Boost Your Computer's Speed with a Quick SSD Upgrade

Boost Your Computer's Speed with a Quick SSD Upgrade

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I was recently approached by Samsung to take part in their SSD Drivers program which would allow me (and a few others) to test out their latest SSD (Solid State Drive) and review it here for you guys. After reading up on SSD drives and their benefits, I decided to join the program and the results so far have been awesome.

Samsung SSD Drivers
Samsung SSD Drivers (Yours truly on the far right)

What is a SSD?

A solid-state drive is a data storage device that uses solid-state memory to store data. SSDs have the same purpose as traditional mechanical hard drives, but there is one major difference – they’re electronic devices and don’t have any mechanical parts. Unlike HDDs, SSDs don’t store data on spinning platters, but use flash memory instead.

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In short, this means that a SSD will make your computer considerably faster in a more reliable, silent and energy efficient manner.

Easy Installation

Samsung originally sent me a complimentary 256GB SSD however I decided that I wanted needed a 512GB so I sent the 256GB back to them and instead bought my own 512GB SSD to review.

Samsung SSD 512GB

After receiving the SSD, I watched a video from Samsung on how to install it on a Mac and after a quick stop at the hardware store for a new screwdriver, I was good to go. I copied 480GB of data from my previous HDD to the new SSD, which took about 7 hours overnight. After that was done, the physical installation / swapping of the drives took just 10 minutes.

Benefits of SSD vs HDD

There are a number of benefits of using a SSD vs a HDD, and I personally noticed a huge difference in the speed of my daily routines. Before I get into the differences, let me outline my current hardware & software I use as a designer.

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I use a Macbook Pro 17″ (3.06 GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB DDR Ram) attached to a 27″ display and at nearly all times I have these programs open; Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, InDesign, Mail, Tweetdeck, Chrome, Firefox, as well as Font Explorer, Spotify, TextMate, Bonjour, TextExplorer and Dropbox.

Increased Speed & Productivity

Within the first hour of using the new SSD I could visibly notice the speed difference in nearly every task performed. The most notable differences are listed below.

  • Faster boot time (Even faster when I cleaned my computer with Onyx)
  • All programs open much faster, especially the Creative Suite. The most notable speed difference is on startup as I have my programs set to auto start.
  • Search is much faster, especially when combined with my productivity bud, Alfred.
  • Moving between programs is much more responsive, eg. when changing from Photoshop, to Illustrator, to InDesign.
  • Opening files and using Finder is way faster, as well as using program menus.
  • The battery life seemed to last a bit longer too, only about 15-30 minutes but still noticeable.
  • The only downfall I could think of would be the price (the 500GB was $608 after tax). The 256GB or 128GB gets you more bang for your buck, but you do get less space.

Anyway, I’d definitely consider getting an SSD for a much faster & more reliable computer experience.

What has your experience been like with SSDs?

41 thoughts on “Boost Your Computer's Speed with a Quick SSD Upgrade”

  1. Would really like a SSD in my Mac Book Pro, but 128 and 256 is a downgrade in size – and can only imagine what you paid for the 512GB…

    • No joke, that link to the 512GB drive @ amazon is priced at $574. is that what you paid? I’ve got a MacBookPro Early 2008, and it just would not be cost effective to upgrade it to SSD at that price. Now if they fell below $300, I’d probably consider it…

      • Yes, I paid $608 after tax for the SSD. Samsung subsidized $252 for me as this is what the 256GB was worth which I returned to them. Paul, one thing to consider is that the SSD can be interchanged as needed and sold later if / when you upgrade.

        • Ah okay, if you got $252 discount, I can see why you went ahead and purchased.

          Yeah, I am holding out for whenever the iMacs get their next refresh, and will either get one with an SSD or purchase my own SSD at that time and install it. My wife would then get my MacBookPro, and she wouldn’t need 512GB, so I’d probably purchase a 256 GB SSD then for her (assuming the Early 2008 MacBookPro is capable of being upgraded to an SSD).

          • Who needs 512 GB? Get the 256 for a blazing fast computer and just archive your extra junk on a terrabyte usb drive!

