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I'm looking into buying myself a new laptop, and I'd like to get a solid state hard drive. I've been looking around for laptops and I can see a few are solid with solid state hard drives, however the choice generaly tends to be very limited compared with standard drives.

What is the best way to go about buying a laptop with a solid state hard drive? Should I look at laptops that come with SSD's included, or am I better off looking at "normal" laptops, and buying the SSD separately and fitting it myself?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I would say the the second option - buying a laptop with an HDD and installing an SSD yourself - is probably better. An SSD is really only worth the investment if it's a good SSD, i.e., if the random read and random write performance is high. The SSDs that come with laptops (or desktops) tend to be cheaper models, with correspondingly (relatively) poor performance (e.g., see this question). You would also be left with a spare 2.5" HDD, which may be useful. However, you would have to be confident in manually replacing the HDD yourself, and make sure you will be able to reinstall the OS and drivers, etc.

So it may be best to familiarise yourself with some of the better performing SSDs (see here), such as some of the OCZ Vertex models, the Crucial M225, and the Intel X25-M. If you spot a laptop with one of these "good" SSDs pre-installed, that may save some hassle.

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