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What these SSD drives are all about
DABhand  posted on Apr 25, 2012 4:27:35 AM - Report post

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Time to time I get people asking me about SSD drives if they made the right purchase or what they should buy etc, and it is clear people just don't understand the architecture or the hardware itself to fully make choices on purchases and so forth.

So here is a bit of info that may be helpful.

1. MLC vs SLC

One thing most manufacturers do is leave out information on the SSD's lifespan, they also sometimes try to hide what chipsets are used. Lets discus them here..

MLC - MLC (similar to NAND) chips are the worse type of chips used in terms of lifespan, but... they can be a bit faster than its SLC counterparts at times. But they are limited to about 1/10th of a SLC SSD lifespan, so you are talking approximately 5 years life time, or a possible 5 million data writes to the chips, whichever comes first.

SLC - SLC (Similar to DDR) chips are the longest lasting chips out there, they don't lose life on writes technically so can potentially live between 50-150 years. They can be a bit slower than MLC, but it does require a power source at all times, hence why SLC drives come with internal batteries that last a long time. They can be expensive though, so if you plan on outliving your SSD drive full of data then SLC is for you.

Don't worry though, some manufacturers give out software to limit the drives full use to give it more life. Windows 7 comes with software anyway to help with this. Its similar to RAID 0 builds that use various software to check the life of the drives is fine.

2. Write/Read speeds

Don't take an advertisements top speed range as gospel, find out about the drives real speeds through online reviews etc, like reviews on Tom's hardware or similar websites, if no review for that model look at something smaller and similar from the same manufacturer.

You will find that even when it says 500MB/s read and write, you will find thats for files with 100MB in size or over, smaller files will obviously read slower as they never get read at full speed. So depending on what you use the drive for, you may never get the full speed advertised.

3. What should I use the drive for?

So whats the best thing to use the drive for, well I would personally use one for the Operating System itself for quick start ups and restarts etc.


There is a few things you will have to do to make sure you get the best out of this idea..

i) Never use the SSD drive as a source for Virtual Memory

SSD drives have one major con with them, they CANNOT overwrite data, data has to be deleted then written, so this makes using SSD drives for the pagefile system useless as it will be slower overall than a normal HDD. Also for MLC/Nand type SSDs this will kill its lifespan drastically.

ii) Don't use it for gaming on the same disc as your OS

Your OS and Games on the same disc has been a standard "not good" idea for many years now even back since IDE days, due to HDDs having to access data from different points on the hardware it will slow down things, and obviously with games they get updated... especially mostly on steam :P

iii) If using MLC/NAND SSD don't use the drive for system restore

Obviously don't use system restore on SSD drives, especially MLC/NAND types or watch it fill up and lose its lifespan quicker everytime you install something :P

iv) A 2nd SSD for games excellent, is it?

Yes indeed, a seperate SSD for gaming is great (just make sure you turn off System Restore and Virtual Memory on this one also), but try to use games that don't update so often, i.e. try to not install MMO's on them :P WoW would be great on a SSD I am sure, but it would force your CPU and GPU to work harder as you are constantly loading data quicker from the disc than the game is optimized for.. plus all those updates and hotfixes all add up, as does files that are saved with configurations all the time etc. So stick to non-MMOs.

[Edited by DABhand, 4/25/2012 4:32:03 AM]

DABhand  posted on Apr 25, 2012 4:29:17 AM - Report post

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v) Program Files and User Files

Another thing to do when you first install your OS from fresh is to set these to another drive... last thing you want especially with a MLC type drive is to have IE or other browsers constantly writing backup files for webpages etc and caching videos on the drive.

To do this for Program Files you will need to edit the registry...

Goto START > type in the search box "regedit" without the quotes (on XP goto run and on the new window type regedit and click ok)

Now when the Registry window appears, navigate to the following

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE>Software>Microsoft>Windows>Current Version (click on this folder)

On the right you will see the default folders for the Program Files folders so change them to the drive you want to use instead. DO NOT EDIT the entries with %'s used.

Also if you are on a 64bit Operating System also navigate to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE>Software>WOW6432Node>Microsoft>Windows>Current Version

And also change there...

Now for the user files this is a bit tricky :P

Firstly goto Start Menu > Control Panel > Add or Remove User Accounts > Add new account with Admin control

Now restart the PC and log into that account, now do the following...

Go into the registry and navigate to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
(this also for 64bit OS's also)

Change the entries in each ProfileList folder (except the new account you made)

Now open up the profilelist folders and you will see a list of entries, the important ones are the S-1-5 ones with the extra data in its name. Find the one that has the username for your initial Admin account (i.e. the old one, as you can't change data for any account that is logged in)

Go into there and change the path in the registry. Now copy the folder from C:\users\*NAMETOMOVE* to they other drive, you may have to go into the folder options to show all files.

Do this for the Public account also

Once done, you can restart log into your old account the one that was moved and delete the newer admin account.


4. What size should I get

Unless you are flush for cash, try to limit the sizes, if just for the OS then look at 40GB-60GB, if a seperate SSD for games, then any size is good.

Just remember the bigger the capacity the bigger dent in your wallet

[Edited by DABhand, 4/25/2012 4:45:26 AM]

AdmiralP  posted on Apr 25, 2012 6:06:15 AM - Report post

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Thanks for the info DABhand. I know it will help me a lot in my pending upgrade... not to mention the help you gave me in the SLI thread. It is greatly appreciated.
DABhand  posted on Apr 25, 2012 6:07:48 AM - Report post

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No probs.. hope it helps others too to get the most out of their SSDs
Squishygiblets  posted on Apr 30, 2012 10:58:48 PM - Report post

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Thanks much for the great info. Is there a particular brand you've heard good things about or a brand to shy away from?

I'm looking to do a Samsung 830 64Gb for the OS and a second SSD for some gaming. I feel pretty safe about putting Tropico 4 on a regular HDD with no adverse playability, but some games like Mass Effect 3 or Skyrim would work well on a SSD.

DABhand  posted on May 01, 2012 1:34:46 AM - Report post

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Corsair make some nice drives as does Crucial.

Just don't make your decision based on a brand you may be surprised to find some good quality at a low price from other brands also.

[Edited by DABhand, 5/1/2012 1:35:14 AM]

64  posted on May 06, 2012 9:04:27 AM - Report post

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Apple's MacPro Using 4 SSD hard drive.
Each one 2Tb





[Edited by 64, 5/6/2012 9:10:26 AM]

Skyheart  posted on May 06, 2012 9:59:35 AM - Report post

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originally posted by 64

Apple's MacPro Using 4 SSD hard drive.
Each one 2Tb





[Edited by 64, 5/6/2012 9:10:26 AM]

Actually, it's up to 4 512GB SDD, giving a total of 2TB.

But either way it's a Mac, so why bother?

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