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Getting The Most Out Of Your SSD

Our guide to your solid-state disk options, as well as how to get the best performance from your flash-based mass storage unit, with a look at Intel's X25-M drive and offerings on HP, Apple, and Sony portables.
Hello Upgrades
Then there's the other side of the coin where you've already bought that $1,300 notebook chocked full of take-along goodness. You don't really have a hankering or a need for a minimalist netbook, but you'd really like to make your friends swoon by mentioning you have an SSD in your laptop without having to go broke getting one in there. All right, that means you want to slide an SSD into your current portable.




Apricorn's DriveWire Universal Hard Drive Adapter helps move data from a mechanical hard drive onto a new SSD.
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The interface could be an issue. Most current portables will probably use a serial ATA (SATA) connection while older ones will be parallel ATA (PATA). Although there are PATA SSDs, the more common configuration is SATA, so you may have to dig a bit for the former. Also, the most common size for a hard drive in a portable computer is a 2.5 inches, but there are laptops that bypass that size and use smaller (1.8-inch) mechanical hard drives. Most SSD are 2.5-inch so determine what you have before you shell out your money.

Once you've cleared away the small details, you're going to need to clone your current mechanical hard drive onto your new SSD before you install it. If you have 300GB of a 320GB drive filled it's not going to make it onto a 128GB SSD. It won't even fit on a 256GB Samsung Flash SSD. Pare down your data to the capacity of your SSD if needed and then select something like Apricorn's DriveWire Universal Hard Drive Adapter (you can always eBay it when you're done) to do the cloning.

Which SSD should you consider? There are many. We've already mentioned Samsung's zippy 256GB Samsung Flash SSD announced in November (pricing not available), and Intel's X25-M. The Intel disk is fast but it will set you back north of $500 for the 80GB version. On the bright side, there is a 1.8-inch version available, the X18-M.

As an alternative, there's Patriot's 128GB Warp SSD. Despite the bump in capacity from 80GB to 128GB, the Warp costs at least 10 percent less than the X25-M, more than that (possibly) depending on where you look.

Down the road a little way is Ridata's Ultra-S Plus SSD drive. It's a slower than the aforementioned SSDs from Samsung, Intel and Patriot, but at around $300 for a 128GB SSD, it's not a bad deal for the bragging rights of it all.

These three SSDs are not, by any means, the sum total of all your choices. As we already mentioned, there are many others -- and there will be more by the middle of 2009. These are, however, reasonable examples of what's available right now just as the portables are. We're not entirely sold on SSDs just yet, either as a pre-installed component or as a user upgrade, but early adopters have plenty of choices.