Sunday, August 09, 2015

Desktop PC Upgrade With SSD

This weekend I upgraded my desktop PC with a 500 GB Samsung 850 EVO Solid State Drive. (I bought the SSD locally at Microcenter but Amazon has it cheaper.)

The PC is a Microcenter PowerSpec B707 that I bought 4 or 5 years ago. It has a Core i5 CPU and I’ve upgraded a few components over the years, including the RAM to 16 GB, the video card, and the power supply (to handle the video card). The last remaining component to upgrade to improve performance was the hard disk.

Aside from the excellent reputation of Samsung SSDs a major reason that I chose one of their disks instead of a Crucial SSD is that Samsung includes a nice disk cloning software. I wanted to migrate my existing system over rather than rebuilding it from scratch, which would take days. After installing the cloning software, I used a USB-to-SATA adapter* to connect the SSD to the PC, then let it run for about six hours, finishing up after I went to bed last night. This morning when I checked on it the clone was complete.

Note that if you want to upgrade a Mac to an SSD, you can use SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner, both of which are free. There are free Windows disk cloning tools, but other than CloneZilla, I don’t have any experience with them. Samsung’s clone app was easier to use and better for less technical people. It’s very pointy-clicky.

To install the SSD in a desktop you’ll also need a 2.5” to 3.5” drive bay adapter, in order to mount it in the case.

With the drive cloned and the SSD installed, I booted the machine, which went a lot faster than before. It did require a reboot to install the Windows drivers for the SSD. Then I installed the Samsung Magician software, which helps you monitor the health of the drive and optimize its performance. One thing it suggested to do was put the drive controller into AHCI mode by going into the BIOS. Unfortunately, that’s something you need to do before you install Windows. Windows blue-screened before booting fully when I tried this, so back to IDE mode it is.

The machine boots much faster, and I get a usable desktop much more quickly after I login. Even large applications like Word and Excel open very quickly from the SSD. I expected all this, based on my previous experience upgrading my mid-2009 MacBook Pro with an SSD.

Another nice thing is that the PC is a little quieter without the spinning disk.

If you have a PC that’s a little older and in need of a performance boost, replacing the spinning hard disk with a solid state drive is probably the best bang for your buck.



*Mine is a Newer Tech USB-to-IDE or SATA adapter that I got from several years ago. One of the cheaper USB-to-SATA units should work fine, if you never  have need to read IDE disks.

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