Will an SSD benefit me in my HTPC? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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So I building a new HTPC and I want to know if a SSD would help it? I just ordered one but I'm toying with the idea of putting it in my m11x gaming laptop and taking that drive (7200 rpm) and putting it in my HTPC. I want to stream all of my content from online/local so would an SSD really benefit me? I wouldn't be accessing media on the drive anyway?
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post #2 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 07:41 PM
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I recently upgrade to an SSD. I don't think it will help your videos when it comes to streaming because that's heavily dependant on your networking speeds. But it definitely makes the menus extremely snappy. I wasn't happy with 7mc's performance on a platter drive. But after the SSD, it's near XBMC's level of speed. I think right now the only lag is actually my remotes ability to send the commands. With SSD drives dropping in price, I think it's a no brainer to pick one up now or in the near future.

FWIW, my HTPC is the only computer in the house (out of 12) that has an SSD in it.

My family started making fun of me after they caught me excitedly saying "Look how fast it boots up!"
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post #3 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scl23enn4m3 View Post

But it definitely makes the menus extremely snappy. I wasn't happy with 7mc's performance on a platter drive. But after the SSD, it's near XBMC's level of speed. I think right now the only lag is actually my remotes ability to send the commands. With SSD drives dropping in price, I think it's a no brainer to pick one up now or in the near future.

Agreed. Any SSD makes a HUGE difference in 7MC and Mediabrowser menus.

Looky here!
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post #4 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 07:51 PM
 
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For the main operating system yes. I just stuck one in my netbook that I use all of the time. It is running a lot cooler, and a whole lot faster.
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post #5 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by robnix View Post

Agreed. Any SSD makes a HUGE difference in 7MC and Mediabrowser menus.

But would it be better than having an ssd in my gaming laptop?
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post #6 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 07:59 PM
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An SSD will make both the HTPC and gaming laptop more responsive depending on which one it is installed on. As to how much benefit you’ll get from an SSD on a HTPC that is always a subject of great debate here on AVS whenever it is raised. Personally after using SSD I would never go back to a HDD for an OS drive on any computer.

A 7200rpm HDD will most likely introduce additional noise into your HTPC compared to a SSD which may not be acceptable to you depending on your viewing environment and personal preferences.

As you are not storing content on the HTPC a large drive will be wasted other than providing increased storage if you’re using it as a DVR.

If you have the time and some storage capacity I suggest you try the SSD out on both by doing the following:
  • Install the SSD in the HTPC and play around with it to get an idea of how it performs.
  • Create an image of both you HTPC and laptop drives on an external backup.
  • Swap the SSD and HDD drives around and reinstall the system images (there may be some issues with how to do this correctly to avoid problems and I believe it has been discussed somewhere here on AVS already).
  • See how each systems performs.
  • Allocate the drives how it best works for you based on your evaluation.

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post #7 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 08:14 PM
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I'd use the SSD on the laptop. While there are tangible benefits to using it on the HTPC, the lack of moving parts just make the SSD a better option than a mechanical HDD for the laptop. On all the laptops I've used, the HDD usually fails after one or two years (likely because of the relatively high heat environment and getting bumped around).
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post #8 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 08:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kesawi View Post

An SSD will make both the HTPC and gaming laptop more responsive depending on which one it is installed on. As to how much benefit you’ll get from an SSD on a HTPC that is always a subject of great debate here on AVS whenever it is raised. Personally after using SSD I would never go back to a HDD for an OS drive on any computer.
A 7200rpm HDD will most likely introduce additional noise into your HTPC compared to a SSD which may not be acceptable to you depending on your viewing environment and personal preferences.
As you are not storing content on the HTPC a large drive will be wasted other than providing increased storage if you’re using it as a DVR.
If you have the time and some storage capacity I suggest you try the SSD out on both by doing the following:
  • Install the SSD in the HTPC and play around with it to get an idea of how it performs.
  • Create an image of both you HTPC and laptop drives on an external backup.
  • Swap the SSD and HDD drives around and reinstall the system images (there may be some issues with how to do this correctly to avoid problems and I believe it has been discussed somewhere here on AVS already).
  • See how each systems performs.
  • Allocate the drives how it best works for you based on your evaluation.

ehh seems like to much work ;p, I think I'll keep it in the htpc. From what I've experienced WMC, XBMC, and others are very slow programs unless you have the right hardware. But from what I've heard that right hardware would be an SSD, plus its not like I'm not satisfied with my aleinware, ITS A BEAST, but I just didn't want to throw money away if an SSD wouldn't help me.

