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So I'm looking at getting a new laptop, and I don't think an SSD would be worth the expense, but I thought that using ReadyBoost with some Flash memory permanently jammed in the laptop's memory slot would provide some of the benefits of an SSD for not much money. So I'm wondering, what's the cheapest Flash memory format, per GB?

The Dell Studio 15 memory card slot supports 8 types, for instance:

  • Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card
  • Multi Media Card (MMC)
  • xD Picture Card (xD)
  • Hi-Density Secure Digital (SDHD)
  • Hi-Capacity Secure Digital (SDHC)
  • Memory Stick (MS)
  • Memory Stick PRO (MS PRO)
  • Secure Digital Input/Output (SDIO)

Which type gets the most capacity/speed per dollar spent?

More generally, is there a source/website that shows up-to-date per-GB costs of lots of different media (including SSD, HDD, optical, RAM, etc) for comparison/cost-benefit purposes?

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SDIO is not a Flash memory type. It's a way to use an SD slot to host an I/O device, such as a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth card, instead of using it for and SD* memory card. –  Spiff Aug 31 '10 at 0:18
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Let me just say that SSDs are 100% worth the expense if you can swing one and you get a quality drive. The hard drive is by far the biggest bottleneck on most systems, so anything to improve that will have vastly more impact than cpu or RAM. But they can completely blow a budget and if that happens, it happens. –  Joel Coehoorn Aug 31 '10 at 1:52
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Also be aware that not all flash memory is created equal. Hi speed SD cards for example, though more expensive per GB are many times faster than Class 2 SD cards –  sound2man Nov 19 '10 at 19:41
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2 Answers

If you're using Readyboost on a Studio 15, there seriously is no point in checking out Per-GB costs because your pagefile won't be that big (maybe 3 or 4 GB at its peak if you're doing 3D animation while playing Halo at the same time with Firefox open in the background just in case), so you only need to consider 4GB cards anyway. And 4GB cards are about $14 on average, so the price savings are negligible. You really want to compare the speeds for Readyboost over price.

That said, the only format you listed that really gets any speed ratings is SD/HC. It's also the only one listed that's even close to a standard, so it's much more futureproof (MMC is a precursor to SD so it doesn't really count).

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I said "for instance". I'm really interested in the general answer to the per GB question, not something specific to some specific hardware I may or may not buy. –  endolith Aug 31 '10 at 12:38
    
"This caching applies to all disk content, not just the page file or system DLLs." –  endolith Sep 5 '10 at 1:39
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Readyboost speeds up your pagefile, not your data loading times from disk for games, OS, etc... I'd drop $100 on a small (32GB) SSD and an external drive for data storage if you want speed.

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Not strictly true. ReadyBoost provides a caching mechanisim that is not limited to your pagefile - it will cache any file that meets its requirements (including frequency of use, size, etc); it's an extended disk cache, not an extended pagefile. –  DMA57361 Aug 31 '10 at 8:07
    
Oh ok, thanks for telling me –  Garrett Sep 1 '10 at 16:40
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