SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

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SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:18 am

My Acer Timeline 1810TZ is still chugging along after 2.5 years and I have no complaints about it that can't be fixed with an SSD upgrade.

I've pretty much narrowed it down to a Crucial M4 or a Samsung 830. I need to do this as an in-place upgrade, and right now I'm looking at this kit, which Crucial guarantees to be compatible. Question: Are there better options? I know the bare drive sometimes goes on sale just under $200, but adding the parts and pieces for the transfer kit invariably parks my good friends Jackson and Hamilton onto the total, so I'm thinking the Crucial kit is probably my best option.

Then again, I do have some sort of transfer kit that came with my retail-boxed Intel 320 drive, although I'm not sure exactly what, because that drive was clean-installed in a desktop. I assume the transfer software is vendor locked.

Any thoughts?
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:21 pm

Just use that Bizlink cable that came with your intel, and then you can use the SSD drive you want. ANY SSD. (but probably the one that's on offer right now at a much better cost/GB ratio than everything that's not)

Apart from a cable or a drive caddy all you need is Clonezilla (free) and do a disk-to-disk image.
It might even work in beginner mode, but otherwise pick expert mode, leave everything on defaults apart from the destination disk size check. Skip this and tell it to use the partition table from the source, then let Windows figure it out if necessary (sometimes you need to expand the volume if you're going from a larger disk to a smaller disk).
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:42 pm

Well, that sounds workable enough. I'll have to dig that 320 box out of storage and verify that I really do have the cable in there.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:06 pm

What exactly do you need a transfer kit for? Cloning an hdd onto an ssd isn't ideal.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:33 pm

TDIdriver wrote:What exactly do you need a transfer kit for? Cloning an hdd onto an ssd isn't ideal.

This laptop came with no restore media and the option to burn ONE set of backup media. I have no idea if those burned discs would even work after a couple years in storage. Also, I have a copy of Office 2007 H&S, which includes 5 activations for use in one household. Four of those are taken, two gone forever as a result of a clean OS reinstalls. If I do a clean reinstall on the laptop then I use the last one, which I want to keep in reserve for a little longer as an emergency spare.

The current install, which sees only light use and very little new program installs or modification, is working great. So I just want to replicate it. That may mean I forfeit 100MB/s of peak throughput due to un-optimally aligned file table boundaries or whatever, but these days, that's not the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:34 pm

ludi wrote:Well, that sounds workable enough. I'll have to dig that 320 box out of storage and verify that I really do have the cable in there.


If you don't any old 2.5" external USB drive will do too. You can disassemble it and swap out the existing SATA disk with the one you want to clone from.
Or, if you don't have one of those you can buy the empty drive caddies over here for like £3. I'm sure amazon US have some for next to nothing if your local PC store doesn't.

As mentioned, cloning a HDD onto an SSD isn't ideal, but realigning the partition is pretty quick and easy (google "gparted live disk align") and don't forget to disable defrag. As you said, you can probably live with a misaligned partition - even with a 100MB/s handicap, an SSD is still miles better than anything that spins platters.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:45 pm

ludi wrote:
TDIdriver wrote:What exactly do you need a transfer kit for? Cloning an hdd onto an ssd isn't ideal.

This laptop came with no restore media and the option to burn ONE set of backup media. I have no idea if those burned discs would even work after a couple years in storage. Also, I have a copy of Office 2007 H&S, which includes 5 activations for use in one household. Four of those are taken, two gone forever as a result of a clean OS reinstalls. If I do a clean reinstall on the laptop then I use the last one, which I want to keep in reserve for a little longer as an emergency spare.

The current install, which sees only light use and very little new program installs or modification, is working great. So I just want to replicate it. That may mean I forfeit 100MB/s of peak throughput due to un-optimally aligned file table boundaries or whatever, but these days, that's not the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.

Is the laptop on W7? If so, you can use any W7 install disc(providing it's the same or lower version, ie home premium, etc) then use the code on the sticker on the laptop to activate it. You shouldn't have that problem with Office since the computer hardware ids and OS key are the same. I'll check into that.

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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:08 pm

That still leaves me with the question of whether or not I can actually get all of the Acer driver package for the machine, but it's a good start, and I might try it first just to see if it goes smoothly or not, then clone if it doesn't. Thanks.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:19 pm

***WARNING!*** Not all ssd's like sleep mode, sleep states.... **alot** of ssd failures are devices that were put to sleep and never wake up. I'd troll the two manufacture forums heavily to see if you can read a pattern of ssd failed after sleeping in a desktop or laptop.

if your dead set on a ssd, look to see what lenovo,dell and apple use for ssd vendors as they will be more heavily tested in such environmental where the user may force sleep a device, pull the plug...
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:34 pm

ludi wrote:This laptop came with no restore media and the option to burn ONE set of backup media. I have no idea if those burned discs would even work after a couple years in storage. Also, I have a copy of Office 2007 H&S, which includes 5 activations for use in one household. Four of those are taken, two gone forever as a result of a clean OS reinstalls. If I do a clean reinstall on the laptop then I use the last one, which I want to keep in reserve for a little longer as an emergency spare.


