questionswhat’s with this ssd thing?

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While SSDs do offer huge performance gains, bumping up the RAM is usually a much cheaper enhancement compared to the degree of improvement.

That said, it sounds like your laptops are old enough that in your case it's not worth it. Get a good deal on some relatively bare bones laptops, maybe with good video and integrated bluetooth, and then buying replacement RAM (and 7200 RPM drives or SSDs) for those.

However, when it comes to SSDs, you may really want to reconsider your storage capacity requirement. They're not something you want to keep archival-type stuff on, as they do degrade considerably over time. I would recommend a smaller SSD and an external drive you can use for backup and occasionally swapping data back and forth.

Oh, and I'd really recommend against being an early adopter on Windows 8. Usually it's painful to move to a new MS product before it gets to its first service pack.

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I wouldn't spend $379 dollars on a laptop upgrade, period. Laptops lose value at such a staggering rate they make new Chryslers look like solid investments. If you want more storage, buy a sizable external drive for backing up your stuff to. Few laptops make it past (or for that matter, to) the 5 year mark anyways, so I don't see buying new primary hard drives for them as being a good idea.

I would wager that if you looked up what your laptops are worth on the used market, none of the ones you have are worth the $379 you would spend on that SSD. I'm not saying they're junk, just that they depreciate that quickly.

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@okham: I have to disagree. An SSD is the biggest improvement you can make for an older computer. If you cannot increase the CPU performance, then the hard drive is the next best thing.

So hold onto your old hard drive when you purchase an SSD. Then, whenever you get your new computer with Windows 8, you already have an SSD. If it comes with one, then you have two -- even better.

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Personally, I don't think it's worth it, unless you're doing high end graphic/video work or gaming. Save the money, and get a good standard drive.

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On the question of Win 8...I have been playing with it on a partition on my laptop and it is NOT a good interface for a non-touch screen. I find myself continually going back to Win 7. If you want to try it yourself, go to Microsoft and download the preview (if you have the restore disks or partition you can easily revert). It is free and worth checking out if you plan to wait for Windows 8.

I can see it being a good touch interface, but not good for mouse/keyboard/monitor setup.

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(Continued) I would also stick with Windows 7 for now. I've seen nothing in Win 8 that makes me even remotely want to swap when it officially releases, and instead actually a few things I don't like vs 7. If you want your laptop to look more like a smartphone by all means install win 8 previews, but for me I like my computers to act like a computer, not a smartphone.

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If you've already max'd out the RAM in those laptops AND the hard drives are not 7200 RPM drives, then an SSD may be a good idea.

I wouldn't go for a huge SSD drive though. Get something about two or three times the size of your OS and main programs (not including your music, video and other media files). Also get an external case for your existing drive (these cases normally cost about $10 and I've purchased several for $6 including shipping). Use the SSD in the laptop and turn the (currently) internal HD into an external USB drive to hold most of the media content.

And Windows 8 probably isn't all that good an idea (an even-numbered Microsoft release, prior to its first service pack, not using a touch interface... just too many strikes, IMHO).

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SSDs are hard drives. Any activity that involves reading from or writing to the hard drive is going to be impacted by the hard drive speed. SSDs have a huge performance gain over standard hard drives in the disk I/O.

A SSD will improve things like booting to Windows, opening applications, editing photos, listening to music, etc.

Keep in mind too that an SSD will help increase battery life of your device. SSDs don't have spindles that need to move to read/write data.

If storage space is a concern think about an external or network drive for things you dont NEED to keep on your computer.

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Depending on the model laptop, you may have room for two hard drives. If that's the case, you can get an SSD as your primary where all the programs, OS and frequently accessed data live, then a second drive for storing data.

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Assuming the computer isn't low-end, an SSD is the biggest improvement in experience you can buy these days. More RAM and such might make a small difference, but for normal and high performance computer use a SSD is like magic. So much of the lag time (time spent waiting for your computer to do something) is disk based these days and SSDs are just ludicrously fast at random reads compared to mechanical drives. Ars Technica had an excellent primer on them recently (http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/06/inside-the-ssd-revolution-how-solid-state-disks-really-work/), it's a longer but very informative read.

With that said, putting a new SSD in a 5-year-old laptop is going to be a bit of a waste. Ideally you'd want a new laptop with an SSD as a main (OS) drive and use either a second internal mechanical drive or an external mechanical drive for your generic storage. You'll never want to go back when your OS boots in 10 seconds, trust me.

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An SSD is easily 3-5 times the speed of an HDD, and depending on usage more like 10 times.

When you say you're desperate to replace your computer what is your bottleneck? If you're being bottlenecked by disk i/o, then yes it's worth it. CPU or GPU won't be helped by an SSD.

It also depends on your price point for a replacement laptop. $400 to stave off a $1500 purchase for a year is well worth it. Not so much for a $500 laptop. Also keep in mind that even if you end up getting a new computer, you can keep the SSD over and continue enjoying it.

