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We have a few HP EliteBook 8530P machines that are used as development machines for our developers.

In order to try to speed up build (pri 1) and application start and usage (pri 2), we'd like to try exchanging the disks inside with SSD or hybrid SATA/SSD disk drives. (note, we will definitely do some tests before plunging headlong into upgrading them all)

Here's the questions I have, the rest of this post is information related to them:

  • Machine specification says 7200 rpm disks "Up to 320GB", does this effectively rule out 500GB Hybrid disks? (I'm assuming yes)
  • Machine specification says "SATA II", is this compatible with "SATA 6GB/s"? (I'm assuming yes)
  • Will there be a problem physically fitting SSD/Hybrid (two examples below) in the machines? (I'm hoping no)
  • Will we get a real benefit for development if we go with the Hybrid disks, seeing that our project is around 5000 C# files, around 120MB in total, and tests seems to indicate that most of the time spent during build is related to disk activity? (I'm hoping yes)

The specifications for the HP EliteBook 8530p machine says this about the drives:

SATA II (5400 rpm)
  From: 120 GB
  Up to: 250 GB
SATA II (7200 rpm)
  From: 160 GB
  Up to: 320 GB

I've been looking at two types of disk drives:

Both of these I got from this article by Jeff Atwood: Revisiting Solid State Hard Drives.

The question I have is this: How do I know whether these disks will work this machine?

One simple example: The disk-specs on the machine says "Up to: 320GB" for the 7200 rpm variant, does this mean that the 500GB version of the Hybrid disk is no-go? In other words, even if we could fit it into the machine, the machine would not recognize it (or at least all of its space)?

Different example, the machine specifications says SATA II, the Crucial-disks says SATA 6Gb/s interface, is that compatible? I have no idea, I'm a n00b when it comes to hardware these days.

A review on a norwegian site which listed the Momentus 320GB drive said:

These disks have the wrong dimension on the (holes for the screws). This poses a few challenges - especially for those with vibration-dampening (holders) for the disks. You can't use the screws from existing disks in a laptop you plan on updating.

The parenthesis is just me not knowing the right english terms for those things. Are there issues with buying such disks that I need to know?

The real reason we're looking at both SSD and Hybrid is due to price, we have a few machines we might want to upgrade so if we can get a lot of bang for a little buck, that might go over much better with those that decide if we can go ahead than just a tad more bang than the lot of bang, but for a lot more buck.

Final question. For a developer machine, where our project now consists of roughly 5000 C# files, totalling around 120MB on disk, will we get any benefits from a Hybrid disk? Or would those 4GB be allocated for software that doesn't change? Of course, all 5000 files doesn't change on a daily basis.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I doubt up to 320GB indicates a maximum that will be detected, rather a maximum that may be available from the vendor. I would imagine that your 500GB would work just fine.

I believe all of the SATA specifications are backwards and forwards compatible.

Almost all consumer hard drives have standard mounting holes, so that's not an issue I would initially expect, but if you see something to that effect when reading reviews, then factor that risk in, and try to find photos of the drives to make sure they look like they'll match up with your existing drives.

As far as benefits, short of personalized testing with your exact usage scenarios, I would assume that the hybrid drives will optimize for "general system performance", and whatever that means for the SSD. (I would think lots of small, randomly-accessed, frequently-accessed files would be ideal, but again it's up to the drive's software)

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So if I should summarize your answer, it would be "there are probably no problem fitting and using the drives in that machine" and "you would have to test if the drives actually deliver what you need them to", is that about right? – Lasse V. Karlsen Oct 7 '10 at 8:57
Ok, now I understand what you mean by "up to 320GB" and about the vendor. What you mean is that if I purchase a stock machine, I can choose up to 320GB disks, because that's the options they come with, sort of like all the checkboxes and radiobuttons on the Dell store pages? – Lasse V. Karlsen Oct 7 '10 at 9:00
@Lasse Correct on both comments. – Darth Android Oct 7 '10 at 13:32
If you're installing this in a laptop mounting holes should be unnecessary, although there may be some rails or something like that that are missing. You should be able to make it work, though. – Shinrai Oct 7 '10 at 14:19
Thanks guys, think we're going to go ahead with the test then :) – Lasse V. Karlsen Oct 8 '10 at 8:50

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