What is Solid State?

The best way to boost computer performance

By Joseph Geddes, 29 January, 2020


iMac with an SSD upgrade

Solid State Drives

You may have heard of SSDs when looking at new computers, but did you know your current PC supports them?

An SSD is simply an electronic storage device, you can store your data on them just like a USB stick or Hard Drive.

The real magic is in the speed the data can reach your PC. A traditional Hard Drive can read data at around 80 to 160 MegaBytes per second, an entry level SSD can read data at around 500 MegaBytes per second. This makes a huge difference when copying files.

Latency

In addition to the faster read speeds, SSDs have far less latency when accessing a file.

Latency is the time it takes from request to delivery of data. When you open a file using a Hard Drive, the read head (think record player stylus) has to physically move to where that data is stored before it can be delivered.

With an SSD, the controller (management chip) is wired to every storage block directly. This means the latency when accessing files is near zero.

Resilience

If you’ve had computers for a few years, you may have experienced the symptoms of a failing hard drive. Common complaints are a clicking noise, slow performance and even failure to start / boot.

Hard Drives are highly sophisticated mechanical devices, when subjected to heat, shock or magnetism the tight tolerances inside the drive are affected. This can have catastrophic results for any data stored on the drive.

SSDs have no moving parts, data is all written and read electronically so they are far less sensitive to shock. There is still wear and tear, the data chips cannot be written to indefinitely but the controller is programmed to manage this.

SSDs can report their wear level to your device, their failures are more predictable and can therefore be worked around.

The catch

The main issue with SSDs has always been cost. When compared to Hard Drives, the price per Gigabyte is substantially higher. A 1TB (1000 Gigabyte) Hard Drive is £35.00 on Amazon, the same price as a 240 Gigabyte SSD. But in our experience, many users have far more storage than they need. Your laptop likely has a 500GB+ Hard Drive, take a look at your storage usage and see if a smaller SSD could work for you.

Installation

Moving to an SSD is not a daunting task, there is plenty of free software that can do the job. We’d always recommend you carry out a backup of your device before working on it.

If you’re interested in an SSD upgrade, we have carried out over 200 for many happy customers. Get in touch with us and get your device going!

Apple Mac, MacBook and iMacs

The process on these devices can be straight forward, the 2010 MacBook Pro for example is easier than most Laptops from Dell and HP. The iMac on the other hand requires specialist tools, extra thermal sensors and laser cut adhesive.

iMac with Display Assembly removed
iMac with Display Assembly removed
iMac with new adhesive
iMac with new adhesive

For the more complicated devices, we’d recommend that you bring it in to a computer shop like us. It’s just not feasible to carry out work like this on the dining room table!