  2. When you try a SSD you never go back, belive me! I have an i5 2500k and 16GB of ram as a workastation machine, and an old notebook with a dual core and 4Gb of ram as a mobile “workstation”, and gues what? In the notebook I putted a SSD, and it is much FASTER than my desktop workstation when loading things up and doing multitasking like: photoshop/illustrator/dreamweaver/fireworks, chrome 10-20 tabs, dropbox, winamp, wamp server, Filezilla, open pdfs and words docs, and 10 folder opened.

    And the SSD is old about 1,5 year with read/write speed around 240MB/s, this new samsung are around 550 MB/s..

    I think, I will get a samsung 840 PRO 256GB, there is a nice review on anandtech.

    If you care about productivity, time savings SSD is the way to go… imagine what yo u can do with a Raid 0 of such disks..yummi.

    • So your mobile workstation sounds pretty similar to my set up now. I was really surprised how much difference the SSD made and even how it outperforms your main beast.

      Yeah the 840 seems to be pretty promising! Let me know how it goes if you get it!

    • Indeed… I’ve been using SSD for 6 month and I can’t imagine going back to conventional HDD.
      I using it for the OS and installing application. For other files and data I use external 2 GB HDD so I don’t really have storage size issue. The speed is awesome. Opening application and game (also loading save game) is blazing fast.

  3. I installed a 512GB Crucial M4 SSD in my MacBook Pro i7 with 8GB RAM, as you say Jacob it makes a big difference. My MBP boots into 10.8 in maybe 5 seconds. Creative Suite CS6 is really snappy, was worth every penny IMO.

  4. SSD is definitely the way to go! My new Macbook pro retina 2.6 I7 with 16GB ram, is a rocketship compared to my 2009 Macbook pro. The price does need to come down a bit, but the benefits are worth it! It starts up and shuts down in a few seconds and manages to run multiple programs at once with ease. (similar programs, that you mentioned Jacob)

  5. Until it goes down in prices I won’t buy one. Way too much. Btw, 4 gigs of RAM?? Jesus, how do you do it? It isn’t enough (for me) with 8. I use an iMac with 16 giga and use at least 10 to have what you have open.

      • Try to look for a boost there as well, definitely recommend it. You will also spot the difference. RAM is very much needed for programs such as PS and AI and ID.

        The SSD comes in handy when it comes to reading/writing information off a hard-drive, and obviously when RAM solicits the information off the hard-drive for instructions for a processor to uhh,…yeah..process :p. The speeds are just not comparable to standard 7500 RPM hard drive that pretty much all personal computers come with (servers as far as I know, peak at 15k).

        But the more RAM you have, the more volatile memory you can use for applications that truly demand it.

  6. Jacob, a bit off-topic if I may – you mentioned you are using a 27″ display. Is this the Apple Thunderbolt or a 3rd party display? I’d be interested to know what you are using if a 3rd party screen.

    • Jaco,
      It is a Mac 27″ Display, without Thunderbolt (I bought it about 2 weeks before that came out). You can see the rest of my hardware and software as linked in the article above. Thanks!

  7. I recently picked up a Sony VAIO Ultrabook and swapped out the 500gig HDD for a 120gig SSD Intel 520 Series based on the model’s efficiency and reduced power consumption. Laptop battery life is around 8-10 hours now (Usually supposed to be just over 5 hours) and the system boots up and powers down within 15 seconds. Application open time is a few seconds. Overall, a noticeable difference in system performance and battery life

    I also grabbed an 256gig OCZ (Overclockerz) Vertext 4 SSD for my desktop and have installed my operating system and a few other vital programs on the drive, using my other 1TB HDDs to store the majority of my files and less demanding applications. Works an absolute treat.

  8. SSD drives are definetly the way to go. But prices are still a bit high for the Gb capacity they offer. Thanks for posting.

    • Combine SSD + HDD, put the OS and the most usefull programs on the SSD and you will never look back.
      SSD are not so cheap, but what you gain is 10 times to 100 times faster driver! HDD have sequential reading speed of around 120-140 MB/S, what kills them are the random 4K read/write speed that are around half MB/s, the newest SSD have reading value for this 4K files around 100MB/s so this is how many time faster?

  9. Just did a an upgrade thanks to inspiration from this article. Laptop is now flyin’!

    Got a 480gb sandisk extreme from MSY computers for $375. Which is pretty cheap compared to some others. I’ve read pretty good reviews on it and its been flawless so far. Time will tell.