If its been more than a few months, those Office activations get 'reset'. I've used my key for H&S 3 pack probably 10-12 times through upgrades, new computers, messed up installs etc with no issues. Granted mine is 2010, but the worst I ever had to do was call and have it activated using the automated system. Never talked to anyone.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:59 pm

I think I killed my Vertex 2 with sleep; granted, those actually died outright. The replacement comes in the mail tomorrow.

I can say that the M4 works fine in all regards, as I'm using one in my Clevo right now, and Intel's 320's are also rock solid.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:53 pm

If you partition it with Win7 before bringing the image over, the alignment should be correct unless the imaging program insists on repartitioning things itself (even then, recent versions like Ghost 14 do things correctly). (I suggest partitioning it with about 10% left over as unpartitioned space just to have an added reservoir of NAND blocks, unless you anticipate being very short on space.)
Airmantharp wrote:I can say that the M4 works fine in all regards, as I'm using one in my Clevo right now, and Intel's 320's are also rock solid.
Yeah, the 830 in my desktop sleeps every night with no issues, and the 320 (the system drive when I boot Win8) hasn't had any problems either. This may be Yet Another SandForce Anomaly.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:34 am

I dug the Intel 320 retail box out of storage and found the easy-USB dongle and protective silicone slipcover still inside. Nice. Now I just need to lie in wait until the next time a 256GB M4 or 830 drops below $200 on a weekend sale.

Leaving some unpartitioned space for failure reallocation sounds like a good idea. A 128GB SSD wouldn't quite get me there because I need freespace for uploading and editing images from my camera while on the road, but a 256GB capacity should be fine. The current mechanical drive is 320GB and is nowhere near full.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:41 pm

ludi wrote:I dug the Intel 320 retail box out of storage and found the easy-USB dongle and protective silicone slipcover still inside. Nice. Now I just need to lie in wait until the next time a 256GB M4 or 830 drops below $200 on a weekend sale.

Leaving some unpartitioned space for failure reallocation sounds like a good idea. A 128GB SSD wouldn't quite get me there because I need freespace for uploading and editing images from my camera while on the road, but a 256GB capacity should be fine. The current mechanical drive is 320GB and is nowhere near full.


External drives are annoying, but they're perfect for uploading images for quick access. Just move the ones you need to edit onto the SSD if the mechanical interface is too slow for that, though it shouldn't be.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:54 am

It's officially on order. Someone mentioned in the comments to the Intel price discounts story that Amazon has a coupon offer which brings the 256GB Samsung 830 down to $210 shipped if you also take free Super Saver. I could have grabbed the M4 for $204 but based on TR's reviews I had been leaning toward the Samsung, so we'll see how she does.

External drives are annoying, but they're perfect for uploading images for quick access. Just move the ones you need to edit onto the SSD if the mechanical interface is too slow for that, though it shouldn't be.

I don't usually carry a portable hard drive with me when I have the laptop on the road, none of my trips these days are long enough to accrue that many images. Mostly I just like to make a memory card dump every 1-2 days for redundancy, especially when shooting photos at a client facility where it will be critical to have those later for reference. Then maybe I'll modify a few that I need to share or upload right away.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:02 pm

Congrats on picking up an awesome drive!

My comment was mostly related to the idea that you could get a 500GB+ USB drive for the price difference between the 128GB and 256GB 830's. But since the 256GB drive wasn't too expensive and it's more than enough storage for your uses, it sounds like you selected the best alternative.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:39 am

The Samsung 830 arrived in the second half of the week. I ended up doing an initial partition and format under Windows7 and then using Clonezilla, booting from a USB drive, to image the existing HDD to the new SSD over USB. The existing drive actually has three partitions (Recovery - 12GB, System - 100MB, and Windows - everything else) so I scaled back the size of the Windows partition so that all three partitions would fit neatly within the new SSD while leaving about 9GB unallocated.

Clonezilla was a little obscure to use, but once I found my way through it the job got done, and all three partitions mirrored correctly. I verified that the BIOS was running in AHCI mode and then disabled the defragmenter as well. System is not as snappy as my i5 desktop, but (1) duh and (2) it is noticeably quicker and that's what I wanted to see.

The only oddity is that Samsung's SSD Magician software reports exactly 250MB/s for sequential read and write when the benchmark utility is run with default settings. That smells like a motherboard controller limit although I'm not entirely sure how to interpret it. FWIW, random read and write are around 30k IOPS read and 15k IOPS write.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:52 am

ludi wrote:The Samsung 830 arrived in the second half of the week. I ended up doing an initial partition and format under Windows7 and then using Clonezilla, booting from a USB drive, to image the existing HDD to the new SSD over USB. The existing drive actually has three partitions (Recovery - 12GB, System - 100MB, and Windows - everything else) so I scaled back the size of the Windows partition so that all three partitions would fit neatly within the new SSD while leaving about 9GB unallocated.

