In this global economy, it is usually wise to save money whenever possible. And often a good PC that is getting slow may be renewed by upgrading instead of buying a brand new one. This editor’s nearly 3-year old notebook was getting really slow for even day-to-day tasks. It should still be capable – a 15″ 1366×768 HP Compaq CQ60-210US, powered by a 2.0GHz AMD Athlon mobile X2 CPU, 2×1 GB of system RAM and a GeForce 8200M on a OEM installation of Win Vista 32. Our mission was to see if we could speed up the notebook enough to make it worthwhile to keep it instead of buying a new one.
When you are talking about waiting over 2-1/2 minutes for Windows to fully load, or thirty seconds for Windows to shutdown, clearly a “makeover” was in order. Our 250GB 5400 rpm mechanical HDD seemed a likely bottleneck as did having only 2GB of system RAM for Vista 32-bit. So we got 2x2GB of PC 5300 from Kingston to replace our 2x1GB PC5300 and reused our Kingston 128GB SSD that we evaluated here to replace the notebook’s hard disk drive.
Before we began any benchmarks, we upgraded the RAM from 2x1GB to 2x2GB. We didn’t notice a lot of difference other than we could have more applications and programs open before the hard disk was accessed and everything slowed down. Previously, we also used a fast 4GB flash drive as a Ready Boost and it is unnecessary now for day to day use.
As you can see in the image below, it is (generally) a simple matter to replace system memory and a notebook’s hard disk drive. As you can see, the SSD fits perfectly in the drive bay formerly occupied by the hard disk drive and the RAM is a simple remove and replace as we removed the 2x1GB of Hynix RAM and replaced it with the 2x2GB Kingston modules.
To prepare for our SSD upgrade, we uninstalled programs and games that we didn’t use any longer, backed up documents to an external hard drive and deleted enough data to slim down our 250GB HDD to well below 100GB. We then cloned our HDD contents to our SSD with the Acronis software that Kingston includes with the SSD kit and installed the SSD in place of the old drive. To our shock and dismay, we only shaved about 15 seconds off of our loading time and ten seconds off of our shutdown!
That means we headed immediately to phase two of our plan – a clean install of Vista 32 and to completely get rid of the unnecessary programs our Compaq was pre-loaded up with from the factory. We realize that this is something that we should have done a long time ago.
As with our last two SSD evaluations, this is not going to be the usual Solid-State Drive (SSD) review touting the theoretical advantages of the SSD over the mechanical Hard Drive (HDD). In fact, we are using the same 128GB SSD from the review of the 128GB SSDNow V100 Series. In both of our two previous reviews of SSD vs HDD, we concluded that Kingston was making performance progress with their SSD lineup.
We also toured the Kingston Fountain Valley California headquarters factory this Spring and we watched RAM modules and flash drives being made. We also reviewed the 96GB Kingston VNow+ Series SSD this month here. And now we are looking for a practical usage to replace our notebook’s mechanical hard disk with a Solid State Drive and we will give you the benchmarks and our impressions.
The 128GB SSDNow V100 is a 100% Kingston-branded solid-state drive using the JMicron 618 controller using Toshiba’s 32nm NAND. However, instead of concentrating on the differences in a desktop PC, we are going to be looking at the advantages that a PC gamer might have using a SSD over a slow mechanical hard drive in a notebook. Of course, we shall briefly rerun many of our synthetic and real world tests from our previous SSD evaluations.
From past testing, we concluded that a SSD certainly did make our desktop PC noticeably much faster – especially for loading and shutting down Windows and for launching applications. However, we also concluded that if you are a gamer, you can still be served well by a fast mechanical hard disk drive if storage and expense are issues The SSDNow V100 is targeted as an upgrade path for mainstream consumers including gamers as a cost-effective performance upgrade option in upgrading a desktop or notebook.
The SSDNow V100 Series
It is also important to check for updates as our 128GB Kingston SSDNow V100 received a firmware update which is critical to install. It only takes a couple of minutes to do this and you will insure that your SSD will continue to give years of good service.
Important: If you have this same 128GB SSD (including other SSDs in the SSDnow V100 series), you will need to upgrade the firmware from Kingston’s site to insure proper running of your drive. As always, back up your drives before doing this update.
SSDNow V100 feature an independent garbage collection function that maintains a system at optimum performance level. This is especially important for systems running on Windows XP, which doesn’t feature TRIM, and it will also help organizations and users extend the software cycle on their systems, delaying upgrades of operating systems and applications.
SSDNow is backed by a three-year warranty, live 24/7 tech support and legendary Kingston reliability.
- Innovative — uses MLC NAND flash memory components.
- Silent — runs silent and cool with no moving mechanical parts
- Shock-Proof — no moving mechanical parts so the SSD handles rougher conditions
- Supports TRIM — Ensures maximum performance on compatible operating systems
- Supports S.M.A.R.T functions
- Garbage collection feature — ensures maximum performance on Operating Systems not supporting TRIM
- Guaranteed — three-year warranty, live 24/7 tech support
Differences between Notebook and Desktop bundle
Although Kingston sent ABT the desktop 128GB SSD kit, the notebook bundle includes a 2.5″ USB 2.0 enclosure so that the old notebook HDD now becomes an external hard drive to give more storage. Or one can remove the notebook’s optical drive and use the SSD together with the old HDD. In this editor’s case, there is no need for an external back-up drive as 128GB is plenty of storage.
Let’s open the SSD box and begin our notebook makeover.