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2labz's picture
Written on Thursday, January 15, 2015
Pros: easy to install in desktop, faster, reduced power consumption, runs cooler and quieter
Cons: expensive, may be hard to install in laptop, requires upgrade kit

Is that laptop running slower than you’d like? Does it so long to boot up that you never turn it off? Have all those media files you’ve downloaded taken up the available space? If you can answer “yes” to all those questions, you might be a candidate for a solid-state drive like the Samsung 840 EVO. It’s fast, it’s sleek, and it can be dirt-simple to install.

I tucked one of these into a four-year-old desktop machine (a Dell Precision T3500) and found that it decreased boot-up time by more than half and decreased I/O time on large files by about the same. It also gave me much faster processing for a high-end 3D graphics package used in the oil industry.

If you’re going to install it yourself, you need to do some prep work, mainly cleaning all the junk off you existing hard drive. I left the conventional 1-TB hard drive in place for backup files and other data that didn’t need frequent access. That’s easy in a desktop, but in a laptop you may not have the luxury of a second drive bay. Since this drive is sized to fit a laptop, anyone wanting to install it in a desktop will need a bracket (less than ten bucks).

You’ll also need an upgrade kit: this is a special cable that allows you to clone your existing hard drive (transfer all or some of the files) to the new drive via a USB port. All told, the process took several hours – most of which was cloning the old drive.

If you’re not up to the task, the geeks at your local PC store will install it for you for a price. Word of advice in either case: back up all your files to an external drive or drives first and clean media files off the current hard drive. I stripped everything off mine, even Office and other software, and then re-installed the software on the new SDD. This also allows you to defrag the hard drive before cloning it.

A solid-state drive runs faster, cooler and quieter than a conventional disk-drive, uses less power (which improves laptop battery life) and is less prone to failure. Bear in mind, however, that an SSD’s design limits the number of write/overwrite cycles. The management software included by Samsung monitors the drive, tracking both space usage and the number of cycles remaining. 

My Samsung EVO 840 has proven to be a dependable workhorse and has speeded up the system to the same response time as a similar workstation that’s four years newer. Keep in mind, however, given at a cost of $250, you should weigh your options before installing such a device in an older computer, especially a basic laptop.

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2labz recommends Samsung 840 EVO 500-GB Solid-State Hard Drive

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Type: Hard Drive
Brand: Samsung
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