First and foremost, I’m going to start with my conclusion on my switch to using an SSD drive in a laptop, “I LOVE IT!”. Sorry to be loud but this review covers why I feel this way.
As a bit of a background, I just received my crimson red Dell XPS M1330 which has the following specs:
- Processor: Intel T7300 2Ghz C2D processor
- Memory: 2Gb 667Mhz SDRAM
- Drive: Sandisk 32Gb SATA 5000SD
- Display: True Life LED
- Graphics: NVidia 8400m GS Graphics
- OS: Windows Ultimate
- Wireless: 355 Bluetooth, Dell 1505 Wifi 802.11n
- Audio: Soundblaster Audigy
- Warranty: 3Yr Complete Care Next Business Day onsite
- Optical Drive: 8x DVD-RW
- Fingerprint reader
- Accesory: Dell SE198WFP 19” Widescreen monitor
I love the system as much as I love the final Canadian price of $1,359, taxes included, which was a direct result of a lot of telephone conversations, cancellations and very polite interactions. They cut my original price by $200 and threw in a free Dell 19" widescreen monitor for various hassles and delays I had. With the extra $200 I picked up a Lacie 500Gb external drive.
SanDisk 32GB SSD (view large image)
I’m one of the lucky ones to receive a system of the XPS quality one would expect. No issues with bad paint jobs, whining processors or an OS that wasn’t installed properly like some have had. I’ll concede it got even easier to love the XPS M1330 as soon as I hit the power on switch for the first time. After my initial setup, I switched it on and started it again for a Vista boot time of just under a minute, which I was happy with in any case.
The top of the Dell XPS M1330 (left) next to the XPS M1210 is on the right. (view large image)
To get even better performance I uninstalled programs and configured the OS to my preferences and it is now at a point where Vista startup takes only 27 SECONDS! This in itself to me is beautiful. I don’t think I ever really noticed how long a bootup took until I put my older XPS M1210 beside the XPS M1330 machine and started them up together. It’s like a phone line Internet connection compared to cable. I actually find myself continuously checking bootup time and get anywhere from 27-34 seconds, I had to quote the best time though!
Having played with it, I can relate that there are so many advantages that one can’t understand until they use an SSD drive. When you are using Vista for normal tasks everything is instant. For example, when I turn the system on and click on Word to start a document, it starts in less than a second. I can’t even test this. It’s the same with all the desktop movements you can think of, whether it be going into control panel or system devices; it is just intensely quick.
I have also noticed how silent this machine is with SSD, not only from the lack of hard drive noise but also because the fan is hardly ever in use. The only time the fan seems to run is when I am using the DVD extensively. It’s actually a bit uncomfortable because, coupled with the speed above, you find yourself sitting and being caught off guard waiting when the task has been completed already. So many times I remember sitting and waiting while my M1210 started up and listening to the hard drive activity followed by the fan start up that pushed out the heat; that’s just not there now.
The SSD also results in far less heat build up in the system and, in fact, the only real heat I notice is when its dissipating out the fan port and the fan isn’t running. It’s just a warm feel and not intense by any means. This is a very noticeable thing to me because my laptop sits on my leg or the arm of my leather chair most of the time. The lack of heat on the leather that used to be there from my M1210 is were I really noticed this.
Now to get into the area of tests, the most difficult and calculated of these is, of course, the Windows Experience index which calculates the subscore on the disk data transfer rate. It rates at a 5.9. (This para was a bit of amusement; you can laugh now.
Next I will detail the HDTune benchmark scores comparing my XPS M1330 with the SSD to my M1210 with a 100GB 7200RPM drive (2Ghz Core 2 Duo / 2GB SDRAM):
|Transfer Rate||XPS M1330 SSD Drive (SanDisk 32GB)||XPS M1210 Spinning Drive (100GB 7200RPM)|
I think these results should quiet the herd of hard disk drive lovers who don’t believe this will eventually become the main stream form of storage. Did you check out the access time? Further, I noticed that the graph line in the SSD chart was steady across from beginning to end, whereas the hdd graph line eventually faded from an average of 40mb/sec to a low at the end of 23 mb/sec. It was a steady decline in the HDD.
I also received a few requests to comment on the difference in battery life that an SSD drive has in comparison to a similar laptop.
The XPS M1330 and XPS M1210 systems are very similar in that they are both Core 2 Duo 2.0 Ghz with 2GB RAM, Bluetooth, SoundBlaster software, same Antivirus, Explorer, Windows Vista and both have 9 cell batteries. The difference is that my XPS M1330 has an LED display rather than the CCFL that my M1210 has. The other, and most important difference is that the M1330 has a Sandisk 32GB Solid State Drive whereas the M1210 has a 100 GB 7200HD.
A bit of a background on the tests… Both systems are on balanced battery mode with brightness set up to the mark on Dell Quickset. They have Windows mail checking the mail every two minutes and I have been playing on the Internet all along. I added some things as I played two songs on each, one video of 6 minutes in length, re-installed the camera packages which created about 10 minutes of DVD usage, and I worked on two documents for work on MS Word. Each is about a page in length. I also had Vista Auto Update click in and downloaded a new update in each. The battery in the m1210 is also relatively new as I had it replaced on 18 Jun 2007 by XPS Support.
|Time||XPS M1330||XPS M1210|
|Hour One End||79% left||75% left|
|Hour Two End||61% left||48% left|
|Hour Three End||40% left||21% left|
|3 hours 35 minutes||30% left||Dies|
|Hour 4 End||21% left||Dead|
|4 hours 47 minutes||Dies||Dead|
I think its worth merit to explain that while both systems were running, my services were divided on each whereas now I am concentrating exclusively on this m1330 which should be recognized as being put under twice the workload now that the other system is retired.
In conclusion I am really shocked. I expected the M1210 to compare, but it’s not even close. The combination of the SSD and LED backlit screen do wonders for the M1330, which actually has a larger sized screen at 13.3". Since I got almost 5 hours using the M1330 in this test, I am absolutely positive I can get close to seven hours using it for basic functions like notetaking or reports when all the goodies are shut off such as Sidebar, Bluetooth and whatnot.
In the end, for the most part at least in my mind, it puts to rest the benefits of the SSD as it has no moving parts, uses less power and creates less heat which reduces fan use. Now if the cost would just come down.