Your BIOS was probably already updated with Internet Recovery . Turn on the computer while holding Command+R and you can do a clean install of the OS without a disc.
A cold boot into Mountain Lion takes less than 15 seconds. Photoshop CS6 loads in about 2 seconds, Microsoft Excel loads in about a second. Sleeping and waking is instantaneous. It’s like having a brand new computer.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve got a bill and some change – there is no better bang for your buck than an SSD. ¬†Considering buying a new laptop because yours is a couple years old and has lost its zip? Pop in an SSD and save yourself some cash – you won’t be disappointed.