Taking the SSD plunge

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Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:31 pm

Finally gonna do it. I will be cobbling together a system to play around with new Linux distros (specifically to run any apps that don't work well in a VM). I figure since it's going to be a "screw around" box which will likely be getting wiped, re-installed, and futzed around with a lot, having a fast system drive would be a plus.

Going with a 40GB Corsair as it seems to be a reasonable compromise between cost, performance, and brands I tend to trust. First thing I will do when it arrives is check whether it has the bug-fixed SandForce firmware already installed. If not, I will be updating the firmware before doing anything else with it.

Corsair's firmware updater claims to only support Vista/Win7... anyone tried flashing their Corsair SSD from XP? I don't have a physical system with Win7 installed at this point (only a Win7 VM), so flashing the firmware is going to be a PITA if I can't do it from XP.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:38 pm

As you will be rebooting frequently make sure you get a motherboard with a fast boot sequence.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:51 pm

I'd at least try and get a hold of a Win7/Vista box to do the firmware update if it's not already updated.

http://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=100449

Corsiar Forums wrote:This update has been validated for use with Windows 7 and Windows Vista. It has not been validated with Windows XP. Users are encouraged to update the drives with either Windows 7 or Windows Vista when possible.


I would be careful with the 2.4 update. There is a thread in there that says a ton of people are having errors updating. Might try 2.0 and see if that works for you.

http://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=100469
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:58 pm

End User wrote:As you will be rebooting frequently make sure you get a motherboard with a fast boot sequence.

I'm not willing to spend much on this beyond the SSD, so I'll be using a motherboard I have on hand, probably Socket AM2+ or AM3. That's a good point though -- for a multi-boot box, POST time is a lot more important than for a machine which is rebooted infrequently. If there's a wide variation in POST time between the motherboards I've got, I'll factor it into the decision.

DancinJack wrote:I'd at least try and get a hold of a Win7/Vista box to do the firmware update if it's not already updated.

http://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=100449

Corsiar Forums wrote:This update has been validated for use with Windows 7 and Windows Vista. It has not been validated with Windows XP. Users are encouraged to update the drives with either Windows 7 or Windows Vista when possible.

Yup, that's the post that had me concerned.

DancinJack wrote:I would be careful with the 2.4 update. There is a thread in there that says a ton of people are having errors updating. Might try 2.0 and see if that works for you.

http://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=100469

Ugh. Guess I need to do a bit more digging...
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:23 pm

Do you know anyone who might own a Vista or Win7 system with at least one eSATA port?
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:30 pm

I don't see a problem. Just backup everything, install windows 7 32 bit (30 days trial) do the firmware upgrade, reinstall Windows xp....or am i missing something?
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:31 pm

ludi wrote:Do you know anyone who might own a Vista or Win7 system with at least one eSATA port?

I'm actually not too concerned about that aspect of it; at worst it is only a moderate inconvenience. I can either bring it in to work and use one of the Win7 systems to flash it, or temporarily install an unactivated copy of Win7 for just long enough to do the firmware flash.

Edit: Looks like Arclight beat me to it by just a few seconds. Since it is a new drive, there's no need to even back anything up.

Edit 2: I'd still be interested in hearing whether anyone has flashed it from XP though, since that would turn it from moderately inconvenient to a no-brainer.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 pm

OK fine you got me, why a 40 GB SSD and not a 120? Why now and not later since manufacturers promised higher density drives with cheaper price tags in a few months?

BTW, never thought about your nick name, it's quite brilliant if you're a beer drinker. What is your fav. brand?
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:42 pm

Arclight wrote:OK fine you got me, why a 40 GB SSD and not a 120?

Because 40 GB is all I really need for what I plan to use it for, and the price point is consistent with what I'm willing to spend right now. Any data I actually care about will be stored on a mechanical hard drive (most likely over the network).

Arclight wrote:Why now and not later since manufacturers promised higher density drives with cheaper price tags in a few months?

