In­stall an SSD to boost your PC’s per­for­mance

Chris Martin re­veals how to in­stall an SSD as your Win­dows boot drive and max­imise a PC’s po­ten­tial

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

When in­stalled on a solid-state drive, Win­dows not only boots and shuts down quicker but ap­pli­ca­tions load faster and the com­puter feels more re­spon­sive. Plus, since prices have fallen con­sid­er­ably in re­cent years, an SSD is much more af­ford­able.

If you’re still not con­vinced it’s worth the has­sle, we took an Alien­ware X51 PC that’s a few years old and well used and ran var­i­ous tests be­fore and af­ter in­stalling a 128GB In­te­gral V Se­ries SSD, which costs just £39.99 from Ama­zon. As you can see in our ta­ble, you can ex­pect your PC to boot up sig­nif­i­cantly quicker, in our case more than twice as fast. You’ll also pro­grams and games load quick (look at the dif­fer­ence start­ing Over­watch), files move faster and gen­er­ally more re­spon­sive per­for­mance.

Be­fore you be­gin

Al­most every PC case has in­ter­nal bays for adding ex­tra hard disks, which are 3.5in wide. SSDs tend to be 2.5in wide though, so you may need a mount­ing bracket to fit one in your com­puter. SSDs have Se­rial ATA (SATA) data con­nec­tors, of which there are three ver­sions (1, 2 or 3), that can trans­fer data at 1.5-, 3- or 6Gb/s, re­spec­tively.

It doesn’t mat­ter if your com­puter doesn’t sup­port SATA 3. SSDs are back­wards com­pat­i­ble, and se­quen­tial trans­fer speed isn’t the only rea­son for their im­proved per­for­mance. More im­por­tant is their much-re­duced la­tency over con­ven­tional hard disks, as it takes far less time to ac­cess data from an SSD’s NAND flash mem­ory than for a hard disk’s me­chan­i­cal arm to move into po­si­tion. There are a few disadvantages to be aware of, though. SSDs cost more per GB of stor­age than con­ven­tional hard disks. Plus, their ca­pac­i­ties top out at around 512GB, which is well short of the cur­rent 4TB max­i­mum for hard disks. It makes sense to keep Win­dows and your apps on the SSD, which will ben­e­fit from the im­proved load­ing times, and large me­dia col­lec­tions on a sep­a­rate hard disk. We’ll also ex­plain how to con­fig­ure the BIOS and Win­dows.

For the rest of this tu­to­rial, we’re us­ing a desktop PC with an Asus P8P67 Pro mother­board and a Frac­tal De­sign De­fine R3 case, which has in­ter­nal space for SSDs, but our ad­vice ap­plies to any desktop com­puter. You can in­stall a fresh copy of Win­dows or trans­fer your cur­rent op­er­at­ing sys­tem. There are plenty of pro­grams for do­ing this job, such as Acro­nis True Image HD.

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