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November 10th, 2011

Solid State Drive (SSD)Solid State Drives (SSDs) store data on flash memory, like a USB thumb drive, instead of on rotating magnetic platters, like hard drives. They are a cool but costly way to give your computer a major performance boost. Because some people have had problems adjusting to this new technology, we are sharing with you the real-world pluses and minuses of owning a solid state drive.

Plus: Speed and Performance

SSDs connect to your computer the same way other drives do – from good old SATA to the new Thunderbolt on the Macbook Pro and other new Macs – so where do the performance gains come from? Simple: No moving parts. It’s almost (not quite) like having your data in RAM all the time, that’s how fast the electronic read/write speeds are. (Here’s a technical discussion if you want it.)

Plus: Ease of Transition and Use

Whether you have a VAIO or an iMac, your computer treats the SSD like any other drive. Some people use SSDs as a boot drive for the operating system (OS) and applications, keeping documents on another drive. Other users have an SSD as their only drive, although prices will have to come down before the average computer owner can do that. The biggest selling SSDs right now are 64GB.

Plus: Innovation

SSDs are larger versions of the flash memory in our iPad rental. Fast, light, dependable and nearly immune to vibration,  SSDs are already better than hard drives, and will keep coming down in price (see below), so there may be much greater storage capacity in the iPad 3. We’ll see!

Minus: Cost

A price check done this week found a cost of $1-2 per GB for a bare SSD drive, depending on size and model. A 2TB hard drive sells for as little as $70, or 3.5 cents per GB, so we could outfit a Mac Pro with multiple hard drives for very little money. With volume, the price will come down, but right now SSDs are not economically viable for many users.

Minus: Capacity

Right now, SSDs have far less storage capacity than similarly priced hard drives. There are 500GB models, but they cost up to $1,000. Still, for the time being, any modern computer like CRE’s PC desktop computer rentals can be outfitted with the OS and applications on a (smaller) SSD and store lower-priority files on a different (larger) hard drive.

Bottom line

Gamers, artists, A/V engineers and the kind of post-production professionals that use our render farms can benefit from using SSDs as a boot-and-app drive. Speed gains are impressive for heavy users, so an economic case can be made for their use of SSDs. For everyone else, SSDs will be a viable option when today’s high-end systems become the low-end ones of tomorrow.

For the best of today’s (and tomorrow’s) technology, CRE is your one-stop shop. Call or send an-mail, or, to speed things up even more, use the Quick Rental Quote form. Remember, we’re here to solve problems – yours!

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