I have a new laptop with an AMD A6-9210 CPU, 4 Gb RAM, 1 Tb HDD, and Windows 10. This is what I could afford in the large-enough-screen 2-in-1 format that I needed.

I want to speed it up, as it's somewhat slow, probably because of the 4Gb RAM and swapping.

I wonder if I should acquire a 16Gb or 32Gb 80Mb/s SD card, plug it in permanently, and enable ReadyBoost. (I need the SD card reader pretty rarely and I can unmount the card temporarily for these cases). But should I expect a significant increase in response speed?

(I know this can burn out the card - I can afford to lose the 10-15 Euro every few months for a new card if this speeds things up).

  • What's the laptop model? Is the RAM non-replaceable? Is there no empty RAM slot? – Christopher Hostage Oct 11 '17 at 22:04
  • Although SD cards do have a limited number of write cycles, the chances of you burning out one "every few months" is nigh on impossible unless you're writing data out to it 24x7. Every few years would be more realistic and, even then, very pessimistic. – Richard Oct 11 '17 at 22:07
  • With 4gb of RAM, you will see no visible improvement. – Keltari Oct 11 '17 at 22:47

TLDR, not recommended.

ReadyBoost (and any other kind of disk caching solution) works by creating an intermediate buffer between the fast RAM and slow HDD. The caveat with HDDs is that they are pretty okay in terms of sequential operations, but do terribly in random operations. And it is random reads that determines your overall system responsiveness. ReadyBoost intends on improving just this, so you want to make your intermediate storage medium have as much random read performance as possible.

Random reads and writes are measured in iops. HDDs usually fall between 300-2000; SSDs can typically do 50K-100K. This is why SSDs are so much more responsive. How many iops you can get out of your SD card is not only dependent on the quality of the card, but also that of the card reader. Sadly, if your card reader is USB based, I would not expect any more than 5K. So I would say the performance improvement you get would be very limited.

Another thing to note is that USB and SD interfaces are really not designed to be permanently connected. You can very easily accidentally unplug them, in which case I really don't think ReadyBoost will like that.

Alternatively, I would simply recommend to go buy a larger capacity RAM module and swap out the one you currently have, assuming RAM is not soldered on your laptop. That would be much more effective and reliable while only needing slightly more effort.

  • Sadly, the laptop only has one RAM slot. So I can't just "top up" the RAM - I have to replace it. And that's one heck of expensive. The SD card is nearly an order of magnitude cheaper. Accidentally unplugging the built-in SD card reader does not seem likely. But I take your point regarding limitations as it might well be USB-based inside. – Mikhail Ramendik Oct 12 '17 at 11:30
  • 1
    > "You can very easily accidentally unplug them, in which case I really don't think ReadyBoost will like that." I'm happy to let you know that ReadyBoost won't care. There is never anything in the system that is only on the ReadyBoost cache, so if the SDcard (or USB storage key) being used by ReadyBoost disappears, the OS will just fetch what it needs from the hard drive. – Jamie Hanrahan Oct 13 '17 at 0:44
  • Please be aware that the only thing ReadyBoost does is provide more space for SuperFetch to work in. Without RB, SF is limited to repurposing some of what WIndows considers "available" RAM. SF never has priority access to RAM over ordinary paging, so if your apps have to page in a lot of stuff, SF's performance suffers. RB will speed up your system to the extent that your system's apparent speed is limited by disk I/O operations that can be cached by SuperFetch, but which SF can't find room for. – Jamie Hanrahan Oct 13 '17 at 0:47
  • @RickBrant wow. I wasn't aware MS actually made ReadyBoost fail-safe. Nice to know! – cyqsimon Oct 15 '17 at 16:07
  • 1
    Also; I must say that "300-2000" IOPs would be highly optimistic for a hard drive. With typical drives, average rotational latency of 5+ msec and seek of 12 msec, the only way to reach much above 100 IOPs is by a series of IO requests that are carefully designed to minimize those latencies - or by satisfying all the requests in the drive's cache. These are just not realistic scenarios. I don't know why you say ReadyBoost is "not recommended". It can help significantly in "marginal RAM" situations, and it can't possibly hurt. I suggest revising your answer. – Jamie Hanrahan Oct 16 '17 at 20:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.