Intel series 320 SSD review -
Installation and life-span recommendations
Installation and recommendations
On this page we want to share some thoughts on how to increase the lifespan and performance of your SSD. But first, the installation.
Installation of an SSD drive is no different than installing any other drive. Connect the SATA and power cable, and you are good to go. Once you power on that PC of yours, the first thing you'll notice; no more noise. That by itself is just downright weird opposed to the old fashioned spinning platters in an HDD.
My system boot drive many moons ago was a WD Raptor and when that HD is crunching, you know the HDD is alive alright. That's just no longer a reality. You will look at the SSD wondering "is that thing even working?", while the Windows 7 logo has already appeared on your monitor.
So no more purring and resonating or other weird noises. Completely silent, I like that very much.
The second factor you can rule out is heat. Modern day HDDs tend to get hot, or at the least quite warm. When not cooled down they can reach 40-50 Degrees C pretty easily. No worries though as the HDD can handle it, yet the SSD remains completely cool to lukewarm. Most SSD drives will get to roughly 25 Degrees C.
Then there's that first boot up on the SSD, weird ... it's fast ... really fast. That's where you'll get the first smile on your face. But let's talk about taking some precautions, remember this is an MLC based drive, we want it to last at least ten years right?
SSD life-span recommendations
Drive wearing on any SSD based drive will always be a ghost in the back of your mind. Clever SSD firmware will help you out greatly but there are some recommendations and tips for a long lifespan and optimal performance. Basically, what is needed is to eliminate the HDD optimizations within Vista or Windows 7 (that cause lots of small file writes like superfetch and prefetch).
In short (and this is for Vista and Windows 7) make sure you have:
- Drive indexing disabled (of no use for SSD anyway, because access times are so low).
- Prefetch disabled
- Superfetch disabled
- Defrag disabled.
So make sure you disable prefetchers. Also, especially with Vista and windows 7, make sure you disable background defragmentation on the SSD disk. You do not have a mechanical drive anymore so it is not needed, you do not want defragmentation to wear out your SSD, and Vista and Windows 7 do this automatically when your PC is in idle (picking it's nose).
For Superfetch/prefetchers and other services, at command prompt just type: services
Use Windows 7 / Vista's services to disable them. To disable defragmentation:
Windows 7 and Vista Automatic Defrag:
1. Click Start
2. Click Control Panel
3. Select the Control Panel Home
4. Click System and Maintenance
5. Under the Administrative Tools section at the bottom, click Defragment your hard drive
6. You may need to grant permission to open the disk defragmenter
7. Click or unclick Run automatically (disable) depending if you want this feature enabled or disabled.
8. Click OK
OR alternatively at the prompt just type : dfrgui
Now over time your SSD will get a little fragmented but it's NAND flash and there's no mechanical head moving back and forth to access that data so just leave it disabled.
Windows 7 and the SSD TRIM feature
Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 support the TRIM function, which the OSs use when they detect that a file is being deleted from an SSD. When the OS deletes a file on an SSD, it updates the file system but also tells the SSD via the TRIM command which pages should be deleted. At the time of the delete, the SSD can read the block into memory, erase the block, and write back only pages with data in them. The delete is slower, but you get no performance degradation for writes because the pages are already empty, and write performance is generally what you care about.
Note that the firmware in the SSD has to support TRIM, but the good news is that firmware updates are coming out for many SSDs to add TRIM support.
TRIM only improves performance when you delete files. If you are overwriting an existing file, TRIM doesn't help and you'll get the same write performance degradation as without TRIM.
The last tip we want to give you to gain a little extra performance boost is that you enable AHCI mode. AHCI mode can help out greatly in performance for SSDs. Now, if you swap out an HDD for an SSD with the operating system cloned and THEN enable AHCI in the BIOS, then you'll likely get a boot error / BSOD.
The common question is, is there a solution for this?
To answer that question (and as we do safely with all modern chipsets) there is a way to safely enable AHCI mode. Here we go:
1. Startup "Regedit"
2. Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SYSTEM / CurrentControlset / Services
3. Open msahci
4. In the right field left click on "start" and go to Modify
5. In the value Data field enter "0" and click "ok"
6. exit "Regedit"
7. Reboot Rig and enter BIOS (typically hold "Delete" key while Booting)
In your BIOS select "Integrated Peripherals" and on chip PATA/SATA Devices. Now change SATA Mode from IDE to AHCI.
You now boot into windows 7 or Vista, and the OS will recognize AHCI and install the devices. Now the system needs one more reboot and voila... enjoy the improved SSD performance.
We review the Intel series 520 240GB SSD. They now have multiple SSDs on the market initially with their proprietary controller, then a Marvel controller, and today Intel releases the Series 520 SSDs based on SandForce, well LSI these days.
Intel series 320 SSD review
We review the Intel series 320 SSD. Armed with cheaper NAND flash memory this drive competes at the middle segment tagged with a decent price. But will it be enough to compete with the competition ?