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Checklist for SSD Upgrade

post #1 of 11
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I've recently decided to get a SSD upgrade by the end of the year, so I've been lurking around these forums to learn what I can before I spend. I'm rather new to the game, so the tutorials here have been pretty helpful in giving me an idea on what I'm getting into. However, I am a little confused on some of the things below, and would appreciate it if I can get some clarification:
  1. AHCI: From what I had read, this is something I need to change in my BIOS under my SATA configuration tab. However, the Windows 7 SSD's Setup and Secrets post makes mention of changing from IDE to AHCI mode after Windows 7 installation. Which is it?
  2. partition primary align: I'm not clear on this, can someone explain/link me to an article?
  3. firmware: How does this work? Most threads simply say 'install the latest firmware'. Where does the firmware get installed to? I looked it up, is it something I just burn to a CD and I just boot off it to get it installed?
  4. SSD tweaker: Is this something that must do? If not, what kind of performance difference will I see?
  5. TRIM: I'm under the impression that the recently introduced drives (and SSD drives released in the future) will have TRIM. Is this true?

I had originally thought that getting the SSD to work involved plugging it in, and installing Windows again. Seems like its a bit more complicated than that..

Thanks in advance for your help!
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post #2 of 11
Quote:
AHCI: From what I had read, this is something I need to change in my BIOS under my SATA configuration tab. However, the Windows 7 SSD's Setup and Secrets post makes mention of changing from IDE to AHCI mode after Windows 7 installation. Which is it?
Before installing.

Quote:
partition primary align: I'm not clear on this, can someone explain/link me to an article?
Windows 7 will sort its self out, don't worry about that.

Quote:
TRIM: I'm under the impression that the recently introduced drives (and SSD drives released in the future) will have TRIM. Is this true?
Any SSD that you buy now will have Trim support.

Quote:
firmware: How does this work? Most threads simply say 'install the latest firmware'. Where does the firmware get installed to? I looked it up, is it something I just burn to a CD and I just boot off it to get it installed?
Firmware should be installed before you install the OS.
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post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sequences View Post
Firmware: How does this work? Most threads simply say 'install the latest firmware'. Where does the firmware get installed to? I looked it up, is it something I just burn to a CD and I just boot off it to get it installed?

SSD tweaker: Is this something that must do? If not, what kind of performance difference will I see?

I had originally thought that getting the SSD to work involved plugging it in, and installing Windows again. Seems like its a bit more complicated than that..

Thanks in advance for your help!
Firmware upgrades can be intimidating to new users. Once you actually do it, you'll realize it's not. Most drives do have be flashed using a CD/DVD or usb stick. The usb stick method is what I use.

SSD tweaker is optional. It does work although I always go and check that everything's been done myself anyway.

I'd recommend a Crucial M4 for you. It just had a firmware release last month that bumped up performance. Chances of it needing another firmware upgrade anytime soon are very small so you'd be getting the plug & play ssd you want.
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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcg75 View Post
I'd recommend a Crucial M4 for you. It just had a firmware release last month that bumped up performance. Chances of it needing another firmware upgrade anytime soon are very small so you'd be getting the plug & play ssd you want.
I've noticed that people posting on this forum are raving about the M4, almost makes me think Crucial is paying you guys for it. With respect to getting a plug and play SSD, I'm not sure I want to take the too easy route out. I would like to know what I'm putting into my computer and how I can use it to the maximum. With my past upgrades to my rig, I've learned something new every time I put something new in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcg75 View Post
Firmware upgrades can be intimidating to new users. Once you actually do it, you'll realize it's not. Most drives do have be flashed using a CD/DVD or usb stick. The usb stick method is what I use.
So I would 'burn' the firmware upgrade to the flash drive, plug my SSD in, then boot off the flash drive to upgrade?

Quote:
SSD tweaker is optional. It does work although I always go and check that everything's been done myself anyway.
What kind of performance increase will I see? Is this more of a novel exercise where I can say "my drive is now optimized, and is 0.5 seconds faster" or something I will regret later for not doing?

