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
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.