Pros:Less than $1 per Gb, 18 second boot times with Microsoft Windows 7
Cons:Requires some technical abilities to upgrade a laptop or netbook
The Bottom Line: Crucial M4 256Gb SSD drives are here, forget about slow spinning hard drive sata options and get solid state memory chip technology!
The Crucial M4 256Gb SSD CT256M4SSD2 SATA drive has proven itself to be the single most cost effective upgrade that I have ever seen for a laptop computer. From the beginning, my Sony VAIO VPCYB33KX PC Notebook has given me nothing but poor performance after every upgrade. Then it seemingly came to life once I upgraded the old spinning Toshiba MK3259GSXP 320Gb hard drive inside to this Crucial product.
Recommend this product?
You can place expensive memory chips or even a faster processor in your old laptop but nothing quite seems to equal the improvements gained by adding a new high performance SATA SSD. In this review, we examine what it takes to upgrade a laptop or netbook computer and then run a few comparison tests to confirm that results that the Crucial M4 256Gb drive has given me.
What Is A SSD?
SSD stands for Solid State Drive. It features several memory chips connected to a single port that is compatible with most computers that have an available SATA connector. The memory chips inside this little drive store data just like a Sony 2.0GB Pro Duo Memory Stick or Kingston 16Gb Micro SDHC memory card but the integrated SATA port allows your computer to transmit data at nearly 10 times the speed.
Benefits Of SSD Over Traditional 2.5” Hard Drives
Anyone upgrading their laptop or netbook from a spinning 2.5” SATA drive can expect a quieter computer because the rotating disc sound is no longer present. Additionally, the memory chips in the SSD pull less power than a traditional spinning hard drive so your laptop will run on battery longer. SSD drives also tolerate the extreme heat inside a laptop used outside with ease.
What Does It Take To Upgrade A Laptop To Crucial M4 SSD Technology?
First, you will need to a software package that can clone two SATA hard drives. I used a program called Ghost because it comes as a bootable CD-ROM and has been proven to with multiple boot sectors on a single hard drive.
To start, I took the back cover off the Sony VAIO VPCYB33KX PC Notebook and removed the bolts holding down the Toshiba HDD2J54 320Gb SATA hard drive. Now, I attached both the Toshiba and Crucial M4 drives to an ASUS KGPE-D16 Motherboard and used the Ghost software package to clone the notebook Microsoft Windows 7 operating system. Finally, place the new Crucial M4 256Gb SSD back into the notebook and it will function like the old hard drive did. The best part of this whole upgrade is that I now have a spare hard drive should anything ever happen to my computer.
Why Does An SSD Upgrade Work Better Than A System Memory Upgrade?
We all want our laptops and netbooks to be just as fast as those big desktop computers. A netbook allows me to write and develop software anywhere but the random Windows freezes hampered my work. In the past, I have also upgraded this Sony VAIO AMD APU laptop with Samsung MV-3T2G4 2GB (1333MHz PC3-10600) DDR3 204 Pin Laptop SDRAM and got no speed improvements.
The Crucial M4 series consists of four SSD drives that have the following capacities but identical performance:
CT064M4SSD2, 59.6 Gb capacity
CT128M4SSD2, 119.2 Gb capacity
CT256M4SSD2, 238.4 Gb capacity
CT512M4SSD2, 476.8 Gb capacity
Each of these drives offer random read performance of 40K IOPS. The sequential read performance can be as high as 415Mb/s. Keep in mind that this amount of data transfer speed is highly dependent on your laptop processor and particular data application. For example, you would not be able to transmit this much data over today’s wireless networks because they are not capable of these speeds.
My own testing has shown that Windows boot times have dropped dramatically thanks to this super fast SSD. Before the Sony VAIO VPCYB33KX PC Notebook, with a Toshiba MK3259GSXP 320Gb hard drive inside, the computer took 1 minute 55 seconds to boot up to a Microsoft Windows 7 x86 login prompt. Now, with the Crucial CT256M4SSD2 silently inside the netbook, the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system only took 18 seconds to bring me to the login prompt. Even better, is the fact that the periodic freezing of the Sony VAIO APU has stopped as well. Thanks Crucial!
The Crucial M4 SSD 256Gb is a fantastic upgrade option for anyone only seeking this type of data capacity. Laptop or netbook users can get all the speed increase they seek for a minimal investment when compared to the cost a faster system. Another huge benefit for me is the increase battery life of SSD technology. When buying this SSD, you need to watch out for the Crucial V4 series which is much slower but has a lower cost. Overall, I am very satisfied with my purchase and the performance it brought to my Sony VAIO VPCYB33KX PC Notebook.