SSDs: A great upgrade for any laptop

One of my favourite things about the now-ancient Asus EeePC 701 was the tiny 4GB SSD that it shipped with.  It meant that the EeePC could be completely silent – something that I think is underrated in general.

Now, I’m fussy about system noise, I realize this.  But if you haven’t used a completely silent computer, you owe it to yourself to try.  They are a joy to use.  Maybe it’s just the amount of time I spend in our noisy server room at work, but I find the noise (if any) of a computer to be absolutely key to how much I enjoy using it.

My HP 2710p sold me on the value of SSDs.  Here’s a computer with pretty low-end specs:  Core 2 Duo at 1.2GHz, 1.8″ PATA 4200 RPM drive, nothing special.  Add an SSD into the mix and suddenly you have a much faster – and silent machine.  The end result:  The HP 2710p is pretty much still my favourite all-around PC.

The MacBook Air, though, was what really sold me on the idea.  Again, this machine is now great shakes spec-wise:  1.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM.  Still, with the super-fast SSD that Apple ships with, the machine just flies.  In day-to-day use, I find the little MacBook Air to be faster than both a current-model 13″ MacBook Pro and an older 15″ MacBook Pro, both of which have better CPUs and more RAM.

Now I have added SSDs to my old HP Mini-Note 2133 and my ancient but still-mighty IBM ThinkPad R50p.  The R50p, off the assembly line in April 2004, is worth keeping around because it has a 15″ 1600×1200 IPS screen.  This makes it perfect for print production.  The 5400RPM drive in it has now been replaced with a KingSpec 64GB PATA SSD and already the machine is faster, and silent under light load.

If you’re not convinced that the upgrade to an SSD is worthwhile and need the space of traditional drives, the Seagate Momentus XT line is an interesting option:  They pair a 500GB SATA drive with a 4GB SSD buffer.  The result is performance approaching that of an SSD but with a standard HD capacity, all at only about $40 more than a traditional 500GB SATA drive.  If hard drive noise doesn’t bother you, this is a great upgrade.

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