This will still be the case a few months from now as well -- if you always wait for the "next great thing" you will wait forever. It seems that the firmware bugs which bit many of the early adopters are finally becoming a thing of the past, and that's the point at which I had planned to pull the trigger.

Arclight wrote:BTW, never thought about your nick name, it's quite brilliant if you're a beer drinker.

Beer drinker, certified beer judge (National rank, which means I am theoretically allowed to proctor the tasting exams though I haven't done so yet), and homebrewer (for 16 years and counting)! :D

Arclight wrote:What is your fav. brand?

It is very difficult to pick a favorite, it depends on the mood I'm in. If I had to pick a favorite style, I'd probably say hoppy pale ales / IPAs (since I seem to buy and brew these more frequently than any other style), but as a category they probably account for only about half of the beer I drink. On the brewing side, lately I've been into experimenting with odd ingredients (e.g. chipotle peppers) and "single hop varietal" pale ales (where instead of the more common practice of using several different kinds of hops a single strain of hop is used throughout the brewing and aging process to highlight the flavor and aroma characteristics of that hop).
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:45 pm

Dang, i didn't expect you to be so balls deep, as it were, into beer. Wow, certified judge and a home brewer? That has got to take passion. Idk much about beer making, all i heard it's that the hop is a key ingredient....At any rate, i bet being a beer judge has it's perks...
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:17 pm

You could just do this.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:03 pm

I agree with the other posters that it would be nice to get a mobo with a fast POST speed.
In terms of getting firmware on, just throw a copy of windows (or windows pe, a live boot cd) and update the firmware for the drive, then re-scrub the drive and put what ever you want on (linux, bsd, solaris, etc...)
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:00 pm

I personally think the 40gb drive is a bad idea. Why not buy a slightly slower but higher capacity drive?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-X25-M-80- ... 3f121a8790

These drives are regularly selling for 90-95 dollars on ebay and are still very very fast.

Speaking as someone who recently upgraded from the x-25m to a vertex 3, (essentially sata 2 to sata 3) honestly the differences in real world performance are pretty minimal.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:25 pm

Sunburn74 wrote:I personally think the 40gb drive is a bad idea. Why not buy a slightly slower but higher capacity drive?

Because I'd rather have speed than capacity for this use case? A full Linux installation typically only takes a few GB. Even if I'm multi-booting several different distros, I don't think 40 GB will be a problem.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:15 am

I realize linux doesn't need a lot storage wise. All I'm saying is as someone who owned an x-25m and just upgraded to vertex 3's running at full speed, in real world use there is no difference in performance. I realize the benchmarks are what they are, but in actual use outside of the increased space I gained, I honestly couldn't tell the difference. If this is a screw around box, I think that eventually that ssd will be pulled at some point and put to some other use. I personally have about 3 devices I am eyeing installing a ssd in (ps3, a couple of laptops, a desktop as well). Well for other uses would you prefer a 40gb drive or a 80gb drive? Outside of my ps3, i really can't find use for a 40gb drive. Anyway just a suggestion thats all. 10 dollars more may buy you 40 more gigs which is nothing to sneeze at imo.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:19 am

Sunburn74 wrote:I realize linux doesn't need a lot storage wise. All I'm saying is as someone who owned an x-25m and just upgraded to vertex 3's running at full speed, in real world use there is no difference in performance. I realize the benchmarks are what they are, but in actual use outside of the increased space I gained, I honestly couldn't tell the difference. If this is a screw around box, I think that eventually that ssd will be pulled at some point and put to some other use. I personally have about 3 devices I am eyeing installing a ssd in (ps3, a couple of laptops, a desktop as well). Well for other uses would you prefer a 40gb drive or a 80gb drive? Outside of my ps3, i really can't find use for a 40gb drive. Anyway just a suggestion thats all. 10 dollars more may buy you 40 more gigs which is nothing to sneeze at imo.

