Pros: Fast speed, affordable, silent and durable.
Before entering into my actual review of the Intel X25-V, I need to give a quick rundown of a few points.
1) When it is time to reinstall your operating system, it is often best to consider installing to a new hard drive. This is especially true if you drive is old, slow or small in capacity. Replacing a primary drive is good insurance against lost data and time.
2) Solid State Drives deliver faster performance and are more durable that their mechanical hard drive cousins.
3) Solid State Drives (SSD's) are much more expensive per gigabyte than mechanical hard drives.
4) Your operating system and your programs do not need to reside on a 500 GB hard drive. They just don't need that much space.
5) You need an SSD which supports the TRIM command. This is an internal function which in effect reorganizes the SSD memory to maintain its read/write speeds. TRIM is supported by Win 7 and many SSD makers. TRIM enables the SSD to maintain its performance characteristics.
My installation of Win XP on my primary PC was degrading and the time was right to make the move to Win 7. With the above points in mind, it became clear that I should consider installing Win 7 to a small SSD drive in order to reap the benefits of their performance. The move to an SSD might also help ease my pain of migrating to Win 7!
The Intel X25-V is the “Value” model of the Intel X2 line of SSD’s. The M series has been one of the performance leaders in SSD technology for a few years. The Intel drives also have a very good customer base. This means many potential bugs in the firmware and in the hardware itself have been shaken out. It was for this reason I selected the Intel X25-V. I didn’t want to go the efforts of install a new OS on a drive which may yet have bugs. This is not say the Intel drives are the only solid choice. Let’s just say I really wanted no surprises.
I will not go into the tech details of this SSD vs. other drives, as it seems every review on the net focuses on these details. Sure it is great to know which drives offer top performance, but the real world experience is also important. The X25-V puts up read/write numbers that are near to its X25-M 80 GB big brother. The ”V” comes into play by bringing in the cost to about 100 bucks or less. This is more than ½ the price of the X25-M. Performance differences will be barely, if at all noticeable.
Physical installation is very simple using the included 2.5 to 3.5 inch adapter plate. SATA connection and power connection is a breeze. Once installed, booting to the BIOS and hopefully the drive will show up in the General Settings. If not, you may need to tweak the SATA Type setting in the BIOS Advanced Settings. Once the BIOS recognizes the drive, reboot to the Win 7 DVD and begin the installation. My experience was marred by a defective Microsoft Win 7 DVD. (isn’t Bill Gates a WONDERFUL philanthropist! Dude, make the stuff you sell work before giving that money away; please!) After I purchased a new DVD Win 7 installed pretty quickly. (no, I couldn’t return the defective disct, but that is another story!)
I found the SSD firmware download on the Intel site. I burned the ISO file to a CDROM and booted to the ISO disc. The firmware updater found the drive and indicated that the firmware was already updated. That was a nice surprise. It would be nice if Intel indicated the firmware version on the packaging etc. That would have saved this step for me.
I then installed the Intel SSD Tools and ran the TRIM command just to make sure all was well. Bingo. No problems there. I think running the TRIM command is such a big deal. People have been defragging hard drives for decades now. We are used to defragging. SSD's do not need and should not be defragged. So I see the TRIM command as a the SSD version of defragging. All is equal on that score.
I installed Win 7, MS Office 2007, Chrome, and a few other smaller applications. The 40 GB X25-V drive has 16.5 GB free. I would say that the 40GB size is just right for an OS/Programs drive. I use my old Velocirator 150GB to store my data. I also left its installation of XP intact as an emergency boot drive.
The final step for me: I purchased an additional X25-V and burned a Clone of my clean Win 7 installation. Now when my working installation degrades (as all OS’s do) or if the drive fails, I can just pop in the cloned drive. (after I of course clone the backup drive).
Performance in the Normal Use:
In my real world use, I see some significant performance gains running from the X25-V SSD. Boot and shut down times are much quicker. Programs load nearly instantly. There is no drive sound at all, except when I access my old mechanical drives. The changes in speed are not life changing, but it does make my PC feel much faster overall. The added bonus is knowing that the chance of a hard drive crash is lessened. (at least the chance of a standard mechanical drive crash is removed).
If you are moving to Win 7 I think it is a no-brainer to install to an SSD. The inexpensive Intel X25-V 40 GB SSD gives you most of the performance advantages of SSD’s while offering just enough space for your OS and programs. Use your old mechanical drive for data and back up to an additional location (Mozy online, USB drive or NAS). Heck, massive mechanical hard drives are so cheap now. Install a 75 dollar 500GB or 1 TB drive if you need to store huge volumes of data. Placing you OS and programs on an SSD gives your machine new found speed. Something we can all enjoy!