Plus I've got over 50gb's of video games on my laptop now and its only a 60gb drive (the SSD) It would be a tight squeeze :P
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post #9 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 08:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

I'd use the SSD on the laptop. While there are tangible benefits to using it on the HTPC, the lack of moving parts just make the SSD a better option than a mechanical HDD for the laptop. On all the laptops I've used, the HDD usually fails after one or two years (likely because of the relatively high heat environment and getting bumped around).
most of the time my laptop sets on my desk plugged into my monitor, I think I'll wait till I have enough money for a 256gb drive and then put it in. smile.gif
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post #10 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by jadams639 View Post

I think I'll wait till I have enough money for a 256gb drive and then put it in. smile.gif

I hear ya. I had to wait for a sale on 512GB SSDs before upgrading my laptop. I just can't go any lower.
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post #11 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 08:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

I hear ya. I had to wait for a sale on 512GB SSDs before upgrading my laptop. I just can't go any lower.

jeez what do you have on your machine that takes up 500gb? I put all my movies on my 1TB NAS
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post #12 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by jadams639 View Post

jeez what do you have on your machine that takes up 500gb? I put all my movies on my 1TB NAS

And I have my movies and other media on a 12TB unRAID server. It's a laptop. It needs to be able to store data for when I don't have internet access. I think I only have one movie on there (Star Trek). However, it does have a couple of virtual machines, a copy of all family photos and home videos, my entire music library (in AAC/MP3) as well as a whole bunch of manga (this one's the biggest, >200GB).
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post #13 of 33 Old 06-27-2012, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by jadams639 View Post

Plus I've got over 50gb's of video games on my laptop now and its only a 60gb drive (the SSD) It would be a tight squeeze :P

Filling up an SSD will result in a reduction in speed over time due to the need to perform extra steps to overwrite deleted data (see http://www.anandtech.com/show/2738/8 for a good basic explanation). 60GB will be too small for your gaming laptop to prevent a rapid degredation in speed. The minimum I'd put in a laptop would be 120GB as it generally fills up with a lot of other stuff. If you need 240GB found it was cheaper to buy two 120GB drives and put them in RAID0 if you can. It's blink and you miss it fast, but unforuntately TRIM operation isn't supported yet for RAID yet although it is rumoured to be included in the next intel chipset driver update.

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post #14 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 04:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kesawi View Post

Filling up an SSD will result in a reduction in speed over time due to the need to perform extra steps to overwrite deleted data (see http://www.anandtech.com/show/2738/8 for a good basic explanation). 60GB will be too small for your gaming laptop to prevent a rapid degredation in speed. The minimum I'd put in a laptop would be 120GB as it generally fills up with a lot of other stuff. If you need 240GB found it was cheaper to buy two 120GB drives and put them in RAID0 if you can. It's blink and you miss it fast, but unforuntately TRIM operation isn't supported yet for RAID yet although it is rumoured to be included in the next intel chipset driver update.

And I wish I had space in my m11x to fit two drives for raid 0
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post #15 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 05:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jadams639 View Post

So I building a new HTPC and I want to know if a SSD would help it? I just ordered one but I'm toying with the idea of putting it in my m11x gaming laptop and taking that drive (7200 rpm) and putting it in my HTPC. I want to stream all of my content from online/local so would an SSD really benefit me? I wouldn't be accessing media on the drive anyway?

Noise, heat and power usage are guaranteed to drop. Speed for loading the OS, programs and data from disk is guaranteed to increase.

What is that worth to you?
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post #16 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by jadams639 View Post

And I wish I had space in my m11x to fit two drives for raid 0

Begs the question when we will have half-height SSDs. I suspect the current products are pretty empty inside. This is, where will the second SATA port come from on your laptop?

