Upgrading a low end laptop–What a difference an SSD can make!

I upgraded my daughter’s laptop this weekend, with some incredible results.  th

We bought this laptop three years ago for general home use and over time it became my daughter’s.  We only spent $350 on it from Best Buy, where it was one of their back to school summer specials.  For the price, it had decent specs and has proven to be rather solid.  It’s a Lenovo B570 with 4GB ram, Intel Pentium processor, 720p 15” screen, and a 500GB Western Digital Scorpio Blue hard drive.

It’s still running Windows 7 x64 Home Premium.

Since we bought it, I’ve had some experience with machines using solid state drives (SSDs) instead of traditional spinning hard drives.  The price has really come down, so I decided to buy one as an upgrade for this laptop.

20-148-820-TSI bought the replacement drive from Newegg, a 256GB Crucial MX100 SSD.  When deciding on which SSD to get, I looked at only a couple of key specs: capacity, IOPs, price, and name brand.  I knew she’d need at least a 256GB drive, since it would be replacing a 500GB drive.  256 turned out to be plenty, once I cleaned off some the apps and data that had accumulated over the years.

IOPS is the standard for measuring input/output operations per second – the higher the number the better.  I have a Samsung SSD in my home desktop, which had a read speed of 94k IOPS and write of 35k IOPS, and I’ve been happy with it.  The Crucial drive, which is a year newer and has twice the capacity, for the same price as I paid for that Samsung, is rated at 85k IOPS read and 70k IOPS write.

The price was pretty good – Newegg was running a special, so I was able to get it for $99, but the price as I write this is $122.  As I said, I paid around that for a slower drive with half the capacity in 2013.

The last decision point was the name brand.  I wanted one that I had at least heard of, so drives from Samsung, Crucial, or Kingston would have been fine.

One last part I found necessary was a EZ-Connect kit that I picked up from Microcenter the last time I was in one of their stores.  This kit has the cables to connect from USB 2.0 to SATA and IDE drives, as well as providing a power cable.  This allowed me to hook up the new drive to the laptop via USB, and copy the contents of the existing hard drive to the new drive (using Acronis True Image software, which came with the kit or the SSD).  It was all very straight forward.

After I copied/cloned the drive, I powered down the laptop and swapped out the old drive for the new drive.  The Lenovo was pretty simple to open and the hard drive compartment was clearly labeled.

I then booted up the laptop using the new drive.

I timed three things before I swapped the drives, so I could measure the difference:

  • Time from when it is powered on until the Windows login prompt is displayed
  • Time from when I log in until the Windows mouse cursor stops displaying “wait” (aka – spinning wheel)
  • Time when shutting down while logged in

With the old drive, these times were:

  • 42 seconds
  • 36 seconds
  • 45 seconds

With the new drive, these times are now:

  • 20 seconds
  • 10 seconds
  • 15 seconds

!

That’s better than twice as fast for every measure!! Wow.

I also checked out the Windows Experience Index (Windows 7) and the “Disk data transfer rate” went from a score of 5.7 to 7.9!

With this kind of improvement, I expect this laptop will be very usable for at least another couple of years.