Joel Spolsky

True Believer

Joel Spolsky is a big fan of SSDs.  Even when he’s wrong, I like reading his stuff.  But when he’s right, he’s oh-so-right.

So, if you’re keeping up, I recently installed an SSD in my laptop.  This is the summary.


Now, this is not a serious benchmark review.  I”m just calling ’em like I see ’em here.  But this old notebook is now the fastest computer I’ve ever used.

Not really.  If I had to throw a big video rendering project, or a big compilation project at it, it would feel pretty slow.  It only has a Core Duo 1.7 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM.  The ATI Mobility 1400 display adapter doesn’t completely suck for a notebook, but it’s no award winner either.

In fact the only fast piece of hardware in the whole system is drive.  This is one of – if not THE – fastest SSDs available: with 250 MB/sec reads and 200 MB/sec writes, this 128 GB model from Crucial is really, really damned fast.  About twice as fast as a pair of 10,000 RPM Raptors in RAID0.  In the bidness, we call that “crazy fast”.

So this three year old computer simply feels like the fastest machine I’ve ever used.  And I own a really fast machine – a quad processor box with 4 GB of RAM and a nice display adapter I built for my studio.  The laptop feels much, much snappier.

Click on an app, and it just opens.  Boom.  Open a file – no waits.  And the impact on the swapfile can’t be underestimated, either.  When you’re running a lot of apps – even when you have lots of RAM – Windows will use the swapfile heavily.  With this uber-fast drive, you almost never notice swapfile activity.  It just happens too fast.

Which goes to show you – most of the time we’re waiting on our PCs, we’re really waiting on our hard disk.  Don’t believe me?  Throw an SSD in your old PC and get back to me on that.  Like me and Joel, you’ll be a true believer.