Of course, making a SSD that is internally RAID zero (or 5) is a possibility.
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post #17 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 06:04 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jadams639 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

I'd use the SSD on the laptop. While there are tangible benefits to using it on the HTPC, the lack of moving parts just make the SSD a better option than a mechanical HDD for the laptop. On all the laptops I've used, the HDD usually fails after one or two years (likely because of the relatively high heat environment and getting bumped around).
most of the time my laptop sets on my desk plugged into my monitor, I think I'll wait till I have enough money for a 256gb drive and then put it in. smile.gif
Best Buy had the Toshiba 1TB USB3 pocket drive for $90, which was the same cost as a 500gb. Get one, downsize the drive in the laptop, if you do like I do and store stuff on the pocket drive. Even if you load games, weigh that option as to how much space your current games are taking up, vs. regular media.
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post #18 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Begs the question when we will have half-height SSDs. I suspect the current products are pretty empty inside. This is, where will the second SATA port come from on your laptop?
Of course, making a SSD that is internally RAID zero (or 5) is a possibility.

SSDs are kinda in RAID configuration already. I think most normally have 8 channels and you usually have 1 to 2 NAND packages per channel and the controller spreads out the writes among those NAND packages. There is a thinner 7mm form factor for 2.5" SSDs (vs normal 9.5mm). There's also mSATA. Some laptops are coming out with both mSATA and normal 2.5" slot so you can use a dual-drive configuration. OS/programs on mSATA SSD and data on a 2.5" HDD.
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post #19 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 08:47 AM
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I think a very interesting development is the new introduction of SSDs specifically intended for use as cache drives rather than as system or storage drives, such as

393

and

350

I haven't really looked into this yet to see how these differ from standard SSDs, although I assume they have caching software built into the firmware. It will also be interesting to see how they compare performance wise to the use of a standard SSD in conjunction with Intel Smart Response Technology. (are you listening Anandtech? wink.gif )

Reviews of the second generation of the Seagate Momentus drive have said that it is far more effective than the first generation in "learning" how you use your pc. If that technology truly improves, then this may become a more viable alternative to using a larger SSD as a system disk. Many, if not most, of the things we want to speed up on an HTPC such as boot times are in fact repetitive tasks that can be "learned" and effectively cached. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Or of course, for those always looking for speed for the sake of speed, use a pair of 120GB SSDs in Raid 0 for the OS and programs, AND a cache SSD with the hard drive for data. biggrin.gif
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post #20 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I think a very interesting development is the new introduction of SSDs specifically intended for use as cache drives rather than as system or storage drives, such as
393
and
350
I haven't really looked into this yet to see how these differ from standard SSDs, although I assume they have caching software built into the firmware. It will also be interesting to see how they compare performance wise to the use of a standard SSD in conjunction with Intel Smart Response Technology. (are you listening Anandtech? wink.gif )

As I recall, caching software isn't built into the firmware. You have to install it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Or of course, for those always looking for speed for the sake of speed, use a pair of 120GB SSDs in Raid 0 for the OS and programs, AND a cache SSD with the hard drive for data. biggrin.gif

Lol, I'm considering going this route for the workstation. Not quite RAID-0 for OS and programs but a single SSD for OS and a cache for the data HDD. For the Intel Smart Response, do you know if it caches blocks of data or actual files? Another thing, does it cache writes or does it only speed up reads?
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post #21 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 09:40 AM
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As I recall, caching software isn't built into the firmware. You have to install it.

Looks like you're right. Looking at the Corsair website, it says "Corsair's new line of solid-state cache drives includes premium caching software from NVELO, for improved boot times and lightning-quick file access. After connecting an Accelerator Series SSD cache drive to their computer's SATA port and installing the caching software provided with the drive, users will see an immediate speed boost."

So then why would I want to pay a premium for these drives? There is a variety of caching software available, some of it free, and if you have a Z68, Z77 or H77 chipset, you have it built in to your motherboard already. But it looks like these "cache" drives are selling for a premium price over "standard" drives. I have no idea whether this NVELO software is any good or not. I assume that's what you're buying for the extra price. Are these disks really nothing but standard drives with less memory, a DVD with caching software, and a fancy new name and label? Or is there some other hardware or firmware change that optimizes their use as a cache?

I'm really looking forward to someone doing a good comparison review of the Intel SRT and various software cache solutions, as well as telling us whether there's anything different or special about these "cache" SSDs.

Sorry, can't answer your SRT questions. I'm hoping someone else can 'cause I'd like to know the answers as well.
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post #22 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

So then why would I want to pay a premium for these drives? There is a variety of caching software available, some of it free, and if you have a Z68, Z77 or H77 chipset, you have it built in to your motherboard already. But it looks like these "cache" drives are selling for a premium price over "standard" drives. I have no idea whether this NVELO software is any good or not. I assume that's what you're buying for the extra price. Are these disks really nothing but standard drives with less memory, a DVD with caching software, and a fancy new name and label? Or is there some other hardware or firmware change that optimizes their use as a cache?