True... but then again, by the time I actually want to use it for something else, I'll be able to get a *much* larger and/or faster one for the same or less money. And if it ends up getting used as the system drive for a "real" desktop or server at some point, I'll probably RAID-1 the data partition(s) on separate (mechanical) drives anyhow, making the small size of the system drive irrelevant.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:18 am

But if the data on the SSD is as unimportant as you say it is, then why bother with an SSD at all? I mean, sure your OS might boot up a bit faster and installing a package might make your terminal scroll twice as fast, but what does it matter if you have to wait for the HDDs anyway as soon as you actually want to do something? All you are setting yourself up for is a box that opens up applications ridiculously fast, only to sit around and wait for the NAS or rusty platters to actually load your user data.

And, if you have a small SSD, the biggest advantages of todays fastest SSDs evaporate as long as you don't specifically take advantage of them. How much use are those high sequential read and write numbers if you only have 10GB of free space to play around with?

Just my €0.02 :P
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:29 am

Firestarter wrote:But if the data on the SSD is as unimportant as you say it is, then why bother with an SSD at all? I mean, sure your OS might boot up a bit faster and installing a package might make your terminal scroll twice as fast, but what does it matter if you have to wait for the HDDs anyway as soon as you actually want to do something? All you are setting yourself up for is a box that opens up applications ridiculously fast, only to sit around and wait for the NAS or rusty platters to actually load your user data.

And, if you have a small SSD, the biggest advantages of todays fastest SSDs evaporate as long as you don't specifically take advantage of them. How much use are those high sequential read and write numbers if you only have 10GB of free space to play around with?

Just my €0.02 :P


Did you read the OP?

No.

'nuff said.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:19 pm

There's also a good chance I'll end up building some custom kernels and/or packages from source at some point. A SSD -- even a small-ish one -- should help quite a bit with that as well.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:57 am

just brew it! wrote:There's also a good chance I'll end up building some custom kernels and/or packages from source at some point. A SSD -- even a small-ish one -- should help quite a bit with that as well.


Depends on the compiler. Some - like Visual Studio - do aggressive caching before compile and in turn remove the IO bottleneck.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:15 am

Ryu Connor wrote:
just brew it! wrote:There's also a good chance I'll end up building some custom kernels and/or packages from source at some point. A SSD -- even a small-ish one -- should help quite a bit with that as well.

Depends on the compiler. Some - like Visual Studio - do aggressive caching before compile and in turn remove the IO bottleneck.

Ahh, interesting. But in this case you would still need to make an initial pass through all of the source files to populate the cache. Wouldn't installing a buttload of RAM and letting the OS's normal file caching algorithm do its thing have approximately the same effect?

I've also seen references in various Linux forums to preloading all of the kernel source into a ramdisk prior to running a build. Essentially a manual version of what Visual Studio is doing...
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:05 pm

There's ccache "a fast C/C++ compiler cache" in Linux, which tries to only recompile files that have changed. It can also use distcc as the back end, so you setup distccd daemons on other computers for more help. :) I haven't actually tried this, since I don't compile anything too crazy, but I like the idea. :)

ccache
http://ccache.samba.org/manual.html

distcc
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distcc
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:45 pm

You say you want performance and yet you're wanting to get a 40GB drive? SSD's are parallel beasts, the larger the capacity, the better the performance. I wouldn't go any lower than 90GB if you want good SSD-wise performance...but thats just my opinion. I saw your response to Sunburn, but I agree with him. You never know where that SSD might end up in the future, don't limit yourself too much.

I've got a Corsair Force3 90GB ($90 after MIR) and an OCZ Vertex 3 120GB ($150 after MIR). Both work well for their respective implementations. The 120GB is being used on my gaming rig as I needed some extra space to install games on the ssd for improved level load times, it offers enough room to not have to worry about where youre installing your games and programs within reason. I still obviously had to move my music,movies,pictures,documents to a hdd. 90GB should otherwise suffice with enough room for a moderate amount of programs and/or a couple games. No bugs thus far on either.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:03 pm

DPete27 wrote:You say you want performance and yet you're wanting to get a 40GB drive? SSD's are parallel beasts, the larger the capacity, the better the performance.