A few people mentioned getting an external drive for data. If you don't need your optical drive replacing the optical drive with an SSD is also an option (or get a USB DVD instead). You'll need an adapter and some computer know-how to replace it.

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I'd have to agree with @pasux with bumping up RAM first.

My Macbook is roughly four years old now.. started out with 2GB of RAM which made having more than five tabs on Google Chrome lag the computer to hell and then I bumped it up to 8GB of RAM about four months ago (from amazon box) and it's good as new again... plus I think I benchmarked like having 30+ tabs (which I wouldn't need that much anyways) until my Macbook starting struggling a bit.

SSD is the new trend these days, it's faster and it doesn't require a spinning disc inside it, so that means it can be smaller. But the current downside of SSDs right now is that it's still expensive and it still doesn't hold enough space (for one unit) as much as a regular HD would.

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@psaux: exactly

Get a hard drive at 7200rpm not 5400 like some are sold, itll make a difference, but unless your doing something where your laptop can get easily damaged, large drops, or you need amazing speed then you can do with a normal hard drive at 7200, more ram is really the better option. Also get something with windows 7, most of the bugs are gone.

You can wait till windows 8 comes out to snag a few deals on the computers it really depends on how desperate you are for new computers.

Not trying to confuse you any more but if you can get something with a 3rd gen intel i5, or i7, (id go for the i5) computer makers are just starting to put them in.

Dont spend more than $500-700 on a new laptop. My personal suggestion would be a HP DV6 with 8gb ram, 500-700gb harddrive, 3rd gen i5 and no vid card (thats why im suggesting the 3rd gen, the on-board graphics are really good in this gen).

You can decide if waiting for a few months is a good ideat to save a few $$$.

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I'm going to have to agree with most folk.
You have a crappy old Powerbook with a 20gb 3600rpm hdd? Can't just use it for a frisbee?
Max the ram chips, then get no larger than the 128gb SSD. Need more room? Get an external.
Yes the SSDs are really fast, but if your hard drive isn't slowing you down an SSD won't speed you up.
The present SSDs also have a lower lifespan than HDDs- don't be in a hurry to spend all your money.
If your laptop is more than three years old, save for a new one. Unless you have a spouse and/or youngish kids to give your upgraded old ones to, don't spend a lot to upgrade them.

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I just looked at today's Frys ad, and for $270 I can get a new laptop that's probably better than yours after you fix it.
I'm actually going there now, for the blank DVDs lossleader and the 32gb flash drives. "So f'n what!?!?" they say.
Well, I can format that 32gb into two virtual HDDs. Win7, Win8, and OSX can then use them separately for cache and temp files. That'll give me 8gb for "pagefile.sys", and 24gb for temp files, which are two big things my HDD won't have to do. You want to see Photoshop on turbo? This works. Won't do crap for Word, or Google, but big heavy Excel, Filemaker or Access files will fly.

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@gidgaf: Regarding pagefile.sys - I have found that some classic unix wisdom goes a long ways on that matter as well. Any time I set up a windows box (which isn't that often any more) I immediately repartition the main HD and make a swap partition of ~8gb for that purpose. Direct windows to only swap there and things are a lot more manageable since the paging file isn't fragmenting the main HD (or partition) to holy hell. It also makes defragmentation easier since sometimes windows doesn't want to move the swap file around while trying to defrag the rest of the drive.

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with what you describe, I just find that this works really well for single-drive systems.

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Wow. This is EXACTLY why I participate in this community….intelligent, concise answers/opinions without judgment. I appreciate all of your feedback so far. Cheers.

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Anyone know if these have a noticeable reduction in power draw over HDD?
I ask since ideally a SSD draws less, meaning if my tablet recognizes it, I can use the drive for a massive amount of portable storage.

(already have the 32gb A500 w/ 64gb microSDHC card.....but movies and pictures take up a bunch of space)

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@lparsons42: I think we agree, but ... in my view of the elephant:
In a single drive system, the HDD mechanicals is like a one handed poker player.
No matter how many platters, or how many heads, that one arm goes back and forth.
When you read, write, copy, cache or layer a file, it's still that same arm back and forth.
Using my spare yellow mobo USB connector (my other system) to hold a couple of drives, that arm doesn't move for them. Pagefile is a drive, done thru CPU and software. It's just one thing that HDD isn't doing, and bumping it doesn't interrupt anything else. And when I'm batch processing those 400 wedding photos thru Photoshop, using the other USB drive as a temp file repository means that the HDD doesn't have to read AND copy AND process AND write every 3 to 5 gb picture; it reads each into the flash drive, processes it from there and then writes it to disk.
Like I said, for most things I'd never even know these were there, but when I need them ... zoom happens.

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I too like Linux for most things, but some things I need/ want/ am used to Windows for.
And I do IT. "User" is a four letter word for a reason. I need to know what they screwed up.

I'm getting to really like showing users PCLOS Full Monty, after they ask about installing Win8.
It's quick, easy, and they're up and running right away. And happy.
Yeah, you coulda had this years ago.