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Kingston SSDNow V Series 30GB Boot Drive

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Posted April 14, 2010 by Jake in Storage, HDs & SSDs

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by Jake
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SSD Technology, TRIM

Let’s have a quick recap to briefly explain some of the SSD characteristics and benefits that differ from traditional mechanical hard drive counterparts, and how the Kingston SSD lineup affects your purchasing decisions.

First, it is important to note that SSDs are currently designed to meet connectivity standards of HDDs; they use the same SATA ports and power connectors, and may even fit the same drive bay racks and computer towers that we’re all accustomed to using. Many SSDs do, however, come in a smaller 2.5" form factor, same as notebook drives, which is a bit smaller than the traditional 3.5" size that most of us have. In short, SSDs can fit anywhere HDDs can, and in most cases the SSDs are even smaller. But most SSDs have mounting holes for adapters that can accommodate either a horizontal or vertical mounting position. Because the drive runs absolutely silent since there are no moving or mechanical parts, you can literally install the drive anywhere in your case with some double-sided tape or Velcro.  You won’t need to worry about any vibrations or even heat being produced, so you could even just tape it to the bottom of your case if you’re so inclined.

The other advantage of an SSD over a HDD is its durability; solid state drives are far more rugged, able to withstand up to 1500G over a 5 ms time frame. So you don?t really need to worry about dropping it, though I didn?t actually toss any of our SSDs out a 7-storey window to test it. Call me unadverturous but running the risk of trashing a fast new SSD isn’t my idea of a fun time. Lastly, Solid State Drives have exceptionally fast response times which are almost instantaneous, while even the fastest hard disk drives on the market are downright sluggish by comparison.

When pulling apart an SSD (which will void your warranty, so think twice before doing it) you’ll see that SSDs contain NAND Flash chips that are used with a wear-leveling algorithm to ensure the erase and rewrite cycles are spread across all of the storage chips. Therefore, should you have the misfortune of having a sector become corrupted, your previous data won’t be lost; it simply means that data can?t be written over again there. Consequently, this means that there shouldn?t be degradation of data in a physical sense, and when the drive?s lifespan is reached then you should have all your data still fully intact before the drive finally just wears out.

So we essentially have a drive that is smaller, faster, quieter, cooler, and draws less power. What?s not to like? The price. Solid State Drives are currently very expensive compared to mechanical hard drives, many times the magnitude of price per megabyte of storage. However, this Kingston SNV125-S2 30GB can be considered truly “affordable” in comparison to the competing premium, Indilinx or Sandforce-based products.

The truth of the matter here is that this Kingston SSD is one fast little drive, but only for specific types of uses. Kingston knew this when they created this drive, which is why it’s been developed as a "boot drive". That term is actually somewhat of a misnomer since you wouldn’t pay $90 to shave off seconds from your boot times. With a capacity of 30GB, this SSD is primarily for your operating system, and perhaps some basic applications, depending on what you use for your system. If you store your data on another traditional hard disk drive, and then use this 30GB for Windows 7, Microsoft Office, maybe Photoshop, a couple other lean applications, and maybe one or two video games, that’s about it and it’s full. But here’s the thing: if you’re fine with that, then you will get some great performance from this $90 SSD. It has a couple limitations such as small storage capacity and low sequential write times, (and we’ll examine this very shortly and its implications) but it’s also only about 25% of the price as well. Again, tradeoffs.

Now that we have basic SSD technology and pricing out of the way, there is one other area of SSDs that requires a special mention: performance degradation. After many reads and writes, SSD performance will degrade due to the way that cells in the flash memory are filled and erased. This is not a hardware issue in the sense that something is broke, it’s more of a “data allocation” issue. While Windows 7 supports TRIM, a feature that helps restore SSD performance, not all SSDs support TRIM, though most current top-tier drives now do. This Kingston drive does support TRIM so we’re beyond most of these performance issues, provided that you’re running Windows 7.

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