Specs on that 40GB are 280 MB/s sequential read and 270 MB/s sequential write. Looks pretty good to me, especially considering none of the motherboards it is likely to be installed on any time soon have 6 Gb/sec SATA ports.

DPete27 wrote:I've got a Corsair Force3 90GB ($90 after MIR)

...and if I'd seen one of those for roughly that price, I would've probably gotten it instead. It is currently $140 on Newegg.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:01 am

just brew it! wrote:DPete27 wrote:
I've got a Corsair Force3 90GB ($90 after MIR)
...and if I'd seen one of those for roughly that price, I would've probably gotten it instead. It is currently $140 on Newegg.


Hey, I'm just sayin'. You can usually get 90-128GB Sandforce Async SSD's for around $1.25/GB or less on sale. Heck you can even get a Vertex 3 120GB for $150 on newegg right now, thats $1.25/GB. (Maybe get one of those for your main rig, this thread sounds more like dipping your toes in the pool than taking "the plunge") I recently bought a friend a Vertex 3 90GB for $110. I'm just letting you know that if you have a little time to wait for a sale, you could probably get a 90GB SSD for not much more than that $85 40GB one in your OP.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:46 pm

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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:16 am

1) The Corsair was already on order by the time you posted that.

2) Given recent events, I'm not touching OCZ with a 10 foot pole until the general consensus turns more positive.

Finally getting around to futzing around with this (the drive actually arrived over a week ago). It indeed came with old firmware (2.2... two versions out of date).

Since nobody answered the question regarding whether Corsair's firmware updater tool (which they say has only been tested in Vista/7) works in XP, I decided to get a little creative. Hooked the Corsair drive up to one of my screw-around systems, copied the Corsair firmware image to the desktop of my VirtualBox Win7 VM, and dumped a disk image of the VM straight into the Corsair. Powered down, unplugged the Linux boot drive, and started 'er back up. System came up on Win7 complaining about assorted missing device drivers, and wanting to re-activate.... but the important thing was recognizing the Corsair in AHCI mode (which it did).

The firmware flash to v2.4 went without incident. Later today I will wipe the temporary copy of Win7 and install Linux on it. First I want to install the 16 GB of RAM and Phenom II 1090T on the motherboard it will be used on... :wink:

Here it is hooked up to the above mentioned screw-around system:
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:42 pm

I'm sure you already know this, but (as a heads-up to anybody else who might be "taking the SSD plunge") make sure you secure erase it, not just reformat it, so that it's back to its fresh state.
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:52 pm

UberGerbil wrote:I'm sure you already know this, but (as a heads-up to anybody else who might be "taking the SSD plunge") make sure you secure erase it, not just reformat it, so that it's back to its fresh state.


The DOS based program from University of California at San Diego is less than ideal for this task. That it doesn't understand AHCI among the reasons.

Are there any alternative programs that actually work in the OS?
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Re: Taking the SSD plunge

Postposted on Sat Jan 28, 2012 4:17 pm

UberGerbil wrote:I'm sure you already know this, but (as a heads-up to anybody else who might be "taking the SSD plunge") make sure you secure erase it, not just reformat it, so that it's back to its fresh state.

I highly doubt that it matters, at least not for all models. I recently had to re-install the OS anew (because of motherboard + CPU upgrade), and I simply let the Windows 7 installation to erase old partitions and do a fresh install on same SSD. After this fresh re-install, I ran benchmarks like CrystalDiskMark and the results were similar to the ones that other people got (I checked reviews for this model which used same benchmark, then I checked Crucial's forums where people posted their own benchmarks) with same model of SSD.
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