Crucial SSD 32GB

No moving parts, heat or noise.

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Crucial SSD 32GB

Pros

  • No moving parts, runs cool and quiet

Cons

  • Expensive, small capacity, slow write speed

Bottom Line

It's too early for solid-state drives such as Crucial's SSD 32GB to become mainstream, but once prices come down, evey laptop owner should look to upgrade to one. They are silent, run very cool and have no moving parts, which means that they won't be damaged by bumps and vibrations. You can expect better overall performance from the Crucial SSD 32GB over a conventional 5400rpm hard drive, although write times are slower.

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There’s probably no better upgrade you can give your notebook than a solid-state hard drive. It will help your notebook run much cooler, with no noise apart from your its cooling fan, it will keep your data safer than a conventional hard drive, and it will slightly reduce the overall weight of your laptop as well as increase its battery life. You’ll also experience a slight boost in performance.

Crucial’s 32GB solid-state hard drive for laptops has a formatted capacity of 30.7GB, uses a 3Gbps Serial ATA interface and offers all of that good stuff in the opening paragraph. With no motor, platters or heads, only flash memory, the drive weighs 82g, which is about 20g less than a mechanical drive with a 30GB capacity. But the benefits of the lack of moving parts are clearer when it comes to heat production and noise. Spinning platters produce heat and noise; without them the Crucial SSD is silent in operation and it barely gets warm after prolonged periods of use. It consumes approximately 2 Watts of electricity when it’s running, which should give your laptop a little more running time away from an outlet. It’s a little creepy to be running a hard drive that doesn’t make any noise, but you quickly get used to it — and then the laptop fan gets on your nerves!

Because it uses Serial ATA, it will work in recent laptops, but those of you wanting to build a silent — or mini — PC will also be able to put it to good use, too. Of course, its 32GB capacity isn’t much, so you might want to consider using more than one drive. As they run so cool, you don’t have to make any special cooling arrangements for multiple drives inside a small case.

Running the drive through our transfer tests, it became clear that its strength is its read speed. Averaging exactly 70 megabytes per second, it rivals the speed of many 7200rpm desktop hard drives, and it is much faster than read speeds provided by typical 5400rpm hard drives such as Western Digital’s Scorpio (WD3200BEVT) and Seagate’s Momentus 5400.4 250GB (ST9250827AS). But the Crucial is slower when it comes to writing data: it averages only 47.29MBps while writing data, which is approximately 8MBps slower than a 5400rpm laptop drive. While copying data from one folder to another the Crucial drive averaged 28.9MBps, which is much faster than a 5400rpm drive. This is no doubt due to its fast read speed and the reduced latency of flash memory compared to a spinning platter.

These results mean the drive will excel at media encoding, file compression and decompression tasks, and it will also help boost the overall boot time of your laptop. However, if you need more performance, and indeed a larger capacity, you might want to take a look at Intel’s X25-M, which has faster read and write ratings, and which outperformed the Crucial drive noticeably.

Despite the slower write speed, the Crucial SSD is a step up from a conventional hard drive, simply because it will run cooler. This is of particular importance in laptops where the hard drive, RAM and wireless adapter are all in the vicinity of each other in the chassis. In this type of laptop, you will definitely notice a reduction in heat production. The only drawback (apart from its price) will be a reduction in capacity, so you’ll have to decide whether 32GB is enough for your operating system, programs and personal files. There is a 64GB version of this drive available if you need more space, but it has a slower-rated write speed.

The drive is supported by a five year warranty, but it has a high asking price, which has not been helped by the nosedive the Aussie dollar has taken. Pricing as of October 2008 is $472.20, which equates to a dollar per gigabyte cost of $15.38. This is very expensive, but is actually in line with what you can expect to pay for a 1GB flash memory card.

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