As for the AHCI thing, if I plan on having multiple (spinny) drives, will they also be using AHCI? Or is this something that I can apply to one SATA socket at a time? (Sorry, I'm new to all this... )
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post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sequences View Post
I've noticed that people posting on this forum are raving about the M4, almost makes me think Crucial is paying you guys for it. With respect to getting a plug and play SSD, I'm not sure I want to take the too easy route out. I would like to know what I'm putting into my computer and how I can use it to the maximum. With my past upgrades to my rig, I've learned something new every time I put something new in.
They recommend the M4 because they know it works properly. The M4 is probably not as reliable as the Intel 510 but it's price/performance ratio is better. Both the M4 and 510 are many times more reliable than the Sandforce 2281 based drives from OCZ, Corsair, Kingston etc.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sequences View Post
So I would 'burn' the firmware upgrade to the flash drive, plug my SSD in, then boot off the flash drive to upgrade?)
Yeah. A program called unetbootin does the trick easy. Then you boot off the stick and it prompts you through the rest. It's quite easy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sequences View Post
What kind of performance increase will I see? Is this more of a novel exercise where I can say "my drive is now optimized, and is 0.5 seconds faster" or something I will regret later for not doing?)
You won't see any difference. But there are things that should be off when using a ssd and that's why. You should also always run WEI windows experience index once you're up and running. Some of the less knowledgable around here think it's just a benchmark. But it sends info about your setup to CMOS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sequences View Post
As for the AHCI thing, if I plan on having multiple (spinny) drives, will they also be using AHCI? Or is this something that I can apply to one SATA socket at a time? (Sorry, I'm new to all this... )
They will all be running ahci which is what you want anyway. I have my M4 as the boot drive. Vertex 3 as Steam drive. 3 spinners attached as well.
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post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcg75 View Post
They recommend the M4 because they know it works properly. The M4 is probably not as reliable as the Intel 510 but it's price/performance ratio is better. Both the M4 and 510 are many times more reliable than the Sandforce 2281 based drives from OCZ, Corsair, Kingston etc.
I guess for the sake of reliability, I should just go with the M4. But in terms of speed, it appears that the M4 is not as fast?

OCZ Vertex 3 120Gigs
  • Max Read: up to 550 MB/s (SATA 6Gbps)
  • Max Write: up to 500 MB/s (SATA 6Gbps)
  • 4KB Random Read: 20,000 IOPS (75 MB/s)
  • 4KB Random Write: 60,000 IOPS (235 MB/s)
  • Maximum 4KB Random Write: 85,000 IOPS (330 MB/s)
  • Sequential Read AS-SSD: 500MB/s
  • Sequential Write AS-SSD: 155 MB/s
  • 4K Random Read AS-SSD: 29,000 IOPS (115 MB/s)
  • 4K Random Write AS-SSD: 38,000 IOPS (150 MB/s)

Crucial M4 128 Gigs
  • Sustained Sequential Read: up to 415MB/s
  • Sustained Sequential Write: up to 175 MB/s
  • 4K Random Read/Write: 40k / 35k IOPS

Seems like the OCZ is much faster in terms of write. Why is there such a huge difference between the write speeds of these two SSD's?
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post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sequences View Post
I guess for the sake of reliability, I should just go with the M4. But in terms of speed, it appears that the M4 is not as fast?

Seems like the OCZ is much faster in terms of write. Why is there such a huge difference between the write speeds of these two SSD's?
Newegg has not updated their stats to reflect the M4's 009 firmware.

Look at the bench test I did between my M4 and my Vertex 3 max iops.

http://www.overclock.net/ssd/1119008...ertex-3-a.html

The M4 scores better then the best Vertex 3 in as-ssd testing.

Yes, the V3 has a better write score. But if you look at the as-ssd incompressible write test, the M4 is not that far behind. How much do you think you're going to write beyond OS installation? For most users, not very much. And if you're transferring files to the ssd, you'd literally need another ssd to copy from in order to write that fast.

The sequential read catagory, which is used to sell ssd, is estimated to be used 1% of the time. 4k scores show what an ssd is made of. And the M4 clearly eats the Sandforce 2281 drive for breakfast in that catagory.
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcg75 View Post
In essence, are you saying that the impressive read/write speeds of OCZ is due to the ATTO test? And that when it comes to AS-SSD tests (that tests random read/writes of incompressible data) the M4 might be a tad slower at write, but generally wins?

Nice article, by the way.
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post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sequences View Post
In essence, are you saying that the impressive read/write speeds of OCZ is due to the ATTO test? And that when it comes to AS-SSD tests (that tests random read/writes of incompressible data) the M4 might be a tad slower at write, but generally wins?

Nice article, by the way.
The M4 wins all the important battles. If you look for a fast ssd, you look at 4k reads and access time. Write speeds are used so infrequently that the difference in the drives is negligable. Same thing goes for sequential read.

The Vertex 3 is still a great drive too when it works.
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post #10 of 11
lol I have a vertex 3 max iops.

When I first got it, I updated firmware and temp fix + set to ahci. Then installed OS. I had freezes and got stuck a lot at the windows logo while booting. After installing all latest drivers from intel (the Rapid Storage Technology one made a huge difference) it works fine now. FAST. At first I thought I was another doomed customer for buying one then after getting the drivers worked out I'm impressed.
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