Thursday, March 8, 2012

You DO need an SSD, forget the cost

For those of you who, like me, have to run labs on a portable device, like a laptop, an SSD is an absolute MUST.

I recently mourned (well, I didn't really cry... actually, I danced a jig) the passing of my old HP DV7-1135 Desktop replacement notebook, or as we referred to ole' Bessie in my house, "the portable lap scorcher". It was ok in it's time, if you can overlook the premature death of the optical drive one week after warranty expiration, the 2 times I had to resolder the power connector and the necessity of needing to remove EVERY internal component to replace the fan. But with the second drive bay that I used to add a 60GB SSD, it ran extremely fast... and hot enough to actually blister my leg. Burn injuries aside, the SSD allowed me to run virtual servers in VMware workstation with a performance that rivals production grade hardware. The main problem was the capacity of the drive which only allowed me to run 4 or 5 servers with about 1GB of RAM each.

After Bessie was shipped off to the recycler, I set about looking for another constant silicon companion (not the cube). The number one priority was to find something with 2 hard drive bays. But, apparently, business class laptops had moved away from this configuration somewhat, so I ended up looking at gamer rigs.

What do you know, I stumbled onto the ASUS G53S, a very nice i7 machine with 8 cores and 16GB of memory. It also has a very nice full HD screen that, at 15.6 inches, has plenty of visual real estate. Of course, the second drive bay was the main factor in my search and the first thing I did within an hour of taking home my belated Christmas persent to myself was to open the case and slap in the new 240GB OCZ drive that I bought at the same time.

Folks, I don't know if your experience with PC's goes back nearly as far as mine, but I remember waiting between 30 seconds to 2 minutes to wait for boot time. Boot time for the laptop on the new drive is 8 seconds. Login time is ONE SECOND. Applications like Word and Excel open so fast you can barely see the program name on the splash screen. And the 12 virtual servers? Well, my domain controllers reboot in less than one minute and login takes 3 seconds. I have a 3 node SQL cluster that runs like Forest Gump. This thing is a beast and mostly due to the SSD. The task manager typically shows 100% on CPU and RAM with everything running and never misses a beat. I always knew that disk I/O was a big killer. I now have solid proof.

So on that next laptop purchase, you might want ot take a look at the new SSD's. The one I have "only" has a 525MB/s read rating.

And there is now one rated at 1500.

Still sitting there??

- Peter Trast, MCITP DBA, MCITP EA, MCT LinkIn with Peter


  1. The advise remains the same, even if you like a little steel with your silicon. I prefer to run 4+ monitors and I've yet to see a laptop with 8 HDMI ports.

  2. Yes, I like all those things, too. Mobility is the big problem I run into with 4+ monitors ;)