    I’d been meaning to do this upgrade for a while and just needed the slightest nudge. So thanks Jacob for pushing me over the edge 🙂

  10. I was sold the moment I saw Jacob posting about SSD, a friend told me about the incredible speed of SSD just few days before your post, after reading what you have experienced with SSD I changed the HDD to SSD on the very next day. Im on mid-2010 15″ Macbook Pro, I totally feel the difference, I got my machine boot up just for 14 sec, the thing is I’m not getting the full performance of the Samsung SSD, because pretty much computers before late 2011 is on SATA II connection, which will capped your reading/writing speed to about 250 MB/s, but when your machine is much newer equipment that has SATA III connection, this Samsung SSD can perform to 480 – 500 MB/s, which is doubled its predecessor.

    • Yes the SATA II is only 3gps 🙁 and if you have a beast performing 500MB/s they are very limited: but dont forget that this read/speed are only for sequential files, this means big files >100MB per file.

      For smaller files reading/write speed are VERY different.

      Next week I’ll get 2 samsung 840 pro 256GB in raid 0, can’t wait for them 😀

  11. Hi Jacob.

    Definitely there’s a huge difference in access time between a mechanical hard drive and SSD but there’s an at least as important if not bigger reason to pick SSD: Data Safety.

    Anything with mechanical parts is bound to break at some point, it might take a week, it might take a year or 10 years but at some point it will break…….. and if you don’t safe guard yourself with one (or more) backup solutions…. well you’ll be up that creek you know!
    Sure SSD is not fail-proof but you are removing the mechanical aspect which is the cause of most hard drives to fail.

    Only one way to go: SSD…….. except in my NAS, that would be way too expensive (and not enough space) with SSD.

  12. I heard the one downside is they used to fail a lot. I hear they fixed that, but the other scary thing is that (and I’m not sure, so you may want to check this out) is that when they do fail, recovering data is not as easy or not possible.

    I’ve had regular hard drives fail or start to fail and I’ve been able to get the data off before I trash it and get a new one. So my only concern is having a SSD go caput.

  13. FYI, you only need RAM for multi-tasking! 4gb ram is optimal for everything (unless you are brain dead and dont know how to close an application down :/). Unless you are converting/encoding a video, whilst playing some music, whilst using photoshop and probabily looking at porn on the net with at least 5 tabs open, you have no need for 16gb ram. same for 5/6 core processors, unless you are remotely operating a Boeing 747, its not needed.

  14. I’ve been using some early generation Samsung SSD’s since 2009 and I would never go back to a traditional HDD for my system drive. When you first move over to them, you’re blown away from how responsive and instantaneous so many things are.. But then you become used to it and it’s normal.. UNTIL.. You use somebody elses computer that doesn’t have an SSD.. Then you realise how painfully slow they are by comparison. I think it won’t be many more years before SSD is the norm, and I can’t wait until prices have dropped to a point where I can afford to replace the storage in my server. Which is especially noisey, hot and power inefficient.

  15. I absolutely recommend the use of an SSD. It not only speeds up your PC but is also more shock resistant – therefore definitely a good chice for everyone on the go.

  16. amazing dude 🙂 Thanks for sharing. If a higher capacity disk, it would be better. I want to store more data.

  17. SSD has made a big difference to my computer. Search is instant, programs load quicker and the general feel of the system is snappier. Well worth the money now.

  18. It is amazing how fast a SSD makes your computer. I recently upgraded to a Macbook Pro with SSD, I can’t believe what I was missing. I wish the prices would come down a bit though, so I could get more space.

  19. I’m so glad you wrote on this subject. I want a solid state hard drive so bad, but they’re still more expensive than I’m willing to pay for. I’ve heard that most people transfer their heavy tasking programs over to their solid state drive such as Adobe programs. Did you do this? It sounds like you did.

  20. I installed a 512GB Crucial M4 SSD in my MacBook Pro i7 with 8GB RAM, as you say Jacob it makes a big difference. My MBP boots into 10.8 in maybe 5 seconds. Creative Suite CS6 is really snappy, was worth every penny IMO.

  21. Definitely there’s a huge difference in access time between a mechanical hard drive and SSD but there’s an at least as important if not bigger reason to pick SSD: Data Safety.

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