I'm really looking forward to someone doing a good comparison review of the Intel SRT and various software cache solutions, as well as telling us whether there's anything different or special about these "cache" SSDs.

No idea if there are firmware optimizations. Hardware, though, it seems like these are just the same. I remember reading somewhere that someone dissected the Crucial Adrenaline and it was really just a Crucial m4. At least Intel's cache SSD were using SLC NAND which kinda justified the higher prices. rolleyes.gif

Edit: Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Intel SRT.
Quote:
In computing, Smart Response Technology (SRT) (pre-launch name SSD Caching) is a proprietary caching mechanism introduced in 2011 by Intel for their Z68 chipset (for the Sandy Bridge–series processors), which allows a SATA solid-state drive (SSD) to function as cache for a (conventional, magnetic) hard disk drive.

SRT is managed by Intel Rapid Storage Technology software version 10.5 or later, and implemented in its device driver and the Z68 motherboard's firmware (option ROM). It is available only when the (integrated) disk controller is configured in RAID mode (but not AHCI or IDE modes) by implementing a style of RAID-0 striping. Write-back (Maximized mode) or write-through (Enhanced mode) caching strategy can be selected by the user. The maximum utilizable cache size on the SSD is 64 GB. Caching is done at the logical block addressing (LBA) level, not the file level.

Shortly before the announcement of the new chipset, Intel also introduced the Intel 311 (Larson Creek), a 20 GB single-level cell (SLC) solid-state drive, which it markets as suitable for caching. TRIM garbage collection is currently not supported for SRT caching devices, so the SSD's performance is solely maintained by its own firmware.
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post #23 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by jadams639 View Post

ehh seems like to much work ;p, I think I'll keep it in the htpc. From what I've experienced WMC, XBMC, and others are very slow programs unless you have the right hardware. But from what I've heard that right hardware would be an SSD

It's the right hardware for a lot of reasons, but it is not required to get snappy performance out of WMC. I don't feel like navigating the WMC or MB menus was slower when using a 500GB 7200 rpm hard drive. Launching WMC from boot took a lot longer, booting took a lot longer, and restarts were always done "later." Now if I need to restart due to some update or installation, I just do it right then because it never takes more than a minute to get back. Launching a game will go faster, and loading a multiplayer map for gameplay will go lightning fast compared to how long you used to wait. Get used to the idea of seeing, "Waiting for other players to be ready" if you game with an SSD
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Originally Posted by scl23enn4m3 View Post

I recently upgrade to an SSD. I don't think it will help your videos when it comes to streaming because that's heavily dependant on your networking speeds. But it definitely makes the menus extremely snappy. I wasn't happy with 7mc's performance on a platter drive
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Originally Posted by robnix View Post

Agreed. Any SSD makes a HUGE difference in 7MC and Mediabrowser menus.

I'd challenge the menu snappiness statements

I think the scenarios where people are unhappy with menu performance on an 7200 magnetic drive only occurs when they are EITHER
  1. Using less than 4 GB RAM
  2. Using slower than 1333 RAM

Navigating Menus in WMC consists of switching between bunches of little icons named "NOFOCUS" and "FOCUS" which are png files sized something like 100x68 and 258x102 (Those are complete guesses, and no I'm not going to look up the official dimensions) at or around 30-50 kb file sizes.

All these files are resources loaded from the ehres.dll and they are all stored in RAM, so HDD or SDD performance will not help you out there unless you are utlitizing too much RAM somewhere else and it's caching to your C drive. That should be the only case where an SDD will help out menu performance in WMC, and that should realistically never occur if you are using enough ram

Loading ehres resources to ram will take longer, but switching between menus occurs after wmc is loaded
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post #24 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

