Ever wondered why that well spec’ed computer of yours is sluggish and unresponsive? The answer might be because it runs on a hard disk drive.
While CPU technology has been constantly upgraded on computers, there hasn’t been a drastic improvement in the performance of hard drives. These spinning magnetic disc drives have been around for about two decades, and although capacities have gone up, they still aren’t really fast. That’s the reason a lot of premium laptops and ultrabooks come with Solid State Drive (SSD) storage.
SSDs are extremely fast because they don’t have any moving parts. While HDDs use rotating magnetic disks (or platters) and a mechanical arm to read and write data, SSDs are essentially a set of microchips that store data. SSDs are also much smaller and can hold larger capacities of data for of the same reason. SSDs are costlier than HDDs even though prices have fallen significantly recently.
One of the best SSDs available in the market currently is the Samsung 850 Evo, which features the 3D V-NAND technology. 3D V-NAND allows for stacking of SSD cells vertically in addition to using horizontal area. This greatly enhances speed, efficiency and density - allowing for larger capacities (as much as 2 GB) in a 2.5” drive.
I recently upgraded my mid-2012 MacBook Pro with the 250 GB Samsung 850 Evo SSD and it gave a new life to my slow laptop. Earlier, read-write speeds were around 50 Mbps on the 5400rpm HDD that ships with this Mac. After the upgrade, this is my read and write speed:
500 Mbps is 10x the speed of my HDD. The result? Startup time has come down from 15-20 seconds to about 6-8 seconds. Apps open instantaneously without bouncing even once on the dock. Heavy apps like XCode and Android Studio are much more usable and work without lag (unlike on the HDD, where these apps used to stop responding or crash).
I’ve also realised that the SSD has unlocked the true potential of the 2.5 Ghz dual-core i5 processor. Sometimes, the SSD proves to be so fast that the CPU is pushed to 100% usage and heats up to 100 degrees celsius. However, my Mac has never experienced the 'spinning wheel of death’ while using the SSD.
Perhaps the only con of upgrading to an SSD is the price. The 250 GB Samsung 850 Evo I bought costed me Rs. 7600, which is about thrice the price of a 250 GB hard disk drive. Then again, the upgrade is worth it and will future-proof my 2012 MacBook Pro for another 3-4 years.