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I am building a new desktop computer and would like the performance and energy benefits of a solid state hard drive of 128GB-256GB.

Looking around the internet I can't seem to find anything suitable. Are these disks still not worth buying?

The prices seem to vary greatly and all I find are 2.5" and 1.8" form factors which will probably not fit in a desktop cabinet.

The SanDisk® G3 SSD Family looks interesting but these are only the laptop sizes. http://www.sandisk.com/ssd

edit: The system I am planning to build is a completely passive desktop PC (no moving parts). So my questions are. Do they not come in desktop sizes? Can they be purchased at a resonable price now? Are they worth it?

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closed as off-topic by Tog, harrymc, Nifle, Kevin Panko, Moses May 29 at 17:01

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

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For what purpose are you planning to use the computer and what will the other specs of the computer be (estimations)? –  Ivo Flipse Oct 1 '09 at 8:35
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@lox, did you check the threads that came up when you entered the title for this post? superuser.com/questions/2347/should-i-get-a-solid-state-drive looks like it addresses most of your question. –  hyperslug Oct 1 '09 at 8:38
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Better yet, superuser.com/questions/tagged/ssd –  hyperslug Oct 1 '09 at 8:40
    
I'm not sure about SanDisk SSDs, but the Intel X25-M and some of the OCZ drives offer excellent performance (see anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3631&p=23), compared to HDDs. The cost (of a decent SSD) can still be a problem, but for many people it's well worth it. –  sblair Oct 1 '09 at 9:45

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Do they not come in desktop sizes?

The only ones I've seen are 2.5". You can use mounting brackets that allow them to be mounted in 3.5" bays.

Can they be purchased at a resonable price now?

The Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2MH160G2C1 2.5" 160GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - OEM is USD 579 @ newegg (ATOW). If $579 for a 160GB SSD is reasonable for you, then go for it.

Are they worth it?

The Intel X25-M is $3.6 per GB. The VelociRaptor from the graph below is $0.76 per GB. You're paying 4.7 times more per GB for this SSD, and the speed improvement is 2.4 times faster. The hard drive is a known bottleneck for most systems so 2.4 translates to a huge performance increase across the board.

Pros

  • Extremely fast (transfers and random access)
  • quiet (no seek noise, no idle noise, no vibrational noise)
  • slightly less power usage
  • less heat

Cons

  • very expensive cost / GB
  • drives are relatively small and may require an extra drive for large storage
  • The wear-leveling issue. Over time the drive will slow down b/c of the algorithm that tries to prolong drive life by distributing writes evenly across all bits. Anand still feels that the speed loss is not enough to deter him from recommending SSD's though.
  • 3 year warranty vs 5 year for many rotational disks

pretty graph

notes:

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+1, but power usage is dependent on drive/manufacturer. Once I found the test where SSD power usage was 5% higher than normal HDD, but +10% in performance on average SSD. –  Andrejs Cainikovs Oct 1 '09 at 10:17
    
Add to Pro: Anand notes that modern OS's were written with rotational disks in mind, but improved algorithms (TRIM) will yield performance increases in the future, anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3531&p=31. That may be enough to mitigate or overcome wear leveling disadvantages. –  hyperslug Oct 1 '09 at 10:23
    
@Andrejs, if you're referring to the Tom's Hardware test their test methodology was found to be partially flawed and they had to make a retraction. –  hyperslug Oct 1 '09 at 10:25
    
Add to Pro: not susceptible to shock induced head crash –  hyperslug Oct 1 '09 at 18:17

The connections for SATA drives (Standard or SSD) are now standard across all form factors.

If you have a laptop sized drive, electrically it will work in a desktop no problem, however you may want to buy a mounting off of eBay (around £3 + shipping) that will make it fit snug in a standard sized hole.

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An additional thing to consider would be that SSDs have no moving parts, so will not fail because of a head crash or from a motor breaking down.

Note: A good backup system means that recovering from a hard disk failure isn't a major problem anyway.

Whether the disks are worth buying or not will depend on how you break down the costs and benefits.

Price ($): SSD is more expensive per GB than a standard HDD Reliability: 2.5" drives these days seem to be very reliable Power Consumption: You said that this is a desktop computer, it's plugged into the wall... though you may be building a system based on an Atom Processor and working to save as much power as possible (I don't know). Lifetime: SSDs have a limited write cycle, however OSes should be more SSD friendly in the near future... Up to you to decide how much of an issue this is.

What's cheaper, your time, or electricity?

If the electricity is cheaper, then maybe you should go for a more power hungry computer (and power it off/unplug it when it's not in use to save power).

At the end of the day, you are the one that knows the conditions that this machine is to be used in, and how it's likely to be used. Good luck in making a good decision.

Tim

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the power seavings are debatable. the performance gain is not. this and zero noise emission are the only reasons to use a SSD in a desktop PC that make sense (when used in mobile computers, SSDs add greatly to the robustness but that is hardly a criterion for a desktop).

and "reasonable" is a very stretchable term. using SSDs for 'mass storage' is not (yet) feasable from an economial point of view.

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I assume your question is whether you should go with a SSD instead of a regular HDD. SSDs are inferior in the lifespan and money to GB ratio categories. So buy one only if speed is more important to you than cost and reliability.

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2  
SSDs are not proven to be inferior in lifespan. –  caliban Oct 1 '09 at 9:30
    
@caliban - I'm pretty sure SSDs have a limited number of write cycles. Isn't that why certain OSes are being optimized for them? Not that regular HDDs will outlive you, but I've never seen anyone worry about wearing them out. –  Manos Dilaverakis Oct 1 '09 at 9:42
    
Quite a few reviews do mention the life time of SSDs and their write cycles –  tgbarnett Oct 1 '09 at 9:45
    
@Manos The controller onboard the SSD will perform the wear-levelling that helps to optimise the SSD's lifetime, not the OS. (The OS may send the TRIM command to help the SSD maintain performance over time.) AnandTech discuss the problem here: anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3631&p=6. I think the conclusion is not to worry about it too much. –  sblair Oct 1 '09 at 9:55
    
Also, I believe that it is writes/erases that will begin to fail - existing data can still be read. So (in theory) you could interrogate the SSD for the number of dud cells, and copy your system/data to a new drive well in advance of a major failure. –  sblair Oct 1 '09 at 10:00

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