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I have a Dell Latitude D520 1.6ghz, 4gb ram. I'm looking to postpone a laptop upgrade by getting one of the new Intel X25-M G2 SSDs.

Any thoughts or experiences on if such an upgrade will help? I know these things kill in benchmarks but on a laptop, I'm concerned there are other bottlenecks I'd quickly run into (for all I know, this lappy's sata controller--if it has one--can't push bits quickly enough for SSD to matter).

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You will most absolutely and definitely and positively see an improvement. Laptop hard drives are usually the #1 bottleneck in a system. My Dell Latitude D420 came with a 4200RPM drive. Choke. Cough. Slow. Your D520 probably isn't as bad out of the box, but its drive is still likely an I/O bottleneck.

I installed an OCZ Vertex 250GB SSD in my other laptop, a Macbook, some time back, and it flew compared to the original 5400RPM drive.

These new SSDs are amazing compared to hard drives. But don't go cheap -- some SSDs can be slow. The OCZ Vertex I purchased is a good product, and so is the Intel you're referring to ... it would have been my other choice.

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  • Atom is likely a bigger bottleneck than the HDD though. Dec 13, 2010 at 11:03
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    @iconiK IIRC, the D520 had a Core 2 Duo T5500, not an Atom CPU. Dec 13, 2010 at 12:46
  • I thought the D520 refereed to the laptop having an Atom CPU, since the dual-core "desktop" Atoms are D-series. Dec 13, 2010 at 12:58
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    @iconiK Ah, yes. Well, true that "D520" is also the name of an Atom CPU model, but in this case, the "Latitude D520" is the model name of the Dell laptop and wasn't indicative of an Atom D520 CPU. Dell and Intel simply have colliding namespaces. As long as companies stick with simple letters and short numbers, this problem will persist :-/ Dec 13, 2010 at 17:07
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An SSD will provide a very notable performance improvement, particularly in boot times and application load times thanks to their amazingly fast random read performance.

The best information I've seen on the subject is from Anandtech. You can see it here:

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3531

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  • You'll see a difference. My C2D 2.8 laptop with an X25 80GB is noticeably faster than my desktop with a 10k Raptor. Virus scans count up about 60% faster - same OS, similar installations. Program load time is also much faster. I have a Seagate 7200rpm in hte laptop too and it feels downright sluggish after the SSD. Browse the Anandtech site - they have the most comprehensive info around.
    – CAD bloke
    Aug 23, 2009 at 1:27
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You most likely will see an improvement. As you mentioned there are other bottlenecks, but the SSD will reduce latency to at least some degree. You may want to watch your power usage though, as SSDs tend to chew more power, which is an issue for laptops.

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    The results of that Tomshardware article are heavily disputed, or at least his conclusion is. They mustered up enough humility to publish a partial retraction afterwards, though I still suspect MobileMark07 isn't indicative of real world usage and tends to favor spinning disks in power benchmarks.
    – hyperslug
    Jul 28, 2009 at 1:56
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    Agreed - The TH article says "A typical 2.5” hard drive...usually requires between 0.5 W and 1.3 W when it runs idle" and that SSDs are always on [and somehow consume more]. My Intel X25 SSD consumes 0.15W operating and 0.06W idle - that's between 3x and 21x better than the hard-drive example they used! So I think they must have used a terrible early-gen SSD for that article. It just makes no sense - a hard drive has to keep the platter spinning, while a well-designed SSD shouldn't need to use ANY idle power (except for leakage current, which is significant in 50nm and lower geometries). Aug 27, 2009 at 16:03
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I'm writing this on a Dell 620, similar to yours with 2ghz cpu and 4gb RAM, to which I recently upgraded with a 80g X-25.

It is now lightening fast. I'm native booting to VHD and it is remarkably fast for this fairly old laptop. Boot time especially. Memory upgrade had made a noticeable difference a year ago but this is a step change in performance, like a new machine.

Most new ones should have the new firmware which addressed some problems, I ran their tool to find it already applied.

And for PCs, you probably know Joel recommends this too, with an interesting link to stats.

I found getting a cheap SATA dock very useful for accessing the old hard drive, which can now be used as an external hard drive now.

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I just recently bit the bullet and bought an OCZ Agility 3 for my Dell Latitude 6520. It was worth the $200 investment. Visual Studio 2010 went from a ~50 second load time to ~10 seconds. Virtual PCs are tremendously more responsive.

I ran some benchmarks before and after. Windows Experience Level for Primary Hard Disk increased from 5.9 to 7.9. I also ran bench-marking software that was suggested to me from the Crucial page.

http://forum.crucial.com/t5/Solid-State-Drives-SSD/POST-YOUR-AS-SSD-BENCHMARK-SCORES-HERE/td-p/58420

After running it for 40 minutes, I aborted the benchmark on the HDD. Running all of the tests on the SSD took approx 3 minutes.

Comparison:

I couldn't give up the magnetic disk. Call me paranoid, but catastrophic SSD failure is not an option with all of my important data. Plus I was replacing a 300GB HHD with a 240GB SSD, so losing that extra 60GB would have been tough. I invested in a HD adapter for the media bay. I hardly ever use the DVD-ROM on my computer, so I took it out. You can find these cheap on eBay. They don't fit flush like your disk drive, but it works just fine.

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Just bought SSD and put it in a D520 Dell. Max benchmark speed: 40 MB.s, average <20MB/s. Reason: Dell D520 has an IDE mode controller and even with latest BIOS update no AHCI/SATA mode option. That means that there is no TRIM or NCQ command.

Don't waste money on SSD for Dell D520. Otherwise SSD are a very good option, got one on my desktop an it's heaven, best thing I ever bought.

edit: got an intel chip SSD, which on other comps works great - just to be clear.

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  • This was not my experience with my Dell D520--I am seeing amazing performance--it's the best upgrade I've ever made. Jan 14, 2010 at 17:07

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