SSD for you?

crucial-mx500-ssd

SSD for you? A reader asks…

I was wondering what would be the most valuable upgrade to my laptop computer. I already have 16gb of RAM. It has a 7200rpm, 500gb 2.5″ hard drive, and an Intel i5 processor.

Since you have plenty of RAM, your most valuable upgrade will be replacing that old spinning hard drive for a solid-state drive (SSD). SSDs today are very reliable and long-lasting, plus they are significantly faster than your existing hard drive. With no moving parts, they are also less prone to error due to bumps, which happen to laptops more often than desktops. With a spinning hard drive, a bump while the drive is powered up can cause the hardware to malfunction and damage the drive.

If your laptop is only a year or two old, likely the SATA port that handles data transfer from the hard drive is pretty speedy – SATA 6.0Gb/s so you’ll want to get an SSD that operates at that rate. Crucial’s MX500 series are low-cost, and support that fast data transfer rate. They come in sizes from 250gb to 2tb. When you buy direct from Crucial.com, you can also buy a Crucial SSD Install Kit which has the tools and software you need to transfer the contents of your current hard drive to the new drive.

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samsung-970-pro-m2-ssd

If your laptop has an M.2 port built into the motherboard, you can get an even faster data transfer device by purchasing an NVMe M.2 SSD instead. But be sure to check that the SSD you buy has ultra-fast speeds. Look for drives that support:

  1. Read speed: look for 1,800-3,500mb/sec
  2. Write speed look for 2,500-3,500mb/sec (you might also see IOPS measurements)
  3. NVMe and PCIe 3.0×4 indicators in the specifications

Of course, you’re going to pay a lot more for such insane speed. While a 1tb SATA6 SSD will run you perhaps $135, a 1tb M.2 SSD will run you more like $350. Not all M.2 SSDs will have those data transfer rates. Intel’s 600p series do, such as the 1tb Intel 600p M.2 drive at Amazon for $350. Or the Samsung 970 Pro series, such the 1tb Samsung 970 Pro M.2 drive at Amazon for $348.

If you go the M.2 method, you’ll want to install the new drive, then run disk cloning software to copy everything from the existing hard drive to the new M.2 drive. Then you’ll need to adjust your laptops’s boot order (in the BIOS) so it looks first to boot from the new M.2 drive. Once you have the new M.2 drive handling everything, you can reformat the old hard drive (still installed in the laptop) and use it for secondary storage.

If you need more specifics, use the comments section to tell me your laptop’s exact brand and model number. If it’s a Dell, your Service tag will also be helpful. Of course, you’ll need to be comfortable working on the insides of your laptop, otherwise you should get a trusted techie friend or a professional computer repair shop to handle this for you.

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