It's the right hardware for a lot of reasons, but it is not required to get snappy performance out of WMC. I don't feel like navigating the WMC or MB menus was slower when using a 500GB 7200 rpm hard drive. Launching WMC from boot took a lot longer, booting took a lot longer, and restarts were always done "later." Now if I need to restart due to some update or installation, I just do it right then because it never takes more than a minute to get back. Launching a game will go faster, and loading a multiplayer map for gameplay will go lightning fast compared to how long you used to wait. Get used to the idea of seeing, "Waiting for other players to be ready" if you game with an SSD
I'd challenge the menu snappiness statements
I think the scenarios where people are unhappy with menu performance on an 7200 magnetic drive only occurs when they are EITHER
  1. Using less than 4 GB RAM
  2. Using slower than 1333 RAM
Navigating Menus in WMC consists of switching between bunches of little icons named "NOFOCUS" and "FOCUS" which are png files sized something like 100x68 and 258x102 (Those are complete guesses, and no I'm not going to look up the official dimensions) at or around 30-50 kb file sizes.
All these files are resources loaded from the ehres.dll and they are all stored in RAM, so HDD or SDD performance will not help you out there unless you are utlitizing too much RAM somewhere else and it's caching to your C drive. That should be the only case where an SDD will help out menu performance in WMC, and that should realistically never occur if you are using enough ram
Loading ehres resources to ram will take longer, but switching between menus occurs after wmc is loaded

My experience going from a 7200 hd to SSD on a system w/ 4gb ram and 1600mhz memory, was night and day in WMC. The guide scrolling is completely fluid now using the SSD.
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post #25 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 07:17 PM
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My experience going from a 7200 hd to SSD on a system w/ 4gb ram and 1600mhz memory, was night and day in WMC. The guide scrolling is completely fluid now using the SSD.

Yeah, you are probably right about using the EPG. I hadn't used a TV tuner with my htpc until I upgraded it with an ssd, so I didn't think about the guide. It could be a resource that's too large for RAM.

I used wmc with pictures, music, and media browser all working very smoothly without an ssd. I still say get one if you can afford, but don't think wmc can't perform admirably without it. Hitting the back button while music is playing and going up to the pictures menu and then to the media browser menu will not get help from an ssd. Scrolling through your electronic program guide might see benefit. Launching media browser or tmt will definitely execute more quickly
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post #26 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by G-- View Post

My experience going from a 7200 hd to SSD on a system w/ 4gb ram and 1600mhz memory, was night and day in WMC. The guide scrolling is completely fluid now using the SSD.

This is my experience as well. Mediabrowser is a lot faster as well. Actor portraits and backdrops load much more smoothly than with a spindle drive.

Looky here!
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post #27 of 33 Old 06-28-2012, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Or of course, for those always looking for speed for the sake of speed, use a pair of 120GB SSDs in Raid 0 for the OS and programs, AND a cache SSD with the hard drive for data. biggrin.gif

I wasn't looking for speed intially but it just turned out $30 cheaper to buy a pair than a single 240GB when I was building my gaming rig recently. My twin OCZ Vertex 3s in RAID 0 benchmark at 900MB/s sequential and I haven't applied any tweaks yet biggrin.gif Outlook only takes less than 0.5 seconds to load.

For anyone interested there is some good analysis on SSD RAID at http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-raid-iops,2848.html

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post #28 of 33 Old 11-11-2012, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post

For the main operating system yes. I just stuck one in my netbook that I use all of the time. It is running a lot cooler, and a whole lot faster.

I need some help in identifying if a need a SSD or not and if I do, which of the following systems will benefit from it -

Video Editing:
I have a i7 2600k based desktop with 16GB memory for Video Editing. This currently runs Windows7 Professional (x64). The video card is a EVGA Geforce GTX 560Ti (448 core) card. The OS is currently installed on a Seagate SATAII Barracuda 160GB drive.

HTPC:
A hp8440p laptop with core i5 and with 4 GB memory. This has a Nvidia 3100M video card and also runs Windows7 Home Premium. The OS is currently installed on the original HD which I guess is a 250GB drive.

I would like to know which of these systems will benefit most from an SSD and what size should I go for (64GB/128GB or something else)?

Cheers smile.gif
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post #29 of 33 Old 11-12-2012, 12:53 PM
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It's impossible not to notice the performance boost of an SSD for your OS drive compared to HDD.

I'll repeat for clarity.

"Impossible".

Get one.

-

"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #30 of 33 Old 11-12-2012, 01:00 PM
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I went with a Seagate Hybrid drive to help with the slow menu issues of WMC. It helped significantly, but I do wonder whether a true SSD would be faster with those items. For the media I don't feel it's necessary, and my HTPC typically only does a reboot after installing security downloads, so boot time isn't much of a factor for me.
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