Clonezilla was a little obscure to use, but once I found my way through it the job got done, and all three partitions mirrored correctly. I verified that the BIOS was running in AHCI mode and then disabled the defragmenter as well. System is not as snappy as my i5 desktop, but (1) duh and (2) it is noticeably quicker and that's what I wanted to see.

The only oddity is that Samsung's SSD Magician software reports exactly 250MB/s for sequential read and write when the benchmark utility is run with default settings. That smells like a motherboard controller limit although I'm not entirely sure how to interpret it. FWIW, random read and write are around 30k IOPS read and 15k IOPS write.


Noob question, is it plugged into a SataII port and not a SataIII?
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:08 am

yogibbear wrote:Noob question, is it plugged into a SataII port and not a SataIII?

Not sure, but given the age, probably SATA-I or SATA-II. I believe it's an Intel GS45 mobile chipset with an ICH9 hub, but I just spent some time on the Intel website and they don't go out of their way to identify which SATA standard it supports.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:45 am

ludi wrote:The Samsung 830 arrived in the second half of the week. I ended up doing an initial partition and format under Windows7 and then using Clonezilla, booting from a USB drive, to image the existing HDD to the new SSD over USB. The existing drive actually has three partitions (Recovery - 12GB, System - 100MB, and Windows - everything else) so I scaled back the size of the Windows partition so that all three partitions would fit neatly within the new SSD while leaving about 9GB unallocated.


If Clonezilla does sector based imaging instead of file based imagaing, then your partitions may not be aligned.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:29 pm

I imagine you've already done this, but as an FYI for anybody else who may find this thread later, since you've cloned from HD to SSD you'll have to turn off the defragger manually (which Windows 7 does automatically when it is installed onto an SSD, but won't do when it's just cloned over from an HD). Windows 8, interestingly, is a little more SSD-aware from what I've seen: there is now an "optimization" setting/dialog which does defragging on HDs and periodic TRIM commands on SSDs (of course the SSD and controller/drivers have to support TRIM, and since in that case the filesystem will be sending along TRIM commands anyway it probably won't do much.) So you actually leave "Optimization" turned on and trust that Windows 8 does the right thing for the right device (somewhat reassuringly, you can actually tell it to "Optimize Now" and you'll see it briefly report "TRIM" on an SSD rather than starting a Defrag)

There are other settings people like to futz with (like turning off prefetch and indexing) but they don't matter as much.
Ryu Connor wrote:If Clonezilla does sector based imaging instead of file based imagaing, then your partitions may not be aligned.
This can be verified one way or the other using DISKPART from an Administrative command prompt: once in DISKPART use LIST DISK to find the SSD (if you have several disks you'll have to go by the raw capacities to identify the SSD, or run DISKMGMT.MSC to give you a translation of volume name to disk number). With the disk number (n) at the DISKPART prompt:
SELECT DISK n
LIST PARTITION

For a disk partitioned with W7 you should see an offset of 1024 KB
Code: Select all
DISKPART> select disk 0

Disk 0 is now the selected disk.

DISKPART> list partition

  Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
  -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
  Partition 1    Primary            107 GB  1024 KB
One other thing for the Samsung 830 specifically: they released an updated firmware for it (CXM03B1Q) back in January. I assume the product in the channel now ships with that already installed, but you want to check with the SSD Magician software, and definitely want to install it if you still have the older version. (One oddity I noticed when doing this: you have to reboot the system for the SSD Magician to report the new version number. Simply using it to update the firmware and then checking the version again still reports the old version for some reason -- even if you quit the software and restart it -- making you think the firmware update silently failed. Only after I rebooted did SSD Magician report the correct new firmware version.)
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:59 am

IIRC another way is through the fsutil.

fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo x:

Code: Select all
Bytes Per Sector  :               512
Bytes Per Physical Sector :       512
Bytes Per Cluster :               4096
Bytes Per FileRecord Segment    : 1024 <---
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:54 am

SSD Magician reports that I already have the latest firmware.

From DISKPART:

Code: Select all
Partition ### Type           Size    Offset
------------- -------------- ------- --------
Partition 1   Recovery         12 GB  1024 KB
Partition 2   Primary         100 MB    12 GB
Partition 3   Primary         217 GB    12 GB


From FSUTIL -- same as what Ryu posted. Does the 1024 kB offset indicate that everything should be set up correctly, or are there further troubleshooting steps I should be trying?

For what it's worth the Recovery partition has no name at all, the 100MB partition is "SYSTEM RESERVED", and the remainder is the C: drive.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:37 am

2.5 year old laptop...highly doubt it has SATA III. 250MB/s is pretty much the upper limit for SATA II also.
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Re: SSD upgrade in a laptop -- best options?

Postposted on Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:43 am

I own a white Acer 1810tz with a 64 GB Crucial m4. No problems at all! Updating the firmware was also easy. I just used an application provided by Crucial and followed the instructions.
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